Your “Maybe” Resumes May Be Your Next Placements

The other day I was looking for a senior account executive in Texas for a software company. As a recruiter and a sourcer, my job is to find the best available talent for a role. I passed on a candidate because I didn’t feel he was the best candidate available. Oddly enough, my competition presented the candidate that I passed on and they got the hire.

I want to look at what I did wrong. I don’t like losing and I especially don’t like losing to competition.

I look at hundreds of resumes a day. I place candidates into three buckets. The first bucket is a “Yes,” the second is a “No,” and the third is a “Maybe.” The “Maybe” bucket is dangerous. We read the resume. We re-read the resume. Sometimes we read the resume 3 or 4 times. We then talk ourselves out of making a hire because of a plethora of reasons. Sometimes they get in a pile and we never re-visit them again because we have forgotten about them.

Some of the reasons we don’t go through with the “maybe” pile are:

1. We feel they are overqualified.

We quickly dismiss someone because they have “too much experience.” What is funny about this one is we quite honestly don’t know what is going on in their lives. They may be looking to take a step back and they could be miserable in their role. What is the worst thing that could happen? Give a referral? Pick up the phone!

2. We feel they don’t have enough experience.

In a recruiting world where there are more openings than available “qualified” talent, why don’t we do more selling to the hiring manager? Culture is everything in today. We have to think outside of the box! In the above scenario, the person hired didn’t have all of the skills, but fit with the organization well.

3. We feel like they are “job hoppers.”

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There is always a reason for someone making a job change. Sometimes people have a run of bad luck. A company could lose funding and do layoffs. A person may have to urgently relocate. The list goes on and on, but you need to hear their story before assessing if they are a job hopper. They might be moving to gain more skills. That may help their resume and not hurt it.

4. They worked at a certain company that isn’t admirable.

So people make mistakes. People join organizations that aren’t great. Sometimes they get comfortable in a role and aren’t willing to make a change. Just because they worked somewhere does not mean they may not be a good fit for your role. Get their story.

I’m sure you can think of other reasons why you have passed on candidates. This year is so competitive and we are going to have to go back through the “maybe” pile more than once. We are really going to have to screen, ask tough questions, and sell our candidates because the “maybe” candidates are going to start getting more and more jobs.

I would love to hear your story. What candidates have you over screened or put in the maybe pile? Has it cost you a hire too? Email me.

Will Thomson is the Founder & President of Bulls Eye Recruiting, LLC which is headquartered in Austin, Texas. His organization recruits Sr. Sales, Marketing, and HR talent around the United States.  Will's 23 year recruiting career includes working for recruiting agencies such as Aerotek and also working as a corporate recruiter at Dell, eBay and Rosetta Stone.  Bulls Eye Recruiting was formed in 2012 as a blog which morphed into a recruiting agency in 2014.  His company works on both a retained and contingent search model for finding the best talent available in the marketplace.  


2 Comments on “Your “Maybe” Resumes May Be Your Next Placements

  1. Great topic, Will!

    This war story from my recruiting days went beyond losing placement in the “Maybe” pile. Here it goes –

    I found a young, but very strong Linux Sys Admin candidate who dropped out of high school because he was offered a job to manage Linux servers full-time at the ripe old age of 18.

    One of our clients, a hot tech startup, which was in the spotlight in Silicon Valley at the time, had a Linux system admin role. I was ready to submit him to this startup, but our agency owner rejected this candidate because this startup was known to hire candidates from the top three CS school mostly.

    Because I had done UNIX system admin work myself, I knew how strong this candidate was, despite his lack of formal CS degrees. I fought hard for this candidate, but our owner wouldn’t budge. I apologized to the candidate because he was very interested in the role and the company.

    A month or so later, I learned that this candidate was hire by our client for that exact role via another agency. The owner of our agency apologized, but that offered little comfort… (sigh)

    The moral of the story is that there are many possible placements hidden to the untrained eye. That’s why, here at, we offer training courses for technical and IT recruiters to help them spot this type of lost opportunities by better understanding the technologies used by the hiring teams and evaluate candidates.

    Thanks for the blog!

  2. Slightly different market in India but the stories remain the same. I do exactly what you said, divide candidates into Yes, No and Maybe. I really agonize over a resume before putting it in the Maybe folder. Have seen competition present a few from that pile and have lost a couple of hires to that. And Yes, it pains a lot. But, its part of the game. You have to keep striving to present the best candidates to your customers.

    Also, agreed with Geekology. One isn’t always sure of what the client is ready to sacrifice on to get what they feel is the right fit. What we do, is to bring up such candidates in casual conversations with the clients. I’ve had closures because of that.

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