But sometimes, the right education, background and experience aren't all that important. What is important is the right name.
"I was looking for an assistant," Jonathan Salt says. "I'd seen a number of applicants, and even though three had made the shortlist, I'd felt I had to see more candidates. That's when I met Dianne. Dianne had worked in an office as a young woman, but gave up her career when she married and consequently raised three children. Now that the youngest had left for university, Dianne was bored at home and was seeking employment. Although sympathetic, I didn't really take to Dianne. She was much older than the other assistants in the office so she might not fit in, her personal presentation left much to be desired, and I doubted she had the necessary technical skills. Still, as long as she was here, I might as well look at her resume. That's when I saw it, her name. Her name was Pepper, Dianne Pepper."
Jonathan Salt smiled. "Salt and Pepper … I took that as a sign that we were a good match."
Carolyn Carlton needed an assistant too, preferably a male assistant.
"I don't discriminate between the sexes," Carolyn says, "but in my department (shipping and receiving) there's a lot of heavy lifting to be done. I'd seen a number of people, but I didn't like any of them. They all had the required muscles, but they seemed so butch, so totally unrefined. Andrew was different. He showed up in a suit and tie, opened the door for me, didn't slouch when he sat down, and overall had impeccable manners. He lived up to the name on his resume … Andrew Gentleman.
Then there's Ivan Mortimer. Around the marketing department, Ivan Mortimer is known as Ivan the terrible. When his long time suffering assistant, Eileen, announced her retirement, Ivan instructed Eileen to find a replacement.
"How many candidates do you want to interview?" Eileen asked.
‘I don’t want to interview any candidates,’ Ivan barked from behind his corner office desk. ‘Does it look like I have time for that kind of nonsense? You interview them. You know what needs to be done, you know the qualifications needed, you figure it out.’
“The job wasn't all that challenging”, Eileen mused, “she could train any assistant worth her salt to take over from her, but her boss was. Calling him challenging was an understatement. He’s demanding, often rude and short tempered. The newcomer would not only need thick skin, but have the patience of an angel.”
Eileen rejected candidate after candidate. They all had the right qualifications, but she couldn't see them surviving one week with Ivan.
"And then," Eileen recalled, "I picked up this resume from the fax machine. The candidate's first name was Patience, but the last name had been smudged out. Patience, I thought, let's see if Patience has patience, and I called the given number.
"When I met Patience in the reception area the next day, she was nothing like the other candidates," Eileen remembers. "I guessed her to be in her mid-forties, with graying curly hair. She didn't wear a business suit and elegant high heels. Instead she was in brown tweed, a cream ruffled blouse and flat sturdy shoes. When I asked her if she brought a resume, she said 'No, you called me, so obviously you received the resume I faxed'.
“When I explained the job to her she listened attentively. When I asked if she had any questions she said 'Why did you call me? You have obviously seen several candidates and rejected them. Why?'
Being honest seemed to only option, so I told her that Ivan was not the easiest man to work for. That he was demanding, rude and often short tempered.
'Hm,' Patience grunted. 'I don't have a problem with a demanding boss, that's what he pays me for. However, I don’t stand for rudeness, if he's rude, I will teach him to be polite. If he's short tempered, I shall ignore him until he's cooled off. Men are like children, you have to show them who's boss.'
“I hired Patience on the spot.”
And you thought being an expert in MS-Office and being able to type 90 words a minute was going to get you the job. If your name is Lucy Lazy or Susan Slacking, you can forget it.