A tech CEO explains why he 'throws résumés out the door' — but places huge value on the cover letter

Friday, July 14th, 2017 - Resume

Flaunting a fancy degree won’t help you if you want to
work for Jason Fried, pictured.


On an episode of the Work and Life
, Basecamp CEO
Jason Fried explained why his company never looks at job
candidates’ credentials.

“We basically throw résumés out the door,” Fried told host Stew
Friedman, who is the founding director of Wharton’s Work/Life
Integration Project.

It doesn’t matter if you went to Harvard or to your local
community college — Fried thinks that’s more or less irrelevant
to your ability to thrive at the web development company.

In fact, when I spoke with Fried in 2016, he told me Basecamp has
hired several people who didn’t graduate from or didn’t attend
any college and they’re “wicked smart.”

A résumé “doesn’t say anything really about what someone’s
capable of,” Fried told Friedman. “We’re always about getting to
the realest possible thing, so we can cut through all the fog and
find out if this person can do what they say.”

One way to do that is to have the candidate complete a sample
project. Fried gave Friedman an example: Let’s say Basecamp is
hiring a designer. They’ll give a candidate for that job one week
to complete a project — and pay the candidate $1,500 for the

Then Basecamp will ask the candidate to walk them through their
thought process in a written summary of the project. This step is

“We only hire good writers,” Fried told Friedman.

Because Basecamp’s employees work all over the world, they
communicate mostly via writing. Basecamp also publishes
and blog
on topics like company culture.

Fried said: “If you can’t make your points clear and concisely;
if you can’t go into detail in a way that doesn’t spark more
questions than you’re answering, then you’re just not going to
work out well here.”

That’s why a solid cover letter is key. Fried said: “Can someone
sell us on themselves in a very brief letter that’s so
well-written and so well-thought out that we’re like, ‘This
person knows how to communicate’?”

If there are ever two equally qualified candidates, but one’s a
more skilled writer, Fried said, “we will always hire the better

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A tech CEO explains why he 'throws résumés out the door' — but places huge value on the cover letter | Best Of Resume | 4.5