smiling-poop-emoji-crapplicantJust last week, I heard several mature and qualified recruiters use the word crapplicant at a technology conference.


Crapplicant is an offensive term used by recruiters to describe applicants and candidates who suck. You know the stereotype. The old dude who sends his resume to your database for every job on your website. The mother returning to work who has no skills but thinks she can run your marketing department. The guy who moves from job to job and seems like he might go out on long-term disability once you hire him.

I want to pretend like I understand why someone might use the word crapplicant, but I don’t. That’s a horrible phrase uttered by horrible people who don’t seem to know that resumes are flawed devices. By the way, there’s a human being with a story and a soul on the other side of every CV. Where’s your heart?

Crapplicants? Crapplicants?! Crapplicants?!!!

I wanted to say — Check your language, buddy. If you know so much about life, why do you work in recruiting? Get back to your Diet Mountain Dew and fantasy sports league, you fucking hack!

Instead, I just walked away because nobody likes an eavesdropper. Plus I’m not good with comebacks at the moment.

But hearing the word crapplicant made me root for monkey robots and algorithms. Recruiters can be a nasty bunch, especially those condescending pricks who throw around disparaging terms for candidates. I am actively rooting for reliable technology platforms that erase human bias, assess candidates for their knowledge and abilities, and produce a slate of candidates who are qualified to work.

We’re close to eliminating the need for most amateur, podunk recruiters; however, we are not there yet. That’s why the CrossFit-loving bro still has a job and travels to HR Tech 2015 like he owns the place. He is still screening resumes and interviewing candidates like he knows something about human behavior and psychology, but his time is limited. He will get what’s coming to him when he enters the job market — with his old Boolean search skills and his strange love of some off-brand energy drink — and can’t land a job.

It’s coming.

And, for what it’s worth, crapplicants aren’t crapplicants to everybody. They eventually get hired, and while I don’t consider myself an optimist, I trust that most crapplicants have long memories.

So keep this in mind: if you’ve ever applied for a job and dealt with a recruiter, you were probably considered a crapplicant. If you’re in a position of power, and you’re looking to reduce your spend with recruiting firms, talk to me. I can make a few technology-related recommendations and help you hire the right people without wasting time and money on crapcruiters.


  1. Trying to cut some slack – I realize that it’s probably a bit of professional gallows humor out there.

    But wow. That’s really disrespectful.

    If I was at a HR tech conference, I would spend less time calling people “crapplicants,” and more time talking to real users about how utterly broken and inefficient many ATS platforms are, and how my tech team could collaborate with the applicant side of the house (as well as the enterprise/business side) to make those systems better.

  2. This is such bad form, not just professionally, but as a person. A couple of years ago when I was on a panel, I went off on a recruiter for failing to realize all applicants are humans, and all humans deserve to be treated with as much dignity as he himself feels entitled to.
    I am not sure of when we lost site of basic civility towards are fellows, but that dehumanization is sad to read about, and does nothing to better and forward our society.

  3. Well said, my friend. I often hear people in many HR capacities complain about their constituency – employees, applicants, bosses – as though they are the burden to bear. And when you ask them why they are in the business of HR, it is because they like working with people.
    They really like working with people that require the least work or give them the most opportunity for gain. Let’s not pretend that all in HR are “for the people”.

  4. Is there a term for craprecruiters? Just kidding – I guess I’m not as mean as them.

    When I was applying to and interviewing for graduate schools, I was interviewed by the rudest man. He looked at my test scores, which were in the school’s range, and said with a smug little smirk, “Are you particularly happy with these?” If I was before that comment, I wasn’t after. And, to be clear, my GPA was .6 higher than their average, and I had already been accepted to a program ranked much higher. I’m in the better program today and just scored the highest grade in the class on a midterm. I’m more than qualified, but that recruiter and interviewer isn’t.

    Recruiters are often the first impressions applicants have of a company. Awful interactions like these can often leave people with bad impressions and can lose clients. I was probably a crapplicant to him – but in reality, he missed out on me.

  5. You’re getting a lot of support on my Facebook group – – but I thought Michael G. Cox invented the term right on The Recruiting Animal Show.

    Anyway, we thought it was hilarious and I can see that you know exactly who to apply it to. And I guess your HR Lady side has taken over this morning but thanfully you’re one of the people who can appreciate a laugh.

    • It might sound hilarious – until the moment you are on the other side of the table. We’ve all been at some point and it amazes me how quickly people tend to forget how they felt or cannot extrapolate how they _would_ feel if referred to as crapplicants.

      Another problem I see here is that habits tend to stick – good or bad. You might say it jokingly once or twice, but before you know it this might as well turn into mindset. And then we don’t understand why people hate recruiters.

  6. I know I’m naive, but I just get so upset seeing how recruiters treat people like crap while they are supposed to be helping them.

  7. I did find the article rather presumptive on your part Laurie.

    “Crapplicant” being an old person? A mother rejoining the workforce? I’m surprised you didn’t throw overweight and balding into the mix as well.

    Heaven knows it couldn’t simply be an absolutely unqualified, irritating stalker type. Lordie no! That would make too much sense.

    Regardless – no one is actually using the term. You’ve now tripled the number of times the word has actually been used.

    Congratulations. 🙂

    Your friend,

  8. People do have long memories. There’s a great line by Sigourney Weaver in the movie Working Girl, “Today, junior prick. Tomorrow, senior partner.” It’s best to be respectful to everyone.

  9. I am involved in this discussion on Animal’s group. I am a very big believer in that there is no such thing as a bad candidate. Even worse, is to use the phrase. I often post bad resumes, or spelling mistakes, or other things in the Recruiters who Actually Make Placements group for a cheap laugh. What I don’t mention, is I often send a follow up reply offering advice on how to improve a bad cover letter, a spelling mistake or why you weren’t a right fit for the role. Relationships are everything. Everyone must work. I have had one person in my career who I 100% thought was unplaceable— but only until things died down. I had the IT Director from Bernie Madoff’s group as a candidate. I said call me when the controversy dies down or try and hide the name as something else “Confidential Hedge Fund” until you get yourself in the door.

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