Month: May 2014

Recruiting Revolution?

Nice essay here, but is there any evidence that, “[t]he recruitment industry has gotten lazy and a revolution is upon us?” Revolution usually means a shake up of some sorts – advancement, new technology or processes, etc., – whereas here, revolution seems to mean acting like we’re still in the seventies. There are a couple problems with that, I see.

‘Lazy’ recruiting is effective as far as many corporations are concerned. If you took two batches of resumes, one into which you poured your heart and soul, and the other which you sourced real quick with minimal work via a mass email campaign, they’re likely to get the same consideration from the client, or the hiring manager for those already on the corporate side. Put another way, the ability to jump on the phones and cold call is not the rate-limiting step in the recruiting process.

I don’t know of anyone who removed their resume from a database because they were worried about being seen as “active.” In fact, few outside the recruiting industry even know what the jargon of “active” and “passive” means. Resume databases lost their effectiveness because they lost their newness, the initial crowds of people who went there because they were active are now passive, but still in the database. The postings which were once new are now ubiquitous, and buried among thousands of others that look much the same.

There has been no revolution in recruiting, all I see is more of the same. Job boards are just hopped up versions of the white pages and corporate directories. LinkedIn is more of the same. Social media outlets are a slightly different version of the same thing. These are all just means of contacting people, and many of these people won’t pick up the phone when called, so these means of finding and contacting people compliment cold calling, they don’t replace it. If communication is key, then one form of communication doesn’t trump all others. The one that’s the most effective for a given situation is what should be used. Calling ten people from warm leads gotten via an email campaign and then cold calling some of the desirable candidates I wanted but who didn’t respond is way more effective than cold calling 70+ people a day from scratch, in my experience.

Here’s what a genuine revolution in recruiting would be: Honesty with candidates and clients.

To start, explain to everyone that salary matters and it can’t be ignored. This is not a statement on low salaries, but one about the inherent taboo in even discussing the topic. I can’t count the amount of times people have nearly had heart attacks when I’ve discussed salary ranges openly and honestly with candidates and clients at the start, or near to it, of a conversation. “Why would you do that?!” I recall one person asking me. Apparently you’re supposed to speak to people for an hour and get their life story, and then find out they’re making 10-20K more than your client is willing to pay. Also, you’re apparently also supposed to take any job at any price and not even mention to your client that since they’re targetting a salary that’s 30%+ below market rate, it might take a while and/or they might need to sacrifice quality. When this BS ends and both candidates and companies honestly face their own worth on the market, that will be a revolution in recruiting.

Further, being able to have a greater effect on, and potentially fix dysfunctional hiring processes would be revolutionary. Having had to do this myself for two companies now, I know how difficult it is, and being back on the agency side I’ve felt the effects of ones I couldn’t change. As long as the majority of hiring processes are dysfunctional, that will be the rate limiting step in recruiting. An unwillingness to get on the phone is not necessarily the problem with recruiters today. I’ve seen the best firms put the best candidates into the meat grinder of a dysfunctional hiring process, and that is the rate limiting factor in recruiting.

The real revolution in recruiting will be taking as much of the ‘art’ – BS in other words – out of the process as possible by outlining standards and best practices for hiring that are based on evidence, and not merely plausible sounding rhetoric or the pontifications of people like Steve Jobs, and then having honest conversations with those who come up short, both companies whose processes are deficient and candidates who think they should be hired with no vetting whatsoever.

One of the first moves toward that end of evidence based hiring is for someone to actually present evidence that so called ‘passive’ candidates are better. Evidence would be direct evidence of better performance and longer tenure than so called ‘active’ candidates. Unless that’s presented then it’s a marketing distinction for targeting different audiences, not one that’s linked to actual candidate quality or subsequent performance.

A further revolutionary step would be stop looking at Employers of Choice uncritically, assuming all their methods should or even could be adopted by companies without the brand pull they have. Most companies operate with far less brand recognition and far tighter budgets and human resources. Truly revolutionary methods will work to improve hiring regardless of the company that uses them.

I’ve used the term rate limiting in this post a couple of times. In chemistry and biology a rate limiting step is basically the slowest step in a process that determines the speed of the rest of the process. If you’re talking mechanical systems, you could say be dealing with a pump that pushes 10 gallons of water per minute. If you want more per minute then it won’t matter how much water you add to reservoir, it will still only pump 10 gallons a minute to the destination. The pump is what needs to be changed. In recruiting the rate limiting step in most companies is the hiring process. And we as recruiters are constantly trying to put more water (candidates) in the client’s reservoir in the hope that more will end up hired, but it doesn’t work that way. The pump is too slow, and in many cases is broken. What’s more, a good number of companies engage in such poor hiring and management practices that they actively work against their own ability to hire quality people by destroying their reputation as employers.

To finish, we also live in a highly managed market, and it’s mostly special interests, those with money and thus political pull, who manage this market. Companies, from small to large, all have more pull politically at the local, state, and federal levels, than individual workers. That’s why politicians never raise the minimum wage until the currency has devalued to such a point that raising it is essentially a meaningless act. That’s why industries often write the legislation that gets passed. And, whether actively or simply as a byproduct of pursuing their own interests in the political process, businesses have essentially managed the labor market into a permanent surplus of labor. And as long as there is this perceived plenty of labor, and businesses think there’s always someone new ready to replace anyone they don’t like, they won’t put any serious resources into getting good people or keeping the ones they already have. They will continue to run people ragged and then replace them when they burn out. They will continue to demand loyalty from their workers while they show none. They will cut labor in seconds if the bottom line dictates it, but if an employee makes the same decision based on a better offer they are black listed.

This imbalance of power in the employer-employee relationship dictates the quality of the process in the end. This imbalance is the result of economic reality, because employees are disposable and easily replaced in many cases – but also critically the result of social mores. The ‘entrepreneur’ is deified even though no such thing exists, while the laborer is considered a loser of sorts. The entrepreneurial function is an economic concept that just differentiates the profit of risk taking from the capital return of funding a production process, minus the uncertainty and risk, for pedagogical purposes. In reality all people serve all economic functions to varying extents. Those who tend more toward the entrepreneurial function take on more risk, but they are also usually a mix of private entrepreneur, one who makes money by taking risks and satisfying customers, and political entrepreneur, which is one who makes money by using the government to turn the arm of his potential customers by limiting competition. There is no pure, Ayn Randian ‘producer’ or ‘entrepreneur’ in reality. But, thanks to rhetoric from both the right and left wing, and well meaning but somewhat theoretical economists of various stripes, we are taught to deify the entrepreneur a no one else. The owner/CEO of a business and his cohorts get a pass on poor, immoral, and unethical behavior, while everyone else gets held to a higher standard.

Once that stops, maybe then a revolution is recruiting is possible. Until then, it isn’t, because the peasants have no power.

Communication Etiquette

It’s important when looking for a job to use the proper communication etiquette.  Here’s some advice for applicants to make communications work better.

If a recruiter contacted you, use the same method to contact you to get back to them.  If you got a phone call, call back.  If you got an email, email back.  Do not email back, and then call 5o times in an hour, and flip out if you do not get an answer.  Here’s the deal: you are one of hundreds, potentially thousands of people they are reaching out to.  If you take this as an insult, you’re just a fucking idiot.  The return on initial outreach like that of people who are actually interested and qualified is usually ridiculously low.  Generally speaking lots of people will be contacted, few will respond, fewer still will be qualified, fewer still will be interested.  It’s not meant as an insult, it’s just the reality of what’s necessary.  So, calm the fuck down.

Know the method they contacted you by, and if it was email and you for some reason decide to call, do not say, “Yeah, you emailed me,” as if they just shot the email out and then sat there, eagerly awaiting your call, and no one else’s.  They emailed you and God knows how many other people with the same keywords in their resumes.  Then, they moved on to one of the other 100 resumes and/or positions that needed their attention.  Once more, it’s not personal, it’s just what is necessary to get a response going quickly.  What’s worse, never call in response to an email and say, “Yeah, you called me…”  I get this all the time, and I know what phone calls I’ve made, and if you’re not one of them I’ll automatically assume you’re lying or an idiot.

There will be some recruiters who will claim they have a list of only five people, and only call them, and they get those candidates by God, and they know everything about each one of them, and will stand by them all the way through the hiring process until they’re all hired!  Even if there’s only one job available.  This is horseshit.  Maybe one out of every thousand recruiters does this, these people are usually industry specific with lots of contacts and a great network to pull from for similar jobs that they spend their entire lives working on.  This is not how the majority of recruiting is done in this world.  And yes, it’s impersonal but as mentioned, it’s necessary.

So, respond in kind, keep it simple, and remember this person isn’t looking to marry and fuck you for life, they just have a job that needs filling and at a glance it looked like you, and several hundred other people, could do it.  So relax on the initial contact, don’t call 50 times in a day, do not look like a psycho if you can avoid it.

Donald Sterling Article

This Donald Sterling stuff I find interesting.  Not that he’s a racist, I mean you’ve got a super old dude with a mistress and a billion dollars, it doesn’t surprise me he’s off the rails mentally.  You looked under a rock and found an idiot, congratulations.  No, what interests me is the implications for recruiting and HR.  Specifically, see this article and my comment.

That Sterling is an asshole is a statement for which there is abundant evidence.  From a recruiting HR perspective though, we have to consider what it must have been like to hire for this guy, and for people to work for him.  He is a prime example of a less than stellar personality getting to the top of an organization and dribbling his poison on the whole thing.  He is a case study of the fact that sometimes the boss/owner/CEO, or whatever, is the fucking problem.

We live in a society, and I’m talking about the US here, that is essentially fascist at heart.  It’s soft fascism, we’re not dealing with Mussolini here.  But our economy is highly managed and for the most part in favor of businesses, generally medium to larger ones, with some small scale businesses also benefiting.  Labor has been manged into a perpetual surplus, and various other aspects of the economy, such as anti take-over legislation like Williams and Sherman and various state statutes, that make it easier for mediocre to incompetent C level execs to stay in charge.  I recall a talk show once where I believe T. Boone Pickens was on a panel with some such execs, and I believe the host asked one of them what they would do if they knew Pickens was checking out their company.  Their answer was of course that they’d look at their company and make sure it was operating as efficiently and as well as possible.  To which the obvious retort is: why the fuck weren’t you already doing that?

By choking off opportunity at home the re employment of the unemployed is delayed, and a permanent labor surplus results, driving down the cost of labor from where it would be in a less managed market.  This lets people like Sterling stay at the top in regular corporations because the employees are not in as strong a bargaining position as they would otherwise be.  They can’t demand the pay, benefits, time off, etc., that they would otherwise command.

However, people adjust.  They will, if they feel they are under compensated, adjust their output downward as much as possible while still maintaining their job.  In the end the market rules, and you get what you pay for.  And there is a limit to the amount of shit the US worker will take before he collectively tells the entire economy to go fuck itself.  C level types beware, information gets out and people know what your company is like now, they don’t have to rely on your marketing hype.  Simply saying your company is A Great Place To Work! doesn’t cut it when your Glassdoor and Indeed scores are below 2 stars.  The era of bullshit is over, the era of information has begun.  Get your act together and treat your employees well, or you run the risk of being the next, somewhat less sensational Donald Sterling.  You may not make the evening news, but people will know you’re an asshole, they will know you run a shitty company, and they will not want to work with you.

Another Example of Recruiting Fuckery

Here we are again, folks.  I will bash this horse over and over again until it is dead, and then I will fuck its corpse.

Once more a client wants a consultant.  However, anyone who has consulted for less than a year is unacceptable.  The project they are working on will require 4-6 months of consulting, but they are rejecting anyone who has ever done just that.

So we’ve sent people who were permanent but are now freelancing.  they are now rejecting them because they have the longevity they asked for, and now the client is suspicious because they don’t know why someone who was permanent before would want to freelance.  Also, anyone who has been interviewed and who has asked about potential for permanent work has been rejected for that reason alone.

So, if they’ve freelanced “too much,” they’re not good enough to freelance for this client.  And, if they’ve worked permanent and are willing to freelance right now, they’re not good enough to freelance for this client.  And, if they actually want to work full time for this client, but are willing to work contract and understand there’s no guarantee of permanent work, they’re not good enough to work for this client.

This is not unusual behavior on the part of companies, it’s typical, and indicative of a severely dysfunctional hiring process and flat out incompetence.  But, my agency wants to get “in” with this client and so we will continue to bash our heads against the wall looking for a barking cat for a client who will likely never hire and so never pay us, putting no money in my pocket or my company’s pocket.

This is generally what happens when ‘sales’ stops being needs fulfillment and consulting, and becomes Get The Business At Any And All costs.  What it comes down to is the customer is not always right.  If they want you to work for free, are they right?  That’s an extreme examples to show that a business relationship of any kind has to be a two way street.  Companies that can’t see that having completely contradictory hiring standards is a problem are not worth working with.  You just keep finding good people and throwing them into a meat grinder, and this hurts your reputation and credibility with the candidates.  They are customers too.

All too often agencies forget that.

General Tips for Companies – Example of Poor Management

Poor management is one of the main reasons people report for leaving their position.  If you want to keep your employees you will manage them well.  Most don’t, which is why they lose them.  Most ‘managers’ have no training or even aptitude for management.  They were simply the best at what they did in the company, at least in someone’s estimation, and so one day someone came around and said, “Good job, kid, you’re running the department now.”  Often they will now be in charge of implementing policies they neither have the experience, brains, or courage to question, and they will often not be able to judge their own policies as per their effectiveness.  Here’s an example of such a policy that persists at a company I’m personally aware of.

At this recruiting agency the recruiters are expected to provide sales leads.  When they scour resumes they’re supposed to notice consulting opportunities, when speaking to candidates they’re supposed to ask who they’ve consulted with in the past.  Then, at the end of the day, they are supposed to deliver their results, along with the results of their recruiting efforts.  Are there standards for how many leads they’re supposed to deliver?  No, but they are criticized if their leads seem ‘low.’  Are they supposed to track these leads to make sure they don’t submit the same ones twice, which is a distinct possibility?  No, that would take too much time, but if they do submit the same one, they’re told not to do that and to pay better attention to what they send over.

So in others words these people are in a no-win scenario.  There’s no standard to measure them against, so they don’t ever know if they’re spending too much or too little time on the process, they just get critiqued when someone decides to on a whim.  Their primary function is recruiting which means they shouldn’t be devoting time to tracking leads, but if they don’t track the leads they will inevitably send the same leads over more than once, and this will be held against them.

It takes no more than ten seconds of thought to realize why this is a stupid situation, but it persists.  Why?  Well the company owner and one of the VPs thought it up and it sounds barely plausible so long as you don’t think about it too deeply, and no one has the guts to question it, so employees continue to be put into no-win situations where they are specifically told not to do what would be necessary to perform better.  It is impossible to succeed, it is guaranteed you will fail, and there is no standard to measure yourself against to see if any criticism is justified or not.

General Tips for Applicants

Your resume is often the first and only thing a recruiter will see.  Whether it’s someone in a company’s HR department, or at an agency, it’s almost always the first impression made, and often the last one too.  Here’s a few tips for resumes and the application process in general.

First cover letters.  Do they matter?  It depends.  I personally hate them, other recruiters insist they are necessary.  It’s totally random, there’s no rhyme or reason for the Yes or No votes.  Put simply, if the advertisement asks for one directly or implies it’s good form to send, send one.  Otherwise, no need to bother, it could hurt as much as help.

Now to resumes…

First, never put your name and contact information in the header of a Word document.  It won’t parse into most companies’ ATS, or applicant tracking systems.  So, always put that information in the body of the document.

Second, put dates to the month on where you’ve worked.  Nothing is more ridiculous and annoying to a recruiter than not being able to figure out when and where the hell you worked.  Sometimes we see people, their experience looks great, and then we see a lack of dates and it sets off alarms.  Also, putting 2010 to 2012 is not good enough.

Here’s the reality…

While it’s politically correct to say that potential employees should not be discriminated against because of lay offs, the reality is that if you’ve been laid off from every single job in your career, and/or you’ve had ten jobs in the last couple of years and they weren’t contract positions, it’s time to face the fact that maybe you’re the problem, and employers should be wary of you.  Employers don’t generally lay off their top ten percent of people, they aim for the low performers, and unless the company moved to Fiji, being repeatedly sacked will have an effect on your career.

Likewise for age.  If you leave off your work history dates and graduation date in the hope of not giving away your age, you think you’re helping yourself, when in reality you’re just as likely to hinder yourself.  It’s a hindrance because it comes across as lying.  So while it might help you get an interview with someone who otherwise might have been discriminatory, it will just as likely piss off someone who was more than willing to hire someone of any age, but wants to know up front who they’re talking to.  This is especially damaging for recruiters because clients often want people who are going to stay at a company for a while if possible, and potentially get promoted and have a career there.  If you have one job on your resume that covers five years and it turns out you’ve worked for thirty years before that, it’s a little ridiculous.

Now, to content…

The content of your resume is really up to you, you can focus on accomplishments or daily duties.  I prefer accomplishments and hard metrics, but that’s a preference.  What is really important is to ask yourself: would someone who knows nothing about me or where I’ve worked be able to figure out what I have done by reading this resume, and reading it very quickly?  I’ve read thousands of resumes at this point, and it’s not uncommon at all to read an entire resume and have no clue what a person has done, or who they’ve worked for, or what those companies do.  If you’re resume doesn’t communicate what you have done and for who, it needs to be rewritten.

Now, as to how to organize the content, once more it’s up in the air.  However, I can say personally I hate, and have never met a recruiter who likes, “skills based” resumes.  That is, resumes which list a whole lot of accomplishments and other BS, and then, if you’re lucky, at the bottom you get the person’s work history.  The reason almost every recruiter hates this format is because it’s almost always used to hide a poor work history with lots of job jumping.  It’s so often used as camouflage for a poor work history you get a bad taste in your mouth when you see it initially, so I would always recommend avoiding such a format.

So, to sum up, you should know that companies input resumes into databases, and that putting your information in headers or footers can make it inaccessible to these systems.  You should also know that while PDFs generally parse okay into these systems, Word is usually the best format to use.

Your resume should be honest above all else, and have the details people are looking for.

Put your work dates to the month, not the year.  Working somewhere from 2011 to 2012 could mean you were there for a month or two years, it’s a ridiculous thing to put on your resume, list it to the month.

And finally, you resume should be clear about who you worked for and what you did for them.  If you ramble on for paragraphs and actually tell the reader little to nothing, you need to rewrite the damn thing.

Know the systems, be honest, and communicate clearly in your resume.

Principles of Hiring Good Employees – Salaries

Employees are not a cost, they are an addition to your revenue stream. You hire people to do something productive that you need. You pay them because what they produce is more valuable to you than the salary you give them. Therefore, they add to the value of your company.

The work product that a person produces should have a value to you, that is what the person should be paid for producing it for you. Attempts to bargain down the price based on past salary or other factors will only lead to turnover in the future. If a person’s work product is worth X dollars, you should pay them X dollars regardless of previous salaries above or below X. If they are earning significantly more than X, you are putting them in a situation in which their full capabilities will not be employed, they will likely leave sooner for an opportunity which allows them a higher salary and full use of their capabilities. If their previous salary is below X, they were likely undervalued and under utilized in their previous position, and if you bring them on at the same rate or with only a small raise, they will be likely to leave for a position paying closer to X once they realize their full value on the market. You are not the only employer looking for such product, other employers will bid up the price of labor to market levels. If you perpetually try to pay below market levels, you will have perpetual turnover issues, you will have trouble retaining the people you deem to be good hires, and you will have sub standard employees. Pay your employees what they are worth, treat them well, and you will retain them.

People who say salary is not a motivator, or even that it doesn’t matter, are flat out idiots, and often consultants who essentially get paid to tell corporate executives what they want to hear as opposed to the truth. No other form of compensation matters anywhere near as much, because no other form of compensation can be used to pay bills. If someone told you you can buy a Bentley for any price because there were all kinds of other reasons why you should own one, and all these other forms of payment the dealer would accept, you’d be an idiot to believe them. If you then went from dealership to dealership listing all these reasons why you should own a Continental GT, but only offering the price of a Honda Accord, you’d be laughed out of the dealership, and rightly so.

There is no magical reason your purchase of labor will or should be different. Keep that in mind the next time you low-ball a candidate on the offer.

The Most Critical Interviewing Skills for Recruiters and Interviewees

Control and Focus; those are the two most critical skills for interviewers and interviewees.

Recruiters need to control the conversation.  If you ask them why they left their last company and a dissertation on the nature of supply chain management follows, stop them, shut them up, and get them to answer the question you asked.  This is very common, interviewees rarely answer the question they were asked, they almost always answer the one they expected and for which they rehearsed the answer.  Recruiters need to have the balls to stop them and redirect them to the needed information.

If you are a candidate, there is one piece of invaluable evidence that will help you immeasurably: ATFQ.  It stands for: Answer The Fucking Question.  Pay attention to what you were asked and answer it, answer it directly and succinctly, and do not hive off into unnecessary details or explanations of marginally related topics.  If you need a moment to think, that’s fine.  As an interviewer I would rather received a considered answer in 30-60 seconds than a haphazard line of BS instantly.

And remember, hold your interviewer to the same standard.  If their answers are obviously bullshit, I’d personally call them on it.  That’s a judgement call, of course, but if you don’t absolutely need a job it’s important to break yourself out of the psychology that says you have to get this job.  Most people, when they interview, are to intent on trying to get the job to actually take a moment to learn about the job.  Or, more to the point, to learn from the behavior of the recruiter and manager in front of them how things actually work at the company in question.

Observe and learn when you’re in an interview.  It’s what the person interviewing you is doing, when it comes time to accept or reject an offer you will be at a disadvantage if you spend the interview trying to please them and never finding out what it is you need to know to inform your decision.

Typical Recruiting Fuckery

I recently had a client come to me looking for a consultant to deal with reporting from their ERP system, specifically supply chain information.  They wanted someone who was expert at Excel, and who could pull and analyze data, get it into presentable report, for which they already had templates, and get it out to the required stake holders.  I found them that plus more in less than 24 hours.  What I found was a guy who had done all of the above, and had enough development experience to automate the process for them, and who was willing to take the position because it’s literally down the road for him.  He’d be cutting his commute time and costs by a ridiculous amount, so even though he’s getting nominally less, he’d be netting more in salary.

The client doesn’t want to interview him because he’s consulted too much.

This is the typical bullshit we recruiters run into.  Clients want a consultant who has a ‘stable’ background, or in other words a consultant who has never consulted before.  They want a person who can “grow into” a position so they don’t have to pay as much, but aren’t willing to tolerate growing pains.  They’ll ask for someone who can do A, B, and C, and then reject them because they have done A, B, and C in their past.

The point of this blog will, unfortunately, be to communicate often to candidates and hiring managers, and all other readers, how ridiculously screwed up, random and arbitrary most hiring processes are.  This will help candidates understand the root of their frustrations, and hopefully spur hiring managers to clean up their acts.

And now I’m off to see if can I find a consultant who has never consulted, which will mean a recently laid off or fired person who was never a consultant, who the hiring manager will then reject because they’re not working and so can start immediately, which is what he wants, someone who can start immediately…

Recruitment Process – Know It and Cut the Bullshit

It seems both candidates and recruiters don’t actually know the process of recruiting.  It’s time we admit that, and that this misunderstanding usually results from dishonesty.  Here’s why…

Articles on recruiting are usually written by ‘thought leaders,’ self proclaimed gurus who realized a while ago that with the advent of the internet, you could simply declare yourself an expert, say some plausible stuff, and people will flock to you for guidance, pay you consulting fees, and engage in war to the bloody death to defend your position as if it were their own mother.  I’m not exactly sure why this happens, but it does, and in many fields.  Diet advice is another area where self proclaimed gurus prosper and proliferate.  In some cases recruiting articles are written by real world recruiters, but these articles are rarely honest; they’re sales pitches.  They’re aimed at proving how superior the author is to his peers, and potentially selling services.  So, the unfortunately result is you often can’t trust what you read in these articles.

Candidates often don’t understand the process because they get their information from such articles, but also because they don’t want to understand.  Understanding it would require not following up every ten minutes for a decision from the client you just interviewed with the day before.  It would also require candidates face the fact that they are one face among many, and that until we as recruiters gauge interest we’re not going to know everything about you.

Here’s the reality…

Clients usually use recruiting agencies when they’ve already tried to fill the position on their own.  Even though they’re desperate, they usually take their sweet ass time with feedback on resumes.  I don’t know the specifics because they’re different in every company, however as a broad rule there is no cost to them for delaying, and generally they think people will always be available.  Now yes, a vacancy costs money, and yes, good candidates get hired, so both beliefs are wrong.  Doesn’t matter, it’s what they think and they act accordingly.  So, unfortunately, the recruiting process is always typically full of massive, unexplained delays.  This isn’t how it should be, this is how it is.

Now, when a recruiter writes an article they usually talk about building a ‘shortlist’ and calling those people.  The reality is the shortlist is built from a very, very long fucking list.  So, your first contact with a recruiter is usually based on a keyword search.  It’s likely way off target a lot of the time.  This is the way it is, get used to it or get your resume off line.  The recruiter doesn’t know who you are, your experience level, your loves, your hates, you favorite color, etc., all they know is that terms X, Y, and Z show up in your resume.  Now this is impersonal, but getting mad at it is ridiculous.  Here’s why…

Out of every candidate you contact, you’re lucky if one in ten wants or would consider a new position, and then out of that group, you’re lucky if half are interested and qualified for the position you have to fill.  The point being if we had to take forever to get to know every candidate we ever contacted in depth before even putting out a feeler, it would be too much damn work.  Now, recruiting articles will make you believe that a recruiter knows everything about you before he calls.  That’s bullshit.  It’s just not how it’s done except in the rarest of cases in the highest level head hunts.  Most positions don’t warrant that.

You see, most recruiting articles are written from the perspective of getting so called purple squirrels, which is basically the perfect candidate, the perfect job, the perfect time, the perfect place.  This is roughly .00000000001% of the placements recruiters work on.  The rest are your usual mid level positions, like you’re probably working in now.  So, here’s how the process really happens…

We get an order.  We speak to the client to get a better idea of what it’s about, company culture, etc.  I do a Glassdoor search on them to confirm or refute what they tell me, because usually the order is prompted or taken by a salesman who doesn’t given a crap if it’s the worst company on the planet to work for.  I do this for my own knowledge, and I do try and let any candidates know if they’re walking into a hell hole.  Once that’s done, we usually reach out by mass email and other means, usually phone, LinkedIn, etc.  These are feelers, and while we want them to be on target some are guaranteed to be off target.  We then talk to the people who get back to us and from that group we build our short list.

Then we send them off to the client where they are usually ignored for weeks on end.  In this time period the candidates usually call us and ask what the delay is about.  We don’t have an answer, the client doesn’t give a shit is usually the reason.  Yeah, it sucks.

Now, when you respond to the initial feelers, if you truly are interested and want the recruiter to take you seriously, don’t call and say, “You emailed me…”  They didn’t email ‘you,’ they emailed you and 100-200 other people with similar profiles.  That way they get 10-20 people of interested, and maybe 4 or 5 people max who are both interested and good to send for the position.

Recruiters will not know your life story when they initially contact you, don’t expect them to.  They want you to think they will because they want you to feel special, and they want you to think they are special, and different.  Clients will take their sweet ass time responding because most companies don’t prioritize their recruiting/hiring process, and most don’t give much of a shit about their actual employees, much less potential ones who aren’t even on payroll yet.

The contact process is one of general impersonal moving to specific and in depth interviews, and then endless waiting as people decide whether or not they want to stop spinning in place trying to catch their own ass long enough to make something happen.  That is the unfortunate reality.