Month: August 2014

The Black Hole

This would be a message to all ATS manufacturers.  Both recruiters and candidates hate the black hole.  Here’s how you avoid it, and here’s what recruiters need from the ATS system.

One, there’s always an automated response for submitting a resume available, it should be turned on and used so people at least know their application went through.

Two, applying should be as simple as possible.  Name, contact info, and an attached resume should be all that’s needed.  Any ATS system that asks you to retype your resume is, in short, a piece of shit.  Any recruiter or HR person who sets up an ATS system and doesn’t go through the application process themselves to see if it’s acceptable or a pain in the ass really needs to rethink their profession.  ATS makers need to address this issue and push simplicity in the process; consult, don’t just sell.

Three, there should be an automated process update option that shoots out weekly updates to people, at least letting them know if the position is still open or not, and if possible where there resume is in the process.  HR and recruiters can not do this manually, it would take all day.

Four, there needs to be an automated list generator for follow up purposes.  I lose track of as many people as any other recruiter.  It’s not out of malice, it’s because I can only update people so many times by telling them no, the hiring manager still hasn’t responded, before it falls in the priority list.  I do have to pay rent, as does every other recruiter.  Eventually following up on these jobs becomes something I just can’t do because I have real, paying jobs that are current.  But what would help me massively is if the system I’m using had a module specifically reminding me to contact certain people, so I can at least tie those off rather than forgetting once or twice and then realizing it’s been two or three weeks since I talked to them.

Recruiters need help on this issue, and once more it’s not malice.  It’s just that, so much more often than not, the damn hiring managers just disappear, and you can only give that same update X number of times to someone before you have to spend some time on shit that might actually pay off.  And it’s not one person, it’s well over 75% of the people we deal with.  So, if you’re a candidate, understanding this requires you put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and realize that for 75% or more of the people he’s dealing with the story is the same: the hiring manager just isn’t answering.  Having to deliver that same message, to the same people, day after day, doesn’t pay your bills.  Placing someone with one of those rare hiring managers who gives a shit DOES pay.  So, it’s not malice, we need to eat is all.

However, having that list generator would help.  As I’ve said before, I like to at least give people a final yes or no, even if it’s me making the decision for the hiring manager.  But I’m not above admitting I need some help in this regard.

Interesting Article from WO

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/robert-samuelson-where-have-all-the-entrepreneurs-gone/2014/08/06/e01e7246-1d7c-11e4-82f9-2cd6fa8da5c4_story.html

Old business practices are indeed a major problem in recruiting.  But while people whine about the entrepreneurs, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a pure entrepreneur.  It’s a word that’s an economic construct, used specifically to delineate the difference between the capitalist function, and money earned via that route, vs the entrepreneurial function which is risk assumption.  Colloquially I understand how it’s used as a word, however that clouds an important issue: many of the regulations which are currently strangling these entrepreneurs were lobbied for by previous self proclaimed entrepreneurs.  There are two types of entrepreneurs: private and political, and in the real world they’re always a mix of both types.  As such, fuck ’em.  They dug their own graves.

Recruiting Reality Check – Bulk Emailing

I’ve written on this before, but it bears repeating in more succinct terms: bulk emailing is a reality of modern recruiting, get used to it and stop getting pissed about it if you’re a candidate.  And, from the recruiting perspective, stop bullshitting people and admit it is now and for the foreseeable future will be a tool that will be used.

For candidates: recruiters want you to believe they know your life’s history when they first talk to you, they don’t, and that’s part of their sales pitch and it’s a load of shit.  Recruiting is like dating, and be real with yourself: when you’re dating someone, do you get their life story instantly, ask them their sex preferences, ask to inspect their apartment or house to make sure they’re clean, and then introduce them to your family and get their approval for marriage on the first date?  No, that would be fucking ridiculous.  You put out feelers and proceed on a step by step basis, first gauging interest, then dating and determining long term fit, and then you get married.  That is what a bulk email is.  It’s key word based, it’s impersonal, and it’s really just a large net the recruiter casts to say, “Hey, I’ve got this position available, are you interested?”  Getting pissed at that is like getting pissed at not being able to get a blood test for marriage approval on the first date, get the fuck over it.

You have every right to say no, you’re not interested.  You have every right to ask to be removed from future mailings.  You have every right to ask for, and to receive, the salary range and location and a job description if you are interested.  A recruiter who won’t tell you those things is full of it.  But please, stop acting like a bulk email is akin to someone walking up to you and politely asking if they can fuck your mother.  Stop buying the bullshit of recruiter ‘sales’ types and understand the reality; we aren’t going to invest a shitload of time and effort into getting to know you, or ‘building a relationship’ as they say, only to have you not be interested in a single potential opening we have.  We have rent to pay as well, and we get paid for placements.  Relationship building, real relationship building, is a step by step gradual process that begins with assessing interest.  Recruiters are not your personal career coaches, they don’t get paid for finding you personally a job.  If you get an email you don’t want, ignore it or say no thanks.  It’s really quite easy.

For recruiters: stop bullshitting candidates.  Few if any modern recruiters have a stable of candidates with which they’ve built relationships with over years of work.  That happens with consultants, not so much with permanent placements.  And, if you are doing that, congratulations.  I’m sure your clients are very comfortable knowing that within a year of getting Bob a job in their company, you’ll place him somewhere else, especially since that’s written in as an explicit prohibition in most contracts, I’d very much like to know how you’re accomplishing that.  When you do speak with candidates, tell them the God damn salary range.  They don’t pay their rent with a good cultural fit or job satisfaction.  And stop bullshitting about cold calling and phone work too.  This is the 21st century, email is a perfectly appropriate and useful tool and it should used.  If communication is the key to a good relationship, cutting off one mode of communication for archaic, luddite reasons is just plain stupid.

I am preemptively posting this here since somewhere critical comments tend to disappear or not get posted on Recruiter.com.  I have no idea if this is on purpose or just a glitch in their Disqus implementation, or if authors control their own comments and differ in what they allow, but I’ll always double post from now on because I hate typing these things out and then losing them.  This weekend I plan on writing a more detailed response to the Good Corporate Citizenship article from a while back.  The below is a response to this more recent article on how passive candidates should behave.

The difference is, the passive candidate has a lot more leverage than the active candidate, as it is clear that an employer needs to lure the passive candidate away from a job they are already comfortable with.

This is actually incorrect. All positions have a budget, and usually a salary cap associated with them, and this is not an official budget or cap, but that which is dictated by the capital return based on the company’s ability to utilize a person. A passive candidate has a little more negotiating power than an active candidate, or so it’s assumed, but at the end of the day there will be opportunity cost for every extra dollar invested in any particular hire’s salary, and pulling a super star passive candidate doesn’t necessarily benefit your business when you have to pay significantly more for them. This squeezes the ROI for the position, and that’s assuming you can actually utilize them to their full potential. Most companies can’t, because most companies are managed in an average to poor manner. In essence it’s like buying a Lamborgini for your daily commute over winding roads through stop and go traffic. You’ll pay more initiall, and use a ton more gas, and while the Lambo is great for open road driving, its gearbox sucks in actual traffic. Its performance is hindered due to the circumstances under which it is being used. The same goes for superstar candidates.

Another analogy would be to look at your company as a production line, and to consider where the rate limitation is. If the up-line is only producing 10 widgets an hour, and has no real hope of exceeding that, then you’re wasting money on any down-line equipment with a much greater capacity. Now, there may be plans to upgrade the line, but in terms of a workforce that’s a long haul, and most companies are not making that investment these days, at least that I’ve observed. All told, the supposed higher productivity of a ‘passive’ candidate is only of use to you if you can utilize them to their full potential, and every dollar you spend to get them above and beyond what you would have paid for an active candidate squeezes your ROI and demands that you utilize them at a higher potential to get the return you need. Earning 10% on a 60K candidate means 6K profit. Earning 5% on a 100K candidate means 5K, and half the actual margin. Spending more doesn’t mean you get more when it comes to investment. Most companies aren’t Lamborgini companies, as such, they should probably get the Honda model. The margin is actually better, and the profit higher, on a more appropriately utilized employee than one with massive potential thrown into a mediocre situation.

I would also pose these questions, regarding Katherine’s hypothetical experience. If her current company really does value her, why are they not offering a comparable salary? Why did they not proactively raise her rate to what she could get from a competitor in an proactive bid to keep her? Would her company show her as much loyalty should she come into health problems and go on FMLA, or require off time? Or, more to the point, would they should such loyalty should their bottom line start to indicate her salary should be cut, or her entire position scrapped, not due to her performance but to the company’s own lack lust performance, more appropriately laid at the feet of her managers? While Katherine’s hypothetical current employer seems wonderful and may in fact demonstrate loyalty, most real world companies will ditch you in a second if keeping you meant sacrificing a fraction of a percent to their bottom line. A job is a mutua exchange, that’s all. The employer gets a work product they want more than the salary they pay, the employee gets a salary worth more to them that what they produced or the time it takes to produce it. Neither one owes the other anything, and in the real world the only people who do usually show loyalty are the employees, not the employers, whose loyalty is first and foremost to their profit above and beyond their employees by such a wide margin it may as well not exist.

Companies are not guided by ethics, but by profit. So should employees be guided. Keith Halperin is right, and employees should act like CEOs, and companies should stop bitching and moaning about loyalty which they never reciprocate on, and start treating and paying people well from the get go if they want to retain them, instead of only addressing the issue when they’re already leaving. The sad truth is that companies that act like Katherine’s hypothetical employer are so rare they may as well not exist. As a practical reality employees should not strain themselves to do the right or ethical thing by employers who will never spare a thought for doing the same by them. Employers have enough of an edge in the market without employees giving them even more based on one-sided assumptions of loyalty and ethics which they will never see returned to them.

Employees should get as much money and perks as they can, and then ditch their employers in a heart beat when they’ve made a prudent judgement they can get more, because their employers will do exactly that to them. Tit for tat, employees treating employers as badly as employers have historically treated employees is the only way the labor market will ever balance itself. As long as employers see their employees as disposable, employees should reciprocate.

Another Denied Comment

I like Recruiter.com, but they definitely seem to put a stranglehold on the comments to make sure everything is nice and shiny.  Here’s an article they put up concerning dress code, and my response:

The problem is that people latch on to something like dress code, which may or may not influence performance, and define that as performance in and of itself, and this leads to the focus wandering from actual performance. Which is what leads to ridiculous situations like two employees of roughly equal performance getting different raises because one wears suits and the other just collared shirts, when their revenue impact on the company was in fact equal.

“Why did Joe get a better raise than me, don’t we produce at roughly the same levels?”

“Well, yes, Jimmy. But you see, Joe wears extraordinarily uncomfortable clothing, including wool suits in the middle of summer, and is always sweating like a hog, unnecessarily so, yes, and I can’t quite put my finger on why that should actually matter, but he does it, and it does matter… for some reason, and he blows most of his income on his wardrobe rather than rent and food for his kids, so therefore he must be a better performer on some level than you, regardless of what the actual metrics say…”

Dress will influence people to varying degrees and in different ways, which is exactly why it has nothing to do with performance and should not be a part of a performance requirement, because one standard does not fit all, nor work for all, and imposing one standard will then by definition narrow the pool of people who can and will be successful in your organization, which limits your ability to be productive. How in any way shape or form is that beneficial to a company, to hinder or in fact close off access to an entire portion of the labor pool because they don’t like wearing a full suit? Maybe with rising prices everywhere for food and gas and housing the last thing many people want to hear is they have to blow half their income on fitted suits for no perceivable objective reason other than the fact that the boss wants them to.

So keep it simple. Define performance in terms of actual work product – what needs to be done, when does it need to be done, and to what quality standard – and manage to that as your standard of performance. Dress code, aside from being clean and presentable and not smelling like ass, will most likely not be a part of that. I think most people will find it utterly amazing how productive their workforce gets when they stop trying to run their employees’ lives to the minutest degree and just concentrate on what’s expected of them in terms of their deliverables at work.

Dress code is like any other irrational and useless metric that’s there for no discernible reason, and it’s mostly used as an excuse for incompetent managers to prove they are managing!, even if it’s connection to actual employee performance is tenuous to nonexistent.