Recruiting Process

Good LinkedIn Post

Definitely worth reading this, I’ll comment on it later, but I wanted to get it up here when I saw it.

Update: Ted makes some good points, but I think he misses the underlying problem: Sales!  The problem with sales, and specifically sales people, is they are detached from reality.  Sales people are notoriously disorganized, and they are ridiculously positive.  They are positive in the face of the most horrifying adversity.  Now, in sales that’s a good thing.  The problem is in any non-pure sales position, and especially one that requires management of any kind, it’s a recipe for utter failure.

Being positive all the time means a psychotic disregard for opportunity cost.  Sales people will pursue every method to make a sale, and the one time out of a hundred it works, they’ll say, “See, see, I told you it works!”  And they will ignore the costs of the 99 times it failed, even if the cumulative cost of those failures is  greater than the profit for the one success.  And if you have an industry controlled by sales people, like recruiting, it will be ridiculously slow to change, its participants will be psychotically averse to admitting error, they will all be psychotically averse to criticism and evidence based approaches that question the validity of their methods, and none of them will see a problem until it is so huge that it’s ready to destroy them.

That’s basically the state of recruiting today.  It’s dominated by agencies, those agencies are in the main run by Sales! types who will bend over backwards to fellate  the Almighty Client, however ridiculous and moronic their demands are.  When objective reality intrudes into the situation, they get confused at best, petulant and obnoxious at worst.  For example, if the prevailing wage for an Account Receivable person with 5 years of experience and a degree is X, and the Almighty Client wants one at 50% of X without compromising any on the person – same requirements for education, experience, etc. – it’s not a moronic white elephant hunt.  Nope, it’s a ‘challenge.’  The client is ‘challenging,’ not a fucking idiot.

Right now, the hiring process is essentially controlled by people who think it’s a pure sales process, when in fact it’s more of a supply chain process.  The Sales! types always want to concentrate on intangibles; culture, chemistry, job satisfaction, etc., etc., etc.  They never want to concentrate on objective reality: skill set and measurable ability within it, company structure, reporting relationships, time frames for delivery, etc., etc., etc.  Nor do they ever, ever, under any circumstances, want to talk about price, otherwise known as wages.  Because the Almighty Client doesn’t want to pay them, and therefore you’re not getting any.

We need to get the Sales! types out of control of the recruiting industry or it will die a spectacular death from them pushing it too far, pushing salaries too low, indulging the ridiculous requests of Almighty Clients who want people at rock bottom wages for 80 hour weeks, no benefits, no time off, etc., etc., etc.  People will get fed up with the bullshit and eventually hiring will come under the thumb of some bureau of the government who regulates every aspect of it, and quite frankly if this profession can’t kick these assholes out and get its collective shit together, we deserve no less a fate.

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.