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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Recruiter

More in the continuing series of my job search experiences…

In my last post, I talked about searching for a new job.  I gave my experiences using the internet and networking.  Using either one of these methods, you will eventually experience The Recruiter.

Recruiters at a very high level come in two flavors, internal and external.  Internal recruiters are generally HR folks who work within a company; their job is to find skilled candidates to fill positions that the company needs to hire.  These recruiters often use other search mechanisms, such as job boards and external recruiters to find candidates.  Often your first contact with the actual company that is hiring is with the internal recruiter, although that may not be the first contact you make about the particular job.  Why?  Because some companies have external recruiters that vet candidates first, then pass them on to internal recruiters, who further narrow the field before passing on the resumes to the hiring manager.

External recruiters, on the other hand, don’t work for the company that is hiring.  They are paid by the company to find qualified candidates.  Their interests are two-fold: on one hand, they want to develop a long-term relationship with the hiring company, so they want to be picky about candidates to ensure that they’re adding value to the hiring chain.  On the other hand, they need to talk to a lot of candidates in order to find the right one for the jobs that they’re involved in searching.

This presents a dilemma.  And it’s one of the most frustrating parts of dealing with external recruiters.  Often, based on a resume that you’ve posted on a job board, you’ll hear from an external recruiter.  He or she will probably want to meet you in person, go over your experiences and skills, and talk about the job that they’re trying to fill.  On the other hand, they have to deal with thousands of candidates in order to find maybe three to five that qualify for the position.  What happens to the other 995 candidates?  Well, as much as the external recruiter promises that you’ll hear back from him later this week, if you’re not in that top five, you probably won’t.

And here’s the rub.  They might actually have been hired by the hiring company to find a candidate, or they may be trying to find and promote a candidate themselves – even though they might not have an existing relationship with the company.  They hope that they can present a candidate so compelling that the company will hire you, instead of someone else, and pay their finders fee.

What does all this mean?  For any given position you find on aggregators, job boards, and even company websites and networking, there is probably an external recruiter out there trying to fill that position too.  That means that you’ll run into them a lot.  And most times, that contact will consist of the following:

  • Initial email or phone call
  • In-person meeting
  • Maybe one follow-up phone call
  • Then, either:
    • Another call back because the hiring company likes your resume and wants to talk to you, or…
    • No call back ever.  Crickets chirping.

The last point is the most frustrating, because you’re inevitably going to have to deal with external recruiters, but you will inevitably not like dealing with them, because they never call you back.  In reality, the companies that they represent make that decision – and those companies would have also probably never called you back either.  But in the first meeting, the recruiter will make it sound like regardless of this job, he or she wants to work with you and establish a long-term relationship, and there will be more jobs if this one doesn’t work out.  A second call from a recruiter, offering a new Job B after Job A didn’t work out, rarely happens.

But it did happen to me.  I found a great external recruiter, and in fact he helped me get the job I have today.  He called me literally every day, and my interview pipeline was full to the brim every week while he was working with me.  (If you want a referral, contact me, but out of respect for his privacy I’m not going to post his name here.)  From the day that I found out that my last contract gig wasn’t going to be renewed, my “A” recruiter was on the job – and it was clear that he was not going to stop until we found a job that I liked.

In the end, he put two offers in front of me.  In the worst job recession in memory.  He was fabulous.  And, sadly, he was one in a million.

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 8:18 pm  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Search

So you’ve lost (or want to lose) your job, you’ve written the perfect resume, and you’re ready to write a kick butt cover letter. Now to find that perfect job. There are many ways to search. The three major ones are online job search engines and boards, external recruiters, and networking.

Let’s start with the Internet. There are a gazillion job search engines and boards, and all of them want you to post your resume on them.  Resist the urge.   Unless you’re applying for a job listed on their board and they require your resume in order to apply, try to limit the number of boards that you post your resume on.  This may seem counter-intuitive; doesn’t having more eyes on your resume in more places help?  Well, yes and no.  Some boards are great, others just harvest your personal info and sell it, then offer you job requisitions that you can find elsewhere.

Then there are “aggregators” – these are like uber job search engines. They dig deep into other job search engines, as well as company job websites and other boards. Aggregators keep track of all the currently posted jobs, and when you search for a specific term, they direct you to the original website that listed the job. I’ll get to my stories about boards, aggregators, and other jobs sites in a moment.

Next, there’s networking. The basic premise is, you know people. Some of these people like you. Many people you know have a pretty good idea of what kinds of jobs you can handle. Hopefully, those people work. And, hopefully, the companies where they work want to hire someone. If all these parameters come together, a friend or relative or former co-worker of yours might help you get a job. Sounds far-fetched? My outplacement firm told me that 90% of open positions get filled by networking.  While I will not discount the value of networking, I think some of the claims are a bit exaggerated.

In my case, I had three or four great networkers helping me out.  One, a former co-worker, found a job that I qualified for, submitted my resume (with my permission) and even gave me a reference.  Another, a relative, was relentless in putting my resume in front of hiring managers for jobs that I felt I qualified for.  While networked jobs resulted in many phone screens and a few face to face interviews, none ended in an offer.  That wasn’t the networker’s fault, but it does highlight one flaw: selectivity.  When you search for a job on the internet, or for that matter anywhere else, you’re going to search for a specific set of skills that you have, and look at jobs that are looking for those skills.  When someone in your network refers you for a job, it may or may not be a great fit. Think of it this way: you may be the greatest IT C++ development project manager of all time, but (except possibly for former coworkers) your friends and relatives may just know you as “the IT guy.”  There’s a big difference between looking for “IT C++ development project manager” jobs and looking for “IT” jobs.  The point is, when you network, make sure you look for the same criteria as you would when you search in other ways.

Now for my anecdotal data: in the time I was unemployed, I interviewed for hundreds of jobs, with dozens of face-to-face interviews.  Networking resulted in one face-to-face, and no offers.  Job board aggregators resulted in many phone screens, but no face-to-face interviews.  One job board – a board specifically geared toward IT people – resulted in many interviews and one offer (that ended up being a contract rather than a direct hire).  The other contract job, and the permanent job came from my next topic: external recruiters.  This is a topic that I’m going to dedicate one full post on, coming up soon.

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 5:58 pm  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another Milestone

For those of you who may have forgotten how old you are, Aaron graduates from Middle School tomorrow.

After that, he’ll be a High School student.

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 7:20 pm  

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