Jason Buss posted a barn burner over on TalentHQ, “Are All Heads of HR and HR Departments Filled With Idiots?” – his facts are spot on and they should make everyone a wee bit angry. I’m a performance person when it comes to recruiting – I’m going to ask you about solving problems and I could care less if you’re pregnant, have a vacation scheduled, or are skilled at brown nosing. If you can solve the problems I’m hiring you to solve you’ll be moved on; if you can’t, you won’t.
What follows is a post I wrote anonymously for “someone else” – somewhat tongue-in-cheek but with a great deal of fact behind it (Jason – you know how the spies are going to drool over this post!) – and with some advice on how job seekers can counteract the actions of some recruiters and level the playing field. Let me know what you think…
For the most part, the recruiting profession is comprised of people who have also sold used cars, been mortgage brokers, or have engaged in multi-level marketing schemes. I mean, what else can that degree in poly sci do when you have a 2.6 GPA and suck at taking LSATs? The people in our profession who are really great don’t find recruiting, recruiting finds them. Big difference.
These people are self-professed experts at post-and-pray – posting a job on a job board and hoping someone good applies – and could care less that they know nothing about the real job other than what is given to them by some low-level peon contract recruiter at a company. If they’re lucky enough to find some dumbass corporate recruiter who is equally inept at finding talent, they’ll make a placement – imagine a 20% fee for a minimal amount of work! It’s almost as good as being a US Senator!
From here, a little success begins to swell their heads – they start thinking that they can actually tell whether someone is good or not simply by reading the person’s resume. This is such a pathetic extension of a little bit of success considering that so few great people have resumes that accurately tell you what they do.
Even worse is when these crappy recruiters start believing they have some innate ESP like ability to sense a good candidate. A dios mio – these people are the same folks who go through relationships like Lindsey Lohan goes through drug counselors! Oh yeah, they’re really good at sensing things…
It gets worse – and I’m certain our dear Hush Recruiter readers have experienced things like these…
The crappy recruiter views the equally crappy job description as the job. If you ask them about budgets, or to whom the position reports, or what specific problems you’ll be working on, they’ll refer back to the job description and ask you if you’re questioning their abilities.
The crappy recruiter asks you to assess your skills in a particular area and then takes your word for it without delving deeper – this is because they do not have the ability to assess your abilities.
The crappy recruiter looks at your years of experience – as light as they might be – and despite the fact that you actually have expertise in the area in question, toss you aside because you don’t fall into the years-of-experience bracket on the piece-of-shit job spec.
The crappy recruiter continuously refers to the company as my client and refuses to divulge the name of it. They do this because they’re afraid you might go around them and go directly to the company (and these recruiters typically brag about their great relationship with their client and gush about how many years they’ve worked closely with them).
The crappy recruiter makes short thrift of your interview if they believe you won’t make them money…they’re curt on the phone with you if you try to have a conversation with them. God forbid you try and ask them questions about a job where they have an exclusive but no details!
The crappy recruiter brings you in for an interview but instead of focusing on you, asks questions about your current employer (I need to know your current org chart so I can find the best spot for you in another company), who you’ve been interviewing with and the names of the people who have interviewed you (leads), and the names of your references before you’ve even gone further in the process (more leads). Does the name Bob Quarter come to mind.
I could go on but I want to tell you what you can do about these miscreants whose techniques, knowledge and ethics are nothing more than our professions’ version of a miasma of methane…
If you’re currently working, a call from a recruiter can be a career-altering event. When the crappy recruiter calls you and refers to the job description as the job, before you agree to send them your resume, demand the answers to questions about P&L/budgets, size of the organization, revenue, size of the organization you’d be part of, specific problems you’ll be asked to solve…you know, the basics. Alas, the crappy recruiter will insist that you send your resume before you receive answers. STOP RIGHT THERE! Would you pay for a car without knowing which car you were buying? Blindly buy a house? Jump off a cliff because someone told you to? Be sure to remind them you are working, are quite good at assessing opportunities provided you have all the details, and won’t be able to continue this discussion without these. Then wait until the crappy recruiter speaks. Or huffs away and mutters something about your attitude. Ooooh, I’m sorry Crappy Recruiter that I didn’t genuflect in your presence.
When the crappy recruiter asks superficial questions about your skills and experiences, you aren’t doing yourself any good by being silent. There’s nothing wrong about telling them they haven’t asked you how you solve specific problems; be warned – they might come back at you and say that what you’ll do is in the job description. Just look at them with your best golden retriever look (you know, head tilted to the side with a what-are-you-talking-about look on your face) then say, “Okay; then…”
- I’d like to tell you how I was able to reduce DSO by 20% over a 6 month period.
- I’d like to tell you how I saved my fraternity $5000 during the time I was the chapter’s Treasurer.
- I’d like to tell you how I survived my CFO, CEO, and head of HR bombarding me with requests to edit their PowerPoint presentations just before an all-hands meeting of the company.
When the crappy recruiter is adamant about experience over expertise, ask them to describe the problems that the more experienced person will be asked to solve…then explain to them how you’ve already done it. If they continue to say dumb stuff like, “I’m sorry but the job requires 7-10 years of experience and you only have 5…” don’t retreat but ask them to explain how the problems you have solved are different than the problems you would be solving if hired.
When the crappy recruiter refers to the company as my client and refuses to divulge the name of it, first ask them if there is someone in the position who isn’t aware that the company is recruiting for their replacement. If this is the case, it really is a “confidential” search: If the incumbent knew they were being replaced, who knows how hairy the situation would become. But if the recruiter’s tone is even a wee bit arrogant, then you can be sure that they’re playing a power game. In this case, tell them – with nary a hint of arrogance – that you’ll be happy to inform them of your employer only when they tell you the name of their client. For sure they might tell you to get the heck out but at least you’ll be confident knowing that you got their goat. And on the way out, don’t forget to tell them that you plan on telling all your friends about them!
When the crappy recruiter makes short thrift of your interview because they believe you won’t make them money, you need to turn up the dial on your Recruiter Control skills. Yes, you do and should have control: This is where you take the reins and ensure that you aren’t being used, abused, or minimized. Don’t be mean but do be firm:
- You told me that I’m not a fit but can you describe to me the specific elements of fit your client has asked you to consider and assess?
- You told me that my experiences are not applicable but can you describe for me the specific problems I will be asked to solve?
When the crappy recruiter brings you in for an interview but instead of focusing on you, plies you for information about your search, your current employer, etc. – they are using you! You know how parents instruct their kids to not talk to strangers? When crappy recruiters do this to you, run for your life to the nearest exit. Unless you want to have fun with them…then make up names, titles, and phone numbers for people you’ve “met”. To finish it off, tell them how fortunate you were to have found them and that you’ll be sure to recommend them to your friends. Tee hee…
While you might think that recruiters hold the keys to your next job, in reality they cannot function without great candidates. You are seeking a partnership not a one-nighter where all is forgotten the next day with the exception of the very bad taste in your mouth. Great recruiters want the very same thing – a very long relationship where one hand washes the other. But to make it happen you have to be knowledgeable and active; you have to control the interview and not become a pawn used by a crappy recruiter with an equally crappy conscience.
So stop whining about crappy recruiters and do something about them.