June 30, 2014

Why do recruiters suck so bad?

Filed under: Headhunters, Heads up, Hiring, How to work with headhunters, Job scams, Q&A, Recruiting, Stuff I worry about

In the July 1, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader expresses serious reservations about recruiters:

I am a 46-year-old woman who has been rendered 100% unemployable in the New Economy. I’d just like some help in understanding what’s going on. My experience with recruiters has been terrible, and as a recruiter I thought you could maybe offer some insight into why they have become so useless.

I’ve spoken with lots of other “permanently unemployable” professionals over the age of 40 and their experience with recruiters is identical to mine. Are recruiters truly incapable of providing real feedback? Why do recruiters suck so bad?

Nick’s Reply

sucks-so-badYou’re opening up a can of worms. So let’s tie on our aprons and take a good look at the slop that passes for “recruiters” nowadays.

There are some very good recruiters out there — both inside of companies (in the HR department) and on the independent side (those that HR pays to deliver candidates). They are few. (See Good Headhunters: They search for living resumes.) On the whole, recruiting sucks really, really bad today.

The problem is automation

The number one problem is that recruiting is now wholly automated. Both the HR profession and independent recruiters don’t really recruit. To recruit means to go out into the world to find, talk to, assess, judge, cajole, seduce, convince and bring home the best people to fill a job for a client. This still requires getting one’s duff out of the chair from behind the desk and the computer display to actually meet people. (See Executive Search: Don’t pay lazy headhunters.)

But, show me 1,000 recruiters and I’ll show you 999 lazy keypunchers who are terrified to talk to anyone, and content to get paid for diddling their keyboards. They pay monthly fees to access huge databases of “job seekers” — and their expectation is that “the system” will deliver candidates. So, what do employers need recruiters for?

The 1,000th recruiter — who actually goes out and recruits — is worth his or her weight on gold. He doesn’t suck. The rest aren’t worth spit.

Everybody can play!

The other biggest problem is that the cost of entry to the recruiting business is virtually zero. Anybody with an Internet connection and a cell phone can play. The automation thus allows a proliferation of drive-by recruiters who run over job applicants while scratching their lottery tickets. It’s why you hate recruiters: You’re just another casualty and there are plenty more where you came from. (See Does the headhunter own my job interviews?)

I could riff on this for pages, but I’d rather just show you the very disturbing trend that proves my point: It’s not about recruiting any more. Proof lies in the “state of the art” start-up firms that get funded because idiot investors get excited about “new business models” that do absolutely nothing to advance the art and science of recruiting.

If these are the kinds of companies that have been funded, what does it tell us about the state of the business? (See Employment In America: WTF is going on?) As you put it, this is why recruiters suck so bad.

NotchUp

One of the early dim-bulb recruiting start-ups was NotchUp, started in 2008 by a couple of guys whose first concept was a “pay for interview service” that didn’t quite make it. In 2010, BusinessInsider called NotchUp a “Hot Silicon Valley Startup You Need To Watch.”

What was this exciting new concept in recruiting? It was a “crowd-sourced lead generation platform on top of social networks.”

Notchup was basically an app that was supposed to leech job seekers from social networks. It was designed to avoid recruiting. The app circulated job listings across social networks and matched them to users’ connections. Then they waited for results, just as “recruiters” inside major corporations wait for job boards to “deliver” hires. NotchUp no longer exists.

Standout Jobs

This start-up arrived in 2007. Standout Jobs was described as a “do-it-yourself, interactive career site.” A few years later, founder Ben Yoskovitz admitted, “I didn’t have a strong enough understanding of the HR/Recruitment market going in.”

Surprise: None of the clownish “entrepreneurs” looking to cash out know a thing about recruitment. They’re selling apps and database services in lieu of recruiting.

Clicking on StandoutJobs.com yields an “error establishing a database connection.” The business was acquired in 2010 by another up-and-coming online recruiting business, Talent Technology, which garnered a “top HR product” award from HR Executive magazine. The award seems to have been purged from the web, and Talent Technology Corporation is nowhere to be found online. (What does this tell us about HR Executive magazine?)

Tony Haley is a seasoned London headhunter who’s been watching these start-ups a long time. “You have people with little or no recruiting experience introducing new services and putting spin around them,” he explains, “about how they will improve the recruiting process without understanding it in the first place.”

Haley points to the real problem: HR executives who know nothing about recruiting, either. The recruiting services they turn to “match the misguided demand from employers that cheaper is better. These services encourage low-level, high-activity churn. It encourages more inexperienced people to go into recruiting — people who think they can make quick money. It drives down the quality of candidates and it hinders the speed of service.”

Referral recruiting

The main idea behind many online recruiting start-ups is “referral recruiting.” It’s simple: Recruiters suck at finding job candidates, so let’s find someone else to find job candidates, thus recruiters and employers can both avoid recruiting. We’ll introduce a cool new business model: Split the placement fee with anyone who touches the process.

I won’t waste your time with links, because most of them are dead, but the lsplit-feesandscape is littered with the corpses of brilliant, “award-winning” referral services: refer.com, KarmaOne, YorZ, h3.com, referrio.com, and more.

When you get that call, you realize recruiters suck because the state-of-the-art in recruiting is not about recruiting. It’s about splitting recruiting fees while avoiding recruiting. And what of the employers that try out these services?

Says Haley, “Do they really think recruiters will do more for less? They will do less for less and the employers get what they pay for. Time spent working to fill jobs is minimized, which means quality is affected, speed of service slows down and the candidate experience is poor because no one really cares about the candidate. It’s all about the cost.”

Under this model, the recruiter who actually does the work is left with a tiny fraction of a fee. And you guessed it — this is how employers wind up working with really crappy recruiters, because the best ones don’t need help and aren’t going to share their fees. The intermediary “recruiting services” wind up pimping recruiters who can’t do the business themselves.

Scout Exchange

A representative from Scout Exchange (www.goscoutgo.com) tried to get me to write about this latest recruiting concept. I’ve included the URL in explicit form because the company’s mascot really is a dog. So they get their wish. The company charges employers to find recruiters who will find candidates to fill jobs.

Disintermediation, anyone?

I think what this tells us is that inept in-house personnel jockeys not only can’t recruit to find hires — they can’t find good recruiters. (Oops. We’ve inadvertently figured out why internal recruiters suck, too!)

Employers sign up for the service, which matches them with recruiters who sign up to share placement fees. Explained the rep: “Scout is an online platform that uses advanced data analytics and algorithms to find the best matches between specific job reqs from enterprise and specific third-party recruiters.”

(Note there’s no claim that anyone is matching workers to jobs. This is matching companies to recruiters. Recruiting recruiters. Do pimps have pimps?)

Tony Haley: “There are no advanced data analytics and algorithms that can account for human interaction, emotion and, therefore, decision making.” He took the words out of my mouth.

wild-dogWhen a job is filled after being “touched” by who knows how many parties, the employer pays a fee, which winds up shared by recruiters and Scout.

I was told: “Employers benefit from Scout’s bidding feature that allows recruiters to submit talent at the placement rates they feel are appropriate, often reducing agency costs for employers.”

This service encourages recruiters to fight like dogs for the right to have their throats slit by “clients” looking for bargains. When one of these recruiters calls you about a job, do you think they’re going to take time to act professionally? That’s the game.

Better yet, what do you think happens when a recruiter bids the lowest price? Does she bite the hand that feeds her?

RecruitFi

My favorite new recruiting service is RecruitFi. The company’s Business Development Director pitched me to do a story about the company, and excitedly told me they have “gameified” recruiting. (It seems these firms spend a lot of time trying to get into blogs. Is that business development?) Like Scout, RecruitFi doesn’t improve recruiting in any way that I can see. The game is that it merely spreads around the fees employers pay. But they spread the fees farther.

Here’s how it was explained to me. Buckle in for some serious doubletalk. (I added the highlights):

“There is higher engagement with incentives, because we have a large pool it helps us keep recruiters motivated as we connect them with new clients. [sic] We want the highest quality candidates for clients and small rewards as recruiters do searches acts [sic] as an incentive to be in our community. We also pay the candidates which closes the loop of hiring conformation (as well as establishes the relationship with their recruiter and us).”

Read that part again: They pay the candidates!

I asked David Hines, an HR consultant with Human Capital Solutions, LLC, for his reaction. “This model will get 95% of back-bencher contingency recruiters to participate. The best 5% of recruiters would never play in this arena because it would quickly kill their reputations,” said Hines. “As for paying candidates… Unbelievable. I can’t believe that these idiots don’t see any ethical violations here.”

Here’s what I told the biz dev guy from RecruitFi:

“First, about 5% of independent recruiters/headhunters are really any good. The rest are fast-buck artists who will do anything to make a fee. That’s who your model will engage. ‘Engaging’ all of them is a waste of time and counter-productive. When all of them are chasing the same candidates, it pollutes the pool and makes it more difficult to hire the best people. (See Headhunters, Personnel Jockeys & Monkeys.)

razor“Second, the best headhunters will not invest their valuable time to get partial fees. They’ll go work on real assignments, where the client wants the best candidates and is willing to work closely with one headhunter – even if only on contingency — who will earn a full fee. Key here is the fact that you’re not lowering the fee the client is paying – just distributing it. There’s no benefit to the client. Having ‘more headhunters’ working on an assignment has never resulted in better searches or better placements.

“All your model does is encourage headhunters to slit one another’s throats for the benefit of working with you. You will wind up with a pool of poor or mediocre headhunters throwing all the spaghetti against the wall that they can – to make a few bucks. The best assignments and the best placements will be done by the best recruiters.”

The best recruiters don’t play games and have no competition

Does this explain why most recruiters you encounter suck so bad? The very recruiting industry now sucks, because the newest developments are not about recruiting — they’re about introducing more hands to grab at limited placement fees, and paying even more wild dogs to abuse job applicants. They’re even paying you when you accept a job! This is the business model venture capitalists like to fund — because they don’t understand recruiting, either.

Yes, it sucks. The trouble is, employers support these “innovations” which amount to little more than recruiting recruiters to do the work recruiters inside corporations aren’t doing.

Meanwhile, the best recruiters have no real competition. They don’t play “games” or dice up fees, or abuse job applicants. For more about how to distinguish the real recruiters from those dialing for dollars, check How to Work With Headhunters… and how to make headhunters work for you. Much of the book is about how to avoid recruiters that suck. The rest is about how to profit from the best. And this week it’s 25% off! (Use discount code=FIREWORKS.)

Let’s hear about your experiences with recruiters that suck — and about those that don’t. And tell me whether you’ve encountered any clever new “recruiting services” that actually work to your advantage — whether you’re a job hunter or an employer or a recruiter.

: :

 

68 Comments on “Why do recruiters suck so bad?”
By Michiel van Beek
July 1, 2014 at 7:58 am

Hi,

I am a Dutch independent recruiter and I am trying not to suck. In general we have the same situation in Holland, poor quality recruitment. The cause is partly due to the hiring companies and due to the recruitment industry. There is too little focus on recruitment with the hiring companies and we (recruitment industry) accept no cure no pay (a stupid way to work), so we only go for ‘easy money’ which takes not a lot of time.

I ask for a fee that is much less than ncnp, but covers my time. So I can give quality time to the candidate and hiring company. But most of the time it’s only ncnp, because that’s the market.

I also don’t believe in new models/ apps that will change the recruitment market. Recruitment can’t be automated.

PS the recruitment proces is a three way proces and responsability (company, recruiter, candidate). If a candidate takes his/her apllication serious, I will do too. If not, why should I? I’am sorry to say, but a lot of canidates suck too. (But not you :-))

By Claudia J. Samuelson
July 1, 2014 at 8:46 am

Nick, I’m a national recruiter based in the Twin Cities and we hear you! I was told a few months ago that everyone in company ABC loved me because, “she doesn’t suck”. Yup. Those words exactly. Every day I’m hearing from someone (mainly candidates) who are being lied to, presented without permission, told inaccurate information to the company about the candidate and are fed up.

When I do coach people who aren’t working, I do my best to tell them to be careful with the automated automated systems. Luckily, many people have taken my advice and landed. Some, have already paid The Ladders before it’s too late.
Why client companies don’t work more with small, dedicated recruitment firms like mine is beyond me. We actually do the work and aren’t trying to take the lazy way out. Automation helps with finding people in my database, but to do the job, I have to actually interview people, get to know them and share their gifts, skills and abilities with hiring managers who want that.

As a firm without quotas, my pro bono work is dedicated to helping people navigate all of this and passing a great candidate onto an employer from time to time confidentially.

After 18 years in business, it’s completely changed. Many giant companies want to work with giant search firms that have rookie recruiters slamming resumes into their system to make their quotas. Fortunately, I have clients, big and small, who see through those systems.

The other component that Michiel brilliantly touched on is that there is pressure from hiring managers to bring a volume of resumes rather than that one, great candidate. This to me is also about education. Rookie recruiters don’t understand that they are helping their managers by telling them the truth. And telling candidates the truth that they don’t have a job for them.

I think it’s coming down to coming clean on multiple fronts. And while I do think the dog logo on the new Scout system is cute, there is no way I’m going to be automatically matched with a company. That just doesn’t make sense to me. As usual, Nick, I’m riled up and excited to be the recruiter that doesn’t suck when I read your blog. Thanks!

By Dave
July 1, 2014 at 9:42 am

@Claudia

” This to me is also about education. Rookie recruiters don’t understand that they are helping their managers by telling them the truth. And telling candidates the truth that they don’t have a job for them.”

I think this is the crux of the matter, in my dealings with recruiters. Even when they say “they have nothing,” it’s usually based on a quick parsing of a resume and maybe a couple of emails. How do you determine whether someone would be a good fit somewhere based on that?

By Some guy
July 1, 2014 at 9:58 am

What I’m trying to figure out is why recruiters and HR exist at all.

From what I can see, all they do is harass potential hires, babysit electronic paper shredders (ATS/applicant tracking systems), and pretend that they can find employees based on keywords and garbage psychology. (In most fields, the people who actually do the work are better at judging talent than paper pushers are.)

Companies should make managers go out and meet people. Those are the potential hires.

Without industry knowledge, intermediaries trying to hire with keywords and pop psychology is not too different from trying to find a husband by creating an OKCupid profile.
Just post a fake picture (of an attractive woman) and fake profile, and then do the keyword match searches.

In both online dating and ATSes you don’t find the mythical Prince Charming (“Sir Purple Squirrel of the Knights of the Round Acorn” in HR parlance?)from the keyword match searches and what you get in your inbox is a mixture of the good, bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately, because your standards say “never settle!”, the good ones are not identified because they are not 100% keyword matches (and won’t submit to your every whim)!

All of this leads you to believe that ‘there’s got to me the one for me’ out there.. except ‘the princess’ doesn’t go out to find him…but don’t forget that, since you haven’t found Prince Charming yet, you must treat all other suitors like garbage.. because they aren’t a 100% keyword match!

Sadly, there are hoards of worthy knights at the castle gate, but they cannot reach the hiring managers in person because there are moats and crocodiles chewing them up once they dare enter the castle to meet the hiring manager.

If only the hiring manager (the princess in this awful, winding metaphor, I guess) could get out of the castle to meet these good knights…

By Nick Corcodilos
July 1, 2014 at 10:04 am

@Dave: There are two problems, but to understand the real problem you must follow the money. First, as you point out, recruiters fail to tell their clients the truth. Second, this new “easy, instant, cheaper, automated” recruiting industry lies to employers – who now expect low-cost services. When they get crappy service from crummy (or resentful) recruiters, they blame the “talent shortage.” (Yes, employers are incredibly stupid.) So they tell honest recruiters to bug off while they sign up with the likes of Scout to find the lowest form of recruiters at the lowest cost. Employers control the fees. As long as they’re primed to buy crud, the best recruiters will operate on the fringe, working with smart clients. Check Claudia’s astute comments about boutique firms above – that’s where the best of the biz is.

By dlms
July 1, 2014 at 10:38 am

I agree with the above comments. I heard an advertisement on the radio for Zip Recruiters. Their claim to recruiting fame is to post your job opening to 50 job boards and watch the qualified candidates roll in. Really–50 job boards?! Qualified candidates?!

By Bryam
July 1, 2014 at 10:43 am

The original questioner has a worse problem:

I am a 46-year-old woman who has been rendered 100% unemployable in the New Economy. I’d just like some help in understanding what’s going on.

What’s going on is someone convinced you that you have no skills, no talent and nothing to offer anyone else on this planet that they’d be willing to pay you to do for them.

The only way I’d agree that you’re “100% unemployable” is if you were Tommy, but since you were able to send an email, I know that isn’t true.

By Dee
July 1, 2014 at 10:43 am

Driving every facet of recruitment down is the increasing prevalence of Indian recruiters in contract and FT employee positions–absolutely dominant in the IT field, increasingly strategic sourcing a/k/a purchasing and now polluting search for marketing/marketing communications.

The typical pattern is either an H1-B’d if onshore, or an India-based screener who then sends out emails and/or calls based on what the ATS spits out for the job spec. They find people on the job boards such as CareerBuilder and Monster. These ‘recruiters’ usually do not have English as a primary language, their comprehension is low and they largely read from scripts. HR departments contract with them because they are cheap. Where your resume goes into is a corporate or third-party database which is then served up to corporate HR (often contractors) and then the hiring manager. So Nick’s point about HR abdicating their proper role in the hiring process is even worse than you might think!

These ‘body shops’ also subcontract to each other. Typically you get two-three of these approaches. What’s oddly fun is on their calls, asking them the rate and for the same job getting three different numbers. Also pulling them off their scripts is good sport.

Unfortunately even American owned firms get sucked into this because their corporate clients play the game. Major offenders are AT&T, Verizon–for starters.

If you wind up contracting with one of these, be very careful of their contracts. They’ll put in all sorts of liability clauses and non-competes that are illegal or close to being so. Beware!

By Chris Walker
July 1, 2014 at 11:18 am

@ Some guy: the ATS as electronic paper shredded, love it.

By Bob
July 1, 2014 at 11:30 am

Recruiters. Employers. The hiring process is broken from both sides.

I’m glad that someone has already mentioned my (now) good friend, Apu the Indian Recruiter. I get far too many “urgent requirements” from Apu on a daily basis. Right now, if I’m left a voicemail that sounds like someone is talking into a Tin Can from the top of a Parsippany garbage dump, I just delete it.

I get calls from “recruiters” every day. From every 100 inquiries I receive, I’d say that only ONE is worth following up on. For the inquiries worth following up on, I’d say that maybe one out of thirty is from an old-fashioned recruiter, who’s doing the best for her clients.

It is now normal for a recruiter to not follow up when the hiring process has broken down, even if the breakdown is completely out of the recruiter’s control.

Employers… It’s now normal for a recruiter to be searching for candidates with skill sets that have nothing to do with the actual jobs that are being hired for.

There’s the Purple Squirrel problem. If you’re given the task of finding someone with 100 unique job skills & you find someone with 99 of those skills, that candidate isn’t qualified for the opening. It’s now normal to see job openings posted for over a year, because of the Purple Squirrel problem.

If you manage to submit a candidate, there is no communication between the recruiter and the hiring manager. It’s now the norm for a hiring manager to not be briefed on a candidate for an initial interview.

To that 46 year old… What you’re seeing is the new normal. It isn’t you.

By Claudia J. Samuelson
July 1, 2014 at 11:32 am

Bravo to the commentary on this incredibly important topic!
@some guy, there is a huge need for recruiters. Think about it: we all are recruiters and recruit regularly beyond just for the job situation: to find a pair of shoes, a PC Support person, someone to build my website, someone to come with me to the Jackson Brown concert, someone to go golfing with, etc.
A GREAT RECRUITER is someone that makes introductions. If someone asks me where I got my car, because they love it, or my outfit, etc. I SHARE. But I became so good at it that I decided I could probably make a living at it.
Every candidate out there has to realize that the recruiters they are speaking with have quotas! If you work with a quota based company, you will be treated as such. Why do you think timeshare companies eventually get people to come to their presentations? It’s numbers.
What you must do is be a good consumer. See what your recruiter can do for you and why. And if you don’t care – if you just want a body, or a job, any job…you’ll not get a great result.
A great recruiter will tap you on the shoulder with a job that you may just want to look at because you wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for them. A great recruiter can help a company with a terrible reputation trying to turn it around, improve their branding IF they follow through. A great recruiter can give you great advice – FOR FREE.
And a great recruiter will tell you the truth.

By Dave Nerz
July 1, 2014 at 11:53 am

Some recruiters are bad, some employers are bad, most candidates do not understand the process and think that a recruiter is responsible for getting them a job. That is a problem that is most easily fixed.

Nick, looks like you have some good books to help candidates understand the search process and how to change careers. I hope candidates invest in your products, it would make them smarter, it would save many recruiters (those that SUCK and those that do not) lots of wasted time.

I talk with candidates on a weekly basis about job searching and the role of a recruiter. I would say less than 10 percent of candidates understand the true role of a recruiter. They all mistakenly believe that recruiters take candidates and “promote the best ones to employers.” By the way, most candidates also believe that they can change from being billing or accounts payable administrators to being outside sales people by sending a resume to a recruiter that places sales people. The folks getting paid are searching our talent that is fully employed and moving that candidate from one full-time job to another. They are not just doing internet matches. And if you have ever been “headhunted” you know it is lots of work to get you to leave a good job for a better job.

There is lots of blame to go around. Do some recruiters suck? You bet…big time! Do some employers suck? You bet! Are many candidates clueless (maybe that translates to sucks in your lingo)? They may not intend to be clueless but they are. They got fired, they have not held a position for more than 12 months in any of the last 10 years, they have resumes that are completely disconnected from the jobs they seek, yet recruiters should drop everything and find them a job.

No system is perfect. When a good company, works with a good recruiter, and a good candidate gets placed, the system was effective. That happens about 500 times a year in our network. I wish it was more, but it is not easy work. It is hard work being performed by good people. Let’s not make everyone in any profession fall into the category of SUCKS.

Again, hope people buy your books so there is less sucking and more understanding.

By Eclipse Guy
July 1, 2014 at 11:59 am

OK. I’d like to add my 2 cents’ worth here as well, as I’ve recently joined the pool of “available experienced professionals” over 40, and have seen what today’s recruiters and their so called tools do for candidates.

A HUGE 800 pound gorilla that is also extant here is one word: RISK. I was an aerospace risk lead on a number of multi-million dollar space hardware programs for over 16+ years. I know risk…

Companies today (both high tech and not so high tech) are absolutely terrified to take ANY sort of risk. Not only does this apply to their core business, but also to hiring new employees.

Gosh forbid that either the internal/outside HR “jockeys”, as Nick so affectionately refers to them, or the actual hiring manager(s), bring a person onboard who might not work out…

If/when that occurs, the “guilty party” ends up with a HUGE black mark against them. What’s a company to do??? “Failure is not an option”, in the words of the late NASA flight director Chris Kraft…

Simple. Design the job description to be 100 percent identical to either what the prior employee’s skills and experience were, or what the perfect (??) candidate would possess, and then automate the search process..!

This way, no one is at fault if/when a new hire fails to work out. Why?? Simple. Either the position goes unfilled indefinitely (no decision, no chance to fail), or one can blame “the tool” and not any one person —— there just weren’t any truly “qualified” applicants out there that could be parsed by the algorithm..

With that in mind, it’s a risk free business model insofar as the recruitment business goes. Anyone can simply use some parsing software program to downselect from a massive pool of applicants to a final few, providing a 1.0 correlation coefficient to the position requirements. Presto —– and no one involved in the selection is at risk!!

Talk to candidates face to face? Hold recruitment events/open houses, or “fairs”?? Get off your backside and press some actual flesh? Naw. Too expensive, too slow, and too risky…

By Steve
July 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Nick: Like most of your readers, I appreciate your comments immensely and could also rail for pages about the consistently low quality of recruiters. Claudia from the Twin Cities (one of those readers who seems to be in the high-quality minority) reminded me of a recent recruiter call I received in Minnesota that echoes this thread. Having determined that I met all of the position qualifications in depth for an interesting low-six figure job, the recruiter concluded that I was not among the “final 3″ because I had spent so much time resurrecting and successfully redirecting failing or marginal companies. I said, “In other words, you’re looking for someone to occupy the chair without having a pulse? Why is the client looking at all? ” The recruiter was baffled by the question, of course. That job remains vacant after 6 months.

By Chris Walker
July 1, 2014 at 1:30 pm

For candidates, there is a simple solution to end harassment by sucky recruiters: stop dumping your resume into the swill pot (one of my favorite Nickisms,)er I mean uploading resumes to job board databases. Just opt out of the dysfunctional mess.

One thing to remember about working with any 3rd party, be it headhunter, staffing agency whatever. Those will never be much help for anyone looking to change careers. Candidates are inventory for these companies. An employer calls a staffing company and says they need a warehouse manager. The company goes to their shelf to find a warehouse manager. No employer calls to say they need someone who could be trained to be a warehouse manager. Seems to me there’s a book out there that gives some great advice for career changers.

By Claudia J. Samuelson
July 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Personal contact, hiring for talent and not skill, talent and not just personality…that’s how we used to hire them. And had ten year tenure (yes, that does sound kind of funny). @Steve thank you very much. @EclipseGuy – right- it’s as if it’s supposed to be some kind of science. Hiring talented people requires critical thinking and an ability to realize what you really need. Some companies want ‘A player’ personalities to do boring or career pausing work.
The other thing that is happening is that companies won’t look at candidates from other sources than their ‘preferred vendor’ lists. This further perpetuates a lack of creativity. Thank you, Nick for continuing to bring this up. As for the 46 year old who’s thinking she’s “unemployable”. There is NO such thing. But if you’re unemployed you truly have to be your own recruiter. A friend recently was laid off and within three weeks, this person has had 7 interviews and will likely get at least one offer. All by being their own headhunter in a field where the salaries are less than $50k. It’s really hard to network when you’re working. Having a good recruiter by your side to make introductions can be valuable. My friend found non recruiters inside and outside companies and they played the role of recruiter which resulted in interviews. Everyone is employable. It just may take some time.

By Ken
July 1, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Nic, I LOVE your posts! You are speaking a serious truth. When I went through a period of unemployment a few years ago, I dealt with various recruiters that left a bad taste in my mouth.

One situation was so bad, that I spent time going through LinkedIn removing a handful of recruiters from my connections.

Reading this post makes me think of a time when a recruitment firm contacted me because they saw my profile on LI. The first recruiter I chatted with was cordial and seemed to understand my industry. His boss, also the owner of the firm took over the rest of the process and got me an interview at a small tech firm.

He told me that the hiring manager had spoken with people at my former employer and they all had good things to say. I never recalled giving him references, so in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “who did he speak to?”

When I arrived at the company it was literally a ghost town, however after 1.5 years of unemployment, I was ready to begin working again. Situations were getting desperate.

The interview went well and being the gullible, desperate job seeker, I thought I had my foot in the door. A day later the recruiter called to give me the bad news.

The information provided in the feedback did not sound like my interview at all. I even asked if he was sure they were talking about me. Our perspectives were polar opposites.

I was angry, felt belittled and decided to end the call. At this point I should have let it go, but I couldn’t. Something was off.

I reached out to the hiring manager at the tech firm to thank him for his time and ask about him contacting people at our former employer.

Five minutes later, he sent an email profusely apologizing and stated that he would never, ever do something that. It was then I realized recruiter was FOS. I think the hiring manager was just as shocked that the recruiter lied about him.

I was still out of a job, but it was a blessing in disguise. Had I got the job I would have been laid off 4 months later. The company folded because the couldn’t pay their bills.

By Gwen
July 1, 2014 at 6:46 pm

First of all I hope the questioner this week realizes that her age is not an issue. Forty- something is still relatively young with an average of 18-25 years left in the workforce IF they choose to retire at 65. Get that negative belief out of your head. If you’re “done” at forty six, then that means the train of logic is to get hunkered down into a job by 40, stay there forever and die. Then that means if your industry may be low growth or phases out while you’re there in your forties you’re up poo creek. Ridiculous!

Second, as always, the intelligent commentary from Nick and the commenter’s always drives the facts home. I hope she realizes that people hire people. It’s as simple as that. My job was acquired because someone from the organization I now work for noticed and realized my professional demeanor and character, and went to bat for me for my present job after meeting with me for just one hour. I now ironically transition people back into the workforce which is one of the stipulations of my duties. It is a government job and I love it!

My advice for you is to check with your local and state workforce agencies and see if you qualify for job training programs to get you into a well paying high growth industry. These programs help people up to age 60. So trust me when I think you are not assessing your age “barrier” correctly. Nick told you right that you’re just around bad apples.

One more thing, go to industry related trade shows of interest, do meetups. And by golly, go where people connect in person at venues of interest ! You’ll be surprised at how valuable these interactions are!

Good stuff Nick!

By Justin W.
July 1, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Hi, Nick.

Great article, as always. In light of this reaffirmation that most recruiters suck, what should one do when a recruiter emails?

I get contacted a couple times a month from recruiters on LinkedIn with specific opportunities in my field. Nothing has come up in the past couple of years that has interested me, but all of the advice I’ve been given about interacting with recruiters is that I should try to help them in any way I can. I always try to socialize their opportunities among the relevant people within my own network.

Am I wasting my time? Are all of the recruiters who contact me on LinkedIn worthless (professionally speaking)? I am still an individual contributor, so I assume that I’m not senior enough to be contacted by a “decent” recruiter.

Maybe at some point you might consider doing a blog post on how to respond to recruiters in this situation (if you haven’t already–I’ve read lots of the archives, but not everything).

Thanks for your content–it’s awesome!

By Claudia J. Samuelson
July 1, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Hi, Justin – I’d like to offer a suggestion since this post is a topic that I’m passionate about. I don’t know what field you’re in, but regardless, if a recruiter contacts you about a position remember that they may be trying to meet a quota. Find out what firm they are with and do a little research on LinkedIn to see if they have any recommendations from candidates or clients.

See if they will have an exploratory phone conversation with you — before you send your resume. And don’t send your resume if anything is uncomfortable.
See if they can tell you more about their client, the location, the stuff outside of a job description. And if they aren’t generous enough with their time to share that with you, run for the hills:-)
There are plenty of good recruiters out here, and the bulk of what many of us do are the “individual contributor” roles. So be a good consumer as I referenced earlier. And let’s see what else Nick has to say.

By Justin W.
July 1, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Thanks for the response, Claudia! My dilemma has been what do I do with opportunities that I’m NOT interested in? 90% of the time, recruiters contact me for lateral moves, and I’m just not interested in switching companies for a lateral move (at the moment). Should candidates invest the time and energy in getting to know the recruiter even when it’s not the right opportunity?

By Brian McKenzie
July 2, 2014 at 1:35 am

Recruiters, Talent Acquisition, HR Suck so hard in America, that after 5 years of being unemployed/underemployed – I left America. I was hired within two weeks of arriving in Korea; I have several side line projects to keep me busy, and I have an active and happy social life.
NONE of which were evident in America for years.

When you fail at home, don’t be afraid to succeed overseas.
Get on that Plane, Get out. Life is better here.
(It helps to have a foreign language – and I do)

By Karsten
July 2, 2014 at 5:26 am

Recruiters that ask where I work(!!!), because they are “too busy” to spend two minutes on the LinkedIn profile. Recruiters that suggest irrelevant places, sectors or jobs I am totally unqualified for…

I have got cold calls from, I think, seven different recruiters that all try to recruit me to “X Petroleum”. It usually goes like this:

Phone number starting with +44 calls…

– Hi, Karsten speaking.

– Hi, this is Some Guy calling from London [and speaking very fast from a crib sheet]. I represent Recruiting Company With Long And Posh Sounding Name. We are a specialised Company that recruit the best people for international oil and energy companies. I was referred to you by Someone I Will Refuse To Disclose, and wondered if you might be interested in a position with a very well funded upstart oil comapny that has recently got acreage in Norway and Other Places, and the compensation package will be very good and…

– Hold on your boiler plate talk for a second. I assume you referr to X Petroleum?

– How could you know?

– Because I know the Norwegian oil industr much better than you, and because you are the seventh recruiter from as many firms that calls me about it, all delivering fast boiler late speak. So I have some boiler plate for you as well:

Firstly, I do not want to change jobs.

Secondly, if and when, I will simply pick up the phone to my industry network. My knowledge about the Norwegian oil industry is much larger than yours. I do not need you, you are a redundant friction cost.

Thirdly, the fact that you are just one of many cold callers tells me that you just want my resume to spam to the company. You have really no integrity.

– …Er, it is OK if you are not interested, but are there anyone you know that may be interested?

– In such case I will refer them directly. No need for the friction cost to go through a person I know nothing about. Sorry, bye.

(By the way, the reason X Petroleum has trouble getting people is that they are clueless about the Norwegian oil industry…)

Anyone that knows why the British recruiting industry is soaked with these types?

By Gwen
July 2, 2014 at 6:01 am

@Dave Nerz…With all due respect and not confrontational just curious, you stated, “the folks getting paid is searching our talent that is fully employed and moving that candidate from one full time job to another…” That right there is bothering me.

This ideology is promoting one of the issues we have in the workforce of America today that I get to see everyday on my job. Good, honest eager to learn and adaptable people who are out of a job ( usually through no fault of their own) get shafted out of jobs because someone ALREADY employed gets it over them. Huh? So just because jerk is employed in IT, gets a job over nice IT Bob who is more courteous yet unemployed gets the brush off.

I guess this perpetuates our non chalance to keep using unprecedented tax dollars to pay nice Bob unemployment and pay for programs to allow him to survive instead of giving him the opportunity to make a real living by giving him a job he is qualified for that would add back to the economy in a more meaningful way…hmmmmmmm…

By Nick Corcodilos
July 2, 2014 at 9:38 am

@Claudia: Thanks for discussing how really good headhunters work. Courtesy referrals, helping employers fix bad reps, coaching candidates, contributing to the professional community. It’s what the best ones do, and it’s why the rest aren’t worth responding to. Cattle calls seek cattle, not people. Just say no. But get to know the best recruiters in your field and stay in touch by offering useful info and good referrals to them. They will remember you. But don’t expect them to find you a job when you need it desperately – that’s just not THEIR job.

@Dave Nerz: All good points. Candidates do indeed have unreasonable expectations. But it’s employers and recruiters that have created those expectations by acting like they really, really want to hear from EVERY job hunter ALL the time. Desperate recruiters who don’t know what they’re doing rely on “the numbers” – and as a result, they treat people like crap because no one can handle those kinds of numbers professionally. The biz has brainwashed job seekers, who need to educate themselves and get over it.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 2, 2014 at 9:49 am

@Eclipse Guy: I’m still laffing at your indictment of employers. Great post!

@Ken: What a story. It’s no as uncommon as you might think. Some “recruiters” will tell the hiring manager about the candidate’s “great references” without checking any. Trying to pump up the candidate with make-believe is another common ruse, as you’ve experienced. What people need to realize is that the fee to fill a job can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The sleazier the recruiter, the greater the tendency to lie to get the bucks. Walk with eyes wide open, and ask lots of questions. My compliments for doing the unthinkable and CALLING THE MANAGER yourself.

By Carol
July 2, 2014 at 3:15 pm

On the topic of lazy recruiters I received two mass distributed emails from a recruiter at large recruiting firm yesterday (I was blind copied so can’t tell how many people she sent it to). The emails contained no job description and not even a hint of what type of company the position might be at. It only said her client looking for a VP Finance with experience at companies with under $500K revenue, an international background, VP level experience, stability on their resume, and manufacturing experience is a plus. She requested that anyone with this experience send their resume directly to her.

The way this recruiter got my email address is that they already have my resume in their database. The above qualifications would be very easy to spot with only a brief scan of the resumes of the people in her email distribution yet she was too lazy to even do that! I have to wonder how she managed to impress her client. One would think if you were paying a recruiter to find a VP level candidate you would expect them to go to a bit more effort than mass email everyone in their database. Of course she will get a hundred or more resumes and slim change she will respond to or acknowledge most of them.

By Scott
July 2, 2014 at 4:13 pm

If the mark of a good recruiter is being able to search out great candidates by various means, why would anyone be interested in a recruiter who is unable to search out clients for him or herself?

By Nick Corcodilos
July 2, 2014 at 4:41 pm

@Scott: “If the mark of a good recruiter is being able to search out great candidates by various means, why would anyone be interested in a recruiter who is unable to search out clients for him or herself?”

AMEN, BROTHER! These parasitic “meta-recruiters” are recruiting recruiters to recruit job applicants for recruiters that can’t recruit!

By Rory
July 2, 2014 at 4:52 pm

The whole idea of swimming in a new blue ocean, instead of with the sharks, is where the action is. I liked the book, was it called, “Blue Ocean Strategy?”

You are right, we cannot swim with the sharks.

By Don
July 2, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Good recruiters/headhunter, are consistently good networkers, which is primarily why they are good. They invest a lot of time on their network, building and maintaining it.
I think the writer would have been closer to the mark if she said the recruiting process/supply chain sucks.
The process is not all about recruiters or HR, it ultimately includes the hiring managers…who just like the recruiting community suck in equal proportions. That is, Good hiring managers also are good networkers.
And good recruiters and good hiring managers inhabit each others networks via trusting relationships.
That’s why a good recruiter isn’t BSing anyone when they say they have valuable contacts and they have found good candidates AND hiring managers via their networks. The ultimate measure of a good, confident and ethical headhunter is that they are in a position to not only screen out bad candidates, but bad clients. They can, and do fire clients on both sides of the equation.
The discussion didn’t touch on the middle ground. Unless you are spectacularly lucky, you don’t usually become good overnight. It takes time and effort. So there’s a middle ground of people, recruiters, managers, HR people and candidates who are trying to do the right thing, but haven’t quite made it. What stops you? Often environment. Working in a metric driven recruiting agency with a boiler work model who insist you play a #’s game. # of calls, # of interviews and bleed you dry of the time to do quality network and relationship building that will make you good. Or hiring managers in companies that micro manage your hires with useless criteria that hobble your network (the “requires”..college degree, gazillion years of experience, work for food).
The good people persist and overcome the things that block what their guts and common sense tells them is the right thing to do.
As Nick said, anyone can set up shop and declare they are a recruiter. If the jerks can do it, there’s no rule that says a job hunter can’t. I don’t mean be a recruiter vocationally (you can..but you may want to think about that a lot), I mean…be your own recruiter for your job search. Cut to the chase. Make your own calls, get out there and meeting people…target companies to explore, managers to meet etc. Learn to do that for your career, not to tire kick for the next job. Set out to understand what makes a recruiter be a good recruiter, and imitate it and don’t stop.

By Michiel van Beek
July 3, 2014 at 5:20 am

@ Don.

Good point you make! It’s indeed the system that sucks. To change that takes a cultural change and that is only possible when a lot of people are unhappy with the current system. If you read all the comments, maybe this Is the time. ‘I have a dream’ by NC?

PS Like Don said there are good recruiters out there. They are easy to recognize, because they know what they are talking about. Honesty is the keyword here.

By Glenn
July 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm

The next-to-last question the 46-year old woman asked was, “Are recruiters truly incapable of providing real feedback?”

Well, while some would like to, corporate policy has instructed them to not do so. You can thank a litigious climate for that.

Incidentally, that’s also why some recruiters decide to strike out on their own. Although it is easy for anyone to set up shop as described here, some actually want to bring back the “human” part of HR. This differentiates them from the rest of the field.

By Bob Johnson
July 3, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Nick amazing stuff here. Something I have wanted to see for some time now. There are so few people giving us the real truth when it comes to the hiring process. So my thoughts: ATS = Automation = laziness = I don’t want to be held responsible so I will let the machine do my job for me = no risk. Loved the summary of failed attempts on internet recruiting. BUT, now we have a bunch of internet thieves perfecting the best way to get you hooked with their systems that really don’t do anything of value for you. The new business of big data is to part you from your personal information with the promise that you will be helped somehow. Don’t buy it folks. They find ways to make money off you in amazingly small pieces. And if you think that is bad wait for your “social relevance” score to be mentioned in your next interview.

By marybeth
July 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Nick, thanks for another excellent article and advice.

I think the problem is systemic, and the whole hiring process itself is broken. It is so screwed up that focusing on one part of it (headhunters and recruiters), while truly useful as a matter of shining a light on it so we don’t get sucked into it (or worse, blame ourselves), won’t fix it. The system needs to be fixed, and unfortunately I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon. Employers complain, but I think they secretly like it this way; if they really didn’t like it, they’d do something about it, and I don’t mean jumping on the ATS bandwagon. It is easier to let a computer (which does not think) do your hiring, and if that doesn’t work, then you howl indignantly about the “talent shortage”. There are still too many unemployed and underemployed people with experience, and it is still the employers’ market, so there is no incentive to change.

One of my alma maters had posted a job that I thought I could do, but they’ve completely outsourced the hiring process to a firm in Texas. I don’t know who they are (I suspect recruiters/headhunters), but I had heard grumbling that they were not happy with the candidates. I asked why the college isn’t doing the hiring themselves–does a firm so far away really know what you/the college, your mission, your goals, the staff and faculty, the students, the alumnae, and will they be able to pick candidates who will fit and be able to work with staff already there, who will be a good fit for the campus community? It doesn’t mean the TX firm can’t do it, but I would think that letting the faculty and staff do the hiring would make more sense. This firm will not take calls or emails re the jobs.

I’m sure that there are times when it makes sense to have a third party do the hiring, but I just don’t get the outsourcing part, nor the secrecy.

Shady recruiters are a problem, but they wouldn’t exist if employers didn’t abrogate the hiring responsibility. And they’ll continue to muck up the system until employers take back control of the hiring process–kill their ATS, get out and start talking to people, and don’t rely on computers and snake oil salesmen to do the hiring.

@Nick: I’ve saved this week’s article and the comments and am showing them to my folks. Only last week, during a visit, my folks asked me why I didn’t “just hire a headhunter or a recruiter” since I am such a loser at getting a job. I tried to explain that I, as a job seeker, can’t hire a headhunter or a recruiter because that isn’t the way the system works, that employers hire them to find candidates. They didn’t believe me, so I am showing them this article. They reminded me that my brother used a headhunter, and I reminded them that this means he was contacted by a headhunter (another story about a shady, unethical headhunter that had a bad ending), that it had ended badly for my brother (they forgot that part)–he didn’t hire the headhunter.

By marybeth
July 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm

One more point–I think the letter writer’s comment re her age and skills just reflects how discouraged she is with the whole system–like me, like many of us. Age discrimination is alive and thriving in this economy. She’s got plenty of experience, but is finding that no one wants an “older” worker, probably because while they want the experience she would bring, they don’t want to pay her for it. They want to hire experienced workers but pay entry-level wages.

I know, I know, Nick, this is another issue and another column for another day.

By Travis
July 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Nick,

I understand where you are coming from. As a recruiter I have seen lazy recruiters and even in the military recruiting is losing the art of recruiting. I would like to think that I am a 1%er recruiter, what advice would you give to someone like me so that we can standout to hiring managers when we are looking for a job as an in-house recruiter?

By D Marie
July 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Hi all, I’m the OP here (sheesh, I skip one week and I miss my own letter?) — 46yo woman, and yes, I am permanently unemployable — the NYT even did an article that confirms it, “Unemployed? You May Never Work Again.” Firstly, I am/was a graphic designer — 20 years ago my first design instructor told the class “when you turn 40 you can forget about working in this field.” So there’s that. I also chose a horrible city, Boston — nothing but cronyism and incompetence around here unless you’re in STEM. I’ve been searching/applying nationwide but because I have now been unemployed for more than 6 months, no one will even look at me. That I am unemployed IS THE REASON I AM UNEMPLOYED makes no sense whatsoever to me, but this is the new reality.

I knew I had picked a risky field, but I thought certainly I could always fall back on my business degree and early office experience — combined with my recent design career (totaling 27 years of work experience), how could that not translate into a good job??? Well, after hundreds of resumes/applications/rejections, here I am losing my home and preparing to move into my mom’s basement (the only other thing I can think of is whether there’s some sort of secret hiring “blacklist” that I’m on???). Heck, I even sunk low enough to apply for minimum wage shelf stocker at Target — and was rejected! Where do you go when you’ve been rejected by Target?

To address a few direct comments above:
“What’s going on is someone convinced you that you have no skills, no talent and nothing to offer anyone else on this planet / As for the 46 year old who’s thinking she’s “unemployable”. There is NO such thing.”

I really don’t want to get into an argument about whose reality is “real,” if you’re doing fine post-recession I’m glad for you, but you’d better hope you never lose your job because you could find yourselves in the same boat.

“To that 46 year old… What you’re seeing is the new normal. It isn’t you.”

Thanks, I figured as much, I’ve met many poor souls like myself both at meet-ups and online, I know what we are going through is very real — the scary thing is, I don’t see it changing.

“My advice for you is to check with your local and state workforce agencies and see if you qualify for job training programs to get you into a well paying high growth industry. These programs help people up to age 60. So trust me when I think you are not assessing your age “barrier” correctly.”

I know everyone means wells, but seriously, I’ve tried everything including going to my “state workforce agency” (the one-stop career center). A complete joke. The best they’ll offer you is to find you training (not free) for something crappy like medical billing that pays a salary closer to what I earned in 1992 ($12/hr) — you can only manage on such a low salary if you have a spouse and kids to help pay your bills. I have neither.

“After 5 years of being unemployed/underemployed – I left America. I was hired within two weeks of arriving in Korea; I have several side line projects to keep me busy, and I have an active and happy social life. NONE of which were evident in America for years. When you fail at home, don’t be afraid to succeed overseas. Get on that Plane, Get out. Life is better here.”

Thank you for reaffirming what I’ve decided to do. I attempted to find work overseas but was hit with the whole work permit issue (how did you manage to get one?). After sinking seriously low (I had indeed planned to end my life come September) I enrolled in a TEFL certification course. If all goes well, I will be heading overseas to teach English. In other words, to have a career, to have a job, to avoid poverty, I have to emigrate in the opposite direction as my mother 46 years ago (she left former Yugoslavia for a better life). I’d call this whole situation an EPIC FAIL on America, but that’s for another discussion…

“Good, honest eager to learn and adaptable people who are out of a job (usually through no fault of their own) get shafted out of jobs because someone ALREADY employed gets it over them. Huh? So just because jerk is employed in IT, gets a job over nice IT Bob who is more courteous yet unemployed gets the brush off.”

^This^ has been proven a number of times (again, see NYT article), companies automatically reject the unemployed. There was even some guy in NJ who posted “only apply if you’re employed.”

This whole thing still seems like a crazy Twilight Zone ep, this is certainly not the future I was promised, I was not warned that I would be unemployable at 46, but that’s what the job market is telling me (I believe we’ll sort of be a “lost fragment” of society, too old for a decent job but too young to retire, we’ll just silently disappear). I’ve begun compiling all my crazy job hunting stories in my tumblr blog, and hope to continue writing about this if/when I get that TEFL certification and head overseas. I’ll most likely end up in China — how crazy is that, I have to go to China for a job because America couldn’t offer me one???

Nick, recall story #3 that I included in my msg? Well, I got contacted by yet another recruiter (that would be a THIRD one) about that same job — this is two full months after the job was posted, and it’s been empty this whole time…I emailed the guy who submitted me, asking rather irately just what the heck is going on, he emailed back not really knowing what to say but he did say “clearly the hiring manager just doesn’t know what he’s looking for.” I think that pretty much sums up what’s going on here.

By Low-rate recruiters - The bane of my existence | James Serra's Blog
July 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

[…] Why do recruiters suck so bad? […]

By Bob
July 6, 2014 at 10:10 pm

D Marie,

I’m the guy that told you: “Welcome to the new normal.”

I have been out of work for a few years.

I live in Boston. I’ve inherited a home where the Marathon Bomber was chased from house to house. Since I now own a home in Boston, I finally relented and started looking for work in Boston about a year ago.

Looking for work in Boston is one of the worst mistakes I’ve made in the past few years.

You’ll find that people looking for STEM openings in Boston are having the same experience you are.

Let me give you an example:

For a moment, suppose I could play TinkerBell and with a little pixie dust, I could turn you into a solid mid-level iPhone (iOS) developer that has graphics skills to develop user interfaces.

Because you’re only a solid mid-level iOS developer, you’re unqualified for any of the iOS positions available in the Boston area today. Only iOS expert developers need apply.

I picked iOS because it’s one of the hottest in-demand skills right now & recruiters can’t find candidates. I’m willing to bet at least one recruiter will read this response and will be shocked that you’d be turned down for iOS work.

This is the reality of the Boston job market. Companies are hiring if you meet their ridiculous list of requirements, then they’ll offer peanuts as pay.

You are far from alone in having difficulty finding work in Boston.

If I were you, I start looking for a positions further & further away from Boston. Even if you had to work out some temporary arrangement, just to get your confidence back.

By D Marie
July 6, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Hi Bob, that’s a good observation about the whole mobile app field. The problem is, that’s a two person job, designer and programmer. Not many programmers can design well, and not all designers can or want to code all day; I fall into the latter group, but I am confident that I could design mobile/iOS interfaces as a member of a team that includes programmers. But of course companies want one person to do both. A few months ago I applied for a design job that included mobile interface design but it explicitly said ‘no programming required,’ they worded it like they really wanted a traditional graphic designer. Well, the recruiter immediately contacted me saying my background looks like a great fit and we chatted on the phone. He had my resume, he saw my portfolio, so he knew my skill set, yet he still asked “do you have any mobile experience?” Now, if I did, why would I leave that off my resume? Or did he even read my resume at all? He ended the call by telling me “sorry, this job isn’t going to be a fit, you’ve got too many gaps in your skills.” I wanted to tell him off — he knew before the call what my skill set was, did he call me just to insult me? Skills gap my foot, this guy has a reality gap.

I applied for a design job which showed up on Indeed and led me to their online application. The next day the job was posted on one of the design job boards, so I applied there as well, hoping to get noticed. I got an email from the HR jerk saying “thank you for submitting your resume. Please fill out an online application at our website.” And that was it. In other words, “here’s a link, now quit bothering me.” I replied back stating that I look forward to hearing back from them because I had worked on many projects for them while at my old design company (they were a huge client of ours). Did he even respond to that? Nope.

I wish I had acknowledged that this city was no good years ago, now it’s too late. I’ve applied all over the country but no company will look at me even though I state I don’t require relocation assistance and can start work immediately. Being unemployed for more than 6 months is the kiss of death.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 7, 2014 at 9:40 am

@Travis: “what advice would you give to someone like me so that we can standout to hiring managers when we are looking for a job as an in-house recruiter?”

In most companies, hiring managers have nothing to say about who is hired to recruit. It doesn’t take much thinking to realize how wrong that is. So your question is actually very important – but it presumes that you’ll have a chance to talk with hiring managers for whom you will be recruiting people.

I think the single best thing you can do as a recruiter is to embed yourself in the hiring manager’s team. Spend as much time as you can with them. Learn their business, their style, their strengths and weaknesses – or you will never understand how you can help them. I wish you the best.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 7, 2014 at 9:43 am

@Justin W.: “Should candidates invest the time and energy in getting to know the recruiter even when it’s not the right opportunity?”

Yes, but only if in your judgment the recruiter is worth getting to know. Sometimes that’s quickly apparent. If you really want to score points, recommend some potential candidates for the position you’re not interested in.

By Claudia J. Samuelson
July 8, 2014 at 11:42 am

@Justin – sorry – I took a couple of days away, and wanted to respond directly to your question. I agree with Nick’s answer to you. I think that it’s important to establish some relationships with good recruiters, provide them with your very specific criteria, be sure they will keep your resume in confidence. If we have your resume in our database and can make notes, then, when a job that may be right appears, we can contact you. In some cases it can be years. I hope that is helpful.
@Nick – there are many hiring managers that actually want to work with me – but HR doesn’t want to work with any outside recruiters. It’s been a problem for years.

By marybeth
July 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm

@D Marie: you’re not alone, and what you’ve experienced isn’t limited to your industry nor even to your area/location. My SIL went to school to be a graphic artist. She had steady employment through the late 90’s, then the company she worked for started treating their employees badly, so she quit and started free-lancing. When she and my brother got married, then decided to start their family, she stopped working (except for very small projects that wouldn’t interfere with her childcare and childrearing duties), planning to return to work full time when her youngest started school full time. That was two years ago, and she found, that having been virtually unemployed for 11 years and with the job market being what it was, there were no jobs. My brother was livid because he had been the sole wage earner for a long time and they could use even a part time second income. She started looking for work when kids started school, got discouraged within a month and gave up. The other challenge for her is the kids (I have a 10 year old nephew and 8 year old niece) and their schedules. Both kids take the bus, but the bus will not drop off kids unless mom is home to greet them. After school programs are terribly expensive (multiply that cost times two), so she would have had to find a full time job that allowed her to be out no later than 2 pm so she could be home by 2:30 when the bus dropped off the kids. That doesn’t even take into account curriculum days (half days), school vacations, and more when she would have to scramble to find someone to watch the kids or pay dearly for camps and programs while she is at work. It is a real challenge. The free-lancing jobs she had prior to getting pregnant and before the kids went to school have all dried up. She had one client, a textbook publisher, that hired her to illustrate a couple of their textbooks every year, and now that’s gone. The publisher has decided it doesn’t need new illustrations every year. Other clients have decided, rather than hire her, to turn any jobs over to someone in-house, and others have eliminated illustrations entirely. My SIL is a little younger than you, and the market isn’t kind to her despite her portfolio and references. She is taking some classes (one per year) at UMass/Lowell (where my brother works) because they’re free (perq of having a spouse who works there) in website design, and hopes this will translate into a new career for her. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that at all of job hunting meetings I’ve attended for alumnae of my college, many of the older women have flocked to that field because it is flexible (especially for those who still have children at home, a husband to take care of, and/or elderly parents and in-laws to take care of) and not a single one of them has gotten a job. More than a few expressed frustration and disappointment that the classes they took did not lead to employment. Sure, it is a useful skill, but it seems, at least in this area, that employers aren’t hiring people solely to design their websites or to update/fix their websites. My SIL says the same thing about the Boston job market, although her BIL, a sound engineer, has not had any trouble getting work. But he’s younger than her by more than 10 years, and I really think that age discrimination is a big part of the problem. I don’t know why “young” is preferred to experience.

To those employers who only want young, hip employees, I am going to remind you that no one escapes getting older, not even Dorian Gray. The question should be “can he do the job?” not “how old is he?”.

Nick has given us some excellent advice, as have the posters here. A recruiter who doesn’t want to talk to you, to meet with you, who doesn’t want to read your portfolio and who instead relies upon keywords and college graduation dates isn’t a real recruiter.

The problem with being “older” is that it may be too late to return to school for a degree or training in something else, especially if by the time you finish, you’ll be 50.

It isn’t just the tech industry either. I was out of work for nearly two years, and now am underemployed (part time). It is better than being unemployed, but still discouraging. I can see how broken the whole system is, and no one seems to want to do anything about it. Hiring managers abrogate their responsibilities to HR, HR is completely disengaged from the process because not only do they not know about the jobs they’re looking to fill, they have turned over the process to computers and ATSes to make the decisions for them, then employers complain that there’s a talent shortage because no one matches their job descriptions. No one seems to be willing to hire the 80% candidate and train him in the other 20%. I’ve seen the job descriptions that state that the unemployed will not be considered. How dumb is that if the unemployed person has only been out of work for a week (can skills really atrophy that fast in a mere week) and he has the skills they need?

The other part of the problem is pay scales. Many employers are looking for the cheapest workers; I’ve seen job descriptions listing 28+ specs (all requirements, not preferences), 5-8 years experience required, but the pay is $8.00 per hour. Oh, and they want a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as well, plus internship experience.

If this were just a few employers in a select industry, I’d say they were on Fantasy Island, but it is across many fields/industries and not limited to the Boston area.

D Marie: chin up, keep looking, reach out to your family, friends, former colleagues, alumni association, etc. and hang in there. I got my part time job through a connection–an acquaintance I’d met years ago at the gym I use. There was a vacancy, and she talked me up to the head of circulation at the library where I now work. Sure, I wish it were full time, that it paid more and came with benefits, but in the meantime, I’m grateful for even a part time job. It could be much worse. My personal connection helped me get through and get a job, and I didn’t fill out an application until after I was hired (and this for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), so the “everyone has to fill out an online application or download their résumé” is bunk. If the manager wants to hire you, you’ll be hired.

By Aaron Stauffer
July 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm

If you hadn’t provided a link for goscoutgo.com I would have thought it was a joke! It’s no wonder the people I work with on a day to day basis have such a hard time getting into jobs.

Part of my job fits into this whole mess of employers hiring recruiters to hire recruiters. I work for a non-profit organization funded partially by the state and federal governments to assist employers in acquiring a good workforce. How does that work? We have a small network of liaisons that work directly with the businesses (if they allow it) to find out their employment needs. Those liaisons then go to a skeleton crew of career advisers to see if we have found anyone fit for the position. If we feel comfortable with a job seeker, we can present them to the liaison. If the liaison likes our referral, they can refer them to the employer. We provide other educational services too but they inevitably lead to the above process if the job seeker is committed.

The good part is that it encourages networking in the job seeking community, educates the workforce on how to get face-time with a hiring manager, and it’s completely free to everyone. The bad part is that it still revolves around resumes and cover letters and, frequently, horribly designed online application processes.

Every state has an organization like this but they go by different names. In Michigan, it is called Michigan Works. They are broadly referred to as “onestops” because they house a large selection of public services under one roof for efficiency and convenience.

I strongly recommend visiting your local Onestop if you are having a hard time getting employed. I’m not savvy on how they are structured outside of Michigan but it can’t hurt to check yours out and see what free services they have to offer.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 8, 2014 at 4:27 pm

@Claudia:

“there are many hiring managers that actually want to work with me – but HR doesn’t want to work with any outside recruiters. It’s been a problem for years.”

We’ve all faced that problem. I’m happy to say that I’ve had many managers work with me anyway, and they made HR pay me – because hiring was a top priority and HR was an administrative function that never trumped management. Next time, suggest to the manager that he or she get clearance from THEIR boss to spend the money ANYWAY. It works sometimes :-). HR gets p-o’d, but so what? It’s nice to win one.

By D Marie
July 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Thanks for responding, marybeth. I’ve pretty much accepted that my career is over — that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it or that I don’t cry every single day. I am now putting all my hopes and efforts into making this TEFL thing a success (my life literally depends on it). Everyone has been incredibly supportive of this (except my mother — can’t blame her, she has to watch her only child disappear to the other side of the world), and they mean well when their reaction to my whole sad story is “oh but that sounds really exciting!” but it just irks me, because there’s nothing “exciting” about losing my home and having to leave my family and my 3 cats behind and head off to who-knows-where to start all over with nothing because my only alternative is minimum wage at Walmart. And I have made a Scarlett O’Hara-type vow that I will never apply for minimum wage work again — recall I was rejected by Target…I think I’m going to compile all these crazy stories I’ve amassed into a book, call it “Rejected by Target” or maybe “Rejected by America,” I’m going to continue writing about this, I want the world to know how this system failed me. I want people to read this and just agree that there is something seriously wrong with this picture.

“I’ve seen job descriptions listing 28+ specs”–

There’s currently a design job circulating through the job boards for a contract gig at MIT-Lincoln Lab via some recruitment firm. The job description has 54 bullet points:
https://www.linkedin.com/jobs2/view/16506934?trk=vsrp_jobs_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A1072030221404920106027%2CVSRPtargetId%3A16506934%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary

This job was first posted over a month ago, and I foolishly applied, because I do indeed meet all 54 bulleted requirements, but I guess that’s not good enough. Which makes me wonder, is this just a joke job? Seriously, what’s their game here? I interviewed there back in March for a similar job (thought the two-hour interview went perfectly, but at the end he let it slip that “we’re also considering an internal candidate,” which means it was a waste of my time). If these people were smart they’d have contacted me about this job and ask me if I’m still available. Instead they keep posting it over and over on StinkedIn, where it says they’ve got 50 applicants — so out of 50 applicants not one was qualified? Gee, they clearly need to add more bullet points to that description, because 54 ain’t enough!

I had two calls yesterday with two separate recruiters, both offering me the world, the first one sounded half my age (typical) and had the audacity to ask if she can speak to my references (I flat out said NO, you’ll get my references when your client is ready to offer me a job). The second one swears he’ll be the one to find me a job and that he’ll get back to me by tomorrow with feedback from his client. I already know how this is going to go down: he’ll email me saying “my client has decided to pass on your candidacy and focus on others who are more qualified (again, how is that “feedback?”) but I’ll keep looking for positions that better match your background.” Well, gee, I thought this job matched my background…? $10 says I never hear from him again.

There was the interview I had with some inexperienced inept girl who couldn’t have been more than 22 years old, couldn’t barely hold a sentence together, she didn’t even know that at the end of the interview you’re supposed to shake your hand and thank you for coming in and provide you with follow-up info — she literally just walked away from me without a word! I went after her and held out my hand just to show her how it’s done. I almost felt sorry for her — but these are the idiots in charge these days…

I could go on and on.

My mom keeps saying in her better moods “maybe you can go do this ‘teaching overseas’ thing for a few years and when things improve here you can come back and get a real job.” That would be nice, but is there any chance of anything improving here? I’ll be 50 by then, who’s going to hire me when they wouldn’t hire me at 46? That’s what sad about this, if I leave I don’t see ever coming back (I’m certainly not coming back for minimum wage at Walmart!). Don’t even get me started on the tumbling salaries. I signed up with my old temp agency (another act of desperation), the last time I worked for them was back in 1997 for $17.50/hour. They called me last month with an almost identical gig, for $18/hour. !!!!! And they just posted a job that pays even worse: $11.80/hour. That’s even less than what I earned as a secretary back in 1992!!!!!

Thanks for letting me vent, everyone.

By Don Harkness
July 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm

@ D Marie
I’ve been watching this discussion with interest and would like to make a couple of more points. Some context. I just turned 75. I lost my 1st mainstay job at 56. I DO understand the trauma of losing a job, being a job hunter & to make it more fun..over the age of 55. Since then, I’m on my 6th job, which I picked up when I was 69. Your career is only over if you say it’s over. I never declared it so. In my view your’s is not either.
And you may be heading into a direction that says it’s moot and apropos. My view is in this day/age people won’t have one career, but multiple careers for a # of reasons. Albeit reluctantly, while you may feel your drafting career is over (perhaps), you are considering hitting the reset button and starting a new one TEFL, or more broadly teaching. Personally I don’t see this as a bad move at all. Here’s why.
I’m a former expat, who lived/worked overseas in Singapore and traveled extensively in Asia. English is the business language of the world and there’s a huge demand to learn it in non-English speaking areas, via school systems and/or commercial schools.
Coincidentally,I was 47 when I set out to do this, stayed in Asia 5 years. My best friend’s son went the TEFL route right out of college, in Asia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Cambodia, and never came home. He was good at it and made good $, many many friends and built a great network. And there’s a by-product of learning his students’ languages and becoming multi-lingual. In short, all unknowns aren’t negative, you are heading into something that may signal the end of one career and the development of a new one(s). Take it from me, at 46, you’re life’s not over. It’s just a new beginning.
Yes. there are trade offs. life is trade offs. For everything you get, you give up something, but for everything you give up, you get something.
The world is a smaller place now. Yes, you’re far away from “home”, your mom, your cats, and your house. But you/your mom via a lot of ways can remain close, the house can be replaced, your favorite stuff can be stored, your cats taken care of.
I hate to move. I mean the physical part, and moving overseas was the mother of all relo’s as far as I’m concerned. And we’ve relo’d a # of times. I didn’t grow up that way. I was in my 20’s before I went more than 50 miles from home. But my kid’s luggage traveled more than I did at their age. The 1st time is scary, but it’s an acquired skill.
Having moved often, disturbing my life and that of my family we learned you can view it as a horrible fearful disruption…or an adventure into new places, new faces, new things. The latter is the way to go.
So my two cents, based upon experience, is to put your energy forward, forget burning your energy on the past, and make the future work for you. Pasts are like butts, everyone has one, but dwelling on them too much isn’t the healthiest use of one’s time.
China…and the Chinese people. Great place and people who respect teachers, particularly one who’s bring know how they want.
You seem to be treating this TEFL option as a last resort scenario to be greeted with defeat and sadness. It’s actually a GREAT opportunity in many ways. Go into it that way, and it will open up a new world and new career(s) for you.
Good luck

By Dave
July 9, 2014 at 10:49 pm

The absolute worst is the “exploding offer,” which I am going through right now unfortunately

By Anna Mouse
July 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm

In my experience recruiters have just run me ragged for jobs I have only the slimmest of margins of getting. One particular Recruiter/temp agency sends out an inordinate amount of calls/emails/texts every time they try to contact me. On average I get about 12 messages from them every time they need to contact me. This is simply not effective communication.

More to the point – this “hard sell” mentality seems to be the way the average Joe/Jane recruiter is operating these days. Recruiters have created a lot of work for myself as well as for the hiring staff by cramming candidates down their throat. This is clearly a waste of time and resources for both the candidate and the company.

It is little wonder why you see so many companies refusing to deal with recruiters these days.

By Pigbitin Mad
July 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I’m 53 and the last full time job I had I got when I was 46. And the only reason is I could pass for 35 and it predated both the crash and the proliferation of those sites like Intelius and Spokeo that broadcast your age for all to see without having to shell out a dime.

The only thing that surprises me is that the comments are not filled with idiots who say it is all your fault. I know that everything you say is right on. And I have been interviewed by clueless 20 year olds who literally read the questions off a sheet of paper and did not understand a word I said in response.

Most interviewers don’t give a crap about my experience. It is clear that they are desperate to bum rush me out of the room by not asking anything.

It sucks being in America and I do not think it will ever improve either. Stick if fork in us, we are DONE!

If I could live somewhere else I most certainly would and I would never look back. I have been turned down for minimum wage jobs too after filling out a 45 minute questionnaire that asks things like “Would you steal from us?”

And yes, it is humiliating and degrading to be rejected for these jobs when places like Time Warner and Verizon can’t seem to get my frigging order right when all I am doing is moving across town. Instead, they send bills to my old address and then turn me over to a collection agent because they can’t find me, a fugitive who absconded with their equipment even though they are sending another bill to my new address five blocks away (and I am listed in the phone book).

I can guarantee you that I would not F up the order if I were working that job.

Enough ranting.

By marybeth
July 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

@D Marie: good luck with your new career, and it is great that you have found something that you can be trained for and do. I know that it must be hard to have to leave the country, your home, your family, your friends, your cats, everything familiar and dear to you. I think Don is right, and to look at this not as a bad thing but as an opportunity. It doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever, or even for 10 years.

Two years ago, at one of my college’s alumnae workshops (for those of us who are looking for work, looking to change careers, etc.), there was a very young alumna present. She had graduated the previous spring, could not find a job here in the US, so she had taken a job teaching English in China. She returned because the pay was so little that her parents were helping her pay her (very small) rent on her tiny apartment. I think she was in a rural part of China (I don’t remember her talking about being in a city), and said that her pay was $60.00 per month, which was considered a lot by the locals. She returned to the US because her father (an architect) lost his job and her mother’s hours were reduced, and she didn’t want to burden them. She was in China for a year, and said that when she was in college, that was the only job offer she had, despite having a minor in computer science. And I’ve read stories about others who have taken teaching jobs overseas who earned very good money, more than they would make as teachers here in the US.

I know how hard it is to have a parent who isn’t understanding; I get that from my parents, who never faced unemployment in their working lives and who, because of their ages, cannot fathom how much the nature of job searching has changed, and not for the better. It is so far removed from the realm of their experience that they simply don’t understand it, don’t want to understand, find it easier to blame those who can’t find work (it must be all their fault) and thus ignore it. I live in Western MA, and things are no better here than what you describe in Boston. Like you, I have expanded my geographical job search, tried different industries (in which I have experience), and still nothing. It isn’t you, it’s the economy and the automated system. I know it is hard, but try not to take your mom’s comments personally; I suspect that she is around the same age as my parents, and like them, she doesn’t truly understand what you are going through and how hard it is.

Like you, I, too, have applied for work at Target and been rejected. And at Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and other places, just looking for a second part time or even seasonal job. A friend of mine got rejected by Domino’s Pizza (she was desperate and would have delivered pizzas for a second job). It feels demeaning and is discouraging to be rejected even after removing all of your education and some of your experience from your resume. We can start the “I got rejected by Target” club and hopefully laugh about it someday. I suspect that membership will be quite high.

Please remember that you are not alone; that you’ve done what you could and are doing the best you can, and please don’t give up.

If you’d like to chat/email, Nick has my permission to give you my email address.

By marybeth
July 21, 2014 at 12:32 pm

@Dave: re your exploding offer, what did you decide to do?

I had one years ago and never knew there was a name for it, and it did blow up, not just on me but on the employer. The secretary who was responsible for calling people with the offers was a little dyslexic, and she transposed some of the numbers for my phone number, so I never got the call or the offer. These were the days before cell phones were ubiquitious, although I did have an answering machine. Later, the hiring manager called me to berate me for not responding, and I told him that I was never called with any kind of news, so I assumed that they were either still deciding who to hire or that they had decided NOT to hire me and didn’t bother to let me know. Two days later he called me back, didn’t apologize, but said he was making a “special exception” and offering me the job and that I had an hour to decide. I told him thanks, but no thanks. I have no regrets because that glimpse of how he handled the screw-up gave me better insight into what kind of boss he would be. It worked out for the best because 8 months later the company was bought out by another company and everyone lost their jobs.

What I am amazed by is the idea of exploding offers. I mean, it takes ages to get through the process, then several interviews, and when the offer comes, it is “hurry up” because we need your decision yesterday.

By Dave
July 24, 2014 at 11:47 am

@marybeth

(sorry for my late reply)

I ended up turning down the offer. I can see why someone may want to give an offer with a short time to make a decision.

Unfortunately, there were too many red flags, IMHO, of which this one was of them. It just compounded the issue(s) I had…

I basically did not get any job descriptions/ad/”this is what we expect out of the person”/whatever you want to call it in writing in spite of me asking. So, it made it a bit difficult to do research and ask questions about the position. Even if you got this sort of thing, there’s still a chance you could be scrubbing toilets the first day ;-)

On the front of job descriptions, it did sound like it was a melding of two positions into one. That is fine, but no one could tell me what the normal day looks like, how much time is spent on one set of responsibilities over the other, etc.

I did not get to talk to the person I would be directly reporting to in the two phone interviews. The two phone interviews lasted maybe an hour in total, and I didn’t really feel challenged in either one.

When I got the job offer, I basically had to accept the job right then and there in order to give my employer two weeks notice. Oh, and the offer was still contingent on background/reference/drug check. I am 100% confident have a problem with any of those, but I have heard “horror” stories from people, even ones I know, that stuff gets botched. So, I’d end up quitting with only a contingent offer. Say what you will about my current employer, I would rather do things by the book. The one recruiter/HR person blew off this concern and another person I talked to – it was like arm twisting to get the start dates pushed off.

The reason they wanted someone to start so quick was because someone they had working on-site with a client was quitting. They were hoping to get a new employee to get the brain dump from this person.

Oh, and my first two days would be going to the client site with the senior person on the project to get said brain dump. It did not seem like I would have any official onboarding beforehand (the brain dump IS your training, welcome aboard!)

This was for an IT solutions provider, but this wasn’t your typical contract job (i.e. you have an end date of xx/yy/zzzz) and you’d get full benefits. One of my concerns was that what happens when the contract dries up. Of course they try to sell it to you as “we’ll plug you in somewhere else” But they couldn’t give me more details or any feeling of how the contract was going, etc.

One last thing on the timing of the offer. Found out about the job on a Monday, had 2 phone interviews on Tuesday, offered the job on Wednesday and had until Thursday to decide.

Lastly, I don’t think the pay offered was what I wanted and the benefits were not that great. I felt like I was just given a boiler plate offer.

It sucks because it is a field I want to get into. I could have probably dealt with one or two of these issues depending on the context. Like if I didn’t feel like I had to twist arms on start date or the pay was fair. Instead, it felt like I took a trip down to the used car lot.

By Dave
July 24, 2014 at 11:54 am

@marybeth,

One other comment I had about my manifesto…

Most other opportunities took at least a week or two to decide whether I would get an offer or not. So, even if I got the “please sleep on this tonight,” I felt like I at least had a week or so beforehand to think about it. It also felt like these places had a better hiring process set up, so it felt like you at least had some idea of what you were getting into.

For example, one job opportunity I had, I knew the pay range up front and even had the current employee benefits manual, had a detailed job description, met with bosses and employees both in the department I would be working in and both upstream and downstream. So, I felt like I had enough data to make a decision.

By marybeth
July 27, 2014 at 8:43 pm

@Dave: that sounds absolutely awful. So all the risk was on you, and the risks were just too great for you to take them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with risk, provided that you have enough intel to make a thoughtful decision about it.

Yes, I understand the hurry up and decide because the guy you will be replacing is leaving and once he’s gone, we don’t even have a written SOP anywhere, so you’d be starting from scratch. But that doesn’t always work out well either….in my last job at a large state university, my first day on the job was the last day for the guy I was replacing. He was leaving early, it was just before the Labor Day weekend, so all he could do was show me how to login to the computer and where some of his files were. There was no SOP, and when I got back to the office after the holiday, then I was starting from scratch, with no guidance and no one to ask. My boss (who had no training herself) was okay with it and didn’t hold it against me, but the office could have functioned more smoothly had I had more time with Ramesh, or if there had been an SOP (there was one but it was inaccurate). I ended up having to teach myself the job and learn as I went along.

Sometimes brain dumps work, sometimes they don’t, and there’s no guarantee that it would have worked for you. What if the guy giving you his brain had decided NOT to finish out his notice or got hit by a bus?

That management didn’t have a plan B in your case is another red flag; so if they went to the next candidate, would they only give him an hour to decide? And if they couldn’t reach him immediately? They would be in the same predicament as if no brain dump had occurred, and whoever would come into the job would be at a loss. Some employers (like my old boss) would be understanding and give you time and not write you up negatively for not being able to do the job perfectly, while others…not so much.

For what it is worth, I think you made the right decision, based on the interview process. You are right–there were too many red flags, too much missing information about the job that was too important for you NOT to have. And if the recruiter was blowing you off and didn’t have the information, with the company not providing it, yes, I’d say run as fast as you can, not walk, away.

And who knows? Maybe if no one takes their offer under those conditions (exploding offer, lack of critical information), then they’ll have time to re-consider and you may see that job posted again (or they’ll just divide up the duties among the remaining employees), hopefully with more information and a reasonable amount of time to consider the offer.

Oy. Just when I think I’ve heard and seen all of the weird things companies do during the hiring process, something new comes up.

Thanks–I learned something new. Sometimes, too, Dave, the jobs that we don’t take because things seem “off” are for the best. If they’re this way during the interview, when there is supposed to be some mutual courting, what happens if you work there? Will they not provide you with all of the relevant information that you need to do the job well and to succeed? Probably…..

By Dave
July 28, 2014 at 8:26 am

@marybeth

“And who knows? Maybe if no one takes their offer under those conditions (exploding offer, lack of critical information), then they’ll have time to re-consider and you may see that job posted again (or they’ll just divide up the duties among the remaining employees), hopefully with more information and a reasonable amount of time to consider the offer.”

The job wasn’t posted anywhere that I could tell, hence the lack of job description :-)

My guess is that they where probably able to get some newly minted grad to do it – happened to luck out that they just graduated and they had no decent work lined up.

(The reason I say this is that this was a slight career change for me, I have taken a slight detour so far. This was probably a more junior role. This was part of my issue with their salary offer – my work experience is still applicable to what I want to get into, so is that worth a few thousand more than your typical newly minted grad? I have nothing against college grads and think companies should do more to hire them on, but that’s another issue)

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – WTF! Inflatable Interviewer Dolls?
July 28, 2014 at 10:05 pm

[…] is up with venture capitalists (VCs), anyway? Didn’t we just cover a bunch of venture embarrassments in the recruiting space? The Stupid Recruiting Apps just keep coming, and you need to watch out for […]

By D Marie
July 29, 2014 at 4:40 pm

@marybeth, fyi I replied to your email, if you didn’t get it be sure to check your spam folder…

By Nicholas Meyler
August 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm

I’ve been a recruiter for 25 years, and I don’t know any recruiters who suck. I see instead a trend of people who are discontent and unemployable or unrecruitable saying so, as though they have the expertise required to do the job themselves. Most of the critics happen to be in the software industry (which is an industry where mental illness is 3 to 5 times more common than it is in the general population).

Recruiters who suck end up finding other jobs in other industries very quickly, since they can’t bill or make a living as recruiters. I’ve seen 300+ people walk into my company over the years and try to become a recruiter, with our best training and help. Only about 5 actually succeeded to any extent.

Recruiting is a very difficult job and much harder than most ‘candidates’ are aware. It is also much more intricate and involved than outsiders know, and a top recruiter can provide an extremely valuable service to companies and candidates, both.

I see a disappointing trend of marginalizing recruiters going on, and I think a lot of that had to do with the slow economy in the last several years. Now that job prospects are improving, I predict a shift back to the days when people were less likely to be critical towards the industry.

The bottom line is, if my client companies are happy with my work, and I’m enjoying myself doing my work, then the tiny minority of odd-balls who say negative things about me or my profession doesn’t matter to me. Nonetheless, I am always professional and courteous to candidates, and I return every phone call or email that comes in. I would never take advantage of a candidate or ignore them… but I do draw a line with crazies that say obnoxious things for no reason. In most cases, there are other underlying causes for negative remarks than something I or another recruiter has done.

By the way, I have yet to find any recruiting software that works better than my own network of people that I have known for 25 years.

By Nicholas Meyler
August 24, 2014 at 9:00 pm

As an afterthought on this topic, which is one I have spent a lot of time thinking about this year, a year which has been my highest-earning year so far in 25 years, I would say that perhaps the best answer to “Why do recruiters suck so bad?” is “They don’t. You’re just dealing with the wrong recruiters.”

By Nick Corcodilos
August 25, 2014 at 10:43 am

@Nicholas Meyler: You’re right – those who aren’t good at recruiting leave the biz quickly. The problem is, there are still too many of those people “working” at any given time. Which is why most people get “recruited” by recruiters who suck.

But I get your point: A good headhunter is a wonderful thing. I wish more people were exposed to the good ones so they could see what that’s like. Sadly, the interlopers have virtually destroyed the business for most employers and job seekers. The trouble is really on the employer side – lousy recruiters would not exist if employers demonstrated higher standards. But most employers have no idea how to hire (or contract with) recruiters. Thus the problem.

Thanks for posting – nice to see the positive side of the biz.

By Nicholas Meyler
August 25, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Two out of the last three dentists I went to lied to me about having cavities and wanted to drill on my perfectly clean and healthy teeth. The second one I went to was so brash that he told me I actually had seven cavities, and when I asked him to point them out, he glibly lied that they were “the white spots on the x-rays”.

The third dentist was a referral from a friend, who turned out to be very good, and not super-expensive and also told me I definitely had no cavities and that I took great care of my teeth, and also have great gums. I will add, also, that I brush my teeth at least three or four times a day and always floss.

Based on the logic of being critical towards recruiters based on shady characters, I think it would be equivalently appropriate to say that “dentists suck”. However, it is the good dentist who actually redeems the whole bunch… not that I would ever go back to either of the two others.

Still, I never say “dentists suck”. It’s simply not true. We need dentists, and companies need recruiters. Candidates don’t need recruiters as much, but when the recruiter offers them a great job at the right time, then the recruiter is golden.

So, I’m probably preaching to the choir, but ‘bad apples’ don’t really ruin the whole bunch, unless of course they really are bad apples and not a metaphor for something else.

By Nicholas Meyler
August 28, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Scientific Experiment: Using Google Chrome, I did a search for “Recruiters are great”, vs. “Recruiters suck”. The first won out with 47,500 results, while the second (also entered in quotes) had only 2,580 results. I am pretty encouraged by that! http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/who-really-sucks-scientific-study?xg_source=activity

By Rachel M
September 20, 2014 at 4:00 am

I’m coming at this from the flip side — I have in-demand skills (it took under 2 hours from the time I posted my resume on a major board to the first phone call) and was able to land multiple interviews and offers within a week of starting my search.

Still, I am appalled at the average quality of the recruiters who contacted me. Less than half the positions I was solicited for matched my skills. People who didn’t understand US time zones called me at 6 in the morning. Someone called me from someplace so noisy it might have been a train station. Someone who sent me a job posting for a chemical engineer (I’m in IT) had the gall to suggest that I’d gotten the post because I had three common keywords in my resume (process, control, and engineer, not all in the same paragraph) and offering to sell me a resume rewrite service. People with no knowledge of local geography told me that a city 7 hours away was in my neighborhood, or that I was being a prima donna for not wanting a 90 minute commute. I got spammed repeatedly with solicitations (7 before I lost count) for the same position that didn’t fit my locality, skill set, or desired terms (contract vs. full time). I’m still trying to get myself removed from the databases of two recruiting firms that are spamming me with unsuitable positions.

When I was on the other side of the fence, I nearly asked management to stop using recruiters because the candidates they referred were not worth the time it took to interview them, and often not even worth the time it took to review and reject their resumes.

I’m sure that there are good recruiters out there, ones who actually read resumes and match candidates based on job duties and skills, rather than just pattern-matching keywords. Unfortunately, the field has such low barriers to entry that I can’t imagine they will ever be more than a tiny fraction of who you encounter.

By Joe
September 22, 2014 at 10:47 am

I’d love to meet a fantastic recruiter able to match best fit candidates with companies searching for them; because I’m open for a new opportunity in Northern VA, DC, MD, or OCONUS. And I have a current TS/SCI security clearance and Full Scope Polygraph.

Since I was downsized, I get contacted weekly by recruiters. Most are brand new, fresh out of college, with zero experience or knowledge in my industry.

Its actually quite easy to improve the quality of recruiting:

Learn more about the industries you recruit for. No one is perfect; or all-knowing; but it sure is easier to recruit when you know and understand what the heck you’re talking about.

State upfront what a position’s salary range is. Either a candidate will accept this amount; or not.

Follow-up with individuals. You sought them out; so now finish the job, and tell them when they’ve been hired or not.

Here’s to everyone in recruiting successfully matching best fit candidates with companies searching for them.

By Rachel M
September 30, 2014 at 12:12 am

Addendum:

One firm I contacted told me that not one but *two* recruiters had already submitted my resume to them without my knowledge or consent.

I was tempted to say something about it on my blog but was told it might damage my future employability.

The next time I am looking for work if I post my resume anywhere public I’ll categorically state up front “no recruiters”.

Post a comment