21st century recruiting

Effective LinkedIn Sourcing

Have you looked on LinkedIn lately in the Groups that are dedicated to job-related networking? You know all those people that put “Looking for an opportunity in XYZ. My background is ABCDEFGH. I accept all networking invitations, visit my profile”?

I see a lot of recruiters and hiring managers respond to candidates that this is an ineffective way to use LinkedIn. So, why, oh why are recruiters around the globe doing almost that exact same thing when looking for other recruiters? Here is an example:

“Need 1099 Recruiters to help fill sales and employee benefit consulting opportunities. Meet Wednesday or Tuesday next week and get started. Paid daily, usually within 24-72 hours. Email for details.”

Now, do you see a few issues with this? WHERE should they meet? What email address? Is this for remote on-site roles? I’d say that this is more of a pipeline ad, but I see enough of them that it’s not unique.

This sets an extremely bad example and follows on my last blog on recruiting hypocrisy. And it isn’t just for recruiting industry jobs, either. I’m all for using the LI Groups for sourcing, but please do it responsibly and don’t frustrate your potential candidate pool and your professional colleagues
(and damage your recruiting brand in the process). Here’s a lesson in writing a LinkedIn job description for Groups and sourcing on them.

Elements of a job description.

Your corporate posting may be too long for the LinkedIn character constraints so choose the most important point for a job seeker. They can look up the company and marketing info on their own.

1) Location: Where is the job? If it is remote, where is the client’s HQ and what time zone are they located in? *Do they offer relo or only looking for local candidates if it is not a virtual job?

2) Contact/application information: How do candidates follow up?

3) The main expectations of the job.

4) Requirements: What experience and education is needed to be considered?

5) Timeframe: Is there a closing date?

Sourcing Basics for Using LinkedIn Groups

1) You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn, and you can send messages directly to other members of the same group without using up your inmails.

2) Jobs go in the jobs tab, yes, even on groups that are specifically for matching candidates and recruiters/employment opportunities.

3) You can and should comb the members of any particular group from the “members” tab (see #1). Lots of folks are posting their availability and basic profile info on the “discussion tab” so hit the archive and see if anyone may be a potential candidate match *or* someone you can leverage for their

4) Update your own profile with new jobs you have available often. Make sure to use the twitter post option; link your twitter account to your LI update and use hashtags. Conversely, you can update your LI profile off of Twitter by using the hashtag #in to cross-post. This is an especially good employment
branding strategy.

5) Start discussions in industry groups and see who responds in ways that indicate they have the knowledge and skills that your clients may be interested in.

6) Work with your marketing department to use the presentation app on LinkedIn for new product sheets or press releases that might generate interest in your jobs.

Remember, recruiting isn’t just about filling pipelines. It’s about building relationships and aligning your recruiting and corporate brand.


Recruiters Are Hypocrites

We recruiters tell candidates to do their homework before contacting any potential employer, and what a bunch of hypocrites I am finding out there.

“Being busy” is not an excuse for laziness or poor sourcing habits. As a senior IT recruiter in Seattle, I list out the technologies I work with on my resume. I have many years of experience at Microsoft on various recruiting teams. So it’s fairly natural that I come up in keyword searches that have “Microsoft” or “.NET” or “C#” or “HTML” or on them. I’ve pretty much recruited for every type of software development position out there.


My profile title is “Senior Talent Acquisition” or “Senior Recruiter” depending on the board. And I have an “objective” statement to weed out those things I’m not interested in and what I’ll consider. These are the *first things* on my resume. So I cannot begin to tell you how annoying it’s getting to be contacted for software engineering and SDET (Software Design Engineer in Test) contract openings at Microsoft (or anywhere else). Now, my resume is up on all the major job boards, mostly because as a contractor, you never know when your job is subject to budget cuts. I also like to see who is out there hiring. And it’s up there in confidential mode so I don’t get a ton of agency sales calls (I get enough of those from LinkedIn and my consulting site.) And, I use one email address for Dice and Monster and another for Careerbuilder.

Usually, my standard response is:

“What is your split policy? I usually charge 50% for a direct placement or 5% residual on contractors. I am happy send you my standard recruiting contract.”

But today I really got rubbed the wrong way. I got an email WITH MY NAME USED by the recruiter. So, obviously this person did enough due diligence to figure out who I am or they had my resume “on file”. But they were contacting me for a Web Developer (subject line) position in California. (My “objective” includes the cities I am willing to discuss). I admit I got a bit snarky.

02/23/11 4:29 PM

Dear Kristen,
… Our records show that you have experience in .NET. This experience is relevant to one of my current openings. It is located in Santa Clara, CA.

My response:
(Recruiter), obviously you didn’t read my resume fully or you would know that I am a senior technical recruiter in Seattle.

OK, I don’t know why this one set me off more than any other. But being someone working with an OFCCP-compliant organization and being someone who believes that part of our job is to actually read resumes, I’m getting sick of this laziness being fobbed off as “busy” with far too many resumes to review.

First of all, I’m a master at writing and running a Boolean search, especially in tech positions. Second, it doesn’t even require extra effort to read the title of the resumes you have sourced from a job board.

DO YOUR JOB. Sourcing is something you commit to when you accept a job as a recruiter. And let me tell you, your branding is suffering severely when you pull this kind of half-**sed job with your industry colleagues. Believe me, I know who the major offenders are in Seattle, and I pass that information along to candidates that ask. A staffing company’s reputation is only as good as its’ recruiters. The candidate experience starts with that first email or phone call.

The Changing Candidate Profile

Part of it is the economy, part of it is GenY hitting the workforce and starting to attain “Senior” roles, but I see a definite change in the profile of the desirable candidate; I got into a friendly discussion over on LinkedIn with a Career Coach that disagrees with me. So what is this big change I speak of? In its simplest terms, “job hoppers” or those with shorter tenures at companies. What was once considered an “unemployable” candidate is now becoming a coveted candidate. Right now, it’s less about 3-5 years at company A but 1-3 years at company B that is considered a market leader in their industry, and impact.

I know technology is a fluid industry, but I saw this when I was in healthcare as well. The definition of a “stable” career is starting to change. And I’m really talking about the IC (individual contributor) with 5-9 years or so of experience as versus executive candidates. I think most recruiters and hiring managers recognize that the last few years have played havoc with people’s careers, and are more forgiving. But I’ve been seeing a trend the last few years where staying in *one* company for the duration of your career is almost as bad as too many jobs in a short period of time. This is viewed as placidity, a lack of entrepreneurial spirit, and someone that isn’t motivated to try and challenge themselves.

I also think that the “contractor” or “consultant” label is less of a stigma than it was 5 years ago. Really, if you can justifiably show that you have been using your professional skills to stay “in the game”, if you manage to drum up clientele and get paid, that speaks to you as a professional. In my blog dedicated to job seekers I  consistently tell them to do *something* in their field if they are laid off. Volunteer, teach, write, consult, take your pick. But if you are an HR Generalist and decide to go start an Etsy shop as your full-time career, don’t be suprised when you don’t get as many calls from recruiters when you deem it is time to rejoin the workforce.

But as the oldest members of GenY start moving into positions where they are doing the hiring, their values are certainly going to influence their decisions and preferences for “qualified” candidates. And if we as recruiters don’t identify and work with them on setting expectations appropriately, we might find ourselves putting up a shingle as a consultant, because we aren’t keeping up with our internal clients.

"App For That" Erosion

I’m seeing an alarming trend in young colleagues that have grown up in the computer age. I think that this new generation of recruiters is so used to having tools and apps for everything that they haven’t learned the basics of our industry. I’ve seen it in other areas as well. A reliance on social networking and access to technology that does things for them has led to a lack of basic critical thinking skills. And not just in recruiting, but in life in general. How many drivers under the age of thirty-five can actually tell you within a few seconds which way “north” is in any given city without a GPS? Or that a really recruiting basic tool is http://yellowpages.com?

I got to thinking about this while I was on Monster today. Monster’s “new” search is too predictive; I have to delete unwanted parameters. And I’m seeing more and more of this. I see young professionals that are seeking guidance in their jobs. But instead of pulling up Google and doing a search for “create boolean string” they send a general cry for help into their social networks. Rather than picking up the phone to call a candidate to schedule an interview for 120 seconds, they will spend hours and hours trading email finding a time that works or text messaging back and forth for ten minutes. Or, conversely, rather than send an email detailing feedback they send a text message with the bare bones of the information then are unable to articulate further.

How many recruiting job descriptions stress “must not be averse to picking up the phone” as a core competency these days? Since the advent of email and text messaging our profession has gotten both easier and more complex. I’m one of the first people to adopt Facebook as a way of communicating with candidates. We had one candidate we hired for a short term contract not show up to work with no communication. We tried email, phone, and text messages. Finally, I sent him a FB message letting him know that we needed to hear from him ASAP regarding his paycheck. That got a response within ten minutes.

What can we, as an industry, do to prevent an over-reliance on tools and technology to the exclusion of actually learning the basics of a job? How can we help foster the value of critical thinking in our incoming generation of recruiters? Where do we instill a sense of urgency in junior recruiters to go and *find* the right candidate and connect with them, rather than just waiting for them to apply? This employer’s market isn’t going to last forever, and we need to make sure our colleagues are prepared to do their jobs in times of lean and plenty. Basic training on the recruiting knowledge base might be a grand start.



Unemployed Need Not Apply…Damaging Your Employment Brand

I was disturbed by something I saw, a link to an article that came across Twitter. I started researching the issue and am *shocked* that this seems to be a fairly standard practice around the country.

Job postings that explicitly say, “Unemployed Need Not Apply”.


So I posed the question to several online communities and have found that this seems to be happening to people around the US. One of my HR contacts sent me this link from yesterday’s CNNMoney:

Looking for work? Unemployed need not apply

Why are we, as recruiters and HR professionals, allowing this travesty to happen? We should be setting the best practices and standards for our clients internally by screening for the *best* candidates, whether they have been out of work a few months or not. How can we allow our employment brand to be so tarnished that we let this sort of abominable trend continue, unchecked in some cases?

In a strong employment market, if someone is “laid off”, it may be safe to assume that it is due to poor performance. But in this sort of economy that is just ludicrous. I cannot tell you how many candidates at every level and in every job classification around the Seattle area were affected when Washington Mutual was purchased by Chase last year. Thousands of people. Do most recruiters and intelligent hiring managers believe for one minute that every single one of them was laid off due to their below standard annual review? Of course not. Whole departments were eliminated, due to the structure and business practices of the new brand.

I believe that Seattle has been very lucky; we have strong brands such as Microsoft, T-Mobile, Amazon and Starbuck’s that seem to be rebounding, at least in the contingent staffing arena. But better a contract for a few months than to continue living on UI. Even though these Enterprise/Global entities may have had to make staffing cuts, they are steadily revitalizing and I am pleased to say that I have not personally seen any of the appalling ads stating “unemployed need not reply”.

How short-sighted is it for any company to baldly discriminate (and although it is not *legally* considered discrimination, it falls under the dictionary definition of the word and the spirit of business practices that exist today) against talented professionals? I know recruiters and HR professionals are slammed right now with candidates; but our job is to find the best candidate, and that may not be the passive XYZ sitting in your competitor’s office. Part of our job is to know the local and national climate in our industry, and to take advantage of situations like lay-offs as the valuable opportunity that they are, not assume the worst about the professionals that have been RIF’d.

So if your company is one of those that is using “unemployment” as a screening out tool, step up to the plate and protect your employment brand. It is our job to determine if a candidate is a good match for our requisitions. This includes phone screening and reference checking.

And if your company is hit with layoffs, do your best as a recruiter to help the individuals that are going to be losing their livelihoods by networking the best that you can. I personally believe in karma, or that what comes around goes around.


Is Your Recruiting "Quaint"?

I have had the (dubious) pleasure of working with a wide variety of applicant tracking systems over the course of my recruiting career. I’ve worked with customized enterprise integrated systems, home-grown versions, web-hosted suites, email folders, and paper files. You name it, I’ve probably worked with some version of it. It’s a standard interview question, but it’s also a standard industry question. “We’re evaluating a new ATS; what have you used, what did you think of it?”

I’m not going to go on about the pros and cons of individual products here. I’m going to talk about our changing industry and how tied we are to technology. I admit it, I’m a geek. I took a foray into the healthcare world, and it wasn’t such a great fit culturally. I am *so* happy to be back in techland. So in my new role, I’m setting up a sourcing strategy for a consulting firm. We, like many small companies, use a hosted web-based ATS. And the first two days I was on the job, I spent a significant amount of time dealing with the same thing I dealt with at the Medical Centers. And that I also dealt with at Monster a few weeks ago.

Staffing solutions that don’t support cross browser platforms.

Are you KIDDING me?

It’s 2010, guys. I live in Microsoft’s backyard and a good number of the people *I* know use Firefox at home and work. Not to mention Chrome. And Safari (hellooooooooo, remember the new iPad that was unveiled a few weeks ago?) as well as a host of smaller browsers such as Flock, Opera, etc.

I’m not going to mention the two aforementioned ATS’, because frankly they are legacy systems so it’s no suprise they only run on IE. But MONSTER?

So let’s look at this from a broader recruiting perspective. Those GenY’ers are hitting the workforce mighty fast if you hadn’t noticed. And what are they *always* attached to? Earbuds or cell phones. And what does that tell you? You are going to be reaching them via mobile apps and streaming media. And guess what? That means you are going to need to be reaching beyond job boards and email, my friends. You are going to be making videos on YouTube and Tweeting and sending them SMS text messages and pushing voicemail job alerts, and possibly even embedding some form of branding on their iTunes download. If you haven’t watched Hulu lately, you really should, just to see the “commercials” that are on there. I canceled my cable last year.

The point is, from the way I see it, Google and their use of Boolean search algorithms revolutionized our industry. And even outside of the tech industry, the generation that is quickly becoming the candidates *we want* are not just tech savvy, they are tech embedded. If you don’t get it (“it” being their way of communicating) they literally won’t see you. You will be part of a bygone era. I heard a trivia question the other day on the radio. What was something that almost everyone did fairly often ten years ago that almost no one does anymore, and has changed an industry? There were tons of calls, and finally someone guessed it. Dropped film off to be developed.

There are some things that will never change. Picking up a phone (of some sort) to call a candidate. Networking to get a great referral. Building our brand and our reputation. The face to face interview (although, video conferencing may become ever more prevalent over “live” meetings). The basics of what we do are not going to change for now. But the tools we use and the *way* we reach our candidates needs to keep up with the candidates. Unless of course you want to be a quaint reminder passing era.




The Accidental Expert

I find that a lot of professionals don’t necessarily guide

every facet of their careers. Often, when a generalist

becomes a specialist or we take on a specific project, we by

default become “experts” while learning and implementing our

expertise on the project.

Why do I say this? Well, in the course of my career, I have

been heavily involved in the technology sector, and as such,

I adopt new technology pretty quickly. Not always an early

adopter (usually timing is the factor), but effective. Last

year I started using Twitter as a professional tool. And

I’ve been an avid Facebook user for quite a while, and have

been using LinkedIn for years. Apparently my facility with

these tools and my successful experimentation with these

tools and platforms makes me somewhat of an “expert” on

them. I naturally research information and analyses of any

new tool I am interested in; it’s part of my nature. So,

synthesizing research results into my own usage and

knowledge of them helps give me more depth to my experience

and expertise.

And thus, the Accidental Expert is born. You may ask what

this has to do with recruiting? Well, I’m intentionally

entering the next phase of “expertise” in my recruiting

career, which is targeting the Millenial Generation. And

understanding social media, social networking, and how

technology plays a role in this very busy generation is

going to become a key to understanding how to recruit and

retain them. You can already see several organizations

reinventing their recruiting models or online presences to

address this up and coming generation. Or even taking

advantage of the opportunities. Microsoft and Monster are

prime examples of reinvention. Tweet My Jobs is a brand new,

and seemingly successful, business model leveraging the

Twitter craze. Understanding that Generation Y is going to

be more interested in mobile, bite-sized pieces of

information and the generational tendency to flit between

topics while uber-multitasking is going to be the key to

engaging and retaining them.

So, I’m going to become an Intentional Expert on this

subject, but it is stemming out of my “accidental expert”


Giving Away The Farm?

On one of my many online professional communities, this one being a technical listserv, there has been an interesting discussion revolving around agency requests for creative “projects” for clients, as well as detailed “scenario” questions that are tantamount to “free” solutions to business conundrums. There is the obvious legal copyright question, but also a growing discomfort from the community regarding being taken advantage of.

There is a catch-22 situation here. One of the resident attorneys contributed the “legalese” assuring all creatives that their work is protected by copyright laws. But this assumes a number of presuppositions.

1) That a potential employer will readily signed a two-way legal document. Remember, these situations are for *jobs*.
2) Said employer, if they don’t sign said contract, uses the customized creative work and the creative professional knows about it.
3) The creative professional has the resources (mostly financial) to pursue legal action.

In the case of the business case scenarios, my first question was whether this lengthy process could be a result of OFCCP compliance. Contractors or direct-hire candidates are being inundated with long, involved questionnaires before they even get to the *interview* stage.

Last week I was a speaker at a local SIG CHI meeting on resumes and job hunting. It was hosted by one of the creative agencies here in town. I was talking to one of the recruiters and the conversation turned to the discussion on “special projects” clients are asking for to show that a designer can actually create what they are asking for. We were talking about a very specific icon for a large local technical company, and she made the point that chances are a designer doesn’t have an “xyzabc” icon in their creative portfolio, and before the client is willing to enter into a contract, they want to make sure that the consultants have the skill set to do the work.

This circles back to the same question about the business case questions. If a creative professional creates an icon for a client, and the icon is trademarked by the client, basically that creative professional has just given away his or her work for free, with no guarantee that they will gain a job from the exercise. The basic advice on both cases was that each professional has to use their own best judgment regarding whether or not to “do the work”.

As recruiters, we all know that our clients pay the bills. Be they internal clients or external accounts. But we also need to be aware of our obligations to our most valuable resource, our talent pool. With the stiff competition not only for clients but top talent, our employment brand is incredibly valuable. Those creatives or business analysts? They may be hiring managers next year. Or a rich resource for candidate and client referrals. We need to protect their best interests while balancing the requests from our clients.

I’d be interested to hear any stories from recruiters that have had to juggle these situations. I’d like to be able to share the solutions with my communities. Please leave me a not about the situation and how you handled it.