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
… 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.
(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.
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.
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:
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.
Earlier this week on WArecruit, our local HR and Recruiting discussion list, someone posted a job looking for a “top notch sourcer” (technical) for a very part-time, telecommute opportunity for a contact. The pay rate was listed as between $13-$15/hour.
Now, in some parts of the country that might be considered a fair wage, but in Seattle this is less than we pay our Recruiting Assistants and even Corporate Receptionists. I found this pay range to be insulting from a number of angles.
I wrote back and told the individual that posted the job that I hope he had told his contact that a “top notch [technical] sourcer”, such as me, makes more than twice that at the very bottom range of our compensation.
I had several people contact me offlist thanking me for speaking up, and praising me for knowing the comp rate for our profession and defending it.
So why am I insulted? If I am being generous I will assume that the person looking for the “top notch” technical sourcer has no idea what a sourcing recruiter truly *does*, and is just looking for someone to log into the job boards and funnel her resumes. However, even *that* very basic skill set commands at least 25% more than was offered in this area.
If she actually understands the role of a *true* senior sourcing professional, (including building relationships with industry professionals; doing in-depth competitive intelligence; using much more complex tools than a simple Boolean search string on Monster; cold calling companies to gather names or building out a company directory during off-hours by culling their voicemail system; researching conference speaker and event attendee lists and then combining those results to find top passive talent) I find her actions despicable. She is devaluing the skill set most senior sourcing recruiters have spent years building.
I personally find it a bitter pill to swallow that Senior Sourcers already make less money than “full desk” or full lifecycle recruiters in most organizations. The work that we do to build pipelines for our account management colleagues should be valued *at least* as much. I spend time searching out and evaluating top talent to create candidate pools and pipes for my team to have available. I create long-term relationships with industry professionals in order to generate referrals and trust. The time and effort that goes into sourcing is so much more intensive than just slotting a candidate into a role when it becomes available.
Truly *good* recruiters in all industries keep their address books filled with good candidates and industry contacts, and their LinkedIn networks are filled with people that they have talked to about a role that may be something of interest in two to three years.
Toward the end of the day, I received an email from the original poster of the $13-$15/hour sourcing posting, informing me that his contact has received several “good” responses from individuals who value the chance to telecommute a few hours on their own schedule to be a fair trade-off. My final response was that I hoped his colleague gets much more than her money’s worth, because someone that truly is a senior, *good* sourcer would have to be desperate to take such a low wage. Anyone on UI in the Seattle market is making much more than that. Convenience should never be a trade-off for quality.
As one responder to my post noted, any organization that is trying to take advantage of desperate times is just positioning themselves for failure; as soon as the market picks up, and it is starting to, those people will start leaving in search of companies that value their skills and contributions. How many discussions have you been party to about lower wages and finding/retaining top talent? How can we even begin to chastise our HR departments on lower compensation ladders when we don’t even fairly value our *own*? This is the same sort of behavior that gives organizations a bad name in general in the recruiting industry. If you want “top notch” talent of any sort, you need to be prepared to offer fair wages.
As they say, you get what you pay for.
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
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.
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 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”
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.
I was interviewed on 9/23 for the Helping Friends Career Network on how to use social media as a recruiter, and it was released last week. Within an hour, I got a question on LinkedIn about sourcing as a discipline in the healthcare industry. I’ve been pondering my particular niche beyond the “understood” function of building a candidate pipeline. A lot of organizations don’t want to spend spend valuable dollars right now on headcount to build a pipeline when they are inundated with candidates.
But a sourcer is more than just someone that mines databases and forges relationships with current industry professionals. Sourcing, as a discipline, is as much about marketing and branding as it is about recruiting. Sourcers need to be experts in building communities, leveraging technology and tools beyond email, the phone and databases. We need to be able to reach out as the representative of our organizations and create an employment brand. We need to understand the role of Competitive Intelligence as a discipline and how it relates to staffing. Knowing our corporate culture is incredibly vital, being abreast of the latest press releases and stories out in the world both positive and negative, is intrinsically linked to our function. We must be aware of the HR headcount forecasting for the next 6-12 months so we can start targeting key candidate segements.
Being a sourcer is part of an active partnership with our recruiting team. Too often sourcing is seen as a “junior” function, and is assigned to “internet recruiters” who spend their time mining job boards and or sites such as Linkedin and sending out blanket emails to “potential candidates”. While this is certainly one facet of our skill set, it is one of the most basic. Without a solid foundation and in-depth experience in full-lifecycle recruiting, sourcing recruiters don’t understand the needs of their clients and recruiting partners. I have been incredibly lucky to work in candidate generation at Microsoft, starting in an executive recruiting setting and developing the skills needed to be successful. But I’ve also been a full-lifecycle recruiter so understand the workflow, how vital sourcing is to creating a robust organization, and how to evaluate and find top quality candidates.
So before you just think that we are “junior recruiters”, consider how much time your organization could save by proactively building a pool of qualified, interested, pre-screened candidates rather than taking weeks trying to be reactive to managers that are backfilling key positions within their teams.