Turn About is Fair Play - Rules for Recruiters from Job Seekers
Looking for a new job is never truly fun. New opportunities are exciting, but those are the result of the less thrilling job hunt. The internet and sites like LinkedIn, Dice.com, Ladders.com, and many others make it much easier it is for you to search for jobs and for recruiters to find you. Compared to when I had to print résumés, pay postage, and send snail mail all over the country, I LOVE online job hunting. I owe my last two career changes (both unsolicited) in large part to LinkedIn. Thank you, Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner.
There’s a caveat to that ebullient expression of love for online job hunting. It’s the whole recruiter finding you part. Many of the recruiters I’ve worked with are good. One is great. Then there are the rest of them. They are… Well… Not so good.
I don’t know about other industries, but the IT-related fields get calls all of the time. In my office, we average about four unsolicited calls per week and dozens of unsolicited, often auto-generated, emails based on our LinkedIn profiles alone. It’s higher if we ever used Dice.com, which most of us have. We’re also all contract-based consultants, which means we don’t normally take our résumés down. (If you don’t get lots of these emails and want them, consider following LinkedIn Influencer and serial entrepreneur James Caan’s advice.)
Everyone who has ever applied for a job online or posted their profile to LinkedIn has experienced this scenario to some degree:
Open your inbox and look – an email about a job. Yay! Then you read it.
Hello! I’m Rita the Senior Recruiter with Jobs R Us. We have an exciting opportunity for a Sales Position in Detroit, MI. I saw your résumé online and thought you’d be a perfect fit. Please confirm your information below and I will forward your résumé to the hiring manager.
That’s nice Rita, but I’m a business/communications analyst with no sales experience listed on my résumé, I live in the Washington, DC-area and don’t want to move to Detroit. All of which tells me that while you saw my résumé, you certainly didn’t read it. Delete.
Every once in a while, one comes up that is almost insulting. Take the screenshot of an email I received last week below about an “exciting job that you will be excited to see”. (Names are blurred to protect the client, not necessarily the recruiter.)
Baltimore isn’t completely out of a reasonable relocation distance from my current location, but I would just as soon not live/work in Maryland. Skipping down to the descriptions field, okay, I can talk on the phone, but why is this even listed as a skill? I do learn pretty quickly, but again, why? MS Office, who doesn’t? iPad, I’ve never owned one and will never voluntarily own one, but it’s an Apple product. How hard can it be? Business to business sales experience? That is nowhere on my résumé for a reason – I’ve never done it. Medical/dental sales? Same thing. Up to 50% overnight travel? Yeah, no.
But the kicker? The salary range. I’m not disclosing what I earn, but any decent recruiter with four spare brain cells to rub together could Google “business analyst Washington DC salary” to put together a decent estimate. It is not even in the same time zone as that range (which isn’t even a range because it has the same start and end point, but that’s another post).
That email actually made me laugh out loud and when my co-worker looked at me funny, I just turned my screen to him and pointed to the salary range. He laughed out loud too.
Then there is this gem that scrolled across my newsfeed this week:
In one of the best examples of “Okay you saw it, but did you read it” by a recruiter, one of my connections, who asked to remain anonymous, was contacted by a company recruiter about an “exciting opportunity” to join their team. (Why are recruiters so hung up on the word “exciting”? Seriously, use a thesaurus. They are online now and there are a lot of synonyms for “exciting”.) The gotcha? He already works for the company. A five-second review of his LinkedIn profile could have told the recruiter that.
The recruiter was right about one thing: he is a great fit for the company. He’s been there for years.
As job seekers, we are repeatedly told to be prepared, research potential employers, and always have a list of questions to ask. My go-to recruiter, Mike Genn, got to know me and then coached and quizzed before he turned me loose on the employer he referred me to for a position. (I got it too, in part because of Mike’s efforts.)
Maybe everybody didn’t get the same memo he got. Who tells the recruiters the how best to reach potential candidates without being annoying? I found a few general advice posts on how to improve calls and work with candidates/hiring managers, but not much in the way of practical first contact with candidates advice. (Ironically, the first search result for “advice for job recruiters” was an article on how candidates should work with recruiters.)
Since there wasn’t much in the way of advice on how not to irritate potential candidates, here’s my shot at it:
Advice for Recruiters from Job Seekers
- Spell my name right. Any email that spells my name wrong will get deleted unread. I checked. I spelled my name right on my profile. Try copy/paste.
- Read my résumé – at least briefly. Please don’t send me job postings for retail positions in Peoria – unless I work in retail in Peoria. Then it’s okay.
- Don’t send emails that say “Per our phone conversation” when you’ve never called me.
- Don’t send emails that say you’ve scheduled a phone interview for me when you’ve never called me.
- When you call me, don’t ask me why I put my résumé online when I just accepted a new position. Duh. I put it up there to get the new position, got it, then checked the box to inactivate my résumé. Your database being out of date is not my problem. (One recruiter called me based on a résumé in their database that was eight years old and was annoyed that I hadn’t updated his system!)
- If someone’s LinkedIn profile shows a job change last month, they probably aren’t interested in changing jobs again at the moment.
- Don’t call me three days in a row about the same job when I said I wasn’t interested the first time, no matter how many times your search engine spits out my résumé.
- Don’t have three different people from the same recruiting company call me about the same job in one day. Upgrade your system with a “someone called this person about this job already” flag.
- Don’t try to recruit me to work for you if I already work for you. (This one’s for you, my friend!)
It’s Your Turn
Those are my rules for recruiters. What rules would you add? Have you gotten unsolicited emails that so completely miss the mark, you can only laugh? Are you a recruiter who does it right? Help out your fellow recruiters and share your wisdom!
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All thoughts and opinions are my own. They do not represent those of any current or former employers or clients.