It’s an honest one that just begins to explore the chasm between the average job seeker and the recruiting industry.
It was asked of me last week by Kevin, a reader of this blog and one of the many thousands that get frustrated by the apparent lack of concern that recruiters show job seekers.
With few exceptions, the chasm exists as a structured and planned separation of the “haves” and the “have nots”. Recruiters (in most economic times) work on behalf of the “haves” and we, the job seeker, represent the “have nots”. The “haves” hold what we want . . . a job.
This number is thrown around a lot but I’ve heard it’s pretty accurate – that only 15% of jobs are available through recruiters. Whether that is 15% of all jobs or 15% of manager/above jobs, I’m not sure. It makes sense when you remember that recruiters (rightly) are paid either a healthy percentage of your first year salary. They usually earn it – and then some. So it makes sense that recruiters do not make up a larger % of the effort. It’s expensive.So what are the implications of this? Well, let’s see. Your job search strategy
should include an effort with recruiters that is consistent with their influence, right? So, if your communication and networking
effort toward recruiters is bigger than 15%, you could be wasting time and, importantly, filling up the in box of recruiters. Filling up the in box of recruiters magnifies the problem – an issue I discussed in this recent post: Unqualified For A Job? Don’t Apply
The Recruiter is Not the Villain
Let’s be honest. It’s easy to look for a bad guy/gal in this scenario. Let’s say you do everything right in your approach (most don’t). You are respectful. You came recommended. You provided all the right information in an easy-to-review format. You were reasonably qualified for the job.
So what gives. Still no call? Let’s look at some of the reasons why the call does not come . . .
1. You do not fit the specification as outlined by the hiring company. Recruiters for the most part are very thorough. Especially retained recruiters (see below) will sit for hours with the hiring manager as well as other influencers within the company to fully understand what the right candidate looks like. Their ability to quickly provide highly qualified candidates is the single most important factor to a hiring company. As a hiring manager, you want results. These position specs can be very detailed and, early on, there doesn’t tend to be a lot of wavering from that specification. If you are interested in a sales job with a medical sales company, don’t expect a call on this search if you have a packaged goods background. Despite your stellar record selling to grocery stores, doctors are a different breed and require different experience and skills. The closer you are to the “spec”, the more you feel a call back is in order, right?
2. You came in “blind” to the recruiter
When I say blind, I mean that you sent an e-mail, wrote a letter or left a phone message without any kind of 3rd party introduction. That 3rd intro could come as a referral from an inbound recruiter call to a friend of yours. It could also be a planned note to a recruiter from a friend or associate who is already networked with that recruiter. It always helps.
3. You didn’t do what you said you would do
A lot of people will send a note or cover letter to a recruiter with an intro, a resume and a promise to call “next week”. First of all, if you are going to promise a time, make it a specific time. And actually call at that time. If you don’t, you will lose favor and may not get proper consideration. Yes, even if you feel you are qualified.
4. Recruiters receive more e-mails than you do
Remember when you were working? You had a busy day of meetings. You finally make it back to your desk only to find six voice mails, your chair piled with things to approve/review? You then turn jostle your computer to find 100 e-mails expecting an answer within 24 hours (12 hours of which are already gone)? Now, is this an excuse? To some extent, yes. But recruiters have only so much capacity. Remember too, that you are now less busy and time does not fly by for you the way it used to when employed. So you have a crazy busy recruiter and a less busy (normally) job seeker. It is a classic pot boiling scenario. In other words, no response after a week seems like forever and feels like a shun.
5. If recruiters responded to everyone . . .
Part of Kevin’s original note included a frustration that there usually, in his experience, isn’t even an acknowledgement. Not even a “got your note, thanks”. I agree with this point and I think recruiters would also. They do not want to shun people but they cannot respond to everyone. It is simply not possible. Now there are some recruiters who use auto-responders. These can help both parties despite their coldness. At least the job seeker knows that the e-mail was received and the resume (hopefully) has been scanned/uploaded into the recruiter’s system. Check that box.
Retained vs. Contingent
Just a quick note here that retained recruiters are usually working with fewer, higher paying clients. And will, by definition, be less likely to contact you directly – unless you fit a current search. Although there are some fantastic recruiters around the U.S. who make efforts to build relationships even if a fit is not imminent.
In Their Shoes
Next time you get a unique job lead, try this. Send the job lead out to a large networking group and have people send you their information. You are offering to forward qualified people to the recruiter or hiring manager (some will assume that you are a recruiter). You are now the filter looking to ease the burden on the hiring company but also wanting to make sure that qualified resumes get through and get reviewed. I did this a few months ago for a friend who had a few open positions. I was blown away by the number of e-mails I received. Very few were qualified (had not read or ignored the job description). I tried to send a quick note to EVERYONE that did not fit letting them know “thanks. got it. not qualified.” People got upset. Argued with me. So, that was my one encounter. I tried to do it right and it was not the warm fuzzy “trying to help out” feeling. So, if you can have this experience or learn from mine, understand that recruite
rs all started out wanting to do the right thing. It’s often a thankless effort.
So what’s the solution?
1. Apply for jobs based on your interest, experience and qualifications for the job.
2. Be respectful of the recruiter’s time and provide them with your background in an easy-to review format. Do not send a two page cover letter. Try a one-sheet networking bio
(along with your resume) to start – something the recruiter can quickly scan for fit.
3. Work on a third party (warm) introduction. They key, make sure that everyone in your network knows (A) that you are looking and (B) your job objectives. If a recruiter calls on a job, you may be the recruiter’s next call.
4. If you do get a recruiter call or e-mail, don’t over-react (gush with excitement) and don’t take too much of their time (ask for career advice). Be professional and respectful.
5. Be patient. Don’t be a pest. Certainly you can send a quick e-mail once a month (i.e. “remember me?”). At the end of the e-mail say this: no need to reply. This takes a lot of pressure of of the recruiter and shows some savvy on your part. You know how busy they are and appreciate their consideration of your experience.
So, if you have been in Kevin’s shoes, do this for me. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Repeat as necessary.
Be patient. When the right job comes along, if you are prepared and qualified, the call will come.
It will feel good. The stars will align. You will get hired.