7 thoughts on the mind of a recruiter

Worried on phoneIt’s Casino Night for my kids’ school. I don’t expect much from this event, but it turns out to be more fun than I would have thought. It’s surprising how PTA volunteers can really let loose when alcohol is consumed at great quantities. I talk with two stupid-drunk people at length, and another person with whom I have an interesting conversation.

The interesting conversation of which I speak is with a recruiter from a local computer and network security company. We talk about our occupations, sharing the good, bad, and the ugly. The main message I learn from him is that recruiters don’t have it as easy as we think.

1. There are jobs a plenty. This recruiter asks me how I see the job market. I tell him it’s getting better but not as good as I’d like. He confirms my statement by telling me he has a ridiculous number of job requests open. This is good, I think. I tell him there are job seekers with excellent qualifications who come through our career center.

I ask him if he only looks for passive job candidates—those who are currently working. He says his company looks at unemployed candidates, as well. How many months out of work will they consider for a candidate, three, six, nine? He says one year is usually the limit. This is better than I thought. I’m encouraged.

Actually, I think this guy is too good to be true.

2. Difficult finding talent to meet his employer’s needs. When I lament that companies expect their new hires to hit the ground running, he corrects me with, “You mean sprinting. Hit the ground sprinting.”

Sadly that’s the fact at his company. This recruiter’s job is to find people with extensive Java experience. Not just some Java experience, not even enough Java experience to get them going. He’s looking for people that can jump in on day one.

“How about someone who is capable of mastering what the company needs, within a couple of months.” I offer. He agrees but points out that one of his hiring managers has had an open job for four months. This befuddles him. “A quick learner might be a better in the long run,” I follow. He agrees, but ultimately it isn’t his choice who gets hired.

3. The résumés, in general, suck. When he tells me this, it is not new news. I’ve been hearing and reading this from frustrated recruiters who skim through poorly written and formatted résumés. Worst of all, they have little to nothing to do with the job a recruiter’s trying to fill. “What can you do?” he says. People desperate for a job will do anything to get an interview.

This, by far, is the worst part of his job, trudging through résumés…all those résumés.

4. He finally finds the right person, but they don’t interview well. He finds people who have all the skills, job-related and soft, but can’t demonstrate them at an interview. Other recruiters have echoed this; they have no control over what goes on between the hiring manager and the candidates during the interview. Some candidates just don’t do well at interviews.

It must be like sending your child away to summer camp and hoping for the best. In most cases they know the candidate will handle him/herself well, but there’s always the chance that a person will bomb at the interview. Lose their resolve and slide under the table because of their nerves. Shame. Many a good candidate is passed up because he can’t pass the “test.”

5. Everything goes fine until negotiations. Another recruiter I spoke with told me she was willing to bring someone in for an interview because he had the talent necessary for the job. However, he wouldn’t budge from his salary requirement. She and this person were $10,000 apart for a $100,000+ position and she was sure the gap could be narrowed. He was so adamant that she gave she gave up on him in frustration.

6. He uses LinkedIn exclusively. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this said and probably won’t be the last. This recruiter no longer uses Monster because his searches aren’t as focused; there’s too much garbage. Linked allows him to zero in on exactly what he needs. I remark that I read only 20% of résumés stored on Monster are read. He doesn’t doubt this.

I bitch about LinkedIn taking away us common folks’ commercial searches. He hasn’t heard about this new rule because he’s a recruiter and benefits from a $12,000-a-year premium account. (This is the figure I’ve heard.) Now I wish I were a recruiter.

7. I think he thinks I”m the enemy. He wonders what I do to help my customers. “I teach them to fool people like you,” I tell him. He laughs. I go into my dog and pony show telling him about how I lead workshops on job-search strategies, as well as provide individual assistance through résumé and LinkedIn profile critiques. He seems interested. But I can tell he’s lingering on what I said about teaching my job seekers to fool people like him.

Can he meet me for lunch, he wants to know. Now I’m wondering if he wants to know my secrets, or if he’s looking for a job. He’s been with his company for five years. I’m thinking he’s doing damn good—I heard the average tenure is less than two years for a recruiter. I see on LinkedIn that many of the recruiters with whom I am connected, in fact, hop jobs like wildfire. Yes, he’s doing quite well.

I agree to meet him if he’ll talk to my networking group about what recruiters think. He says he’s not much of a public speaker, so to make a joke I tell him neither am I. He laughs. If he doesn’t come in, at least I can tell my customers what’s on the mind of a recruiter.

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3 thoughts on “7 thoughts on the mind of a recruiter

  1. Linda

    Great article! I wish there was some way to communicate with job seekers from a recruiters point of view, without being attacked for our insight. I am glad you had the opportunity to pick his brain a little bit and I really hope he spends time with your group!
    Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Trcia

    Great read! Thank you for sharing. As a Career Counselor I am always trying to help clients figure out exactly how to get to the recruiter’s head (and the right resume into the recruiter’s hands). This insight will be invaluable.

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Thank you, Trcia. Knowing how recruiters think, through articles, is important in advising our customers who deal with them (not all do). But hearing one share his thoughts and confirm what we tell our customers is priceless.

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