Silence of the Job Posting

It is every job seeker’s biggest pet peeve, and it’s their loudest complaint: “I never hear back from the jobs I apply to online”.  Over the past 10-20 years, the job application process has fundamentally changed.  For better or for worse, everything is automated now.  The opportunity of having your resume viewed by the hiring manager is at the mercy of algorithms and expansive applicant databases.

I have interviewed countless job seekers who are just entering the market again after 20+ years of being employed.  The process of applying to a job in today’s culture is foreign to them.  The last time they applied for a job, they walked into a business and physically handed their resume to a hiring manager or HR representative.  They were able to shake the hand of their potential employer and ask questions about the job.  There was a sense of comfort in that personal interaction.  Many job seekers had their interview right then and there and were hired on the spot.  That’s not the case anymore.

Whether you’re just entering the job market after 20 years or you’re a seasoned veteran of applying to jobs online – today’s job application process feels cold and cruel.  There is no more face to face interaction, there is only the internet.  You have to navigate through the company’s website, create a profile, answer seemingly endless questions about yourself, and upload your resume.  Depending on how savvy you are, this may take 5 minutes or it could take an hour.  Finally you’ve created a profile, uploaded your resume, and applied to a job.  Moments later you receive an automated email thanking you for your application and assuring you that your time is valuable.  Now you sit back and wait for the phone to ring!

A week later, after no phone calls, you start to feel a bit insulted.  Those little job posting drones lied to you!  They don’t value your time like their automated email said.  You start to picture them sitting back and laughing as they fire off more thank you emails to other new applicants.

Throughout my career I’ve personally struggled a lot with this topic.  On the one hand, I believe that customer service and personal interaction are invaluable to success in business.  Showing that respect and service to your customers is the #1 driver in what separates successful companies from unsuccessful companies.  I try extremely hard to show those attributes to people I interact with.  I make a concerted effort to return every phone call and email.  Now, that may not seem like a lot to ask, but if you’re in the recruiting/hiring role you know that on a typical day you get hundreds of emails and dozens of phone calls.  I always get upset when I hear job seekers complaining about a lack of customer service.  I don’t feel like you are representing your company to the fullest if you are leaving job seekers out in the cold waiting for a response.

On the other hand, I know that in today’s world there is a limit to how much personal interaction one can give.  When the process of applying to jobs moved to the internet, it exponentially increased the amount of applicant traffic to that job.  An average of 250 resumes are received for each job posted.  When you consider that the average corporate recruiter is working on 20-30 openings at one time…the number of applicants begin to stack up quickly.  At some point there is a physical impossibility that the recruiter can interact with each and every job applicant.

In an effort to combat the massive man hours spent sifting through applications, algorithms have been deployed to automatically sort through applications and select the resumes that match the job posting’s basic qualifications.  This would be an excellent way to streamline the process and allow the recruiter to reach out individually to all applicants who are qualified.  However, now job seekers have wised up to these algorithms and will tweak their resumes to pass through the ‘buzz word’ inspection gates.  To hedge their bets, some job seekers will apply to any and every job at a corporation.  I spoke with a gentleman last week who had applied to 800+ jobs with my company.

Job boards, like the internet, are still in their infancy.  There is a lot of work to be done before they truly become efficient tools for hiring.  With new technology like “The Cloud” and Big Data tools such as modern distributed file systems and map/reduce/clustering techniques recruiters will be able to sort through massive amounts of data to easily find those resumes that best match what they are hiring for.  I have no doubt that a lot of time and money will be invested in improving the job seekers experience with applying to jobs online and helping to streamline their process.

It’s clear we are not there yet.  It’s a frustrating time for both sides of the job board, and at times the reputations of both job seekers and recruiters can be negatively impacted.  Job seekers are blaming recruiters for not being responsive, and recruiters are blaming job seekers for applying to jobs they aren’t qualified for.  Job boards were supposed to help us work together toward a common goal, but it seems that now they have created a rift between us.

For recruiters, I urge you to do your best.  Block off time on your calendar to answer emails and phone calls.  Try as you may, you’ll never be able to personally speak with each and every applicant.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t send a quick email to let them know they aren’t qualified.  Most ATS (applicant tracking systems) even have a feature that allows you to send out an auto-populated response letting them know they didn’t qualify.  Be sure to review your reqs each morning and address any new applications.  It is much easier to handle 10-20 applicants each morning vs. waiting and having 200 pile up.

For job seekers, I urge you to stay patient.  I know that’s easier said than done.  I’ve been a job seeker and I’ve applied to jobs online.  The silence of the job posting is deafening!  But you have to trust in your abilities and your value as a candidate.  Don’t apply to 500 jobs, only apply to jobs that you have a genuine interest in AND that you’re qualified for.  If it’s not something you can see yourself being satisfied with, or it’s not something you meet the basic qualifications for – don’t apply.  Most importantly, NETWORK!  Try to network your way into a position.  If you are interested in ABC Company and you’ve applied to a job with them online – spend some time researching ABC Company.  Go onto LinkedIn and connect with people who work at ABC Company.  Odds are their recruiter is on LinkedIn.  Send them a note, let them know you’ve applied and look forward to having them review your resume.  Be careful not to seem overbearing, but show your interest in the role you’ve applied to.  Networking is an extremely beneficial way to differentiate yourself from the other applicants.

For the time being we have to deal with job boards the way they are.  Recruiters will continue to be inundated with applicants and job seekers will continue to seemingly get the silent treatment.  If we all show a little empathy, we’ll get through it.  Recruiters should understand the frustrations of job seekers, and job seekers should understand the daunting task of recruiters.  If I were a smarter man, I’d create a new way of applying to jobs that solves these issues…and then I’d sail off into the sunset on my brand new yacht!

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

Is there such a thing as luck in recruiting?

As recruiters, we may feel that a good bit of our success has to do with luck.  There are so many factors that go into recruiting, and many of them rely on someone else besides the recruiter.  In order for a recruiter to be successful they have to rely on a lot of outside factors, including:  the funding of the position they are working on, the accuracy of the job description they’re working on, the willingness of the hiring manager to competently interview in a timely fashion and the commitment of the hiring manager to actually make the hire, the participation of HR to process the hire properly and efficiently, and above all recruiters have to rely on the candidate to be truthful, reliable and committed to the interview process.  As recruiters, if our success relied solely on our efforts I truly believe most recruiters would be millionaires (I also believe there would be a massive influx of people joining the recruiter community).  But, as we all know, that isn’t the case.  Our success is directly linked to the efforts and actions of others.  So it isn’t surprising that some recruiters see luck as playing a major role in the success of their careers.

Sometimes it’s the good luck that plays a role in the success of our careers and that allows us to hit our goals efficiently and effectively – seemingly with little effort.  You know the days- you get into the office early and go through your voicemails, emails, and new applications.  Throughout those voicemails, emails and applications you identify 3-4 quality candidates that match the opening(s) you’re working on.  You spend 10 minutes on the phone with them and have a very pleasant conversation.  They are a great candidate, easy to talk to, and very agreeable.  They ask the right questions and give the right answers.  They are a great match geographically, their skill sets are spot on, they are in the salary range and they are immediately available to interview.  You set up the interview, they nail the interview, and two weeks later they come onboard.  Just like that, you’ve made the placement and performed your job flawlessly.  Depending on how you are compensated, you’ve either earned your salary or increased your commission – but either way you’ve taken a step forward in your career.  Piece of cake!  Anyone could do this job, right?

Then there is the bad luck that plays a role in the success of our careers.  You know these days all too well, perhaps even better than you know the good luck days.  You get into the office early, as always.  You check your voicemails, emails and applications.  Same old updates, nothing new for you.  You spend the day reaching out to your networks, fishing the job boards, and hunting for the right candidate.  You’re good at your job, so eventually you identify a few potential candidates for the opening(s) you’re working on.  After calling them you end up disqualifying the majority of them because they aren’t interested, aren’t qualified, or aren’t committed.  You find the one candidate who is the right match and you submit them to your hiring manager.  Feedback from your manager reaches you three, four or five days later that the job description has changed and you’re looking for a different type of skill sets.  You have to apologize to the job seeker and do your best to maintain your reputation with them – even though you’ve seemingly just wasted their time.  You begin your searches all over again, you find a qualified candidate and you get them interviewed.  Finally the hiring manager asks for you to extend the offer and the candidate decides to play hardball with you.  The salary they committed to when you initially screened them has now jumped up $20K, and they want to talk about improving those benefits you’re offering as well.  Or perhaps they’re ok with the salary and benefits, but when you submit them for a drug and background check they end up failing the pre-employment screening for a reason they didn’t disclose during your initial conversations with them.  Now you have to apologize to the hiring manager for seemingly wasting their time.  There are countless examples of things not going well for recruiters that are attributed to bad luck.  Depending on how you are compensated, you’re either scrambling to find a way to prove you’re worth your salary or your commission has gone down and you’re praying you find a way to make rent that month.  Why would anyone take a recruiting job that is so dependant on luck?

I’ll admit that throughout my recruiting career I’ve had some great days and some down right awful days.  But I would argue that luck has absolutely nothing to do with my success or lack thereof.  I would further argue that as recruiters our career is not impacted by luck at all.  I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan, and although he has a song or two about luck, he doesn’t really view it as having an impact on his success.  I think his quote regarding luck sums things up perfectly: “People often remark that I’m pretty lucky.  Luck is only important in so far as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment.  After that, you’ve got to have talent and know how to use it.”  I think that is a brilliant way to look at luck – especially as recruiters.

During those days where everything seems to go our way and success comes easily, it’s not because of good luck.  It’s because we set ourselves up for success.  We have built extensive networks and have built strong relationships.  We have sharpened our recruiting tools.  We’ve built great relationships with our hiring managers and HR.  We have built great rapport with job seekers.  By treating job seekers with respect, we have earned their trust.  In turn they refer their family members and friends to us, and our professional network grows.  We aren’t brand new at this, and we realize that even though we have one candidate identified for an opening, we need to have a backup candidate ready to go.  We are successful because we deliberately take actions to be successful on a daily basis.  And on the days where nothing goes right, and where it seems like we can’t win, we have to take a deeper look at our efforts.  Sure, it’s easy to blame something as trivial as luck for our lack of success.  We can complain about our bad luck and point to that as the reason we’re not having success.  However, it’s much harder to look at our daily routines and our overall effort and pinpoint where we are slacking.  It’s not easy to identify our own shortcomings as the reasons we aren’t having success.

Recruiting is not an easy job, and we all know that.  I once had a boss who said “if recruiting was easy, a lot of doctors and lawyers would be recruiters.”  Now, I don’t think my boss was suggesting that being a recruiter is any harder than being a doctor or a lawyer, but it takes a lot of hard work and determination to become a successful recruiter and earn the big paychecks.  To be a successful recruiter you have to work at it constantly.  You have to build relationships on a daily basis and you have to work with a sense of urgency.  You have to have a passion for your work.  If you do that, you’ll have all the luck in the world.  If you sit back and wait for luck to play a role in your success…well then…good luck!

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

Employment: The Importance of Integrity

At its core, the employment process is centered around self interests. Recruiters are interested in placing candidates with their clients. It is their main job function, and it is what secures their financial future. Those job seekers that the recruiters are working with are interested in finding and obtaining a new opportunity for themselves. Their main interest is landing a job to secure their financial future. And the hiring managers who work with the recruiters are interested in filling their openings within their company. Bringing in a new employee allows progress to continue within their company which in turn secures their financial future.

I don’t think it’s surprising to anyone who has ever been involved in the employment process that sometimes these self interests can lead the recruiter, job seeker, or hiring manager to put their own interests first before considering the impact on the others involved.

I’ve sat in all three chairs during my professional career. I’ve been a job seeker 3 times in my adult life. I’ve been the hiring manager dozens of times as I interviewed internal candidates to join my recruiting team. And I’ve been the recruiter thousands of times.

As a job seeker, our main motivation is to do what our title suggests – find a job. Our end goal is to land a new job and have a steady paycheck coming in. Sometimes we find ourselves unemployed and seeking work. Other times we simply want to improve our current situation. Perhaps we don’t like our boss, our co-workers, our job duties, our daily commute or perhaps we simply want to be paid more. Regardless of the reason, the end goal remains the same. It is very easy to put our blinders on and focus only on that end goal. It’s easy to mislead companies, misrepresent our abilities or experience. What’s the harm in withholding the truth from hiring managers or recruiters? I’ll get the job and all will be well…right? Wrong! We are in the Knowledge Age where people are interconnected more than ever. News of your attempt to mislead Company A can very easily travel to Company B. Hiring Manager A and Hiring Manager B probably belong to the same networking group. Similarly, recruiters are all very well interconnected. Every company has an Applicant Tracking System where they store resumes of applicants -and more times than not these databases have the option of adding notes to a job seekers profile. Hell hath no fury like a recruiter burned. So be sure to represent yourself truthfully. Don’t over exaggerate your capabilities or your experience. Be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table. There’s no need to try to invent more than you are. You’ll find that recruiters will go out of their way to help you, and will even refer you to other recruiters or opportunities if they can’t place you.

As a recruiter, our main function is to recruit candidates for our company or our clients. Our interest is in successfully taking a candidate through the process from initial screening to placement. I could write dozens of blogs on the negative reputation recruiters have these days. Recruiting is almost a thankless job (until you do it right!). It’s very easy for recruiters to simply focus on the placement and not the impact they will have on others. It’s easy to talk a job seeker into taking a position that may not be in their best interest. It’s easy to misrepresent a candidate’s abilities to a client in order to get the placement. I used to work for a firm where recruiters made a lousy base salary and they relied heavily on their commission to make any real money. The lure of high commission makes some people bend their moral standards. It’s easy to let the promise of a larger paycheck outweigh the soft nudge of our conscience telling us this placement isn’t the right fit. It’s easy to work with a clients that mistreat their employees – so long as they pay us. What’s the harm of making a placement I know isn’t right? I’m doing my job, I’m finding a candidate to fill a void. I’ll make the placement, I’ll get paid and all will be well, right? Wrong! Recruiters have a bad rap because that lazy mentality exists. Once a recruiter has a bad name, it’s very hard to right that ship. Operating in a selfish manner can ruin business relationships and lead to your company losing accounts. As a recruiter, our main avenue to find new talent is through our networks. Word of mouth and referrals are the most effective, efficient, and reliable ways to recruit. If you gain a reputation as an unethical or immoral recruiter, your networks will diminish. No one is going to feel comfortable referring their relative, friend, or co-worker to you if they think you won’t treat them right. So do yourself a favor and operate with a set of moral principles. There are always more candidates out there. There are always more companies who need to hire. Don’t be afraid to walk away from business, and don’t be afraid to tell a candidate this isn’t the right opportunity. Treat your candidates with respect. If you truly show an interest in their situation and work with integrity, you will build a relationship of trust that will repay you time and time again.

As a hiring manager, our main function is to fill that open position. Whether we are filling a void or upgrading a current position, our task is to make the hire. It’s easy for a hiring manager to look at employees as gears in a machine. It’s easy for a hiring manager to look at recruiters as replaceable tools used to complete a job. It’s easy to hire based on bias or as a personal favor. It’s easy to only respond to applicants or inquiries when it’s convenient. What’s the harm in me misleading applicants or dragging my feet for weeks on submissions from recruiters? As long as I get what I want in the end and make the hire, all will be well, right? Wrong! Just as job seekers and recruiters have reputations to maintain – so do hiring managers. Your job is to bring people into your company so that progress can continue. However, once word gets our that your company doesn’t value it’s employees or is a poor partnership for recruiting firms you’ll find it harder and harder to make those hires. If your hiring process has a reputation of being drawn out and indecisive, the value of your company will go down. Job seekers won’t want to commit to a company that doesn’t value their time or input. Recruiters won’t want to work for a hiring manager who is indecisive or unresponsive. They will seek out other partnerships elsewhere. Treat your employees with respect. Value their opinion and look at them as solutions to problems vs. a gear in a machine. Respond in a timely manner and realize that other people have their interests invested in this hiring process as well. As you do this and grow your reputation, more and more job seekers will be referred to you. Recruiters will go above and beyond to find that perfect fit for you because they value your business relationship and want to perform well for you.

The employment process may be centered around self interests, but that doesn’t mean we have to operate that way. Build up your professional network by conducting yourself with a sense of integrity. Consider all parties involved vs. your own interests. At the end of the day, you have to look out for #1, but be sure to do so in a manner that treats others with respect.

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23