Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Are You Making Too Many Excuses To Get Hired?

2013-01-11 10:24:35

One of the frustrations I have as a recruiter are when job seekers make excuses or blame employers/recruiters for not giving them a chance or require too much in the way of processes and expectations during the application process. Below are two recent examples of these. Be assured that none of the job seekers are doing themselves any good by blaming other people or finding excuses not to try and work within the process. I have never disputed that many companies write poor or incomplete job descriptions, or that there are poor/bad recruiters out there, but some things exist due to external forces and need to be dealt with and companies/recruiters/hiring managers are constrained in specific ways in how they recruit.

There is a discussion over on LinkedIn in one of the groups I belong to about being overqualified and undereducated for the job market. Obviously, most of the respondents are unhappy because they have a "ton" of experience but no one is hiring them because they are lacking a Bachelor's degree of some sort. Lots of ideas were thrown out, including having larger local companies host "career night" or "talent meet and greet" events where recruiters and hiring managers host an open house that people can attend to form connections and market themselves. The other complaint is that Applicant Tracking Systems are screening them out of jobs they are qualified for, so that their resumes are going into the dreaded "black hole" and that recruiters aren't even seeing their qualifications.

I explained how recruiters operate, and the basis for how ATS databases work. These are my responses:

Regarding industry hosted open houses: "Some companies do have open houses or host industry events. The problem for larger local companies is that most local candidates already have connections and can get an Employee Referral (the single most effective way both for a candidate and a recruiter to make quality connections) or introduction. Companies like Microsoft and Amazon, Starbucks and Boeing have such huge needs that the money and man hour investments in a local open house have a very low ROI. Local networking events like the East Side Networking and Seattle Job Social groups or industry MeetUps are far more effective.

I get at least half a dozen emails, phone calls, and LI requests for help with resume and job seeking 1:1 counseling every week. Unfortunately I don't have the time to devote to each and every request. I do try and help individuals move in the right direction via email or professional introductions/resources, but I cannot give personalized "service" to everyone that needs it, work a reasonable schedule at my job, and keep a healthy work-life balance. That was actually why I started a blog for job seekers: to help people understand what happens from the recruiting side of the equation. And I *do* regularly attend career fairs, speak on various professional panels, and go to networking events/mixers to try and connect with the local candidate pool. I know most recruiters help when/where they can with the general public, but it can be overwhelming. I generally work a (salaried) 50 hour week, like most industry professionals I know."

In reference to applicant databases: "I do understand where you are coming from, but the role of recruiting is to make the determination of a "good fit" in conjunction with our hiring managers. I think you have a perception that recruiting software automates the process to the point where there are resumes that recruiters never see. Recruiters eyeball *each applicant* and make the determination whether a given candidate is a fit. The system provides a framework (a relational database wherein each candidate record and each application are a 1:1 "transaction view"). I look at every resume on every job, including via LinkedIn, referrals, email/DM to me via LI, Twitter, etc. The "system" doesn't decide who I evaluate. All it does is provide a list of records linked in a logical and workable interface.

Boolean Searching (or keyword matching) is what we use to narrow the applicant records field down, and that is why it is critical that applicant resumes *match each job description by being tailored to the position type/s.* The truth is, if you don't have the skills required by the position, you aren't going to get the job. It doesn't matter if you are friends with the CEO; if you don't have the skills/experience/education needed to perform, you aren't a viable candidate.

There is a major component to the Recruiting profession called "sourcing" and this is defined as "going and finding candidates" from a variety of places. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks have dedicated teams of sourcers who look through databases, blogs, industry bios, their own ATS, talent communities, LinkedIn, FB, Google+ etc. to identify potential talent, generally based on profiles (ie Java developer, staff accountant, medical assistant, marketing manager, etc.) For my company, I function as both the sourcer and a full lifecycle recruiter for the Product teams. I have held several sourcing roles for various industries and companies (Legal, healthcare, technology) where that is all I did; find candidates and build both relationships with them and profile lists.

Returning to your original idea of "Career Night" I refer back to the fact that it isn't always practical in terms of time and money. It is the same concept as a career fair. If I go to a career fair during the work day, that means I take anywhere from 2-8+ hours out of my day to meet people. I end up making that time up either working longer, on the weekend, in the evenings. If my company hosts a career night/fair we have to have enough people (either employees or we have to pay for temps) to manage the logistics; if it is in the evening, we have to provide appropriate facilities including space (if in our own building that means extra security and set-up and tear down or renting space elsewhere), possibly refreshments, parking, etc. Unless I have a really high number of openings, it doesn't make sense.

Recruiting isn't about just sitting and waiting for candidates to find our jobs and apply, then letting a software program tell us who is qualified. It is about reaching out to talent, building relationships for current and future business openings, and managing vast amounts of data, the entire hiring process, and having a fairly in-depth knowledge of laws in a number of areas. The average recruiter has anywhere from 1-20+ openings at a time in the corporate world, in the agency area it can be as high as 40-50. Often those positions are several openings for the same type of role, so it becomes "profiles" vs. individual jobs, but each position is a separate transaction from start to finish so we have a multitude of ongoing projects in various stages at any given time. For example, right now I am working on 3 offers, two interview loops, several phone screens, and sourcing for all the positions that I don't have pending offers on."

The comments and discussion went on and on and on, with each person that feels cheated by the current methods of recruiting putting up more and more complaints that recruiters don't understand how hiring "should" work; that companies aren't making it easy for applicants to get their foot in the door; that just because they lack a Bachelor's doesn't mean they are less qualified; federal compliance regulations don't *really* matter and companies should have a wide enough definition of "qualified" to include years and years of experience.

I recently met with a seasoned Executive Assistant that is working for a company and is unhappy and hoping to make a change. A mutual acquaintance had suggested she talk to me about her resume and potential job search.

We went for coffee, and she gave me a copy of her resume. It had good bones, and I made only a couple of suggestions that could improve it. Then we started talking about what she is looking for.

1): She doesn't work for a company with too many processes/too much structure in place

I recommended that she look at smaller companies and start-ups. She responded that she didn't want to work at a start up because of the uncertainty, the low pay, and the fact that she would probably have to work way too many hours. She didn't think the benefits at a smaller company would give her enough insurance coverage.

2): I discussed how to optimize her resume for keyword searching via Applicant Tracking Systems. Keep in mind, my suggestions involved making about 4 small changes to her resume.

Her response? A company that used a computerized system to determine a skills fit is too impersonal for what she wants in an employer.

3) Her career has always been based on personal relationships; she has never had to "look for a job" and has always gotten referrals for openings. How do most people go about looking for a job when they already have one?

I told her that most people look for jobs to apply for on their lunch breaks, in the evening and on weekends. Interviewing may take some vacation/PTO time to accomplish. She went on to tell me that "oh I couldn't do that, it cuts into my personal time."

After throwing up all these objections, I finally asked her what her optimum choice would be.

"Preferably marrying someone rich so I could do what I want; either own my own business, or work at a boutique or maybe doing some meaningful volunteer work."

When I suggested she consider a match-maker that specializes in millionaire clients, she had an excuse for that too: "I don't think my boyfriend would like that."

I know job hunting is a long, slow, frustrating process. I have spent a good deal of my career contracting and *looking* for jobs. I try to help people as much as I can by sharing my expertise and explaining how recruiting and hiring works, why some things are done the way they are, and making suggestions so that job seekers can improve their chances. Be careful what you say/write, who you convey it to, and where/when you vent your frustrations.






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