May 16, 2011

Getting noticed: an open letter to recruiters

There's been a lot (as in you can't open a website about the economy without seeing one) of articles written about how to get your resume noticed if you're a job seeker.  This isn't entirely surprising given the current state of the economy and the job market in particular.  We're in one of those cycles right now where all the power lies with the employers.  However, all things are cyclical.  That hasn't always been the case, and I'm certain the scales will even out again.  As for when....well that's up for speculation.

The thing is, even in the worst of times, a job search is still a two way street.  This is something that can be difficult to remember.  At my last full time position my employer was often quick to mention how lucky we were to all have jobs.  Most of his audience would lap this up as fact and then go back to redouble their efforts.  As for myself, I personally was always a little insulted by this attitude.  Was this the corporate version of a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen, handing out paychecks out a sense of charity?  Of course not.  We all worked hard to add value to the bottom line.  Anyone who has a good job should feel lucky to have it.  Likewise, any company that has been able to find and retain good labor should likewise feel lucky for the same.  This sense of mutual respect is often forgotten during times such as this.

Similarly, this mutual respect should extend to the job search itself.  Obviously if my resume is sloppy, my phone skills are poor, or I'm unprofessional in person then I should expect to meet with failure.  Conversely, though, if you as a recruiter have made it painfully obvious to me that you haven't given my information even a cursory scan, then do not expect me to jump through hoops for you.  I understand that you're busy and that you probably have 1000 resumes to look at for every position.  However, don't think I'm fooled for even a second when I get a form email proclaiming that after much intense scrutiny of my resume I would be perfect for your Java developer position, just because your keyword engine picked up the word Java somewhere in my information.  Even a momentary scan of my resume by a pair of eyeballs would pick up on the fact that I am not even remotely close to what you (and I) are looking for.  All you've done is secure yourself a place in my trash bin.

The recruiters I like dealing with, will keep on record, and will thus help network with are the ones that come across human beings and likewise make me feel as if I am being treated as such.  The ones who come across as slick salesmen are either ignored or quickly forgotten.  Here's a hint, if you come across as someone I wouldn't let sell me a hard drive at Best Buy, then I am most certainly not going to be comfortable having you be my broker to help secure for me what will be a major piece of my life. The job search door swings both ways.  If you can't hold open the door for me just a little, then don't expect me to do likewise.

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