The role of Corporate America, and recruiting, in the job situation

As is my wont, I was perusing the LinkedIn answer forums over the weekend and answered a question that provoked an answer that has really hit home for various reasons.

The first thing that this response hits me with is that the person responding obviously doesn’t understand *me* (more about that in a moment.) Before I share the response, I want to share some information regarding recruiting "philosophy". It has always been the "holy grail" of recruiters to engage the "passive candidate". That is someone that is happily employed elsewhere and not looking. The thought process behind it is that someone that isn’t looking is most likely going to be a better employee, because obviously they are making an impact where they are, and they are more likely to be a top performer.

In times of plenty (like the mid-90’s through 2005/6) that may be true. The reason I bring this up is because of part of the comment I received as a response:

"If your group maintains a bias for "passive candidates", it is more a part of the problem with our economic recovery than the solution".

I happen to agree with this person, but he obviously doesn’t know *me*. I wrote a recruiting blog about this very mentality last summer.

<A href="" target="_blank">Redefining the "passive" candidate’s importance in recruiting</A>

This is really giving me a lot of food for thought, and I’m trying to share it with my recruiting colleagues, but it’s really an uphill battle.

How *NOT* To “Network”

There is a term for the most desirable candidate in recruiting, the "passive" candidate. This is someone that is happy in their job and not looking to move. The rationale is that if someone is happily employed, they are valuable and will make a positive contribution to a *new* organization. Believe it or not, this adage is still proving true in recruiting circles.

So, if recruiters are looking for those that are employed, and you are *unemployed* how do you make yourself look more desirable to potential employers?

First and foremost: do *not appear desperate*. All over the place I see social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc.) profiles that scream "I’m looking for a job as ZYW in Anytown USA."

OK, this is *totally* the wrong way to go about marketing yourself. First of all, this is a major turn-off for potential employers. If you are this unsubtle in the world of social media, how do you think they are going to look at you as a representative of the company? Uh huh. Not very professional and certainly someone that doesn’t understand the meaning of business "subtlety". It also shows that you don’t understand how to cultivate business relationships or make value-add connections.

Networking is about 1:1 personal relationships. It *is not* about trying to get yourself in front of as many people as humanly possible. That mentality is akin to the old "shooting fish in a barrell" concept.

It is crucial to use social media and networking tools effectively. This means being calm, cool, collected and professional in how you approach others. It is fine to let someone you are networking with to know that you are seeking new opportunties, be it by attrition or a RIF (Reduction In Force or layoff). But screaming it to all and sundry on the internet is the fastest way to lose face with those that could potentially help you. If you cannot market yourself in a way that is positive, why on earth would they want to pass your profile along to their colleague that is hiring? So do yourself a favor; spend the $25 to get a business license, set up shop as an independent business owner, and cultivate *clients*. Whether you do any actual work, as long as you appear to be doing something with your credentials and expertise you will come across as a professional.

Guarding Your Professional Brand

It goes without saying that companies need to be very careful about their brand, something Conquent takes very seriously. And I always counsel candidates and career services clients to portray themselves and their personal brand carefully especially online.

But it’s just as important for the individuals in a business/organization to guard their own brand; in this case, it is twofold. As both a representative of the organization, but also as a professional in their own right.

This whole thought is forming from a LinkedIn Question that was posted under "recruiting and staffing". A Director of Recruiting Services asked the question "Is it legal to check a candidate’s employment history without their permission?"

OK, first of all if you are a *director* in any profession, you should be an expert on the basic legal compliance issues of your industry. This particular individual has just destroyed all credibility as a knowledgable professional.

Second, putting this sort of a question out on a forum such as LinkedIn smacks of laziness. There are numerous free resources on the internet to consult with, especially in the US with the Department of Labor. I have a few pet peeves with the use of community sites for "quick fix" questions, so I admit a bias in that regard. I moderate a 3700+ member global Yahoo Group and I regularly post reminders to search the archives before posting a common question.

Finally, putting all these impressions together creates a picture of a minor-league "professional" with very little business sense, no idea how to utilize the plentiful resources out there, and a time drain on colleagues and other professionals in our industry.

Career Crossover Filters

In addition to my Recruiting career, I am also an aspiring author. I’ve been writing a novel for the last few years and I’m getting ready to submit a book on Resume Construction.

Last night I was at a talk given by the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association on the topic of Query Letters.

Query Letters are short documents an author sends to Editors and Agents trying to interest them in purchasing the book. Each publishing house/literary agency has different guidelines for what they want included in a query letter.

I’ve always thought of the Query Letter as being the equivalent of a resume. But last night, my viewpoint completely changed. Now, I see it as the equivalent of a resume. This makes sense, because as a recruiter, I rarely have time to read a cover letter; I usually go straight to the resume itself.

The purpose of the Query is the same as the Resume: get the reader’s attention enough in the first few lines to make them want to read more.

We all have filters in our lives that we use to compartmentalize our experiences. For me, those filters will be completely unique to anyone else. Seeing the Query as a Resume really makes a huge difference for me when it comes time to write them.

HR and Compliance

A lot of people don’t realize how regulated the Human Resources industry is in the US. People who go into HR as a profession often think they are going into a "people" industry, when in reality they are going into a "policy" career.

HR folks are responsible not for the "human" part of the equation but the"resources" and the management of those resources. Yes, an HR Generalist or HR Manager does deal with employees, but usually only under specific circumstances such as reviews, onboarding as new employees, insurance enrollment, and sadly either in times of stress or exit interviews.

Being an HR professional means knowing a lot of different laws. Being a recruiter means knowing a lot of laws. Being a hiring manager, especially of a small business, means being responsible not only for those laws but also their execution.

Last night I was at a career panel with several other women, and one of them was expounding on her long career as a business owner and manager. She made a comment that startled me, being in the Northwest. She said that she doesn’t hire anyone with visible piercings and tattoos (other than pierced ears.)
BR />

I was also having this discussion over on LinkedIn in the Answers section. A Diversity specialist posted a question asking recruiters’ opinions on body art. Basically, I believe we have entered a period in history where body art is mainstream, it is a form of personal expression and the employer that doesn’t accept that loses out on the talent and creativity of the generation under 40 (and some of us over forty).

I believe that someday there will be legalization stating we cannot discrimminate based on body art. If this happens, I’m not sure if that is a bad thing or a good thing. But I believe that hiring professionals need to be cognizant of the realities of todays’ workers. The old prejudices are getting just that…old.

Why video resumes *don’t* work

In the recruiting world, a hot topic the last few years has been video resumes. In many European countries, and due to the explosion of Youtube, lots of content companies are trying to cash in on the untapped market for video resumes in the US.

But here’s the thing: they aren’t *listening* to what recruiters are telling them.

There is a huge issue with discrimination potential. And, that discrimination isn’t even just from a recruiting perspective; there are several studies conducted over the last decade that show that societally we are predisposed to discrimination:

Attractive people make more money, are seen as more reliable, and generally have an advantage over their homelier counterparts. Below are just a very few articles referencing these studies.

BR />

B />

Add to that the cost involved with producing a video resume, and the *lack* off access to it, and you are basically saying that people who have money to go to a videography service have a better shot at getting a job. Today, anyone can go to a library, or local unemployment office and type up a resume and use free email to send it off.

Not only that, but who cares if someone reads a scripted document that tells me how wonderful they are?
B >

I can see there being a market for *live* videoconferencing for interviews. I’ve used this option myself in the past, and it has been successful. But for now, just email me a resume I can search and look at and call it good.

Supply and Demand

In the ‘dot bomb’ aftermath of 1998-2000, scores of displaced professionals decided to hide in the hallowed halls of academia and attain advanced degrees, such as MBA’s, in the hopes of being more marketable when they emerged and the economy, hopefully, had improved.

But one thing they failed to take into account is that when X% of the population goes "back to school", then X% of the workforce will have the same academic credentials when they emerge, thus *lowering* the demand for, say, an MBA.

I feel deeply concerned for the college graduates coming out with degrees in Finance and Accounting. With the collapse of the financial sector in the US last year in October, seasoned professionals with years of experience as well as their CPA’s or advanced degrees are now a "dime a dozen", so to speak.

I’m not advocating against an advanced degree, or even changing your career by obtaining an additional degree, but just suggesting that when considering going back to school that the motivation is valid and that you aren’t further diluting your job opportunities.

The Pros and Cons of Using

Yesterday a discussion started over on Digital Eve, one of my favorite online communities. In these troubled times, everyone needs a bit of help. So, I put on my recruiter cap.

From a recruiting standpoint and as someone that helps a lot of people in this arena, here are some suggestions and observations.

1 ) Monster is the largest resume database in the world. Period. Given a choice of the top three for database mining, many recruiters will choose Monster as the best place to *post* their jobs bceause it is so well known and is the default for job hunters. For this reason, it is worthwhile for a candidate to post their resume/s.

2 ) Monster (and any other job board) is one of the few instances I counsel my resume clients to *use targeted objectives* to cover what you DON’T want. IE, Objective: seeking a contract or full-time graphic design opportunity in the Seattle area only. Currently not pursuing sales or commission only positions.

3 ) If you are currently in the job market, I suggest setting up job search agents. The Quick Apply feature also works pretty well if you have a significant skill set.
B />

4 ) Remember that once your resume is in an agency database you don’t need to keep applying via Monster or the website. You are better served contacting the agency via phone directly and asking to speak to a recruiter about a specific position.

5 ) The confidential mode: this does save you from spam, I would suggest that you put something on your resume (similar to the objective) stating that you will reply to all inquiries for positions of interest in your field/s of experience and expertise. And, if you upload your resume as an attachment, remember to take your contact info *off* if you are using the confidential feature. I cannot tell you how many resumes I’ve opened on ‘confidential’ mode to find full contact info. (This also includes the name you use for your document’putting ‘susie.smith.SDE’ is an invitation for them to google your name+Acme Widget as an employer.)
B >

6 ) With the sheer volume of candidates on the market now, many recruiters are resorting to Monster just because it’s familiar, it’s fast and easy. The resume search functionality is very user-friendly. I’d say you have a better than average shot at using it.

7 ) Regarding your resume from 4 years ago showing up, keep in mind that a lot of agencies mine the *entire* database. A good recruiter looks at older resumes because they are considered to be ‘passive’ candidates, which is something that is sought after in the recruiting world. Also, many agencies keep huge databases that archive resumes going back years and they may be pulling you from their own database when they call you, not directly from Monster *today*.
B >
8 ) In the last couple of years, the EEOC has instituted some pretty strict regulatory practices that have shifted the way many corporations recruit. Without going into a lot of compliance jargon, nowadays a good percentage of employers *require* you to apply via their website. And, if you don’t do so, you cannot be considered for employment. Monster and most of the job boards have interfaces that allow job postings and their application process to be merged to make it easier on candidates. This makes it much easier on recruiters for posting their jobs and getting applicant pools that are more manageable.
BR />9 ) Refreshing your resume: if you open your profile and hit ‘edit’ even if you don’t make any changes, it does bubble to the top of keyword searches.
B >It really boils down to how much work you want to put into your job hunt; if you are being truly thorough and exploring *all* avenues, it only makes sense to put your information up on Monster.