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On recruiters

2013-11-15 17:37:40.69038+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

So I had a conversation on Twitter this morning with Lisa Rokusek. Lisa opened with:

I hate it when I read awful comments about recruiters said by people I like/want to respect who also are demanding nuance in other areas.

And I think this link opens up most of the rest of the thread, but basically I allowed as how I understood, and it seemed that, much like that lawyer joke, that "90% of recruiters give the other 10% a bad name" might be appropriate.

But Lisa deserves a little more nuance, and when she asked "...why do you follow me?", I thought she deserved a little more explanation.

So I've recently been getting a spate of LinkedIn recruiters. I have tried engaging them, and these conversations inevitably go "Hey, I saw that you've got lots of endorsements for Python, can you send me a resume in .doc format?"

And I will reply "I'm only interested in very small dynamic technology companies, any company I'm willing to work for will eschew .doc and prefer .txt". And I get back a very huffy "Well, I'm hoping to submit your resume to Amazon and Yahoo, are those leading edge technology companies for you?"

Thereby proving that I've not only wasted my time in engaging with this person, they're an asshole who hasn't bothered to take the time to understand the technology landscape, and definitely hasn't taken the time to understand what I'm looking for.

The best exchange I've ever had was with a recruiter who was trying to get me to work for Amazon (yes, Amazon has come up a number of times) who called up and said "I Googled you, and know that you just moved to the wine country and are doing embedded things and I can't imagine that you're interested, but my boss said I had to call, so I did."

Nothing ever came of that call but I do not for a moment begrudge the time spent with that recruiter because he made the effort to be knowledgeable about the field, understand me, and think about how my actual skills and wants might fit in to the positions he had available.

But my long experience with recruiters is not that way, and so, yes, unless you show an amazing amount of clue in that first contact email, it's better for both of us if I just ignore your messages.

Which brings me to Lisa's question: "...Why do you follow me?" I don't know how I started following Lisa on Twitter. I tend to follow people back if they appear to be actually interested in real conversation. I don't think of Lisa's Twitter personality as a recruiter first (and I follow a fellow Petaluma resident, who shall remain nameless, whose Twitter personality is definitely recruiter first), I see those interactions as someone who is trying to have real human conversations first.

Or, I guess: Recruiting is something Lisa does, but her identity in my head is not "a recruiter". Whereas if I see someone as "a recruiter", then it also means that my perception is that they view me as a potential statistic, not as a human being. Lisa has mentioned that she's a recruiter, but she's never approached me in that context.

And reading through Lisa's blog reinforces that if she did approach me, she probably wouldn't just be the sort of person who's trying to pry a CV out of me so that she can spam the living crap out of HR directors who are similarly ill suited to narrow down candidates, and who mean even more time having conversations in which I realize that I really don't want to work in that position.

So... "recruiter" as a self-described label is kind of like... well... there are lots of examples, and I don't want to insult any particular one because I know people I respect who use all of these labels for themselves, but for Lisa's benefit let's choose "Tea Partier". My experience with people who identify themselves first by that label has not been that my interactions will them will be rewarding, but I do know some people who self-identify like that with whom I've had really good relationships (and there was a time when I might have claimed that label myself).

Which means that, as a recruiter, or, in fact, in any role, we need to approach our relationships with a view towards how they can be beneficial to all the parties involved. If you're the sort of scattershot recruiter who isn't actually reading and understanding my qualifications and is just gathering CVs to dump on the desk of some hapless HR person who is no better suited to sift through them then you, then you're not adding value, and shouldn't be surprised when I point this out.

Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to not be that person, and to challenge my experiences with recruiters.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2013-11-15 21:29:34.416663+00 by: meuon

I've recently gotten a bunch of generic LinkedIn requests from recruiter types. I typically send them a reply with my contact info, and "if I don't know you..".

TWO have established a dialogue, and while I was a very very poor fit for what they wanted, one of them still sends emails and asks me weird questions about how skills sets and people and how to match them. I'm not a great source, but I think he likes my point of view.

There are also a couple of companies (one utility and one meter manufacturer) that actually hired a recruiter to talk to me. In both cases, I could solve all their issues by tossing their considerable investment in .Net, Java and "SOA" in the trash... but they are both married to technologies and environments I have no real skills in, and no desire to learn or use them. Yea, I'd be a bad fit for a lot of reasons beyond the technologies as well.

Good recruiters are rare. They are out there.