Below is a conversation i just received from a Sr. CFO candidate.  This is what happens when inexperienced little girls do key word searches and can't read a resume.



I just got a call from (company name removed to protect the mentally deficient) in Irvine, California. Doing a search for a Manager of Financial Reporting. I told the recruiter that this really wasn't in my "strike zone," even though I believe I have the ability to do the job, but I'm a CFO.


She kept talking.


She disclosed that the job was in (city removed) I asked, "Is this XYZ Company?"


Long pause.




I used to be the CFO of XYZ Company. In fact, I was the first CFO of XYZ Company and took the company public.


Oh. I guess I missed that on your resume. Does that mean you're not interested?


Weird phone call.


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When I saw the title of this post in my RBC email, I was SOOOO hoping it was written by you, Sandra! Seriously, the level of stupidity is just mind-boggling. 

One time I received a call from a company that I had applied to a few days earlier. It was for a "professional" level position in the HR realm in which a certain amount of scrutiny and evaluation is typically required to determine an initial match between job requirements and candidate qualifications. Not exactly something that either party can adequately assess without delving beyond what is written on the job posting and resume. 

Here's how the call went: 

Caller: Hello, this is so&so from such&such calling about the XYZ position. Would you like to come in for an interview? 

Me: brief awkward uncertain pause... sshhhuurre??? 

Caller: Well you DID apply for this job!?! 

Me: Yes, just wondering if you might want to set up a phone screen to discuss this a bit first...

Caller: Well, WE like to meet people in person

Me: ((( NO $#!+ )))  Oh, ok, that's great. I'm just accustomed to employers conducting a pre screen before the onsite phase. 

Caller: I guess we could talk first, do you have time now? 

Me: Actually, I'm just heading to an appointment, but I'm free anytime after 2pm today. 

Caller: Alright, I'll call you back then. 

Never heard back... thought about calling or emailing the company, but decided it might not be worth it if that was their screening process. It was a youthful sounding female caller BTW. 


@KB  Sort of makes you wonder what it takes to be a "cultural" fit in that organization doesn't it.


I talked to my candidate for a minute today.  He was just sort of shaking his head about the whole thing.  He said that he almost told her to call him when she figured out what time the 8:30 bus left but he was afraid she would spend all afternoon looking up bus schedules.

Taylor, that was the way i felt.  At least once a week i hear some horror story about some stupid thing a recruiter said or did with a candidate.  Some of my clients are putting green recruiters on the phone to do phone screens with upper level candidates.  I have to warn my candidates that the person is young and scripted so to bear with them.

The very first and sometimes lasting impression a person has with your recruiting firm or your company is the recruiter who either reaches out to them or does the phone screen.  Why are you putting untrained people on the phone?  Start them with clerical or warehouse or hourly candidates or make them record mock calls until they can talk to candidates with some level of expertise.  We were all green at some point but don't use candidates to train your staff.  Recruiting firm owners or managers should know very quickly if they have someone on the phone who is sounding stupid or floundering.  Don't let them work higher level positions and make fools of themselves.

I can add to this.  I am an analytics recruiter for the last 17 years but was in analytics for 14 years prior to that. You have no idea how many emails I get a week from recruiters (third party and internal), treating me as a potential analytics candidate.

They "found me on Linkedin". My Linkedin in screams Recruiter.  Talk about not taking time to even skim!!! Must be using autobots to send email blasts!!! Of course when I look at their profiles, most of these have been "recruiting" for less than 3 years.....

Cmon people we all started somewhere, and have probably all made stupid rookie mistakes, when we were stupid rookies. Or is was it just me? Not excusing it, but the only way to learn this job is really with experience and training. They can't all be old crusty grumpy "recruiters"like me right off the bat!! You earn this grumpiness!!!!


Is it amazing or what.  Keyword bingo and they think it's recruiting.  We used to call that kind of stuff throwing it against the wall, now it's peeling it off the wall.  Technology abuse should be right up there with animal abuse.

I agree Dan and we all did dumb things but i dont know too may of us in the "grump" stage who ever failed to notice that someone had been the CFO of the company we were recruiting for and called them and then were dumb enough to not fall on our sword rather than make a dumb, dumb statement like, "Does that mean you are not interested".

If you are green you are growing but if you are that dumb somebody needs to drop a bell jar over it and call it a failed experiment.

Yep ... It's Scary Sandra ...

Sometimes i think we are standing on the corner where dopey street and weird  avenue intersect.  Watching the traffic when the light changes is an execise in abnormal psyche.

Sandra, great story.

These stories continually pop up in our industry and I'm sure any good experienced recruiter can tell you a similar story as well.  Since the barriers to entry are fairly low in this industry and the initial learning curve isn't high, this will likely continue for a long time coming.

@David, it has always been this way but with the advent of technology capable of mass mailing and mass collecting contact information we have a whole segment of the recruiter population whom i would equate to people who fish with a shotgun.  If they scatter gun shoot into the pond they will kill something eventually.  I took issue with one of them not too long ago.  He was appalled that i would dare question his recruiting ability (4 years in and calls himself a Sr. Recruiter, no doubt in his firm he is probably the Sr. recruiter).  His feeling was that a CFO level candidate who did not appreciate a ton of mass mailings concerning a staff level position had issues of their own and anybody should be delighted to connect with a recruiter at any time.  Whatever made him think that sending mass emails made him a recruiter is beyond my definition of recruiting.  My take was, "Pal, you are not a recruiter, you are a computer operator."

THIS IS EXACTLY why people get the idea that "any monkey can be a recruiter" and why they really believe recruiters are idiots.  If you've been in this business long enough, this type of thing is too painfully familiar.  It's so so so sad.

Allow me to recycle one of my posts that address this very issue actually.

Junior Agency Recruiters: Most agencies (especially the big ones), like to hire people with like 1-2 years of sales experience or straight out of college. They do this because what you learn in a sales environment is similar to how you need to perform in recruiting. Also, if you have too much experience, it becomes challenging to unteach you bad habbits and retrain you into the way that they want you to perform (the recruiting agency). A college degree and 2 years of experience is ideal. Also, they don't have to pay you ver much. The down side: Exactly what you get, a junior 2 year out of college grad who really doesn't know anything about the business world yet or the positions he's recruiting for.  No wonder so many candidates get turned off by recruiters.  Imagine the disparity in the quality of the conversation if on one end of the conversation is someone just fresh out of college and on the other end is an Oracle 10g RAC DBA or a Director of Finance and Accounting.

***My oppinion --- THIS is where a lot of bad recruiters are today. The real problem is in training. It's not the college grad's fault that he/she just got out of school.  As a matter of fact they are eager to learn and jump in the work force head on.  A lot of companies do a very poor job in training their people which is a huge disservice to their clients, to the candidates, and ultimately to these poor recruiters who pick up really bad habits they have a hard time shaking later in their careers.  The most important thing I find other then discipline and persistence is that recruiters need to truly appreciate and understand their role as a 'service provider'.  Being "service oriented" has become a lost calling.  

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