I got laid off in December. It's a pretty common refrain these days. I'd been the Manager of Recruiting for a Federal Systems Integrator for three and half years and in the space of a brief meeting that tenure was brought to a close. The company had worked through some challenges during my time there, but we had begun to win new business and add exceptional talent. I was proud of the work I had done and was completely committed to the ongoing success of the firm. I did not see it coming. As a result of a banking change the company was going to be cash-poor for a period of time and had to make significant overhead cuts immediately; I and a number of others were let go. To his credit, the president of the firm handled the situation very graciously and I continue to wish them great success in all of their efforts.


In the blink of an eye I had to process everything that had happened and how I was going to proceed. No matter the circumstances, losing a job is a blow to the ego. Did I do something wrong? Why was I not of more value to the company? That visceral reaction is quickly replaced by more important questions. What do I now? How can I protect my family financially? How quickly can I find another job?


I was fortunate in many respects. I reached out to countless friends and colleagues and that web of connection was extraordinary in its reaction. Through leads and connections made through that web, along with my own efforts at identifying a position, I was quickly interviewing and hired into my current role within three weeks. During the course of that three weeks, however, I was moved from my hiring chair into the candidate chair and it was not the most comfortable fit. After all my years sourcing and vetting candidates it difficult to once again have to sell myself and adhere to all the job hunting and interview advice I'd given to others. I engaged with some excellent recruiters and hiring managers, but also experienced some who do our industry no service. I worked with people who were responsive and knowledgable, but also some who were clearly ill-suited for the work. I spent 15 minutes with one recruiter outlining my agency recruiting background only to receive an email, two weeks later, indicating I would not be moving forward to an in-person interview because I lacked agency experience. Really?


My unemployment was blessedly brief, but the experience reminded me of some obvious truths. We are not working with a commodity like cars or furniture, we are working with people. These people have families and responsibilities and their job search may be undesired. Their self-image may have taken a blow. Even if their search is not the result of a layoff the interview process can be tedious and frustrating. We owe it to those we recruit to be honest, sincere, empathetic, knowledgable, and professional. Even if someone isn't right for a job we owe it to them to close the loop, to let them know why it wasn't a fit, and to offer suggestions and encouragement for their search. In the rush to fill positions we can sometimes forget how personally draining a job search can be and how uncomfortable the person in the candidate chair may be. I sat in that chair and I didn't like it much. I owe it to candidates and the recruiting community at large not to forget that.

Views: 86

Comment by Beth on March 3, 2011 at 11:58am
Great points made, Doug. I remind myself quite freqently that it's not just about filling a position.  It's about making a difference in someone's life. :)
Comment by Doug Munro on March 3, 2011 at 12:05pm
You're absolutely right, Beth. Making a difference in someone's life is precisely what we should be doing.
Comment by Michelle Ridley on March 3, 2011 at 12:11pm

Thanks for this post Doug!  I am SO there!  I got "re-organized" out of my position, and it really was a shock! The sad part of my story is that I was trying to identify another position myself since i recognized this company was not a fit for me a while ago.  I like you have had many leads and one really good lead (referral) that resulted in what I thought was a great interview (showed me around the office, introduced me to people etc...) ended in a vague e-mail 3 weeks later saying essentially "thanks, but no thanks"  I was shocked once again since I was referred by a friend and all the feedback this friend recieved was very positive about me, so I though the job was mine! It was not to be...


I am in week 4 of unemployment, and I am stressed, confused, and tired.  I have NEVER been unemployed this long, so my self-esteem is starting to suffer. I realize that people are unemployed for months or even years (that we be an unimaginable nightmare for me and my family) but I live in the DC metro area which is supposed to be #1 place in the U.S for jobs so, I hope this does not go on for too much longer! I agree with you, Doug that all the advice we as recruiters give candidates is hard to deal with when the roles are reversed!  Employers (and sometimes referrals) are taking forever to follow-up and give feedback which is important. Note to Recruiters: be compassionate, be responsive and encouraging.  I understand you're busy, I'm a Recruiter too so I get it, but a little responsiveness and understanding goes a long way; even if it's a no.  2 -3 weeks with a "no thanks" e-mail is not acceptable in my books - I do not operate that way as a Recruiter, and belive me, I understand being "swamped" and "slammed" with work.  Being a Recruiter is about being a true people person who listens and understands their candidates needs as well as what they can contribute to your open req. Let's try to be cognizant of that the fact that we are in a "people-driven" business, not just a filling an open req business.

Comment by Doug Munro on March 3, 2011 at 1:21pm
I live in DC as well, Michelle. On the upside our economy is insulated in some respects from the worst of what's going on, but it doesn't change the fact that it's a tough market. I hope something breaks for you soon...the memories of what we go through as we look are very fresh to me.
Comment by Michelle Ridley on March 3, 2011 at 3:20pm

Thanks Doug.  Fingers and toes are crossed! Something should hit soon... I just have to breathe and be patient I guess...:)


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