Do Your Own Job: I’m Not Your Researcher, Sourcer or Contact Database

Quite frequently I get contacted by people searching for something or someone. Normally, I don’t mind that. Actually sometimes it is flattering that a random stranger or casual acquaintance found something about me intriguing enough to think I’d be a good person to contact to get help with their situation.

In posting this I realize I may ruffle some feathers and raise some eyebrows.  My intent is not to come across as someone unwilling to lend a hand or offer assistance. The opposite is probably more my problem.

I have an unfortunate and inconvenient habit of going out of my way to respond to practically every request that comes along, even to my own detriment. It is a tough pattern to break, but I’m trying to create more balance.

Earlier this week I received an email from a person at an executive search firm. They wanted to set up a call or have me call them. I replied with my number and within an hour they called me.

Not being able to tell from the initial email what they were interested in, I was curious to find that out. After a brief intro of who they were, what their firm does and the type of client and candidate they deal with, they proceeded to ask for names of people that might be interested in an opportunity.

So far, nothing wrong with that. As I probed for some basic understanding of logistics, location, travel, and other standard details of the opportunity, the person seemed cagey and evasive.

First of all, they admitted that the search was brand new and they didn’t have that information. OK. Fine. But, those are the kind of things that ANYONE would ask and you are totally unprepared to be calling and expecting a stranger to help without having done your research and due diligence first.

They only gave a very generic description of the type of professional they were seeking. It was so vague that it could have been interpreted differently depending on the context, industry and organization. I was cut off a couple of times when trying to ask for clarification of their candidate criteria.

They said I could review their website to see their 20+ years in the search industry. Yeah, I’ll get right on that because you sound so credible, knowledgeable and experienced already.

The main point I was trying to make was that geography and work-life balance is an important consideration for most people in my network. Living and working in Southern California, we have dramatic traffic and commuting issues to deal with and everyone has different tolerance levels for what is acceptable related to frequency of travel, main office location and working conditions.

They went as far as telling me that I shouldn’t let those items get in the way or be a distraction at this stage. Huh? So, your client’s expectations and prospective candidates’ understanding of what the opportunity entails is an insignificant matter that no one needs to bother discussing?  

By now I was losing patience and suggested that they email me a synopsis of their search criteria and I would give some thought to who I knew that might be interested and qualified. They were not at all in favor of doing that. In fact they acted as if (and even lectured me) that was a waste of their time.

Never mind, that they were asking for significant investment of my time to scan my contact list for leads. And, for me to just hand over names as if they were entitled to that access to my network.

Wanting to wrap up the call, I inquired about how they found me. Again, they reacted as if that was none of my business or it was an unreasonable question. They said, “Oh, I have my team, my sources and my researchers and we find people using various methods. Most of the time I don’t know the exact way someone was identified and passed on to me. “

As you can imagine, that last comment struck me as entirely unprofessional! So, you have no idea who you are finding, where you are finding them and don’t need to worry about answering their questions as long as you can take advantage of them and get what you are looking for with minimal effort?

Furthermore, I wondered if they have all of those capabilities and resources why on earth they were wasting time calling someone like me. Why would you expect me or anyone else to do YOUR job or the job of your researchers, sourcers or database?

What do you think? Is this a proper representation of the executive search profession?


Views: 619

Comment by Gene Brady on March 2, 2012 at 11:03am

"What do you think? Is this a proper representation of the executive search profession?"

Uhh.... no.

Comment by Katie Flanagan on March 2, 2012 at 11:18am

I definitely don't think this is how normal recruiters at an executive search firm would act. My experience is the exact opposite and my issues with executive search firms are much different (too many of them calling too often about too few jobs!)

Comment by V.Sojy Oommen on March 2, 2012 at 2:12pm

Well Kelly, Unfortunate that it is, there is no barriers to entering the world of recruitment. I think you really kept your cool.

Comment by Amber on March 2, 2012 at 2:36pm

I'm not sure if their call was to inquire about hiring you, asking just if you had anyone to refer to them? Well, either way it does not sound like a very professional call. Or even a very personable one! I would hope that this is not a call many people in any profession would make. I have been an independant recruiter for 3 years now, and am finally at the point where I know who I want to work with or for - instead of just being grateful that someone called or answered me! If this was the tone that a potential client or candidate had, I'm sure I'd feel as you did by the end of it.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 2, 2012 at 3:33pm

This is the flip side of the call I get ALL THE TIME from agencies/executive search firms, whatever you want to call them wanting to work with me. They just want a job order, damn the details. When I start asking how they got my name, what about my company struck them as a potentially good partner, etc. they get flustered and act like I've asked them for covert information. Please.

I try to go easy on the ones that are clearly new to the business and just making their required 80-100 dials a day but come on...

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 2, 2012 at 3:35pm
Just another one of the paranoid little hotshots who are so afraid somebody is going to take the meat off their sandwich that the only person who thinks they are a good recruiter is the idiot himself.

I would have had to mess with him a bit. Tell him I could refer three, describe candidates that would make his mouth water then tell him I would email them. Let him sit on it and spin waiting for an email. Then when he calls back I would say, " I am so sorry another recruiter called me with what sounded like the same job, but he gave me so much more info that I sent the contacts to him."

This type is why people think recruiters are slimy. They want a candidate to tell them everything but won't give the name of the company. I am not suggesting we blurt out the name of our client in the first breath but if a phone interview is going well give full info and submit the candidate immediately. All the secret crap does not build candidate trust or loyalty.
Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on March 2, 2012 at 7:58pm

Thanks for your comments, everyone. During the call I was trying not be cynical or suspicious and gave them the benefit of the doubt that they were "legit" despite the amateurish approach. 

Even though I'm not officially in the profession, I'd like to think I have enough common sense to sniff out who knows their stuff and who is full of stuff. But, I'm pretty sure this person thought they were dealing with someone far less inquisitive and alert to such things. 

I was under the impression that they really didn't have this "client" but wanted to round up some talent to present so they could get their business. The way they were throwing around buzz words about the opportunity made me think they had no clue what any of it even meant. Ironically, the terminology they used does correlate to my background, so I guess they at least know how key word search online. Whoo-Hooo! 

Anyway, to my surprise, they actually did email the information I requested. The best part was they didn't even bother to attempt to mask that it came directly off of their "client's" own postings. Cut & pasted VERBATIM! Took me 2 seconds to identify the original source. I guess that explains the secrecy! 

My reply back was: "Based on the call yesterday and after reviewing this information, I don’t believe I’m in a position to offer any assistance. I wish you and your client the best of luck with the search." I was tempted to, but refrained from including their client's name. 

Seriously, I hope this client hasn't actually engaged this ______________ (~~> I'll let Sandra fill that spot <~~) to represent their firm! Even if this person does manage to find them talent, what a cluster for their credibility! 

Comment by Raman Ramamurthy on March 2, 2012 at 11:11pm

quite clear, Kelly ! They were not professional at all and wasted your time too. probably, you could have called up their client to chk the authenticity of recruitment requirement and also why they did not bother to hide their client's name. 

Comment by Brian K. Johnston on March 3, 2012 at 10:30am

Many People Are Selfish... Many Recruiters Are Selfish... This Recruiter Wasted Your Time And Is The Reason Headhunter s(ME) Have Such A Bad Reputation... Trust Me, There Are Some Good Ones Out There... Keep The Faith...


Comment by Gordon Basichis on March 5, 2012 at 1:59pm

I know your feelings about this.  Sometimes I get a call with concerned candidates asking whatever does the employer consider in a background check.  "Depends on the employer," usually fails to get it done.  Nine questions later, "yeah, but what if I had a shoplifting..."  if I allow it, and then we move off into the psychotherapy division, where it seems I should be hanging out a shingle.   If they touch a certain spot, I try to answer.  If it's neurotic and demanding, I tell them "bye now."


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2024   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service