Generalizations are stupid.

There. I just made one. Now doesn’t that sound silly? You’re probably thinking “aww, come on Amy! It’s usually true!” Yeah maybe, but it’s exhausting. I have been diagnosed with Generalization Fatigue. Symptoms range from eye-rolling, head banging, and groaning to slamming laptops closed in order to protect yourself from one more crappy prediction about the fate of recruiting. Here are some of my favorites:

The resume is dead.

Facebook is the holy grail of recruiting.

Facebook sucks for recruiting.

If your website isn’t mobile, no one will ever apply to any of your jobs and you’ll go out of business.

Nobody applies to jobs on a 3.5 inch iPhone screen.

Never disclose salary during your first interview / screen.

Always wear a suit and tie to an interview.

Never wear a suit and tie to an interview in Seattle.

Here’s the problem with generalizations. They’re right for someone, somewhere, some of the time. I understand that. We are not doing ourselves or our customers any favors by planting these flags. It’s ok to say something like “here at MY company, we are fairly conservative for an IT firm. I would recommend you wear a jacket to the interview even though the hiring manager will be in jeans”. Or conversely – “most interview advice would say wear a suit, and that’s usually correct. Here at MY company, we are casual Friday every day. Feel free to dress as you would for work, should we hire you.”

That’s ADAPTABILITY. We owe it to ourselves and those we serve to be up front about this. Accepting or rejecting these ideas out of hand is not good for anyone. A recruiter on another thread actually called out recruiters for “allowing” Facebook to gain relevance as a sourcing tool. Really? Fish where they’re biting, I say - and if mobile is the bait, USE IT.

So what’s a candidate to do? ASK QUESTIONS. Ask the recruiter for advice. Haven’t you noticed all the blog posts out there by recruiters of every kind? We love to tell people what to do and how to do it. So do yourself a favor and ASK. What is true for one company or metro area is not always true for another. Not every recruiter reads resumes the same, or looks for the same things. We are all individuals with our own unique triggers – while some ideas are “standard” (most of us agree the one page resume is a myth) some, like interview dress code, can vary widely. I would never presume to tell you how to interview at a startup, for example, because I’ve never recruited for one. But I know lots of recruiters who have and I would immediately send you their way.

You can’t win the game if you don’t know the rules. If I may paraphrase the President of my youth – “we’re from recruiting, and we’re here to help”. Don’t be scared.

Views: 756

Comment by Malia Jorgensen on May 7, 2013 at 12:03pm

Great article, Amy! You are right on!

Comment by Derdiver on May 7, 2013 at 1:20pm

Great post and thank you for writing this.  I totally agree with you.  Years ago I would say "dress for success" and would have a flier of what to wear and what to say for generalities etc.  That was in a city that the norm was and is suit and tie. Casual Friday means no tie. Seriously. By working with my consultants and managers we set up the candidates to succeed!! Educating your consultant coming in will help REDUCE your work load since you will be making more hires! Simple huh?

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 8, 2013 at 12:05am
Thanks guys! I wrote this a few weeks ago on the bus while on my way to work, listening to some weird dude in the back insist that there are no "real" gangs in Seattle. Trust me to spin that generalization into a recruiting lesson lol!
Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 8, 2013 at 10:12am
Good post Amo. If I ever write a book related to job search or recruiting the title of it will be, "IT ALL DEPENDS".

The only hard, fast rules for job search or recruiting are that there aren't any. Otherwise we would only need one book for recruiters and one book for candidates, then recruiters would not have anything to blog about. What would we do if we couldn't pontificate and think about all the career gurus who would have to find a real job. :)
Comment by Derdiver on May 8, 2013 at 10:26am

Sandra > I just spit up my coffee reading your post!! LOVE IT!!! LMAO

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 8, 2013 at 1:47pm

LOL "It Depends" is my answer for nearly every question I ever get asked... :) Thank you Ms. Sandra!

Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 9, 2013 at 3:18am
Glad I could give you a giggle, Derd. By the by, I hang nicknames on people I like. Henceforth you shall be known as "Derd"..

Lol, if one looks wise and pensive before one says "it all Depends", instead of rolling one's eyes and saying something like "are you effing kidding me you dumb sumbitch". The candidate not only thinks you are really smart and know all the secrets they are sure they just had a great "candidate experience" and will endorse you on LinkedIn for ten things you don't know a damn thing about or have ever done.
Comment by Sarah Calverley on May 9, 2013 at 3:38am

Thanks Amy - this rings absolutely true for all hiring and TA situations.  The quote that reverberates around my head regarding sourcing and acquisition on a daily basis is 'test-practice' not 'best-practice' which I heard from from Bill Boorman once at a TA conf.  Just because something worked once doesn't mean it will always work - my friend who has just had a baby says the same about trying to put the baby to sleep! 

And agree with @Sandra that IT ALL DEPENDS. And LOL at your last comment!

And on the Linkedin note about those useless and vague endorsements - I'm hyped up today because my sourcing peers in Australia are all at a Linkedin Talent conference, BUT no agency recruiters were allowed.  So I'm steaming :/ because Linkedin have generalised us lowly agency rec's.  No generalising please! 

Comment by Jai Turner on May 11, 2013 at 9:49pm

Amy I couldn't have said it better.  I left my business of career coaching for this reason, is that every company and every recruiter has different styles and cultures. Many recruiters and coaches seem to have the "special cure all" for candidates and it's sooooo different across the board.  Recruiters are not going out of style, we embrace change, and we are all different.  But one thing is the same - we want to get the right people hired. 

Comment by Dane Anar on May 13, 2013 at 2:58pm

I take offense to your last generalization of never wearing a suit and tie to an interview in Seattle.  I did just that (wore a suit and tie to my first interview) for my very first recruiting job.  How'd it turn out?  They gave me crap for wearing a suit and tie and said that suits weren't allowed in the office.  I got the job, but knew that if I wanted to spite people, a suit and tie would do just the trick. 

Great article!  :) 


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