Industry Leader Reports Study Findings- "Recruiters are Lazy Uncaring Dolts!"

Much hoopla accompanied the publishing of a "Study" the popular Job Board TheLadders made public back in March 2012.  They titled their report "Keeping an eye on recruiter behavior".  Sounded  a bit scandalous when I first saw the title.  Immediately made me wonder what recruiters were up to that we needed to "keep an eye" on them. 

TheLadders apparently lined up 30 recruiters and using "...ground breaking ... eye tracking technology" and a stop watch, observed Recruiters reading resumes.  The mental image of 30 recruiters reading resumes had me reaching for the No-Doze, but TheLadders reported some "shocking" findings.

  1. They reported that Recruiters read resumes in 6 seconds, despite their claims of 4 - 5 minutes per resume (lazy, lying ...).
  2. That they  looked at only 6 data points to include Name, Current & Prior Companies, Titles, Time Served & Education (that's it... only 6 data points...not a very bright bunch, are they?).
  3. That they relied exclusively on "Pattern Matching" when selecting standouts (reminds me of the "talking-monkey" studies in the 1960s...hint, the recruiters aren't the guys in the lab coats).

I suspect, the source for the resumes supplied the recruiters in the "study", was TheLadders very own resume repository, filled to the brim with "Resourceful, well-rounded, diversified, senior XYZ's, with extraordinary and exceptional records of success and achievement seeking a fast-paced challenging organization that leads in their field, where they can parlay their experience to the mutual benefit of themselves, the company and humanity."

I also surmise to collect and disseminate these resumes, TheLadders used their patented (i guess) search-engine software that "drills down deep" to find "Top-Talent" so employers don't have to.  Pop in some key words, and let the hiring begin!

Given said ground-rules, the "reporting" neither surprised, nor offended me as a recruiter, broad-brush though their intimations may be.  I am left wondering however, how long the resume read would have been, if one of the 30 recruiters in the study received a pile of resumes that were "solid" matches for their search?  A placebo of sorts... but... even then, who knows?  The study reported also that recruiters suffer from "cognitive overload", or what I'm coining COD (Cognitive Overload Disorder) so ...

Notwithstanding, I'm mildly curious, when did "recruiting" become synonymous with resume repository "data mining" and "pattern matching" and what was the catalyst for such "abhorrent" recruiter behavior? 

Some may disagree, but I thought we recruiters called professionals on the phone, or met at industry events and over the course of many years, built a foundation of network contacts in our respective industries, dare I say "colleagues", who not only looked out for each other, but helped develop, mentor, bolster and promote "new" talent that demonstrated they had the "skills" and fortitude to be in the game.  We opened our networks and invited talent in, and we excised mediocrity out.  We "worked", "played", "grew" and "contracted" along with the industries we focused on, our clients, candidates, markets and the economy, and if we honed our skills we survived and finally with persistence and luck prospered, through the "ebbs and flows" ALL business's navigate over the course of time.  Most in and out or recruiting call it "Networking"! 

Call me a dolt, but somehow I forgot all that last week.  In a "drunken frenzy" from a desk "fat" with Job Orders and limited hours, I advertised a role on a popular "Full Service Job Board" replete with candidate and employer/recruiter services alike. 

They promise  "Internet Presence", "Spiders" and "Drill-Down" tools that "guarantee" employers assistance in uncovering that "needle in a haystack" employers are typically aspiring to hire, and recruiters are clamoring to introduce. 

Within minutes (okay, maybe 10) my email started to fill like a sewer in a deluge.  Ping... Ping... Ping... Easy street... right! 

I'm a technologist focussed in IT, have been my whole career.  I place in high-tech up and down the B2B electronics "food-chain", from semi's to computers, networking gear to software, engineers to salespeople and the managers that set strategy for them all to follow.  Ping... Ping... Ping...

My job descriptions, make no bones about it. High-Tech!  Ping... Ping... Ping...

In under 24 hours I received more Hits, than Cheech at Chong's retirement bash. 

In addition to interested prospects (candidates that applied), the "job board" software was sending resumes from candidates based on the keywords in the job description. Ping.... Ping... Ping...

In just a few short days, my "drunken frenzy" quickly became a full blown hang-over.  Resume after resume from candidates spanning all walks of life used the channel as an introduction to my company, not necessarily in consideration for the position I posted, just a "hey, I'm out here, if not good for this job, maybe you have something else"... (see Terri Piersma's insights into "Working with Recruiters" if you're a candidate and using the recruiter channel this way)?

Resumes from candidates selected by the Board's "search engin" began appearing.  "Shoe salespeople" (pls, no disrespect to shoe salespeople intended but remember, I'm ALL IT, B2B Tech) would show up, I guess because the word "sales" was in my job description and the site's software "dug" it out of the repository and sent-um over cause s/he sold for Radio Shack (retail) a half dozen years ago.

Unapologetically, to read the deluge I was forced to focused on the "Company" the candidate last worked for to see if they worked in my client's space or vertical.  I shot to their "Job Title" to see if they were in the right role(s) (or near it).  I then shot to their "Years of Experience" to see if seniority was close, and I shot back 5 to 10 years of career history to see if any "pattern matching" described above existed there.  If not, I moved on to the next resume.  Probably took me 4 - 5 seconds (I picked up the extra second ignoring the name (figured if I knew them, or them me, they would have just called)).

When the smoke cleared, It didn't take a scientific calculator with "finger- tracking" technology to compute 2 things.  The vast majority of resumes received weren't even close, many of which were sourced by the job board's "search engine" and sent through their automated Spammer. 

Of those remaining, many were in high-tech, but askew enough in role or sector to not pass the rigors a client paying a small fortune would demand.  I know some "Job-Board-Pundits" will parrot, "it must have been the crappy way I wrote the job order" or entered the "keywords" or better yet, let's blame the desperate candidates who have been mislead into believing submitting their resume to a Board provides the best chance for employment  (see Alexis Grant's The Most Effective Ways to Look for a Job (spoiler alert, it's not a Job Board!), or Paul Solman's Video Is Applying for Jobs Online Not an Effective Way to Find Work?.  or actual Studies that show Job Board effectiveness waning (CareerXRoads, 2013 Source of Hire Report (see page 7 for quick-view graph)), or finally, Nick Corcodilos, A Decade Of Job Board Data, where Nick points to JB effectiveness numbers being inflated.

As a response to what appears to be a shift away from "Job Board'" effectiveness evidenced first hand by candidates when "mold" grows on their hyped expectations, TheLaddres has the gall to launch diversionary marketing techniques disparaging recruiters.  A veiled attempt to dig deeper into candidate's pockets through publishing Marketing Collateral disguised as a "Study", selling yet another promise, that if TheLadders writes the candidate's resume for them (72,000 sold to date, cha-ching!), the candidate will garner a 40-60% increase in "Likes..." (geez!). 

Thankfully, in the midst of "clamor" and like the proverbial light-bulb igniting, it dawned on me! Since posting on the Board, I'd become an LDR ( "Lazy, Dolt Recruiter").  I'd fallen for the hype and I deserved everything I received.  I did not respond to "every" resume, just a small percentage that my initial 4 second "sort" deemed "in the ball park".  I  followed with several minutes in-depth read on each and a phone call to those that were not only "in the ball park", but also aligned to a degree with the qualifications being sought.  Truth be told, once a match was established, I stopped reading altogether.  Simpler for a dolt like me with my limited faculties to just pick up the phone and call the candidate I guess.

Phone calls had no stop-watch measurement and usually lead to advise, tips and tricks for candidates regardless my ability to actually place them now or in the future.  This business has a human face, and if you don't understand that as a recruiter, please get out of this business and make room for the professionals (read my recommendations on LinkedIn if you doubt my sincerity on this point). 

Unfortunately, none of the candidates netted, "weathered" scrutiny in conversation.  Best finding out early for all concerned. What candidate wants to be in an interview with a hiring manger for a position they are not suited for?

Unfortunate as this outcome might seem to some, it didn't bother me from a recruiter standpoint (just part of this business).  What did bother me however, and it hit me like a "bolt", I'd become a cliché and now could add "Uncaring-P!@#k", to my LDR moniker, for not responding to the vast majority of submissions who apparently just wanted to say Hi, or, Hal sent over.

Seconds from "falling on my sward", I "hung", rebooted... and cleared my cache.

I remembered... THE HUNT!

Auto-pilot kicked in and I dialed the phone (actually, I press a button and my computer does it) and I called brand new contacts as well as some staunch regulars.  I "shot" the breeze, "chewed" the fat  and "Pitched" My Tale.  Through the course of that day I picked up more Job Orders (yikes!) and I found or was referred to extremely qualified candidates, who didn't even have prepared resumes (GOLD!!!). 

All the daylong and for those that followed,  in a "familiar" adrenalin rich flurry of endless dials, email follow-ups, send-outs, client and candidate interview prep, salary negotiation, "CLOSINGS" and a degree of "hand-holding",  I returned to what "I" believe a "Recruiter" does,  and I recognized once and for all,  it has NOTHING to do with reading resumes in 6 seconds.

Views: 590

Comment by Linda Ferrante on May 21, 2013 at 11:47am

Excellent article!  Honestly, it gets tiring when people think our jobs are 'easy' and a 'no brainer'.  I think it looks easy because we love what we do and don't think of it as work!!

Comment by Nick Lagos on May 21, 2013 at 2:03pm

Frankly, I was shocked when TheLaddrs just "threw" recruiters under the bus considering recruiters are "also" customers.  I'm curious to know if other recruiters are finding the time spent sorting "mismatched" resumes sourced from JB's might better be spent elsewhere?  Understanding there are no "silver bullets", and we need multi-pronged strategies (JB's do have their place), has the pendulum swung and has the plethora of available resumes masked "activity" for "Value"?  Is there a "sea-change" in the air, or is it just me?

Thanks Linda!

Comment by Stephen Smith on May 22, 2013 at 9:38am

I must confess that I had to run a quick Google search on 'dolt', but the context was obvious from the preceding 'lazy , uncaring' description!

In all seriousness, recruitment can often be a thankless task, especially with firms able to engage on our services free of charge, and only paying for a placement. Employment agencies are amongst the most misunderstood business models, and it's great that the author is highlighting our plight!

Comment by Nick Lagos on May 22, 2013 at 12:08pm

@Stephen: I'm not so worried about the "thankless" nature (when was the last time you "thanked" your power company, but boy, don't take away my voltz!).  I am however curious to know if we as recruiters are "evolving" away from resume repositories in favor of a "back to our roots" networking model in part due to the "resume sort" conundrum I sight, and the bad taste it leaves candidates and recruiters alike.  I'm assuming this is not exclusive to my firm?

Comment by Stephen Smith on May 23, 2013 at 3:44am

According to the recruiters and firms I'm speaking to, they rest on the horns of that very dilemma. In order to achieve that all important differentiation, modern software is welcomed with open arms, which further perpetuates the problem of an impersonal business model.

However what's important in my view is that recruiters have generally diagnosed that issue and will look to balance the equation elsewhere in their recruitment process. I suspect that the vanguard of the industry lies in finding the optimal balance between people, investment and technology.

Comment by Nick Lagos on May 23, 2013 at 9:11am

@Stephen, In general, as an early adopter I believe technology has been and will always be integral to improving the process for recruiters and candidates alike.  Having said that, I do not believe ALL technology is or remains relevant in perpetuity.  I believe our challenge as recruiters (and candidates) is knowing when the paradigm has shifted (e-mail vs. fax machines, cell numbers vs. office numbers, texts vs. cell phone calls, "Hangouts" vs. texts etc.).  

Are "fleet-footed" firms seeing the pendulum swing away from "huge public" repositories (specifically JB vs. Social Medial Platforms (SMP)) due to inefficiencies most I speak with in recruiting and on the candidate side agree exist with JB's, and are sighted in my article?

To get more "granular", I do not mean using SMP's under the same model as we used JB's where Candidates made no bones about why their resume was being posted, in concert mechanisms designed to deliver said candidates to employers (recruiters) in automated fashion. Mechanisms that I contend are failing both sides and therefore through a form of "technical selection", will be ex-sized out over time... and is "now" that time?

I remember firms (recruiting and direct employers) who "clung" to fax machines regardless the efficiencies e-mail offered out of simple "dogma".  Some might say "yea, but I get placements using JB's" which I agree is true (so do I occasionally), but my "fax" machine still works also, its just not the BEST way to move information around anymore.  

Are "classic" JB's the next "old thing"?

Thanks @Stephen 

Comment by Stephen Smith on May 23, 2013 at 9:25am

It's a fascinating conundrum. As I compose this response, I'm visualising the life cycle of the traditional job board model. In my view, we've certainly passed the apex, however it's unclear just how far into the JB's decline we've reached.

Prevailing opinion is that JB's are still a sound business model, partly because it's one of the few recruitment business models with sufficient barriers to entry.

I also believe that because social media and technological offerings have become over-saturated, recruiters face difficulty in establishing which tools are seminal, and which can be thrown out with the bathwater. Your fax machine example is apt, as it's the perfect illustration of how comfort zones sometimes need to be broken down.

We also have to accept that for lots of small to medium sized agencies, they simply have no interest in optimising their performance. 'Good' becomes sufficient, with 'great' perceived as an extravagance. The demands of modern life have saw the work-life balance receive as much consideration as it ever has. Where are the entrepreneurs with the drive and determination to get the most out of their business?

I'm in no doubt that there's an optimal approach out there, but because it's comprised of numerous unknown quantities - in some cases unproven - it's too easy to rest on one's laurels. Job board shaped laurels. :)

Comment by Peter Fernee on May 30, 2013 at 10:55pm

Facinating article for an Industry novice

It reminds me that applications need to be short to the point but having the ability to get the recruiter to look only what is valuable to you. 


Have a look at this interactive CV - which I think resolves this for recruiters and employees alike.


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

© 2021   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

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