As much as I HATE to give this post any more link love than it's already probably getting, I just can't help but call out something I read this morning. Here it is, in all its glory - What Recruiters Won’t Tell You and Why courtesy of Don't worry about clicking away dear reader – I'll share with you the highlights and won't hold back what I really think. My only hope is that any frustrated job seeker who takes this seriously will read my post as well. If you are still not satisfied, email me directly at Put the title of this post in the subject line so I don't miss it, and we'll talk it out.

The author leads off with "Recruiters who work for large companies to source new employees are overwhelmed by the sheer number of candidates for each position they seek to fill." Oh, hi. Welcome to EVERY RECRUITING GIG EVER. You must be new here. I work for a very large company. We have nearly 100K employees. I am no more overwhelmed here by the number of applicants I have than I was at my previous company, at just over 1,000 employees. But let's get to the good stuff, shall we?

Author Laura Pierson provides six "truths" to job seekers, in the hopes of (I can only guess) enlightening the great unwashed masses who are overwhelming us with their applications. Or something. Here we go –

  1. You are just another number. Whoa. If that doesn't get someone's attention, I don't know what will. Do you hear that job seeker? You are NOT VALUABLE. Don't get any crazy ideas about being a unique and talented individual with a certain set of skills, education, and experience that has made you the employee you are today. Maybe even the employee that's right for my current opening. Nope - you're just another number, you silly goose. NEXT! Does any decent recruiter really believe this crap? I have NEVER, in over a decade of recruiting, viewed people as inventory. Not every applicant is going to be right (or even qualified) for a position I'm recruiting for. That doesn't diminish their value as a person. To say you're "just another number" is insulting.
  2. If you haven't heard back after an interview within a week or two, it means the manager doesn't want you for the job. Sadly, this is SOMETIMES true. I will give Laura props for her last words on this subject – if you don't hear back from a recruiter for over a week, move on and don't stop looking. Frankly, you shouldn't have stopped looking when you got the interview. It doesn't mean, however, that the manager doesn’t want you for the job. It could mean headcount was eliminated. It could mean someone was out sick or on vacation. It could mean ANY NUMBER OF THINGS. The only blanket generalization that I will accept about this is that the recruiter might suck for not communicating to you there is no update. Even then, you never know what could be going on behind the scenes that has NOTHING to do with job seeker.
  3. Recruiters don't care where you went to school. You know, this one is probably true. Except guess who does care? THE HIRING MANAGER. I once recruited for a role where the manager wanted someone with an MBA from Thunderbird. The role was going to have a major global focus and that was the single non-negotiable. I found him three great candidates. It was for a manufacturing company in Ohio, not a top agency or law firm as the writer claims. Other roles require a Bachelor's degree, no matter what. So yeah, maybe it DOES matter… to the person making the hiring decision.
  4. Recruiters will lowball your salary. What? Why on earth would I want to do this? On what planet does this make sense? The reason given for this nonsensical piece of "information", is that recruiters are in the business of fitting people into employment. How "fitting people into employment" (which by the way, is NOT what I do) equates to screwing someone out of compensation makes ZERO sense to me. I have fought hard against cheap hiring managers and WON. The salary conversation should be a win for both sides – hiring manager hires a great employee for a reasonable and within budget salary + employee gets a decent compensation package that (s)he has earned. Why does there have to be a loser in this game?? Number four is just flat out stupid.
  5. A vague job description spells trouble. Sigh. If I'm being "vague" about a job description, it's probably because it's super technical and way over my head. I will tell you this. I will also encourage you to ask those questions of the hiring manager. Of course I want a candidate to feel completely comfortable with the job specs AND the culture / environment you're potentially getting into. A recruiter being intentionally vague is career suicide, in my opinion.
  6. You can bend the truth and still get hired. This is just a GEM. Lie to me, candidate. That's a great way to start our working relationship. Oh it's just little white lies, mean to protect you from "recruiter backlash" or some such nonsense. Laura actually tells candidates who've started a job on February 1st to list January on the application. The application, which is a legally binding document stating that everything you say is true. THIS PERSON IS TELLING YOU TO LIE. Don't do it. Please, for your own sake, don't.

Sadly, the author goes on to say "small discrepancies in resumes are not taken seriously unless if the job is directly related to high ethical standards". I don't want to recruit in a world where I have to violate my personal ethical standards to get a job. This, America, is why we can't have nice things. I'm curious as to what kind of job is exempt from this advice. You know, the roles that are related to high ethical standards. Perhaps healthcare, working with children, maybe cash handling… Can someone weigh in on this for me? I'm willing to bet "recruiting" wouldn't make the author's list.

Let me also add, in defense of – Miles Jennings was kind enough to respond to my tweets with links of his own –

Miles has his own views and I respect him for giving Laura Pierson a voice. I don't want, RBC, or any other social media outlet to start becoming the "article police" - I'd probably never be published again. I would still welcome the chance to debate this article with the author or anyone out there who agrees with her. Come on girlfriend, let's talk it out. I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you're willing to defend what you have written. I'm sure if we asked nicely we could chat about it live on the Recruiting Animal show. I'm game….

Views: 3133

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 21, 2013 at 2:38pm

Seth - I totally agree. My usual answer to recruiting questions is "it depends". People HATE that, but too many variables to give blanket explanations, right? And yes on the branding thing... that is somewhat worrisome.

Larry - I totally get it. You had a crappy experience with what sounds like an unprofessional firm / recruiter - they got no fee instead of a lower fee than they wanted. Stupid. We all have these stories (and I've done some dumb crap in my day, no question) but to let these blanket accusations float around like valid career advice only drives a bigger wedge between us and our candidates/clients.

Comment by Tony Hogeveen on March 21, 2013 at 4:58pm

Great post Amy! So glad you've got the courage to fight this kind of poor media. In any industry there are good people and bad people, sadly, recruiting is no different. Thanks for standing up for the good people.

Comment by Will Thomson on March 21, 2013 at 5:21pm

You are one heck of a writer, Amy.  I love the you are just another number.  Wow.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 21, 2013 at 5:26pm

Thank you Will - high praise coming from you my friend! This article infuriated me so much I had to write to get it off my chest. Now I'm just sad that this is what passes for career advice.

Tony, thank you so much. I don't know if it's courage or just Irish temper, but something causes me to fight this kind of crap. :) It's easy to ignore (let's face it - candidates are still going to apply at Microsoft in spite of this crappy article) but it's still crap. And I call out crap when I see it. :)

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 21, 2013 at 5:38pm

I was lured out of my afternoon of trying not to be "overwhelmed" by all of these candidates who are "just a number "that i have been up all night reviewing their resumes and responding.

I am so bloody tired of all these crap posts about career advice written by idiots who don't know what they are talking about i could scream.  Career advice and resume advice in big ol poofs like when an elephant farts are about as good as the elephant who poofed.  Career advice and resume advice is as personal as the individual whose career and resume are being discussed.  So in short Laura's post in my opinion is one big elephant fart.

Here is the response i posted on her article.  It is my opinion and not an attempt to give career advice or resume advice to the multitudes.  I have not in my 35 + years as a recruiter reached that height of arrogance yet.

My Response..........

Laura, Laura, Laura.  Your company may not verify employment dates but many do.  No you can't lie on a resume and not get caught.  Many have tried, some may have skated but many have been turned down for falisying an application, cause see if you have it on your resume and your application is different.  It's a red flag that turns into a big black lie.  We know that people lie on resumes, hiring managers know that people lie on resumes and we check.  Even the difference of a month on your dates can be a reason to turn you down.  Don't lie period.  Why would anybody tell somebody to lie cause they might not get caught.  Did you go to the Bernie Madoff school of resume writing?  Or the Enron school of accounting.  Blat!

Recruiters do not low ball salaries. If anything, some recruiters with inflate salary requirements.   If your company does that shame on you and the horse you rode in on.  All of you are counterfeit.  Any good recruiter will give the candidate the range they have listed, ask the candidate either their asking salary or if somewhere in that range is acceptable.  The only time you might get low balled is if you are playing games with a recruiter or a hiring manager thinking that if you can get your face in front of them they will pay you more than the salary range that has been approved.  If you play that game you will make everybody mad.  If you say you are "negotible" you better mean it.

Oh yes we do care where you went to school.  Trust me sister, Harvard or Yale is a lot easier to sell to a hring manager than some online diploma mill and we do know the difference and so do our clients and hiring managers.  Do we care if they graduated.  Yeppers honey, a lot of the time it is a firm requirements so without at least a four year degree one can have Donald Trump's business background and they won't get through the door.  If we have two candidates almost equal in all things and one has a masters, the masters level candidate will get hired about 95% of the time.  Telling people that educational background doesn't matter and won't be verified in most cases is not only wrong it is setting people up for failure.  In some cases work experience will be considered but again if there are two candidates equal in all things one has a degree and the other doesn't that will make the final decision.

Sometimes you may be correct that silence is not consent but it also works that many times "No news is good news".  It is not unusual in this day and time for recruiters to hear nothing from a hiring manager or a hire to take as long as a month or more.  If a candidate does not hear anything from a recruiter for a week or ten days, about half the time the recruiter has nothing to report.  If nothing is heard from a recruiter, send an email and ask for a status update.  Also let the recruiter know that you would rather have a no answer than just handing in the wind.  We take the attitude that it is not over until the fat lady sings and we won't tell you no until the answer is no because there are many slips between the cup and the lip.  If you don't know that, you have not been a recruiter long enough yet.

"YOU ARE JUST A NUMBER"  THE ONLY PLACE A CANDIDATE IS JUST A NUMBER IS IF YOU ARE CONTRACTOR WITH NO WORK VISA, WORKING UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF AN INDIAN RECRUITING FIRM. Or you are an illegal alien and need to slosh back across the Rio Grande.   And no most recruiters are not overwhelmed.  We will stay up all night reviewing resumes rather than miss that stellar candidate hiding in our inbox.  You may not hear anything back if you are a school teacher applying for a job as an HR director that requires 5+ years of HR experience.  In that case you should have had enough sense to read the job description.

 Speaking of which.  There are about a million reasons that job descriptions posted or discussed may be vague.  I could write a book on the joys of job descriptions.  Sometimes you won't know and i won't know and even the hiring manager won't know until we get into the weeds of the job or what the hiring manager may want it to be.  I have had a job listing where the hiring manager said, "Find me somebody who has a sales personality and can think."  I know what he means and he knows what he means but i am not trying to blow smoke up your bloomers if all i can give you is what i am given.  And for the record.  The reason we do interviews is be able to ask all those questions you suggest before...not after an offer is made.

If this post is based on your experience with recruiters, i am sorry you tripped across one or more of the bad ones in our industry but in general you just insulted thousands of good, ethical, hardworking recruiters.  If this post reflects how you and your company handle your recruiting process...may the baby ducks eat the meat off your sandwich for eternity.  In short i find this offensive, insulting and total pile of crap.   NEXT!

Comment by Seth Lidren on March 21, 2013 at 5:44pm

L-O-L.  Bravo, Sandra..bravo...

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 21, 2013 at 5:54pm

Hat tip Seth my friend, and a hat tip to good recruiters and career advisors everywhere who will call this mess out.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 21, 2013 at 5:54pm

God love her Sandra McCartt is my HERO!!

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 21, 2013 at 6:01pm

See you rattle my chain on twitter.  What is that old saying about letting sleeping bitches, er uh dogs do whatever they are doing.  think i will go see what it is like to lowball a salary range so i won't make any money. Jeeeesus!

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 21, 2013 at 6:05pm

I think I'll try it too - this lowball thing. Because I really want to guarantee they won't last 3 months and I get to fill the same stupid req all over again. Thanks Laura!


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