You want a job.  I want an employee.  Why is it so hard for us to get together?

As an agency recruiter, life was pretty simple.  Develop some strong relationships, get some job orders, go hunting for qualified candidates.  If they were “passive”, make them “active” (heh).  Move them through the process and close the deal.  Wake up the next day and do it again. 

Enter the damn Applicant Tracking System.              

Keep in mind I started recruiting back when there was one computer in the office and no internet.  We were hooked up to the INTRA-net which means my boss had internal company e-mail and could enter our temp payroll and billing.  I had to beg for an hour a week of computer time so I could type my newspaper ads and fax them to the Seattle Times.  Ahhh the good old days… back then I could call my client and say “I hired Joe.  He’ll be there Monday” and call it a placement.

See, now we have this stupid thing called an “online application”.  Also known as a “candidate portal” where you get to enter everything three times so I can actually see that you’ve applied.  Even though I source a lot of my candidates, I do recruit for a corporation which means at some point one of us is going to enter your information into the ATS.

I’m not going to bore you with all the details of the backend hoops I get to jump through in order to actually show your resume to a hiring manager.  Just know there are LOTS.  Now I may ask you for a few things, to help make my life (and your job search) easier.  Things like salary requirements.  Or more information about what you did at Company A.  Perhaps I need to know why you left Company B.  I might even need something crazy like a targeted resume.  Do you know WHY I ask for these things?


I know there’s some renegade headhunter out there scoffing and saying, “oh no, I just call my hiring manager and tell them this guy’s the one.  I don’t need to do any of that”.  Well good for you.  Send me pictures of your unicorn because you clearly live in a different universe than I do.  Even if the hiring manager will take my word for it, there’s still those little boxes to check and fields to complete in the system.  And a paper trail… oh the paper trail….  Look, at the end of the day it's my job to make sure you're a fit for the role I'm recruiting for.  Help me help you by giving me the information I ask for.  You may not understand why I need it, just know I DO.  I have better things to do than ask silly questions just to hear myself talk.  I know the hiring manager and what makes him or her tick.  I know how to best "sell" a candidate to my customer.

Besides, you never know when I might just have had enough and run away with Mr. Super Headhunter to frolic with leprechauns.  I’d hate for you to have to answer all these same questions again for the recruiter who takes my place.

Views: 128

Comment by Subramani B on June 29, 2011 at 7:54am
Amy, lovely post.

Can't agree more on ATS. Has it become a sort of necessary evil ? can there be a better way?
Comment by Alan on June 29, 2011 at 2:24pm

Amy the ATS is about to be pronounced as dead, the unfortunate thing is what is to replace it has yet to be revealed. The replacement however will be more expensive and more candidate limiting. At some point DNA/genetic markers will be used for selection. In the meantime recruiters still have the edge and time over the technology but it means going beyond being a transactional service. Which is all that technology really is.  

Comment by Jeremy Hill on June 29, 2011 at 2:26pm

I don't have a pic of my unicorn at the office, but I'll make sure to send it your way once I get home... :) I am still an agency recruiter, but I've met with enough corporate recruiters to empathise with your situation.  Kudos.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on June 29, 2011 at 3:17pm

Jeremy your comment is exactly why I shouldn't read recruiting blogs with a bottle of water in hand.  I just about spit all over the keyboard.  :)  Looking forward to that unicorn pic!  Thanks for the laugh.


I don't have a problem with having a system, I appreciate technology (usually) but truth be told this blog was probably born from the frustration I was experiencing while explaining to yet another job seeker that yes I DID need his updated resume electronically while trying to get Taleo to talk nicely to Outlook.  Boo.


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