The Best Recruiter I Ever Had (Didn't Help Me Get A Job)

In my job search, six years ago, I thought I knew what recruiters were for: to get me a job.

I thought it was your job to take my resume and find that perfect fit for me.  I found 30 local recruiters and shared my resume with them, sure they would be wowed, impressed, and fall all over themselves to place me so they could get a fat commission.

Sound familiar?  I know job seekers today still think your role is to get them a job, with no-to-little effort on their part.

Clearly there is a communication/education issue missing from this recruiter/candidate relationship.

Let me tell you about the recruiter who finally helped me the most in my job search (and not in a way I wanted, either).

After sending my resume to about 30 recruiters I felt they were a part of this "resume black hole" just like a job board was.  I was frustrated that recruiters weren't getting back to me after I gave them my resume, and I was surprised my phone wasn't ringing off the hook.  Shocked, really, because I thought I was that awesome.

(what I thought was awesomeness was really dime-a-dozen, I think, but that's another blog post)

Dave Steveson, from HirePointe, was the man who I credit as helping me.  He was formely at a really big recruiting firm and had some impressive sales accomplishment plaques on his wall. I knew he was the right guy for me.

The third time I went to his office we sat down and he point-blank told me: "Jason, you'll find a job for yourself faster than I'll find a job for you."

I was floored, but at the same time I understood what he was saying.  It's like that one phrase helped me know how our relationship was.  He wasn't going to take my resume and look for openings for me.  He wasn't going to knock on doors and call employers for me.  He was very busy filling his openings... and if one matched my resume, he'd call me in, but until then it was ALL ON ME.

I was frustrated. I was relieved. I was enlightened.

More, I felt respected.

FINALLY! A recruiter helped me understand our relationship.  Instead of just taking my resume and smiling and somehow leading me on, Dave closed the loop.  In a kind but honest way, Dave helped me move on from my fruitless and flawed strategy of leaning on recruiters, and expecting too much from them.

Six years later I feel indebted to Dave.

I ask you, are you helping your candidates understand the relationship?  

Please, tell them.  Or forward this blog post to them, so they can understand your role and their role.  It might be the best "rejection" email they ever get.


The rest of the story: I moved on from my failed job search and designed  You can think of it as what a candidate uses to organize and manage their job search.  It's like your ATS, but for the candidate.  Cool, huh?

I guess once I realized the job search was all on me, I'd go an easier direction: entrepreneurship! (LOL)

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Comment by Zachary Sines on September 12, 2012 at 8:36am

Quite an interesting view on recruiters.  I think that you had a couple of issues with you job search, just based off of what you wrote above, than recruiters being a black hole or they have bad motivators.  To play devil's advocate...did you ever think it was you?  The last thing I want a candidate to do is submit their resume to 30 agencies.  I bet, if you did get a call about a job, you would get that same call 20 times from different firms.

Most firms work reactively, meaning they work on orders they get.  Your problem is that you focused on mainly reactive firms.  If you are as good as you say you are, that is the last direction you should take in looking for a new job.  They are just going to cookie cutter fit your resume into openings, rather than come up with a strategy to find you a new role.  Firms like mine, TRC, tend to do both reactive and proactive.  I will market candidates directly to companies I know they are a fit for, and pass on companies I know they are not.  It isn't that I don't make commission...I do.  I work smarter and harder, not just harder.  You chose the wrong agencies to work with, and to be honest, that is your fault, not the recruiters.

It seems Dave told you what others were unwilling to tell you, which I applaude as well.

If you are ever looking for a job again, DO NOT send your resume all over town like that...gets you a reputation and over redundancy that really is not a good reflection to the agencies working for you...for free mind you :).

Comment by Jason Alba on September 12, 2012 at 10:54am

Zachary, of course I thought the problem was me. And of course I had other issues in my job search.  This post was a snippet of one issue... I wrote it in this forum of recruiters to help share one issue that is relevant to recruiters.  I have 6 years of writing of my other problems on my JibberJobber blog - problems from strategies, tactics, networking, branding, resumes, etc.  

I think Dave recognized and told me something that most other recruiters were too lazy or disinterested to recognize... and kudos to Dave for risking and actually telling me.  I rarely heard from the other recruiters... nothing. They were part of the horrid "resume black hole." 

Granted, I didn't understand the recruiter/seeker relationship back then, but to submit and communicate and reach out and just hear crickets in return... seemed very disrespectful.

What I know now is how recruiters work, and how many recruiters are disorganized and frazzled, or completely focused on filling an opening and not have time to babysit and handhold dozens or hundreds of seekers who, like me, didn't understand how the system worked.

In short, my post was just to bring awareness to recruiters who care... and maybe share a perspective from a job seeker that might help them strengthen relationships with their candidates.

Definitely not meant to shift the blame of my failed job search to recruiters.


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