By Meridith Levinson, CIO
March 12, 2009
I recently wrote about the things job seekers do that annoy recruiters—things like tying up their time, sending generic e-mails and spamming them with résumés. I have more do’s and don’ts (okay, mostly don’ts) to add to the list, based on subsequent conversations with other headhunters.
1. Don’t be arrogant. You’d think “be courteous to recruiters” would be obvious advice, but apparently, it’s not. Recruiters tell me they frequently come across highly entitled IT professionals who possess an exaggerated sense of their own importance. Copping an attitude may work for Colin Farrell, but it doesn’t work for Joe Jobseeker. Recruiters tell me that they simply don’t help people who aren’t nice.
2. Don’t argue with the recruiter. This is another recommendation that seems obvious, but evidently, enough job seekers are unnecessarily difficult that recruiters mention it.
David Valentine, president and founder of ValTech Recruiting, a small search firm specializing in IT, says he recently battled with a candidate who was—on paper—a good fit for a senior position he was retained to fill. When Valentine asked the candidate for references, he says the candidate asked him why references were necessary. Valentine explained that reference-checking was a normal part of the recruiting process, and that if a candidate didn’t want to share references, it raised a red flag. The candidate mentioned that he didn’t want the senior executives he knew to be bothered for no reason, says Valentine, who told the candidate to give his references a heads up that Valentine would be calling.
Valentine says the exchange with the candidate made no sense to him and was a waste of everyone’s time.
3. Don’t act desperate. Acting desperate in a job search is similar to acting desperate in the dating game: It’s when you call too often, whine, plead, play for pity, act scared, etc. Marc Lewis, CEO of retained executive search firm Leadership Capital Group, says job seekers who act desperate show weakness, and no company wants to hire a weak or desperate candidate.
4. Don’t assume the recruiter’s job is easy. Lewis notes that some job seekers who call him make the erroneous assumption that his job must be so much easier right now because so many IT professionals are looking for work. The supposition annoys Lewis because it demonstrates job seekers’ ignorance of the retained executive search industry.
The recession is posing its fair share of challenges to the search industry. Some recruiters have told me that business is off by 20 percent industry-wide. Consequently, headhunters have to spend more time developing business and convincing candidates who are hesitant to make a move to go on job interviews and consider new opportunities.
Instead of assuming headhunters’ jobs are easy, says Lewis, walk a mile in their shoes: Learn about their challenges and offer them solutions. That will make a good impression, he says.
5. Prepare for your conversations with recruiters. Just as you’d prepare for a job interview with a hiring manager, you should devote some time to preparing for a call with a recruiter, adds Lewis, especially if it’s a call you initiate.
“Job seekers go to recruiters without knowing what executive search firms do compared with contingency firms, or what a Spencer Stuart does versus Leadership Capital Group,” says Lewis.
Know a thing or two about the firm and the individual recruiter you’re calling before you pick up the phone. You’ll look informed, and recruiters will appreciate that you know something about them and their business.