The Recruiting Triple Threat Curse

triplethreatI have been working with an Executive Recruiter for a few months, and she leveled with me the other day why a job search for the right opportunity can take so long. Then she set me back a peg by adding “especially for people like you that are cursed with the Recruiting Triple Threat.”

What is the Recruiting Triple Threat Curse? It is Age, Experience and Expensive.

As I look at these three words I don’t see a curse, in fact I see just the opposite. Of course I wasn’t working with the right dictionary as I was soon to find out.

You see Age means I’ve been around the block so I’m not stupid. I can spot workplace rules that are being violated, and without taking a training workshop I already know how to deal with individual rule breakers, and/or how to report infractions. To Human Resources, I am someone who can point out flaws and won’t look the other way. I am going to be a trouble maker for any organization that has problems and problem children working for them. Okay.

Now I find out that Experience is often seen as more than this job requires, not less or just right. It would seem that in a perfect world Goldilocks had it all figured out, and that is often the goal of internal recruiters. In my experience I never hired people without enough experience, rarely tried to recruit people with just enough experience, and often looked for people with more experience so they would not struggle with the current needs and were able to step up when things got more challenging as they always do. Silly me!

I understand what Expensive means. I might have more experience and that costs more in salary and potential benefits. But the way I look at it, the adage of you get what you pay for applies quite nicely in this situation. Why would you hire cheap? If you do manage to hire someone desperate enough for the job that they will take a low salary offer, how long do you expect them to stick around? If you hire someone for less money because they are barely qualified, where is your return on investment?

So I am cursed with the Recruiting Triple Threat. The right organization is out there, and I just need to have patience to wait for that opportunity.

Recruiter Mishap

thT8EBKFKN You complete your online application, attach your resume and customized cover letter to a job you are well suited for and within an hour your phone is ringing.  To your surprise it is a recruiter from this same company that wants to talk with you about their opening you applied for an hour ago.

If you are like most applicants, your hopes just bounced ten feet in the air.  You are thinking that it didn’t take 3-4 weeks for someone to ignore you and send you a form letter stating that someone else was selected.  You are jazzed that this person saw your qualifications and experience as a match and wanted to talk to you more about the role.

The recruiter asks you to talk more about your current job, and you highlight the past 25 years of experience into how you landed up where you are today.  Then it happens.  The recruiter tells you that she doesn’t see any, not enough, but any experience in the foundational skills that have allowed you to function, let alone succeed for the past 15 years.  Because, are you ready, “you have not had those words in any of your previous titles”.

You launch into a tutorial on how this skill set that she feels is missing allowed you to perform the following projects and job roles.  She claims that none of the attachments or complete job history came through the online system, and you offer to email them to her.  She appreciates that and you send them immediately.

Next thing you know she has resigned her job the following week, and posts an online diatribe on her employer.  You race to find the head of HR and by the time you contact him, the job has been filled.  All within a 3-week period, you became the victim of a disinterested and incompetent recruiter.  I had this happen to me, and it made me feel like I was involved in a hit and run.

So, to all those diehards that follow the recruiting rules, I now have decided to revert back to my old style of applying for work.  Yeah, complete the online application, but send hard copies directly to the hiring manager and any other potential influencing managers that may never hear about you because the recruiter blocked your path.

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down.  Seems like a lot of power for a single individual.

Should I Give Up Looking?

th7N2PIEAX  I was asked by an associate of mine the other day if they should just throw in the towel and give up looking for work.  I realized that I needed to understand why this very talented person was at the end of their rope and ready to give up.  So I asked a few questions to get a feel for their challenges, and soon found out that we had a lot more in common than just a lengthy training and development career.

She and I both share about a 25 year span of entry-level training and designing positions, followed by management.  She was a Training Director of a mortgage lender, and I ended up as a  Chief Learning Officer of a bank before we both started Consulting practices.  She decided her passion lies in facilitation and instructional design, where as I lean toward the strategic and problem solving side of talent management.  She likes the interaction with the learner, and I enjoy the organizational development side and supporting the company’s objectives with learning solutions.

So after nearly 10 years of consulting she has been trying this year to find a job managing the training function.  Yet she has run into a number of brick walls.  She is either too qualified for positions, or she has been out of the workforce for too long.  (A side note, consulting is still working in the workforce!)  She was even asked by one recruiter if she was planning to retire soon.  We all know that was a shot at her age, illegal, but also a clear indication that she was not a viable candidate either.  My friend decided to change her hair color and post a new LinkedIn photo on her profile.

I too long for a full-time engagement, and yet you would think from the feedback I have gotten that I have no right to be applying for roles in training.  One recruiter said I didn’t have organizational development experience “because I didn’t have a job title with those words on my resume.”  Another recruiter told me that I was verrrrrrry experienced, and would not be interested and probably bored after a month.  In other words, I was too old for what they were looking for.

Neither of us are old enough to retire, but I felt her pain as I realized that I am getting frustrated too.  I have turned down a few opportunities recently because I didn’t respect the culture of the company.  While it is empowering to decline yourself, it still leaves you unemployed.  And that was my only advice, was for her to keep looking, but walk away herself when something wasn’t a fit instead of waiting for a decline from the employer.

While I have seen a lot of age and gender discrimination lately in the hiring process, I have seen more incompetence in the recruiting side by letting top talent get away.  Should anyone give up?  I say no.  Somewhere out there is a job with my name and my friend’s name on it.  The only way you are going to find it is if you keep looking.

One last thought on hiring experienced people.  I have no idea why that is such a forbidden act.  Why on earth would you hire someone who is inexperienced or just passing the requirements.  I always hired people who could outpace the current needs and help us move forward when things got more challenging.  Hello, experience is a good thing, even if it means you might be hiring an older person.