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This lead story appeared in Issue 31 of my Newsletter, InSight Published: 7 May 2008  

I have recently witnessed, at close quarters, the experiences of a very good friend of mine as she looked for a job. She’s a recruiter. Her track record is excellent. She’s a successful leader of people, a proven generator of sales and profit and interviews very well. She hasn’t been on the job market for ten years, so her experience of ‘being a candidate’ was very ‘last century’.   

Here are some illuminating extracts from her job search diary.   

Interview with rec-to-rec #1:  

“Hmm, she obviously hadn’t read my resume before interviewing me and she didn’t ask me any behavioural interview questions”   

Interview with rec-to-rec #2:  

“He asked me to meet him as soon as possible but then didn’t have any suitable jobs to talk to me about and didn’t ask me any behavioural interview questions”   

Phoned to follow up on a resume I sent to a recruiter:  

“I’m sorry, did you say you have already short-listed me and sent my resume to the client? How could you do that as you haven’t interviewed me, asked my salary expectations or gained my permission to forward my resume? Who’s the client? You can’t tell me! This is a joke, right?”     

Interview feedback to rec-to-rec #3 after 2nd interview (with CEO):  

“No, I’m not interested in the job anymore. The CEO talked about himself most of the interview, didn’t ask me any intelligent questions and he winked at me!”     

Interview with rec-to-rec #4:  

“At least he had read my resume before interviewing me but I wasn’t asked any behavioural interview questions, again”     

Interview with rec-to-rec #5:  

“The job they thought I was ‘perfect’ for was the job I turned down with ‘the winker’ and I still wasn’t asked any behavioural interview questions”   

One week after interview with rec-to-rec #2:  

“Gee, that’s interesting; I haven’t heard back from him and he said he would call me with a list of clients he wanted to market me to”   

Line manager interview (direct response advert) with corporate recruitment job:  

“What a disaster! He clearly had no idea what he really wanted this person to do or accomplish. He kept asking what ‘I thought’ yet he hadn’t told me anything! I finished up running the interview”   

Interview with recruitment agency line manager for a job with them:  

“Nice guy. At least he asked me some behavioural interview questions but he didn’t articulate how the job would be any different or why the agency is more worth joining than any other agency. It just sounded like a bog-standard ‘go build a team’ manager’s job”   

Interview with recruitment agency for corporate recruitment job:  

“Pleasant enough woman but she didn’t really know that much about the job or the client. She didn’t ask me any behavioural interview questions and spent more time focusing on the small number of things that the client wants that I don’t have, instead of asking me about the large number of things the client wants that I do have…strange”   

Interview with recruitment agency for corporate recruitment job#2:  

“Just got told I wouldn’t be put forward for that job because I wanted to work 4 days on-site and one day from home. Apparently the client views this as an indication that I am not committed to the job, as I ‘clearly have other priorities’. Sorry, I thought this was the 21st Century!”   

Follow up to resume sent to recruitment agency for corporate recruitment job #3:  

“No response to my resume after 10 days. I called the recruiter and she said she thought she had a left a message for me to call her back but apologised and said she must have ‘put my resume in the wrong pile”   

Four weeks after registering with five rec-to-recs the stats were:       

Agency #1   –  2 proactive calls to discuss 2 different jobs     

Agency #2   –   1 proactive call to discuss 1 job     

Agency #3   –  4 proactive calls to discuss 3 different jobs   

Agency #4   –  1 proactive call to discuss 0 jobs     

Agency #5   –  0 proactive calls   

My friend’s top 5 conclusions   about recruiters, based on her recent job search are:  

1.          Interviewers assume the resume is accurate and do very little to validate the information it contains.  

2.          Very few interviewers use a clear interviewing structure.  

3.          Interviewers rarely use behavioural questions.  

4.          Interviewers don’t read resumes thoroughly prior to interviews.  

5.          Recruiters don’t make proactive, stay-in-touch calls.  

My questions to recruiters   based on her conclusions are:

·                Research consistently concludes that between 25-40% of resumes contain significant omissions or inaccuracies, so why are you gambling on the candidate telling you truth?

·                How does an unstructured, non-behavioural interview increase your chances of correctly assessing a candidate’s skills, competencies and motivations?

·                What trust and credibility are you building with candidates when they have invested at least 2 hours in travelling and interviewing time and it’s obvious to them that you haven’t even set aside 5 minutes to read their resume?

·                How many candidate referrals are you missing out on by not staying in touch?  
If I randomly interviewed a range of your   candidates about their job seeking experience with you  , what would they have to say?

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Adam Walker (Conduit Recruitment)

The industry is awash with time wasters and a ‘paper thin’ service – especially that rec2rec market. You find yourself coaching them which makes the fee a little hard to pay!

However I must say that clients have to shoulder some of the blame. If they would only talk to consultants – what about a job description – when was the last time I was given one of those?!? Because we are often flying in the dark I suppose that could lead to bad habits as you never know if you are going to get a result. No excuses though Ross!!

There needs to a seminar organised to educate clients in how to find staff through recruiters – ie how to manage their recruiters. Point No.1 being – Don’t employ an HR person to head it up or a ‘failed’ ex recruiter!

etc etc

What about you and Conduit do a joint seminar? It would be such fun to cut through all the crap.

Adam Walker

ross clennett

I’m there, Adam. Recruiting without a job description is like playing tennis with a net but no lines – starts out amusing, quickly turns frustrating and then becomes pointless.

I bet most rec-to-recs would love job descriptions from their recruitment agency clients.


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