When Recruiters Go Bad

Bored waiting iStockphoto.com:drewhadley

Yes, I’m a recruiter and I’m going to talk about those recruiters who give us a bad rap. Why? Because I love recruiting and it hurts me to continue seeing those who ruin the experience for all. Being a recruiter is fun because we have the power to make someone’s dream come true (or at least bring him/her closer to it). We make magic happen- the moment when we seal the deal between a great candidate and a satisfied employer. It’s all about creating and maintaining happy relationships.

As both the company advocate and talent advisor, why can’t many recruiters follow simple business etiquettes?

Recruiter is probably the only occupation that gets away with being flaky and rude because no candidate wants to be on a company’s bad side.

I bet you have experienced this scenario at least once in your professional life: applied to a job, talked to the recruiter & hiring manager on the phone, brought in for in-person interview, then silence. You called, you emailed. Silence. You called again, you emailed again. Silence. 3 months later, you’d be lucky if you get a canned response about the rejection.

A bad recruiter is like that guy/girl who never called again (or returned calls) after the first date, leaving you hanging, feeling all the negative emotions, and going through all the possible things that could’ve gone wrong in your head. Sadness.

We are all adults; we know how to handle rejections gracefully with our dignity intact. Just tell us the truth and we both can move on. Right?

I understand sometimes a recruiter has no control over the course of action. An interviewed candidate can be ‘put on the back burner’, ‘kept warm’, ‘circled back after we see more candidates’, or ‘second choice if number one doesn’t take our offer’. Complete silence for 3 months or for good is just not nice. Right?

There is almost no repercussion for a recruiter being flaky or rude.

It’s almost impossible for you to complain about anything to a company regarding their recruiting processes. Some candidates take their time to share their stories on Glassdoor, yet most employers dismiss the reviews assuming they all came from bitter, disgruntled, rejected candidates.

Again, I totally get how HR or Recruiting department is usually under-staff, under-budget and with the most ancient tools/software (if any at all) because HR is not a revenue generating function. This is one of the most ironic things about corporate America, we think “people are our biggest assets” but we spend minimal investment in treating talent right.

Unsubscribe marketing emails all you want, but you’re not likely to escape spam emails from bad recruiters. Most of them probably don’t even know what CAN-SPAM act is.

I receive about emails/inMails regularly for legitimate career opportunities that match my skills set and also for random jobs that match some keywords on my LinkedIn profile. Those random jobs include various engineering positions that I have no capability to hold whatsoever. It saddens me when recruiters don’t read resumes/profiles before they poach a passive candidate. It’s really sad, like 😦 x 10,000.

Selectively, I responded to some of the legitimate emails not because I was looking for a job, but to learn some market intel. After all, it is the best way to gain the insider’s view and industry trends from your fellow recruiters. And honestly, you never know what kind of opportunity you may miss until you hear about it.

Sadly, I also received poor treatment from recruiters. My most unpleasant experiences include the following: [1] When they rejected me as an active applicant and reached out to me as a passive candidate. {Why did you reject me in the first place? Hello?} [2] When they failed to reject me after interviewing me, and later tried to sell their services or products to me. {They just turned me from a candidate to a potential client without even consulting me first. WTH?} [3] When I responded to their poaching emails, they didn’t follow up but emailed me again two months later for the same job. {Now I know why that job was open for a year. Duh.}

It’s time for us to rethink recruiting. The system is broken. The process is broken.

We keep talking about this huge talent war and how we suffer from a massive talent shortage. How about starting treating candidates with respect? Adapt customer service and marketing strategy to create quality candidate experience. Similar to what the internet has done to the sales industry from a ‘Buyers Beware’ to a ‘Sellers Beware” world. We have to adapt the ‘Candidate Driven’ model soon away from the ‘Employer Driven’ standard.

My suggestions to break the vicious cycle and improve your candidate experience:

  • Hold your hiring team accountable for candidate experience, including the hiring manager, interviewing panel, and HR/recruiter. Ask your candidates to rate their experience on key performance indicators (KPIs) according to your talent acquisition strategy.
    • Email an automated survey link to every candidate after each phone and in-person interview.
    • Include a ‘unsubscribe’ link in each sourcing email. Track the unsubscribe rate, segment your candidate population, and create targeted job promos or candidate engagement campaigns.
  • Ask for candidate feedback regarding your current application process and applicant tracking system if any.
    • Add a survey link on your careers page or encourage candidates to talk about their experience on social media if applicable.
  • Be kind. Don’t be a jerk. Treat a candidate how you want to be treated.

P.S. Candidates, When a recruiter asks you to wait two weeks for a decision after an interview, please wait or tell them that you can’t wait that long. Also, please don’t hate on a recruiter when you are rejected in a timely manner after an interview. 99% of the time you just don’t match all of the hiring manager’s laundry list of requirements or some external factor happened to be against your odds. It’s not you, it’s them. Seriously.

When Recruiters Go Bad

Parents

monkey family

My father never worked a day in his life. I don’t remember seeing him awake much. He was a compulsive gambler who spent all his waking hours playing mahjong, poker and lottery. When he’s home, he was usually asleep. I never knew if he was home or not unless I checked the master bedroom. He came home at odd hours and would leave for days before he reappeared.

My mother was always at work. Most of my childhood memories involved doing homework, reading or being bored at my mom’s job. She’s always had her own business so my sister and I can stay with her at work. When I became old enough (or tall enough? With my height at 5’3 after turning eleven years old, I always looked older than I was compared to other kids), I started manning the shop or running errands for my mom.

Schools in Taiwan required children to report their parents’ occupations every year. I was always embarrassed having to lie about my father’s occupation, “freelancer”, a somewhat accurate title I came up with and scribbled sheepishly in the form every year.

Me and my sister learned to be very independent at a young age. We were keylatch kids before we were old enough to learn the meaning of the word. My mom used crockpot to prepare dinner or snacks for us to eat after school since she can’t be home. Sometimes she just left money on the table so we can buy food. We’re supposed to be in bed by the time she got off work. Except cooking and laundry, my sister and I did most of the house chores. Without any parental supervision or babysitter, we got up every morning, walked or biked to school and returned home, and did our homework on our own.

My father was a foolish daydreamer, wishing a day when he hit the jackpot & never had to work a day (even though he never did work). He pawned all the valuables he can get his hands on for gambling money, including my mom’s wedding ring, jewelry, and several family cars. He also suffered from some kind of psychological disorder; he was never diagnosed since mental illness was a foreign concept back then in Taiwan. Endless complaints of nightmares, hearing or seeing ghosts & (imaginary) intruders, my dad was very paranoid and had trouble sleeping at night. He kept mace guns and a baseball bat by the bed when there’s really no crime at all in the neighborhood.

My mother was a romantic at heart but a pragmatist in action. When she got home after work, she was usually tired and irritable. My sister and I usually tiptoed around her and would avoid all contact at the sight of her dismay. When we’re asleep & my dad was out gambling, she spent her alone time reading, playing video games or watching HBO movies . Somehow she managed to volunteer to help others and learned new hobbies on her free time. On the weekends, my mom showed her gentle and loving side; the three of us often went to the park or took small trips.

After my parents’ divorce, my mother took me and my sister to live with her family in another city. We moved several times from one relative’s home to another. Child support was not and is still not a reinforced obligation by the Taiwanese government. My mom continued to working long hours in the retail & customer service sector. We saw my father probably five times in our teens and he still never held a job.

I believe that’s why I chose psychology as my major in college, trying to figure out my father’s mental pathology and my mom’s hysteria. And the reason why I became an industrial and organizational psychologist, learning the art and science of work.

For a father that never worked and a mom who’s always working. The dissonant duet that shaped my life and made me become who I am. It’s like a catchy song that gets stuck in your head. Involuntarily, I think about employment and labor economics and how they affect people’s lives all the time, over and over.

Parents

Unplug and Make Your Career Resolutions

notebook_pen_tea2014

It is amazing how we have grown so reliant on technology and how we consult an app before completing a simple task. We live in an era where distraction is allowed and even encouraged. How about giving yourself a break from all the distractions?

As you pause and reflect on the achievements and learnings in 2014, set aside some time to think about your career resolutions for 2015. Career planning requires a true ‘you’ moment without texts, emails, nonstop notifications, random googling, or yet another Youtube video. Trust me, you’ll have the chance to research online after you finish this exercise.

Whether you’re in transition, wanting a promotion, changing your career path, or simply happy in your current role, your career will thrive with mindful planning and execution. No one cares about your career like you do. In order to realize your potential, you have to set and own your goals. When you truly take advantage of the science of goals, you’ll get to where you want to be in no time.

When you’re ready to think long and hard, turn off your phone, tablet, and computer. Get a notebook (that’s made out of paper) and a pen. Go to a quiet room without interruptions from people or pets. Then, let your mind flow and start writing down your thoughts.

1. Know thyself. Your first step is to become more self-aware.

  • What are the differences between what you want and what you’re good at?
  • What are the differences between what drives you and what gives you satisfaction?
  • What are your values?

2. Ideas for 2015. Here comes the fun part.

  • What do you need to start, change, develop, grow, succeed, or retire at both micro and macro level?

3. Prioritization. Look at your ideas and focus on the most urgent and important matters that will affect your career. List items by urgency and importance for a better picture on what to do next.

  • Use the 10/10/10 rule by Suzy Welch to evaluate the impacts of each priority and write down your decided priorities.

How will you feel about the decision 10 minutes from now?

How about 10 months from now?

How about 10 years from now?

  • Compare your values and priorities. Identify and write down the differences between your values and priorities.

4. Reality check. It is only a dream until you make it happen.

  • Having measured the differences between what you want and what you’re able to do, between what drives you and what satisfies you, and between your values and those of your environments, are you able to overcome those differences?

If your answer is yes, proceed. If not, repeat the previous steps.

5. Closing the gaps. You’re almost there. You’ve identified the roadblocks to your success; now it’s time to finalize your 2015 career resolutions.

  • What are the resources (who and what) you need to overcome those differences?
  • What are the actions (where, when and how) you need to overcome those differences?

6. Showtime. Congrats, you just created the ultimate guide to achieve your career resolutions.

You can download a print-friendly worksheet via this link. Hope you enjoy this career planning exercise. Wish everyone a happy new year!

This article is an adaptation of Warren Bennis‘ four-question test for people seeking success.

Unplug and Make Your Career Resolutions

Why Paying Above The Minimum Wage?

A sad story about a woman who died from sleeping in her car while waiting for her next shift at a Dunkin’ Donuts. Carelessness aside, her struggle to make a living wage was real. Because many store owners don’t want to pay full-time benefits, many employees in the service sector have to work short shifts and fluctuating hours.

I started working since age 17. In my young adult life, I had worked as a server, cashier, greeter, sales rep, and various customer service roles. At certain points of my school life, I had to juggle two jobs (or one job and an unpaid internship) with my full-time coursework. Fortunately, I completed my degrees and was able to end the cycle of working many part-time jobs.

Not everyone has the opportunity that I had to obtain higher education and a white collar job. Indeed, new jobs are slowly coming back after the recession. However, the majority of job growth is in the lower-paying positions. The trend of short-term employment reinforces the ‘disposable employee model‘ where many workers faceincome uncertainty and zero job security.

Why should employers pay above the minimum wage?

  1. To stay innovated. Find a way to distinguish your goods and services in the competitive market while treating your workers with respect.

    It’s so easy to cut payroll without thinking about the real problem with the business. Investing more in the employees forces the employers to not just act like everyone else. Many successful companies adapted this model to do something different and amazing.

  2. To make customers happy. Enough said.

    Pay and train workers right to ensure the quality of customer service. I do most of my shopping online now to avoid poor customer service at the stores. Why complain when you know the store manager has no control over the environment where the workers barely make ends meet and receive minimal training?

  3. To improve productivity. People simply care more when their hard work is recognized and rewarded.

    Have you ever worked with someone so great that you can trust him/her with your whole department while you’re on vacation? That’s the essence of the Container Store’s hiring philosophy: “1 Great Person= 3 Good People”. Hire someone great, not just another warm body that is disposable. And yes, it is as horrible as it sounds.

  4. To keep the best workers. They are your brand representatives and ambassadors. They remember your customers by name.

    Employee turnover is very costly, especially when replacing the high performers. See how the coffee-house giant Starbucks is vamping its compensation structure and work policy to avoid losing the best employees.

Do you agree it’s time to give America a raise? If so, sign the petition!

Why Paying Above The Minimum Wage?

Idiot’s Guide To LinkedIn

If you’re one of the general users (not in recruiting or sales) who only spend five minutes per week on LinkedIn, you probably get frustrated or lost on the site one of these days. You’re not alone. As a recruiter, I see a lot of mistakes people make when it comes to using LinkedIn. Since there are tons of articles on how to improve your profile, I won’t bore you with another list of recommendations.

Today, I’m here to guide you through the most important things you need to know as a general user to:

  • Avoid embarrassing yourself or confusing others via LinkedIn
  • Protect your privacy and control visibility of your LinkedIn activities
  • Promote your personal brand by acting ethically and professionally on LinkedIn

Where is the link to my public profile?

Yes, I think you need to know your LinkedIn public profile URL, especially as a job

seeker. You’ll be surprised how many times people submit the generic home page link as

their profile link along with their job applications (see picture).

Why am I connected to someone automatically after I looked him/her up?

Yes, you may have accidentally sent an invitation to your ex. This is a careless user interface problem. LinkedIn’s design is optimized for call-to-action. When you look someone up on LinkedIn, click on his/he name to view the profile instead of clicking on the bright blue button ‘Connect’. I know it’s very tempting to click on the big bright blue button.

See picture below for a search example on Jason Fried, one of my favorite authors.

I’m looking for a job. How do I make sure (1) recruiters and employers can find me easily (2) my current employer won’t know that I’m leaving?

1.1 Be very active on LinkedIn; complete your profile and include your contact info.

Log in, edit your profile, add more connections, post daily updates, and join group discussions. Your profile will show up as one of the top results or will be sent to a recruiter/sourcer’s inbox directly.

1.2 Insert keywords such as ‘looking for’, ‘open to’, ‘willing’, ‘available’, ‘immediately’, ‘relocate’, or ‘relocation’ somewhere in your profile.

A good recruiter/sourcer use keywords to find both active and passive candidates who may be open to new opportunities. Insert those keywords discreetly if you want to keep your job search private.

1.3 Keep your privacy and communication settings open.

LinkedIn has a preference menu for what type of messages you’re willing to receive from other LinkedIn users. Make sure your setting says that you’re open to messages that pertain to ‘Career Opportunities’.

1.4 Find the recruiter/hiring manager- view and/or connect with them.

If you don’t feel like it’s appropriate to send an invitation, simply view their profiles. People are curious by nature. Most people want to know who viewed their profiles.

1.5 Follow the target companies or join their groups.

It’s easier for corporate recruiters to find you if you are already their follower or a group member.

2.0 Look for a job privately without getting yourself in trouble.


I’m sick of getting messages from tireless recruiters/ salespeople. How can I stop them?

Don’t share your contact information openly.

Yes, they would still find some other way to reach you but you can make it harder for them to spam you. After all, it is a social networking site. If you don’t want people contacting you, don’t share your contact information.

Change your communications setting.

Select what type of LinkedIn messages you’ll receive.

State your interest- be specific.

It’s disturbing that not every recruiter or salesperson will read your profile before they contact you. That being said, you can emphasize your primary interest and preference in your summary to dissuade those who actually read your profile from spamming you.

Simply tell them to stop.

Some spams allow you to unsubscribe easily. If that’s not the case, tell them you don’t want to receive any more communication in any form.

Someone connected with me because she was interested in working for my company. I don’t think my company plans to hire her but she certainly fits one of our buyer personas. Can I add her email to our marketing list?

No. First, you’ll need her formal consent to become a subscriber. Second, you’re a jerk for asking her to buy your product after excluding her as a candidate for your open position. Third, you can’t abuse the relationship just because you’re her LinkedIn connection. You’ll probably ruin the relationship.

I reached out to someone for an advice/consulting gig/recommendation/introduction. He responded to my request. What do I do next?

Thank him for his response even if you don’t find the piece of information helpful or there’s no direct positive results from his response. If you care about building meaningful, lasting professional relationships, be appreciative when people respond to your inquiries.

Wow, Jane Doe from XYZ company is looking hot. Can I message her to comment on her beauty and ask her out?

No. You’re being creepy. Save your online dating activities for other appropriate platforms.

Idiot’s Guide To LinkedIn