The Recruiter Strikes Back

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking “My god Dave…don’t you have a life?  A job?  Do you literally do nothing but sit around and write blog entries all day every day?”

Job?  Yes.  Life?  Depends on who you ask.  But this one isn’t really me.  One of the recruiters that regularly participates in our events, Brandy Tower, asked if we would be interested in seeing a “Don’t Be That Guy” from the recruiter’s point of view for a change of pace.  She explained the basic concept…and we loved the idea.

So, you can’t blame me, or Bob, or even Jeff for this one…but we like it.  With that being said…we give you…

Don’t Be That Guy: Volume 12 – The Recruiter Strikes Back

Dear guys,

You have given enough …um…let’s call them “polite suggestions”… to change how sales or recruiters act. I think before the Pink Slip Party in August, it would be a good idea to make some “polite suggestions” regarding how prospective candidates should act when it comes to dealing with recruiters/hiring managers. Since none of you are recruiters…well, I guess that means I have to suck it up and do it.

Don’t get me wrong, being a recruiter is great. To me, there isn’t a more rewarding job out there, especially in this economy, than to help others find jobs to help preserve their way of life. (I know ..i know…roll eyes…cough “bullshit” *cough*..but its true!) However, every day, there comes a situation that makes me doubt myself, the purpose of my job, and sometimes even people as a whole.

We, as recruiters (despite the various stereotypes), are trying to help people find jobs. I will freely admit that this may be widely self-serving as most of us make commission, or in some cases make our entire income, based on placements…but the goal is still the same. Now, we understand that times are tough, believe me when I say we are down in business as well, but it doesn’t give you the excuse to break into unprofessional and “That Guy” scenarios which, you’re welcome, I am about to lay out for you below.

Here are a few of the Candidate “That Guy” moments that will get you “black listed” from any staffing firm’s candidate pool.

1. The Closed-Minded Guy:
First of all, I want to start off this topic by stating the follow about Recruiters: WE KNOW!

  • WE KNOW you used to make “x” amount of money at your last job for this position.
  • WE KNOW you’d like to make that amount or more in your next job.
  • WE KNOW you want to stay in Michigan where your house, family, boat, etc are.

So, again…”WE KNOW“…but…here are few numbers you should keep in mind: (because I assure you that clients and prospective employers are)

  • 100: The amount of resumes the average general IT Job Posting (Business Analyst, Project Manager, Consultant, App Developer) brings in.
  • 15.2%: is the Michigan Unemployment Rate as of June 2009
  • 70%: The amount of the salary the average employer now offers for your old position based on the economy and competitive market.
  • $382: The amount per week you make now being unemployed.
  • 6 months: the average amount of time an out-of state-contract/project last.

I wanted to highlight these statistics NOT to scare/depress you but rather to illustrate some of the REALITIES that candidates and recruiters are facing. Because the economy is down…because the market is down…jobs are down and therefore candidates are plentiful. Employers are well aware of this and in order to cut corners themselves to stay afloat, they are taking advantage by cutting the salary budget of new employees. As the above statistic indicated, employers are cutting salaries by 30%.

Thirty.  Yes, go ahead and read that again if you need to.  Thirty percent.

Therefore if you used to make $60/hr as a Project Manager…the current rate for that position is now more than likely around $42/hr.

I know…”My god…that…that…that…that’s horrible“…you are thinking.  You’re probably also thinking “That’s what I made 10 years and 4 levels of hierarchy ago!!! I am worth more than that!!!! I am going directly to the client…I will get more money. ”

Yeah, well…here are the realities of the situation.

  • REALITY: The position you used to have with the pay scale you used to make does not exist any more!
  • REALITY: If you’re currently unemployed, then, umm…you’re not making $60/hr now.  You are making $382 a week before taxes. That is $9.55/hr.
  • REALITY: The employer is probably going through a recruiting agency to:
    • Save their time from evaluating 100 resumes per posting
    • Add temporary/project/contract help to get them through projects or busy times
    • Get the employees for cheaper because they don’t have to pay benefits.

So to sum up…Don’t Be the “Closed-Minded Guy”!  You can “prefer” anything you want, and when you actually have options, you can then turn those preferences into requirements (much like employers do with job descriptions, by the way).  So yes, you can prefer

  • …to make “x” amount of dollars.  However, don’t hold yourself to that number and don’t keep turning recruiters down based on salary, or they will stop considering for anything less than that amount.  Yes, even $1/hr less than that amount. Which you may think is fine now, but come 4 months from now when you will consider less, they will still hold you to that previously stated amount because you pressed so hard for it to begin with.
  • …to stay in Michigan.  Look…we all hate change.  I get that.  I do.  We all do.  But, that being said, I would NEVER, unless you are the only parent or sole caregiver for someone, tell a recruiter that you are unwilling to travel or take an out of state project. This will significantly reduce the number of considerations you will get, and that’s not a good thing because…REALITY: Taking contract work out of state is not a bad idea for the following reasons:
  • You will probably make more than a local position (either base, travel if applicable, or get a Per Diem)
  • It’s usually only 6 months to a year in length…you can still visit your family, your friends, your boat, your friends, etc., on the weekends, holidays or whenever schedules permit.  Sometimes “out of state” can only mean “three hour drive”.  Sure, sometimes it means “5 hour plane flight”, but not always.
  • Pssssst.  Just between you, me, and this web server…you, ummm, well, you could, hypothetically, look at it like you’re getting a “vacation” away from your screaming kids, your nagging wife (or husband, or partner, or whatever…), that lemon of a boat, and your nosy friends.  While making more.  And, by the way, looking like a hero for “sacrificing” to make sure that those screaming kids and nagging spouse/significant other are provided for.  Bonus.
  • You get to make new friends and new connections in other parts of the country.  It’s a big country, and there are lots of cool places in almost all of them.  I promise, here and now, to not force you to take a position in a dry county in West Armpit, Kentucky.  Unless it’s absolutely your only option.  Or if you have family there.  In which case, how cool am I that I found that gig for you, right?
  • Most importantly, you will win favoritism with the recruiters and will be the first one looked at for a local position after your contract ends.  Hey, it’s the way of the world, right – you scratch our backs and we will, to the best of our ability, scratch yours.

2. The Stalker Guy
The “Stalker Guy” comes in two different forms: “The Applicant Stalker” and the “Follow-Up Stalker,” neither is better or worse than the other, so don’t think that you can skate by as either.  Let me clarify:

The Applicant Stalker” is just what it sounds like. A person sees a job posting, applies for it, does not receive any responses from the company, and then starts calling, emailing, faxing, calling (wait did I say that already?) every day, inquiring about the status of their application. Please…please…keep in mind the statistic about how many resumes come in per job posting (it was 100, for those keeping score at home).

Therefore, with that stated, from here on out, just start believing this with every fiber of your being: ONLY THE QUALIFIED CANDIDATES WILL BE CONTACTED. You would not believe how many people call inquiring about their applications that don’t have a single skill set that the job posting lists.  Well, unless you’re a fellow recruiter reading this…in which case, yeah, you know what I’m saying.  Honestly, just because you had a similar job title at some point in your career and have it listed somewhere on your resume doesn’t mean you have the skill set needed for that position.  Remember – while all blueberries are blue berries…not all blue berries are blueberries.  In other words – one company’s Project Manager is another company’s Requirements Analyst, and a Systems Architect at Small Company A is (maybe) a Lead Developer at Large Company B.  It’s just the way things work.

Side note on this: People, please read the job description. If your resume does not have the basic keywords listed in the job description, don’t expect to be considered for the position. The best tip I can give you is to cater your resume to each job that you apply to, especially the objective. Also, one resume per company is enough…please don’t apply to everything that happens to be listed from the same place. All staffing firms and most companies have these things called “applicant tracking systems” (the name might change, but the functionality is always the same) that save your information and make it easily searchable. Applying to everything doesn’t just make you seem like a stalker but it makes it look like you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up.

The Follow-Up Stalker” is a little bit trickier to explain. The Follow-Up Stalker is a candidate who has been contacted by a recruiter/prospective employer, pre-screened, and/or interviewed…and then excessively calls or emails to find out their status. Please note the word “excessively”. Yes, for the most part, it’s okay and expected to follow-up on conversations regarding employment. However, calling starting a few hours after the interview and doing so each and every day thereafter is being stalker-ish and will make the recruiters nervous about your obsessive behavior towards the client.

Though there is no general rule about “the line” in which following up becomes a stalker, so here are a few guidelines:


  • Send a “Thank You” email right after the interview: This will open up the lines of communication and set you up for follow up conversations.  Give us your thoughts on the client, the opportunity, and anything that might come to mind about the job at that time based on what you’ve learned.  Sometimes the best information for both you and us comes from these conversations.
  • Make follow up call 1 week after the interview: Much like the 3 day rule to call the girl you met at the bar, this is designed to keep you from appearing overly anxious and needy.
  • Send an email for more Follow ups at least a week later.
  • Send “UPDATED” resumes, no more than once a month, to keep you fresh in the system and in the minds of recruiters.


  • Call the same day/same week of the interview: We won’t have any feedback for you just yet. On average, the interview process has been taking about three weeks per job lately.  Trust me, it’s in our best interests to keep those lines of communication open with you (please refer back to “commission” and “entire income”) to make sure that you know what we know as soon as we know it.
  • Keep calling multiple times a day until you get a hold of someone. Newsflash: we have Caller ID, too.
  • Guilt trip/insult/criticize the recruiter for not giving you feedback. Like I just said, we may not have any feedback to give. The clients are busy and if you didn’t make the top of their list we will more than likely not hear anything.  Even if you did make their short list, that still means they have/had other interviews to get through.  Just for the sake of reinforcement – the interview process has been taking about three weeks per job lately.

3. The No Show Guy
This will be a short topic as it should be self explanatory.  If you are lucky and skilled enough to get an interview, even a phone interview, don’t blow it off and not show without formally canceling. Nothing on this list will get you “black-listed” by a staffing firm faster than not showing up for the interview, a paperwork signing, or even first day of the job!  Honestly, I wish I was kidding when I say that all of those have happened…but I’m not.  It’s extremely frustrating for us, and makes us look bad, which reflects on other candidates that we may have, and so, really, do you seriously want to inherit all of that bad karma?  I didn’t think so.  Besides, we will hold this record FOREVER, so if you need a new job 5, 10, 20 years down the line, we will still have the notes and still not consider you for anything. Yes, your third grade teacher was right – there really is a Permanent Record floating around out there.  Note..exceptions will be made…with convincing arguments (with proof) of an emergency that prevented you from making it.  “The dog ate my homework” won’t really cut it in these situations.

If you decided you are not interested, got a new job, or have an unavoidable conflict, just call or send an email to cancel or reschedule if you are still interested.

4. The “God” Complex Guy
Okay, okay..I can hear you IT guys snickering about this from here. I am well aware of the stereotypes and feelings held towards recruiters. You have some (semi-warranted) notion that you are better/smarter than us because you know what an Application Developer actually does or what TCP/IP actually means.

Here’s the thing.  Despite many recruiters having “That Guy” moments – trying to BS their way through a conversation, for example – recruiters are not IT people. Let me reiterate that to hammer that home: RECRUITERS ARE NOT IT PEOPLE. If we were, well, first and foremost we would be making a hell of a lot more money. Instead, in the grand scheme of things, we’re keyword searchers.  Those “applicant tracking systems” that I mentioned earlier are basically our Google.  But as far as you are concerned, we are the Gatekeepers to the job you are trying to get.

Yes, yes, ha ha, Dave already made the “Keymaster” Ghostbuster joke.  Tee hee hee.  He’ll probably also insert a graphic or something here, too.

Ignore that.  Stick with me, people.

Side note: Coincidentally, this honesty is one of the reasons why Dave and Bob, the “Godfathers” of respect…like…tolerate me.  Take note recruiters…don’t try to outsmart people who you can’t outsmart.  It’s not worth it.

But here’s the flipside, job seekers – sure, you can make fun of our ignorance behind our backs and to all your other IT buddies.  Just make sure we never find out about it and that you are respectful and professional to us, or else we will not tolerate it and will not consider you for any position.  We’re people too, after all.

But keep in mind that we do not have to be IT people.  That’s your world.  Ours…well, rather than “Gatekeeper”, I prefer to think of it as being the bridge between you and the client.

Here is how the process works:

  • IT Managers at a client tells their HR department they have an opening and give them a job description.
  • The HR person (who’s not IT either) sends the requirement (req) to the Recruiter.
  • The Recruiter calls or emails you (yes, auto and template emails are valid, in this day in age, to recruit prospective employees.  Here’s a tip, while I’m thinking of it: answer all of them that interest you, no matter how spam they may look,) based on the keywords/skill set listed in the Job Description.
  • We look to match up keywords and sometimes may even modify your resume to make sure it demonstrates the match. We do this because in the end, when we send your resume into the client, it goes to the HR department, who will then screen the resume for the same keywords.
  • Then, if most of the keywords match, they send on to the IT Manager for review. So see…we don’t have to know anything about what you do on a daily basis because the 2nd “Gatekeeper” doesn’t know either.

Another sort of “God Complex Guy” is the “I am too good for your advice” Guy.

Simply stated, you are NOT. Everyone can use some advice about their resume writing, job searching techniques, and interviewing skills.  It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing this, how many interviews you’ve been on, or how excellent you think you are.  And, really, who better to give you advice than the people who work, live, breath, and sometime sleeps in the employment process?  I can’t even begin to count the amount of times that I’ve let slip some trade secret or another on how to get your resume noticed or some great job searching techniques…only to have people ignore them.

…and then, of course, complain that they are not getting a good response rate on anything.[sigh]

My advice to you…take in all the HR/Recruiter advice that you can get and put into practice.  If you’re not finding any being offered up for some reason – ask for it.  Be pro-active and show that you’re game for growth and improvement.

So in short, “Don’t Be THAT Guy,” and I am sure you will increase your success in your job search. Happy job hunting and I look forward to seeing you at the Pink Slip Party.

As long as you’re willing to sign a waiver that says you’ve read and understood all of the above points.

Just kidding.


Brandy Tower