In the last five or so years, I have, despite being employed, always kept my resume updated at a number of job sites. I even occasionally call recruiters I have worked with to get a feel for the marketplace. Most times I am not really looking for a job, but I want to keep my eyes and ears open just in case that opportunity of a lifetime comes by.
The drawback to this is that at least once a week I waste five to ten minutes of my life talking to a recruiter, most of whom really stink at their job. They call, ask if I’m looking for work and then say “We have some really great opportunities that I think you might be a perfect fit for, just email me your resume and I’ll get back to you.” Most of them never get back to me, not even to just say “Hey, got your resume, but it looks like we don’t have anything for you, sorry.” This is why I say they stink.
The recruiters that I stay in touch with are the ones who know how to handle a job candidate. They didn’t just ask for my resume, they asked about my jobs, my work. They took notes, often making recommendations for how I might punch up my resume to get me what I’m looking for. When it comes to sending me on an interview, the good recruiters give me a run down of the company, the people I’ll be talking to, and what I can expect. The bad ones never do that, they just set up the time and say “Call me after so I know how it goes.”
This is where I come to the reason I titled this post “The Grapevine”.
Have you ever played that game as a kid? Where you line up and the person at one end is whispered a couple sentences that convey information, then each person in turn whispers the sentences to the next person in line, and at the end the last person says the sentences out loud and it is compared to the original sentences. Often times its hilarious how much the original content can change as each person relayed what they felt was the most important parts. This, in essence, is often what happened in job recruiting.
A company needs to fill a position, but they don’t feel they have the time to personally sift through applicants and only want to interview the most qualified, so they hire an agency to do the leg work. The company gives a description of the position to the recruiting company contact, who is often times not a recruiter themselves. This person then enters the job requirements into their system, and this is where, I feel, the first errors begin to creep in. The job description will get altered just a little bit to fit the recruiting companies standards, emphasizing key words and phrases, trimming to fit, elaborating out of thin air.
Meanwhile, on the other end, I, the job hunter, builds a resume, trying to outline my skills. I then go to a job website, where I’m forced to break down my resume into key words and phrases for searching. Some times breaking down the resume completely distorts the information.
Now enters the recruiter who searches the job site using the key words from the job description looking for matches. He reads the resume and the requirements and tries to decide if the two marry up well.
The result: 9 out of 10 interviews I go to usually ends up in disaster. Sure, the key words of my resume matched up with the key words of the job description, but the realities of both are completely different. I say I’m a .NET/C# programmer for web applications, the job is looking for someone with .NET/C# experience but for desktop applications and really they don’t use the .NET platform, just the C# language to support old C++ DLLs and COM Interop, but I’m here because my resume and their job description were both boiled down to simply .NET/C# and looked like a perfect match!
There is nothing quite like the feeling of spending ten minutes shooting the shit with someone, getting a feel for the person and liking them, only to start the technical interview and realize that your skillset and their needs are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
And the recruiters always ask “Are you working with any other recruiters?” Yes. Of course I am. With results like these, how can I afford not to?