Career Advice – How Does It Feel To Be Inventory? And What Can You Do About It?

Feb 2 2011 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Recruiters by Phil Rosenberg

career advice, job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips, career information, career help, career tips, career info, job search info
You’re inventory. At least that’s what you look like to a recruiter. Good news, however … you don’t have to be inventory to a recruiter. Here’s 4 ways to look like a partner to a recruiter, instead of looking like inventory.

An “old timer” recruiter turned career coach commented on one of my posts today, insulted that I claimed recruiters treat candidates like inventory. He claimed that the firm he owned cared about candidates, was the top recruiting firm in southern Ohio and to prove it said that they “ … give a great amount of information on resume development, answering ads, etc. and its there for people we can’t help.”

I had to admit, I was intrigued. OK, maybe I didn’t believe him. But I was wrong … there it was, for all candidates to see and use, eleven articles on job search – 11. The longest was 400 words (I couldn’t keep myself to 400 words if I tried!), most about 200. These were summaries consisting of a few paragraphs of the same recycled career garbage articles you can see at hundreds of other sites, but these were shorter and more poorly constructed than most. The articles weren’t even current, given away by out of date statistics that matched the out of date advice.

This is an example of how a top firm cares about candidates.

Then again, how can you expect any recruiting firm, even the best in southern Ohio, to care for candidates any more than an inventory manager cares for a widget? The extent of an inventory manager’s caring for a widget is make sure the widget can be found when a customer needs it and that it can be warehoused cheaply to maximize profit.

It’s no different with recruiters, because it’s not a recruiter’s job to find you a job – it’s a recruiter’s job to find candidates that match an employer’s criteria. Since the employer pays the recruiter’s fee, the recruiter works for the employer – not the candidate. Recruiters are managed to maximize their time communicating with employers to find more job orders, and managed to minimize their time dealing with candidates.

For example, there’s an industry name for recruiters that spend too much time with candidates … Fired.

So what can a candidate do to change this behavior? Fortunately, there are a number of ways to gain the upper hand with recruiters.

Here’s 4 ways to own a recruiter’s attention and stop being treated like inventory:

  1. Train Your Recruiter – Give Them What They Need: As a job seeker, your job is to research the job market and get to know as many industry contacts as possible. Your job is to find information. What a happy coincidence – recruiters need information and they are trained to get it from the best source available … candidates. Information is your currency with recruiters and they can be trained with tasty treats of information like a Pavlovian dog.

    Just make sure that every single time you call a recruiter, you give them information that leads to a job order or introduces them to a hiring manager. It should be the first part of your conversation – consider it part of paying it forward. Recruiters don’t need candidate referrals today – they need clients, job orders, and hiring manager contacts. Few recruiters believe the promise of post-placement business – candidate priorities change once in a new position and the candidate may not have authority to choose a specific recruiter.

    When training your recruiter, remember that this information is too valuable to leave on a voice mail or email, but leave enough of a hint that the recruiter will call you back. In essence, you’re training the recruiter that in order to gain access to your information, they have to talk to you. Do this a few times and you’ve trained them that you bring them business, so they’ll always call back. In most cases, it’s faster than housebreaking a puppy.

  2. Be fast: Recruiters typically work against the clock, due to the competition of other recruiters. When a good recruiter gets a new job order, they will call a dozen or so candidates, explain the job description, and ask the candidate to modify their resume to meet the description. It’s what I call a response resume – I just take modification to the extreme. Recruiters are more interested in how quickly they can get your resume to the hiring manager, to claim one of the limited interview spots. The faster you respond with a resume modified to the job description, the more frequently the recruiter will call you.

    Want the express train to getting ignored by a recruiter? Return their call 3 or 4 days later or return a revised resume 3 or 4 days later.

  3. Get A New Recruiter: Recruiters only don’t want to talk to you if they don’t have any opportunities for you. There’s also a name for a recruiter who doesn’t have any opportunities for you … The Wrong Recruiter. Fortunately, there are a few hundred thousand of them out there.

    But contacting any old recruiter won’t help – almost all recruiters carve out their own specialized niche, focused on a few industry/job function/specialty/technology combinations. For example, not all marketing recruiters represent the same types of positions – they’re specialists, not generalists. You’re not going to find a marketing recruiter that represents jobs for a wide variety of marketing job types – they specialize in niches like event marketing, sports marketing, brand marketing (even further specializing in type of product), tech marketing, health care marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing, e-marketing, social media marketing, marketing research. Each of these types of marketing jobs are further niched by the technology used, industry marketed for, types of events/sports.

    Ever wonder why recruiters search for purple squirrels? Because their practices are set up to look for very specialized, hard to find candidates. Why would an employer pay 30% or more to a recruiter to source candidates with easily found, broad and general skills?

    The best way I’ve found to find new recruiters is to have them select you. If you’re an active candidate, make yourself more findable on Linkedin and Google. For both active and passive candidates, spam recruiters with your resume. Sounds strange coming from me, I know. since I’m against spamming your network. However, recruiters are an exception, where broad distribution makes sense. You can’t tell from their broad descriptions (so that employers will call with job orders) the type of specialized candidates that are an individual recruiter’s sweet spot. Sure you could call them, play phone tag, eventually have a discussion and waste a lot of time learning who really wants to represent you. You’ll get a greater number of the right recruiters with the right specialty if you email broadly – the ones who write back are the ones to work with.

  4. Use Many Opportunity Channels – Don’t Rely On Recruiters This is a tough one for many candidates, who became used to relying on recruiters to find their next job through their career. Today, recruiters supply roughly 10% of the candidates being hired (according to CareerBuilder and a few other studies).

    In the most competitive job market in our lifetime, relying on just one or even two opportunity channels is negligent, and is the number one cause of many candidates’ job search woes (see ”How Job Seekers Can Use Opportunity Channels To Find More Interviews” at . It’s not just that the job market stinks, it’s also how you react and change because it’s a rough market.

  5. Readers – Do you like being treated like inventory? Well, what are you going to do about it?

    Recruiters – I would especially enjoy your comments to this article.


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    Author: Phil Rosenberg

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