Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tales From Frustrated Job Seekers

The hot DC-area job market offers a plethora of opportunities for those with experience and skills in engineering, IT, nursing, accounting, and even recruiting, and for those who have desired intangibles such as security clearances.

But for others who have different skill sets, or not much relevant experience to speak of, a job search can still be frustrating and fraught with peril. A couple nights ago, I was at a barbecue and had the opportunity to chat with two family members (whose names have been changed for the purpose of this post) about their current job search efforts.

John has been in pre-sales for years, loves the work and is quite good at it. He's interviewed with a few companies recently, but it's the most recent interview that he felt best about. He's excited about the opportunity and feels that he's just what they are looking for, but one problem: He can't get the company's Recruiter to return his calls. I told him that I wasn't shocked by this as there are those in our profession who do not like to deliver bad news, or no news for that matter. "You mean, if a Recruiter sees my number on caller ID, they might ignore my call, even if they are able take it?" he asked incredulously. "I've seen it happen", I told him. If it's a rejection, they would rather let a thin envelope in the mail do the talking, not thinking about the consequences of their inaction. What some Recruiters don't understand is how to turn a negative into a positive, especially if you think that this may be a candidate that you will want to revisit ever again. Too many hiring organizations just don't get that candidates have memories like elephants, that relationships can continue, not end, when you reject a candidate. The bottom line is that you return phone calls and e-mails, even if you don't have anything new to offer. You do this to build relationships that will last beyond the initial transaction. John has been in sales for years, he understands that.

Jane just graduated from college with a degree in Communications and a desire to join the local media/entertainment industry. It's a tough market for entry-level candidates to break into, especially if you have been focusing your efforts on the job boards, as she told me she has. "I send out resume after resume and never hear anything back", she said wearily. After describing the "Black Hole" effect, I set out to explain to her the value of networking, especially for the types of jobs she is looking for. I'm working to set up a conversation between her and a friend of mine who's worked for a local TV station for years, she passed along her resume to a friend who works for one of the largest locally-based cable networks, I invited her to join LinkedIn... She's taking some steps in the right direction, but this will still be a tough search for her as she's competing with multitudes of recent communications and journalism graduates from schools around the country for those few, prized entry-level jobs in the industry.

Different challenges for different people at different stages of their careers. One has had a successful career, the other's career is just beginning, but both are struggling to land that next or first great job, even in one of the hottest job markets in the country.


At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, what are the real answers, Ben?

"The hot DC-area job market offers a plethora of opportunities..."

You failed to mention:
Horrendous traffic.
Possibilty of false positives on drug tests.
Terrible crime rates.
High (very high) cost of living.

"He can't get the company's Recruiter to return his calls."

That kind of recruiter is useless. He/she gives the company they work for a bad name, as if most recruiting companies could have a worse reputation.

"I send out resume after resume and never hear anything back"

Noone should ever send resumes *before* they talk with someone in the company (the hiring company). If a company will not talk with you, forget them, they are no good.

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Real answers huh? Well this is an ongoing discussion that will be addressing things such as traffic in the future. Not sure what you mean by some of the issues you brought up though, such as:
Drug tests - How would that issue differ in DC as compared to any other metropolitan area?
Crime Rates - The crime rate in most of the area remains relatively low. There are some places in the city and neighboring suburbs I would avoid at night however...
Cost-of-living - I think I have covered this, but it still isn't as bad here as it is in California and the NYC-area. It is high, no doubt and that is a major issue that I have no answers for. Like many middle-income earners, I suffer with that myself. You pay for what you get though: infrastrucutre, schools, entertainment, etc.

In regards to your other comments:
- Recruiters who refuse to communicate with their candidates are more common than you think.
- Don't necessarily judge the company by their process. In most cases, the only way to communicate with someone in a recruiting organization is if you are networked in, and if you are able to contact a recruiter, they are more than likely to tell you that you need to send in a resume first. That's just their process, not that its a good one, but in high volume hiring environments, many times that's the only way.

Thanks for stopping by. Don't be so 'anonymous' next time :-)

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... You didn't retaliate.

I'm thinking you should move away from recruiting into something that pays better. You're too nice a guy.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Ben said...

I prefer to kill-them-with-kindness... :-)


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