Welcome to SixFigureStart®

Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

True Confessions of a Recruiter

Last week, I posted my “True Confessions of a Campus Recruiter”.  Here are my True Confessions of a Recruiter (of experienced candidates).  I hope you enjoy reading it:

Forgive me, job search candidates, for I have sinned.  It’s been 20+ years since my last confession.  I ran recruiting efforts for Fortune 500 firms that included Citigroup, Warner-Lambert, and most recently Merrill Lynch and during that time, I committed many sins.  I seek atonement through this article.    

Sin #1:  I made instant judgments about what types of candidates they would be in the first three seconds I met them.  It’s true, I sized them up.  I’m guilty. 

I wanted to tell them that they should have tried that suit on two days before the event, so they could have gotten than stain off of their tie or jacket.  I wanted to tell them to look me in the eye versus over my left shoulder. I wanted to tell them to use breath mints, because they were leaving dead bodies in their wake. 

But alas, I sinned and said nothing.  I just selected the candidates that had polish, that prepared, that took care in their appearance from their hair to their nails to their shoes.

Sin #2:  When candidates asked why they didn’t make the cut, I never truly answered them.  Instead, I avoided any potential litigation and simply said “It was a competitive process.”

I lied.  I didn’t tell them they didn’t answer my questions directly, or completely, or enthusiastically, or in a “results oriented” way.  I didn’t tell them that they should have clearly identified how they solved problems for their past employers – how they eased their pain!  I didn’t tell them that I heard negative comments in their responses to my questions because any mention of anything negative will immediately shift me to the next candidate.  I didn’t tell them it was because they were five minutes late to the interview and I feared they would be late to a client meeting as well.    

Instead, I sinned and gave no feedback.  It wasn’t my job to give them feedback.  It was my job to hire the best candidates who mastered the art of the interview and who answered my questions directly, effectively and in a results oriented manner.  I hired the person who proved why they would be indispensible to my firm.

Sin #3:  When I asked the question, “tell me about your strengths”, and “tell me about your weaknesses”, if a candidate looked like they hadn’t a clue, I would move on to the next person.  If they aren’t self-aware, they could never truly improve as an individual.  And I didn’t hire anyone who wasn’t in a constant state of improvement.

I sinned and said nothing.  I didn’t give feedback, because it wasn’t my job to do so.  It was my job to award the job to the person who did a self assessment in a meaningful way.  I hired the person who invested in being the best interview candidate possible. 

Sin #4:  If candidates didn’t maintain good eye contact, I silently shouted “NEXT!” in my head.  If they didn’t look me in the eye when they shook my hand, they received a negative mark right off the bat!

I wanted to tell them how body language speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what they are saying, and that the more you looked me in the eye, the more I trusted what you had to say.

But I sinned and said nothing.  Instead, as they looked over my shoulder while talking to me, I turned to see if there was someone behind me.  There never was.

Sin #5:  If a candidate didn’t ask good, thoughtful questions at the end of the interview, I went on to the next candidate.  Not having insightful questions shows a lack of preparation and interest.  It’s a rookie mistake that I won’t overlook. 

I wanted them to know that a little research goes a long way.  They could have walked into the interview with 5 – 7 questions written down on their portfolio pad, and they could have easily referenced those questions at the end of the interview.

But my sin was my silence.  I just hired those candidates that were thoughtful and prepared, and that impressed me with their questions.

My atonement has been found in my past three years as a career coach.  I tell the truth now:  the good, the bad and the ugly, so candidates can improve, and so they can launch effective and successful job searches.  My clients can now find the job of their dreams because I give them immediate tactical and strategic feedback from my 20+years of hiring thousands of individuals.  I can rest easier now as my clients are landing the jobs they want.  Amen.


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How Does a Company Select From a Big Pile of Resumes?

Read my response in my latest post for TheGlassHammer.com:


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Book Review: Jason Jennings’ Less Is More

The subtitle of Jason Jennings’ Less is More is:  How Great Companies Use Productivity as a COMPETITIVE TOOL in business.  That sounds like this book will be about efficiency techniques and competitor case studies.  I almost didn’t read the book because I wasn’t in the mood for a straightforward business text.  But the book is actually much more comprehensive than the title and certainly the subtitle suggest.  It’s also a breezier read than expected:  any book that espouses the value of public hangings in a chapter about weeding out bad management is not going to be a staid business tome.

There is a big focus on the culture of these productive companies and how committed they are at all levels to sound business practices.  It was refreshing to see examples of big, established companies that calculated the value proposition of their ideas using simple but powerful financial metrics, implemented systems that worked, weeded out bureaucracy, and built a culture of respect and integrity at all levels.  We have all seen too many big companies allow bad practices to seep in at all levels.  WTGBRFDT, an acronym used by one of Jennings ‘ case studies, is not the norm even though it should be.  (WTGBRFDT = What’s the good business reason for doing this? and it’s a central theme of the book.)

Less is More has convinced me to look at my own business practices with a more watchful eye.  It will also help as I consult to my bigger clients.  Recently I pitched to a client that used a team of 10 to recruit 200 hires.  In my past corporate life, I had managed a team of 3 that recruited 500 hires.  This company was concerned whether I could help them because I previously had overseen just a team of 3.  Perhaps I can send them this book with the chapter on Financial Metrics highlighted.  Rather than worrying about numbers managed, they could focus on numbers hired, recruiting more with less staff.  Focusing on the right metric is a critical tool for any business and especially true in this economy.

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