Monday, January 20, 2014

Advice to Recruiters

LinkedIn is awesome.  I'm a big fan of professional networking.  I love the idea of keeping track of people I've worked with and to keep my finger on the pulse of my industry.  I don't mind unsolicited emails at all.  For the most part, I enjoy hearing about job openings from recruiters even when I'm not actively looking for another opportunity.  I often learn about exciting new startups and technical trends that way.  I like that.  But over the years I've accumulated some advise for recruiters.

Here are a few pointers for recruiters:
  1. Sell the company and the work.  Tell the prospective employee why the company and the position will enhance their career and professional well-being.  Is the company doing interesting, cutting edge work?  Are there interesting people working there?  How will the position benefit the recruit?  Don't make the mistake of the just listing the company's technical demands.  If you've done your homework, you already know the prospect is an approximate fit.
  2. Unless there's a private jet involved, don't sell the benefits.  They're all the same.  Who cares whether they have a foosball table?
  3. Stop asking for the prospect to send you an updated Word resume (pre-Internet technology) if the user has a LinkedIn account.  This is not 1950.  Just ask whether the LinkedIn information is current.  Web links work.  Mine looks like this:
  4. Tell the prospective employee where the job is right up front.  By this, I mean the city.  "The San Francisco Bay Area" is not a city.  You're not going to trick anybody into a 2 hour commute, so weed those people out early by being forthcoming with the location.   Somebody who lives in Silicon Valley is not going to commute to San Francisco every day no matter how great the fit, certainly not for long.
  5. If the job requires the prospect to move, have a plan, and tell the prospect what it is initially.  If there is no relocation assistance (and there never is), say so.  You're not going to fool anybody into moving to another state on their own dime.  You're not that clever.  You should probably entirely stop recruiting people in remote geographic regions anyway.  It's a long shot at best.
  6. Respect the prospect's preferred method of contact.  For instance, I prefer LinkedIn email.  I don't answer the phone unless the number is in my contact list, nor do I answer emails to my personal address.  My LinkedIn profile says so.
  7. Don't ask for referrals if we've never successfully worked together.  I don't give personal recommendations for people unless I'm familiar with their work.  I wouldn't recommend a house painter if I've never seen a house they painted.  
  8. Do your homework.  Know who you're talking to.  If you're recruiting for a technical position, learn about the technologies.  Generally, companies and employes want a good technical fit.
  9. If you are an internal recruiter for a big company, promote the candidate aggressively.  And I mean you should have interviews lined-up within 24-hours.  Your external competition will have delivered 3 offers in the time it takes you to circulate a resume among the "hiring managers" and wait for their email replies.  (This advise is targeted at the web search company whose name rhymes with, "Wahoo!", who ironically really don't get how fast things move in the Internet age)
  10. Recognize that an employment relationship is like any other business relationship.  Businesses can choose whom to employ.  The employee can choose for whom to work.  Experienced people have options and they are interviewing you and your company too.
  11. Respect the prospect's preffered job type.  For instance, I'm not currently interested in contract work.  My LinkedIn profile says so.  Why send me an email for a contract gig?
  12. Realize that being accepted into somebody's professional network is a privelege, one that can be leveraged to your advantage or revoked.  A reputation for slipshod work will get you shut out.  And once you're out, you're probably not going to get back in.
  13. Be humble.  Even if you're recruiting for Apple or Google, don't fool yourself into believing that big names will sell themselves.  There are plenty of reasons not to work for big companies.  Good employees have to be earned, just like good jobs.
  14. Don't be overly aggressive with the prospect.  Very few people are tolerant of pushy salespeople.  Being too aggressive may get you shunned permanently.
  15. Always, always, always asked to be added to the prospective employee's LinkedIn network, whether you close the deal or not.

Todd Shoenfelt

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