Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Nature of the Recruiting Business....

One of the things that I’m learning as a recruiter is that sometimes there are people out there who just feel like a change in their lives.

This can come in the form of someone who’s had the same job for fifteen years, someone who hasn’t been in a job very long but knows it’s not a good fit or someone who just simply wants to do something different.

In the IT world, this can be a tricky business. It’s easy to be pigeonholed as a programmer, help desk person or a network administrator. The problem with these sorts of jobs is that in order to move up or do something different, you have to have the skillset to match. It’s admirable that someone who has been doing technical support for five years wants to move up and be a database programmer but unless he/she has been doing database work or been training on how to do it, it’s hard to move up. This is a cold hard fact; employers very rarely want to train someone to do a different job. Instead, they want to hire someone who already has the skillset and can jump right in and get started.

There are exceptions, of course. There are nice companies who know they have a good employee and don’t want to lose him/her so they make it possible for the employee to stay and have the chance to move up by helping them get the training they need. But, sadly, this doesn’t happen very often. Instead, they stay where they are or they quit. Some of the people who quit go back to school and get the training they want and need. This is an admirable thing but it’s still hard to find those people a job. Without practical, read-world application of their new skills, employers aren’t very willing to take a chance.

Again, there are exceptions. Some employers deliberately look for ‘puppies’- fresh-out-of-school candidates who they can mold into their type of employee and not have to pay very much to do so. Unfortunately, in this case, many of the times when the ‘pups’ grow up, they realize they can get paid far more in another company and they quit that job in favour of a newer, higher paying one. It’s a natural growth process. In our business as recruiters, we have all sorts of ways of finding candidates. The best way is referrals. It’s nice to be given resumes for good candidates. It makes life easier. We also have a database that allows us to log former candidates and keep track of what they’re up to now. If they’re contracting for us or another company, they can often be persuaded to consider a newer, different contract often for a little more money or, as I mentioned before, because they just want a change.

We also use the common job sites online to post positions as well as look for resumes. and are our two main ones. The trouble with both of those sites are that our company isn’t the only one that uses them. When a position is open, there’s a strong likelihood that it’s been given to several different recruiting companies and it becomes a race to get to those on Monster/Dice first before someone else gets to them. Once a company ‘locks in’ a candidate, no other company can submit them for the same position. Me, personally, I prefer finding candidates through referral or by sending out an email to people in our database with the skillset that we need to see if anyone wants to learn more about the position. It’s a little more personal and, often, far more effective. We also post our jobs on Monster to see what resumes are sent to us. This, I think, is the most interesting way of getting resumes. I say this because there are a lot of people out there who are looking for a career change and not just in the field of Information Technology.

It’s interesting to see the resumes I get in response to my ads. The most interesting responses come in for help desk positions. These are usually for large companies who need someone to come in and do technical support as well as help set up computers and other tasks like that. The thing with these positions is that in some cases, they’re entry-level. With the entry-level positions, we tend to look for someone who may have recently graduated/soon be graduating with some type of IT degree. Or, we look for someone who has done help desk in some way shape or form. What we don’t look for are people who have a computer in their house and have installed Windows on their own PC.

This sounds slightly cold and snobby but it’s the truth. For every help desk position I post, I’d say 60-70% of the resumes I get are from people who are working in a completely unrelated field such as waitressing, roofing, truck driving or being a secretary. While I understand that they’ve all used computers to do their jobs and thus probably know more about them than lots of other people, it doesn’t mean they’re qualified to work in an office where there are 300+ people to support and a working knowledge of LAN, WAN and TCP/IP is necessary.
I think it comes down to the fact that many people are unhappy in their jobs. They do what I used to do in my old job and they go online and find anything for which they might be vaguely qualified. In my case, I only applied to jobs that I felt like I could do because I had experience. In many of the job-seeker’s cases, they figure, “what the heck, I’ll apply anyway!”.

It’s frustrating because on one hand, I commend their initiative at a)having a resume ready to send, b)taking a chance and c) being ready to make a change. On the other hand, it’s quite time consuming to sift through 30 resumes and see that Joe from Indianapolis who is currently working as manager of the Olive Garden would like to move to Cincinnati and become a tech support person for a large insurance company.

If Joe had, at any point, worked in tech support, I wouldn’t dismiss him. However, chances are, before the Olive Garden, Joe worked for a landscaping company or for another restaurant. In other words, Joe hasn’t ever done tech support but a recent success in getting his computer to download a file or upgrade to a new software package gives him the confidence to think he could do it for a living.

It’s sad. The human softie in me wants Joe to find a career that makes him happy but Joe hasn’t been to college or vocational school or even taken any classes at all in IT related subjects. I simply can’t do anything for him even though he might be the nicest Joe on the planet.
I spend a lot of times making sure my job postings are accurate and they clearly list the skills and experience the position requires. Thus, when I get a resume like Joe’s, I get a little frustrated that Joe hasn’t read my carefully worded job posting. Perhaps he has and because he doesn’t understand terms like “PC Imaging” or “Lotus Notes”, his brain just skips them and he decides he’s qualified.

I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt but I don’t spend all that time typing up ads for people not to read them. Another case is yesterday, I posted an advertisement for an Information Security Analyst. Within the ad, only a line below the title, I list a plethora of technical skills, software and certifications we need.

So, what do I get? Yup- security guards and loss prevention resumes. While I’m sure that Mr. Loss Prevention is quite good at his job in making sure shoplifters are caught, it doesn’t do me a whole lot of good when I need someone who had do ethical hacking and compliance auditing.
In some ways, the out-of-place resumes keep my life interesting. They make my day far less run-of-the-mill. On the other hand, when I’ve put the ad out there because it’s quite urgent that we find someone quickly, the time it takes to skim the resumes is taking time out of my day where I could be using other channels to find candidates.

It’s all part of a day’s work. While there might be several Joes for a position, there will also be at least one resume I get that gets me excited because, on paper, at least, they seem exactly the person for whom I’ve been searching.

Paper, of course, is one thing. This is why I do in-person interviews as well. Now those…those can be interesting too.

But that’s another story.

Happy Thursday!

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