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When A Recruiter Becomes A Job Seeker – The Irony Of It All

October 22nd, 2008

I assumed recruiters would be my silver bullet to a short job search.  If I could just get a few good recruiters to see my resume, and find my job for me, I’d be set.

That wasn’t the case at all.  I learned a lot about recruiters and the “candidate”/recruiter relationship.  Powerful, yes they are.  Silver bullet, not necessarily.

In the last 30 months since I started this journey I’ve seen some of these “powerful” recruiters become job seekers themselves.  Geesh, who better to successfully do a job search than a recruiter?  After all, they know how jobs are found, know how to network, and should have a TON of contacts with decision makers at companies.

Alas, some recruiters who become job seekers flounder as much as we do.  And it always shocks me.  Here’s why I think recruiters don’t necessarily become good job seekers:

  1. They aren’t ready for it. Who is “ready for it?”  Even if you think you are getting ready for it, the reality of “we’re going to have to let you go” doesn’t hit until you actually hear the words.  Then you can lose all hope of it maybe not happening, which means you really, really have to shift gears.
  2. Their network relationships are weak. Sure, they are on the phone all day.  But many candidates I talk to don’t like recruiters.  Passive candidates (the ones who are NOT looking for a job) are annoyed that recruiters bug them during the day, and active candidates (the ones who are desperately looking for a job) are annoyed recruiters never call them back!  And some recruiters don’t deal with companies, who to them are the “clients,” because someone else in their office is taking care of the client relationship.
  3. They don’t really understand the job search process – for themselves. Working with candidates to get their resume good enough, and helping them prepare for interviews, and cold-calling and working LinkedIn to find the right candidate… you’d think this was good training for a future job seeker.  Have you ever noticed that it’s a lot easier to tell someone how and when to do things, than to actually do them yourself?  If a recruiter enters a job search, and it goes on and on and on and on (like mine did), I bet they are struggling with the same things I struggled with (self-doubt, lots of introspection, changing of strategies, etc.).
  4. There is little-to-no career management. In programming there’s a term: heads-down programming. I first heard it when describing a worker who did nothing but program.  He was great at churning out code, but there was nothing else this guy did.  That’s okay, but if we treat our job like this, heads-down doing our job but not ever looking up or getting involved in something else. we are in for a big surprise when the boss lets us go.  Many recruiters I’ve met are in heads-down-recruiting mode, doing their job, working on their work goals, making X number of phone calls and trying to place Y number of candidates, that they are blind-sided by “we’re going to have to let you go.”  HUH?  I was just doing my job?

Principles of job search and career management are the same regardless of who we are.  Recruiters aren’t any different than we are… some are extremely prepared, and others aren’t.  I’d love to hear from recruiters what they think they’d do if they lost their jobs… anything different than what most of us normal job seekers are doing?

2 Comments »

2 responses to “When A Recruiter Becomes A Job Seeker – The Irony Of It All”

  1. Carey says:

    I’m a writer and trainer who helps speakers write better presentations, site content, marketing pieces, blogs and podcasts, etc. I also help professionals who seek a new career as a professional speaker get started.

    One client has been a very successful sales headhunter, but has seen his business shrink under the changes brought on by online recruiting sites, the economy, social media networking etc. So he decided to work as a professional speaker. There are reportedly 7,000 speaking opportunities every day in the US, so this is a very good way to increase credibility and get new income too. And it only involves teaching what you already know.

    I have a group on Facebook as “betterwords” and can help you if this is interesting. In any case, good luck!

  2. Jason,
    Just a couple of quick points:

    1. Recruiters have *ALWAYS* been job seekers else they never would have gotten their jobs as Recruiters….

    2. While IT Consultants, of necessity, must be good at their chosen focus in IT, they are not necessarily that good at finding employment for themselves nor, necessarily, at marketing themselves. I talk to IT professionals every day whom I say to myself “If I had their skill set, I’d never be without a job or without money!”. Yet, I believe I can find better jobs for them faster than most IT Consultants who’ve been in the trenches performing their craft rather than keeping track on what’s happening in the job search field, per se.

    3. And, yet, while I as an IT Recruiter may be able to find IT work for an IT Consultant faster than they themselves can, it does not necessarily translate to my being able to find employment for myself quite as rapidly as I would be able to find employment for an IT Consultant.

    4. I’ve also seen IT Consultant who, while capable of delivering great sites and other types of projects for clients, would almost never be considered for an aesthetics recognition award for the sites they design for themselves.

    The bottom line on this subject for me is this: almost none of us can be perfectly reflexive when it comes to guiding ourselves. Advice is the easiest thing to give to anyone but ourselves. Compound that with the inevitable stress which comes with the pressures of joblessness and one can see why even a Professonal Recruiter’s hitting average may go down when applied to themselves and/or their families. Not for nothing lawyers turn to other lawyers, doctors turn to other doctors, therapists get therapists for themselves. Likewise with Ministers who need other Ministers to pray for them and their families. And even most teachers turn to other teachers to be taught another subject – though they themselves know the fundamentals of pedagogy quite well.

    So, Recruiters or not, we’re all just humans…