From Recruiter to Job Hunter…

So my second blog entry was going to be about Google Wave (don’t worry folks – it’s already written and you’ll get it soon enough!) but I read a great post last week on Twitter and decided to change tack.

@grahamsalisbury wrote:
“I am beginning to regard online job boards with the same degree of suspicion that I normally reserve for Wikipedia”

I couldn’t help but smile! I’ve been in the same job for nearly five years now, working as a recruiter, and I’d kind of forgotten what it was like to be a job seeker until recently. I shan’t bore you with the gory details, but basically my employer has had to cut my hours due to the recession and so I’ve had to look for additional employment to supplement my income and keep Mr J in PlayStation 3 games (I know, I know…!) Anyway, the employment issue is resolved (temporarily at least) and I was lucky enough to not be looking too long, but this was my first time as a job seeker in some time and it was really quite humbling!

Last time I was job hunting, local papers were still reasonably en vogue and, while job boards were very much in the picture, there seemed to be just the one or two big names that were worth a visit. But how things have changed now! Now my local papers are all affiliated with (different) jobs boards, there are niche boards popping up all over the place and (maybe it’s just me, but) there seem to be even more ‘big name’ boards too! Now I’ve no problem really with the number of job boards in existence; as a recruiter I’ve advertised on plenty in the past (with mixed results!), but what I did find particularly annoying was the way the same jobs were duplicated over and over on all of them. Some employers were guilty but it was mostly the agencies with the multiple postings. And you can bet your bottom dollar half those postings were out of date too! I genuinely found it quite confusing: When the job descriptions sounded familiar I would have to check back and see whether it was a job that I had already ‘tagged’ on another board. Half the time it wasn’t, it was just that I’d already read the advert three times previously elsewhere, but it was SO time consuming and ever so frustrating. Job hunting is a drain at the best of times, but I felt as though whole evenings were just vanishing into a black hole!

Other than spending half my life trawling the internet for vaguely relevant and still current job vacancies, my biggest quandary was which jobs to apply for. The current market means that most of the jobs I liked the look of didn’t pay the kind of salary I was used to getting (and in my part of the world, salaries aren’t really that great anyway). You work hard to get to where you are and no-one wants to take a step backwards, but at what point do you put your pride aside and say that some income is better than no income? I’ve always said (rather arrogantly) that there’s no reason for me to ever be unemployed – there is always the counter at McDonalds or the checkout at Tesco. But that’s really not true any more; even these entry level jobs have people queuing to apply because some income is better than no income. And there you have it! Who would employ me; a somewhat overqualified candidate with no recent retail experience, over someone who’s been made redundant from Thresher or Woolworths who is far more relevant?! But how do you decide what’s worth the effort? Do you apply for anything and everything and hope that something sticks, or do you do what you’d normally do (if jobs weren’t so fiercely fought over) and stay targeted and focussed, even though there are less relevant positions to apply for? It’s so difficult to decide. It’s easy to judge people who apply for jobs they’re totally over qualified for, but the reality is that many people are not in a situation where they can support themselves and their families with no income.  

Though I didn’t apply for that many positions in the end, I got not one reply saying thanks but no thanks. These were applications directly to employers rather than through agencies and the funny thing was that this neither surprised nor bothered me. And that made me feel a bit sad. When did such disrespectful behaviour start becoming so universally acceptable?!

Unfortunately I don’t have the answers to these problems, but I did want to share my experiences. It’s a tough market out there and, as recruiters, it’s easy for us to get caught up in our work and forget that we’re dealing with real people: They have feelings, families and responsibilities just like us, and they are trying to doing their best. We can all show a little more compassion. Put yourself in the jobseekers shoes for a few minutes and ask yourself how you’d feel.

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23 Responses to “From Recruiter to Job Hunter…”


  1. 1 Justin Hillier November 29, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Nice post Wendy.

    I agree with the job board problem that recruiters just flood the site in the hope of finding candidates, it purely creates a poor perception of your business and it happens everywhere (Australia, UK, USA).

    Would be nice if recruiters realised this, I personally refuse to work with recruiters when finding a job. That may be a bit silly but few people understand what it is I do and if they don’t understand how can they possibly help me. This is also a major issue with recruiters.

    I’m in the hunt for a job again as I head to head back to Australia and I am going to use Social Media as my method to get a new job….Fingers Crossed….

    • 2 Wendy November 29, 2009 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks Justin! 🙂

      I took the same stance with my job hunt… not that what I do is particularly unique! And, to be fair, I may have turned to an agency if I didn’t have some extra time on my hands, or if I’d wanted to target some temporary work to tide me over.

      Social media was a great help to me though. I got a couple of opportunities from it and it was kind of a shame that the work I ultimately picked up wasn’t through that medium. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of luck with it for your job hunt! And how exciting to be heading back to Australia too! GOOD LUCK!

  2. 3 Keith Robinson November 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    I missed you at the Unconference, spent most of the day filming.

    As a job board vet (one of the founders of Totaljobs) I understand completly the challenges you faced and the problems will get worse as we see more aggregators enter the market and the big job boards groups launch more niche sites and jobs will be shared.

    I hope it would be OK but I would like to run this article on Careersiteadvisor.com and also add your blog to my Careersiteadvisor Linkedin Group. BUT would also like to invite you to join me on my next CareersCast, a monthly careers show.

    Nice blog congrats.

    Keith Robinson

    • 4 Wendy November 29, 2009 at 10:58 pm

      I know! I can’t believe how many people I missed at the unconference! Not sure how it was possible really! Hey ho…

      Thanks for your comments. Please feel free to run the article on careersiteadvisor.com and on your LI group, and I’d be more than happy to come on your next CareersCast show if you let me know when & where, etc.

      I don’t really blame job boards for the confusion with all the postings – it’s natural that more will crop up to compete with one another and it’s the agencies (generally) who are the guilty parties when it comes to slathering the postings on everything vaguely relevant. No job board can be expected to vet everything, particularly when the bigger companies pay for unlimited postings and so on. But it is confusing and it is long winded for job seekers.

      I wish I had some answers. Sadly it’s a post that seems to raise more questions than it does address them!

  3. 5 Alan Whitford November 30, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Hi Wendy
    A great post. The Candidate Experience in a nutshell. Although I was not looking for a job, I reviewed over 100 job boards for the recent NORA awards, as a job seeker. Registered and applied on over 30 boards and set up a ton of alerts. The job duplications I expected, as do I if I had gone to agencies.

    What really bothered me was the absolute silence, as you put it, the “got not one reply saying thanks but no thanks”. There is no excuse. Basic courtesy and basic comms technology can automate the acknowledgement and a response when you are not considered for a role – even if it is unlikely that the candidate will ever be told exactly why they are ‘not suitable’ for a position.

    Looking forward to running this post on RCEuro and to the ongoing debate.

    Alan

    • 6 Wendy December 1, 2009 at 9:48 pm

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks for your comments. I cannot believe that from over 30 job board applications you got not one ‘thanks but no thanks’ reply! That’s so awful! You would think that a semi-automated response was the most complicated thing in the world to set up!

      Thanks for helping me get the post up on RCEuro! 🙂

      -Wendy

  4. 7 Gareth George November 30, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Great blog Wendy!

    This is an issue that many recruiters seem to talk about as being important, yet are umable to take action to rectify.

    Working agency side I am often asked about the importance for a strong employer brand, and it seems recruiters often miss the easiest way of immediately shaping/affecting this. Even a ‘thanks but no thanks’ leaves the candidate feeling like their enquiry has been handled professionaly.

    With regards to recruiters flooding job boards with ads and duplicate ads, I definately think this is the responsibility of the job boards to manage. Advertisers and in particular recruitment consultants are offered such economies of scale when bulk-buying postings and will also take advantage of every trick in the book to attract candidates. Sites need to manage these accounts effectively – and currently the low levels of customer service that recruiters get lead to even lower levels of customer service for candidates.

    Gareth

    • 8 Wendy December 1, 2009 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks for your comments Gareth!

      I actually have mixed feelings about blaming the job boards… unless employer names are listed I imagine it would be near impossible to spot duplications without have a person physically comparing all the ads as everyone writes differently and would (potentially) focus on different key benefits and tasks. But I do agree that the unlimited posting capabilities damage the quality of what gets uploaded and some level of responsibility definitely lies at their feet.

      As a side note, TMP was my agency of choice when I worked in New Zealand. They were the -only- agency who would return my calls, offer me feedback and regularly check whether I was still looking for work. Though that was some years ago now! They and Brook Street (in Bedford) and the only two agencies I have ever used who have stood out for me as demonstrating any serious commitment to customer service.

      Thanks again!

      -Wendy

  5. 9 Lindsay Scott November 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    There’s no excuse for the total silence from agencies (and employers) when jobseekers have applied for a position through a job board. Recruitment agencies, especially, have recruitment management software that enables them to manage candidate details, including who applied for a position and when. Even if its only a semi-automated response that thanks them for their application and to let them know they weren’t successful in being shortlisted this time. It takes minutes to set up but I think it’s down to pure laziness. There’s no excuse for poor customer service, especially in such a people centric industry like recruitment!

    Great blog Wendy!

    • 10 Wendy December 1, 2009 at 10:01 pm

      I agree Lindsey! It was sad how accepting I was of that though… I think I’d actually have been surprised if someone sent me a reply!

      Thank you for your comments!

      -Wendy

  6. 11 Kimba Green November 30, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I am out there looking for a job and have been for 2 months. And a year ago I was out of work for 3 months. The job boards are confusing and you have to keep a running list of what you have applied for because they do repeat the same jobs from one to the other.
    I am keeping the job postings organized by using ever note and delicious. I spend at least 8 hours a day looking through the market. I use twitter,Linkedin and my own research. Monster and all the others are just useless now. The other day I was sent a job search result from Monster to hang drywall! I am a project manager! No where on my resume do I even mention drywall, construction or anything connected. It did give me a good laugh!

    • 12 Wendy December 1, 2009 at 10:11 pm

      Hahah! Didn’t fancy trying your hand at drywalling then, Kimba? 😉

      For me, the time wasting and confusion of the job boards was my biggest bug bear. Though a response of any description is common courtesy, I would actually choose to forego it if it meant I could shave X minutes a day off my trawl of the job sites.

      You tips about organising postings with ever note and delicious are excellent, thank you! Hopefully it saves you a little time from what is seemingly a full time job search :o(

      Best of luck with your job hunt and thank you for your comments!

      -Wendy

  7. 13 Lisa Scales November 30, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Hi Wendy

    Great post – honest and relevant to the problems candidates are facing today.

    We have two clients who send automated video responses back to candidates to say either thanks we will be in touch or no thanks but thanks for applying – a really personal touch with a human element which let’s face it – all people want are some good manners, a little respect and some friendliness in an otherwise unfriendly world 🙂

    Keep writing – you are doing a great job

    Lisa

    • 14 Wendy December 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

      Thank you Lisa!

      What a fantastic idea with the clients who send automated video responses! How lovely to receive a) a response and b) something personalised! It’s a wonderful idea – I hope more people try it out! 🙂

      -Wendy

  8. 15 Robert Nunn November 30, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Wendy,

    Right – second attempt to leave a comment. I’m on the proper computer now, so we should be fine.

    Enjoyed this post, and found it similar to experiences I have had. At the start of the year I was off for four months and became a slave to the job boards. I was glued to my laptop trying to find the latest job to apply for. More often that not, coming up against situations you describe above.

    This wasn’t a healthy existence, but it did bring about one benefit. Being on line for all that time, I did build up my network, and got in to social networking in a big way.

    I have now been out of work for 3 weeks, but have as many interviews in the diary in the coming weeks now, as I did for most of the time I was off at the start of the year. And this time around, I haven’t even glimpsed at a job board.

    Admittedly, the market has improved slightly, but I have kept in touch all year with 2 or 3 very good agents, and have utilised my maturing personal network to get me in front of hiring managers directly.

    If job boards are to hang on to their market share and, lets face it, continue to exist, they are going to have to sort their acts out. Clamping down on out of date ads, duplications, fake jobs, et al will be tough – but not impossible. The Job Boards need to lead on this, as agencies certainly wont. The “Big” ones are going to have to work together on a new way of increasing the security for agencies posting on their site. Perhaps working with the end client, to gain the level of authorisation needed to proceed. As a side note – The sooner the industry does something about the aggregating job sites the better – they are truly awful.

    Anyway, for me personally this time around, I have enjoyed my unemployment, not least, because I am free of the curse of the job boards!!

    Keep up the interesting posts.
    Rob

    • 16 Wendy December 1, 2009 at 10:20 pm

      Thanks for your comments Rob (particularly as they took you two attempts to post!) 🙂

      I suppose my experience was a little different to yours in that I was already a slave to social media, so the job hunt tore me away from my precious online time, which I probably resented as much as anything! 😉 You’re right though; it’s not a healthy existance at all. You go online to start looking for jobs and before you know it you’ve literally lost hours out of your day and you’re hardly any closer to finding something suitable!

      Social media is a great supplement to any job search though. As I mentioned in my reply to Justin – I had several good leads through Twitter, etc. and, though nothing has come of them so far, they were some of the most suitable and interesting positions. Ultimately I found my job through networking (offline) ad it’s a job I would never have got if it weren’t for knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. I think next time I’ll take a leaf out of your book and drop the job boards altogether though!

      Anyway, glad to hear you’re enjoying your unemployment this time round and fingers crossed something excellent comes of all your meetings and interviews!

      Thanks again!

      -Wendy

  9. 17 Paris22 November 30, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Wendy, great post. In all of what is going the candidate is the person very few people remember when preparing their business models. Often times here in the U.S. it is so easy for anyone to own a Job Board with all the aggregators who are out there populating their sites. Problem now is that Job Board owners have now found ways to repackage jobs that are being populated by these aggregators to look like they were originally posted to their Job Board now causing a huge problem with cross pollination and therefore making it even more time consuming for candidates that are actively seeking employment. Candidates spend countless hours in a day reading the same posting only later realizing that it is a position that they already applied for or saw somewhere else. The other side of the coin is the Employer, if they posted the job on XYZ Job Board and filled the position, even though they remove the job once it is filled from the site the repackaged job is still out on the other Job Boards causing them huge compliance issues and also IMHO a employer branding issue because although the position is filled to the candidate it looks like a job no one wants because it has been open so long or they look like a company that is having problems filling jobs.
    Bill Boorman had a show today about Job Boards and were they R.I.P. which I don’t believe however I do believe those who use aggregators will not be around much longer.

    • 18 Wendy December 2, 2009 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks for your comments Paul, that’s really interesting about the aggregators in the US. It’s troublesome enough over here trawling through the job boards let alone getting mixed up with repackaged aggregator postings!

      Though it’s not quite the same, we have had problems advertising with a couple of job boards in the past. Once our contract has expired they have failed to take our advertised jobs down and so we’ve had very frustrated candidates calling us about jobs that no longer exist and adverts we have no control in taking down. Thankfully it’s only happened a couple of times and has been quickly fixed, but I’m sure those candidates who were confused by it were thoroughly unimpressed!

      Thanks again for your comments,

      -Wendy

  10. 19 Dave Martin December 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Wendy,
    Great to meet you at the un-conference.

    I enjoyed your blog post, it really identified some of the difficulties created for the job seeker by online job adverts.

    We saw some of these challenges 3 years ago and created Allthetopbananas.com with one aim “Be Helpful to the Job Seeker”.

    I would hope that we are helping these issues and not making them worse. Our other services such as FreeMyCV is trying to improve the situation. The fact is as Keith highlighted many of the challenges will get larger as the number of sites and niche sites continues to increase.

    Dave.

    • 20 Wendy December 2, 2009 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Dave!

      I think anything that helps job seekers is a good thing! Though I haven’t tried allthetopbananas or freemycv, both look like good ideas so I will next time! I agree with both you and Keith that the more boards there are the more confusing things will get for the job seeker. IMO, niche sites can be a great idea, but only if they’re done intelligently rather than being ‘just another job site’.

      -Wendy

  11. 21 radicalrecruit December 2, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Wendy gosh you are a good writer, please don’t forget to post your stuff on TRUBlogs as well — as if you need somewhere else to go. OK, on to the meat now that I’ve done my plug. I agree there are so many simple solutions to keep a candidate informed, putting job boards aside, did you know that a majority (over 80%) of ATS systems have an auto-response feature built in that most companies just refuse to switch on…how’s that for candidate experience negligence. It’s all part of the automation of the recruitment process, we seem to have become enthralled with creating a Ford like process for Recruiting and in the process forgot we are dealing with human beings and not machines. I wrote an RBC blog called when the Machines take over we are all dead…kinda tongue in cheek. I really do think we have to start thinking again in terms of the human element, it’s important, and hey these candidates are also your potential customers.

    • 22 Wendy December 2, 2009 at 9:12 pm

      Cheers chicken!

      80% is an astounding statistic re: ATS systems with auto-response features. Why on earth do recruiters not think to use them? It’s such a simple thing. People sell to people and the human touch can really differentiate from company to company.

      Thanks for your comments and for the reminder about trublogs – I’ll move everything over soon; promise! 🙂

      -Wendy


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Over ten years’ recruitment, employability, HR and sales experience in both the private and public sectors. I've worked in construction recruitment, FMCG headhunting, and in higher education on the employability agenda.

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