Posts Tagged 'Recruitment Agencies'

He’s Just Not That Into You

So Mr J and I watched the movie He’s Just Not That Into You the other day. Bit mainstream compared to our usual selection, but I like a chick flick every now and then. I have to say though; I wasn’t impressed with this one! 

Now I’m not much of a feminist, but the women in this movie give women everywhere a bad name, in my opinion. Needy, obsessive, untrusting, etc… Regular bunny boilers, frankly! Not that the men fared much better: Heartless, cheating users the lot of them!

What I did take away from the movie though was a lesson about expectation management and realising you are probably not the exception and are far more likely the rule. The opening sequence covers this well by highlighting how well-meaning friends and family always help us to look on the bright side: If he didn’t call you back it’s probably because he likes you and doesn’t know how to act. Maybe he’s married, but you can’t choose when or who you fall in love with and maybe he’ll leave his wife and you’ll both live happily ever after. Etc etc etc. You can imagine the rest! 

But anyway, I got to thinking: This exact same situation applies to today’s students. I blogged  recently about my expectations of them but what about theirs? There is no one person responsible for managing their expectations: We all play a part. We tell our kids to work hard and they will get a good job. Same with our teachers and lecturers – Get good grades and you will get a good job. Same with peers – ooh you’re so much cleverer than me; you’ll be fine! But plenty of students work really hard, get really good grades and still end up in entry level / retail positions when they graduate. And the reality may not be as depressing as the press implies. And there may be employers still struggling to find candidates of the right calibre for their graduate schemes. But it is tough nonetheless and no-one ever tells them quite HOW tough it might be. No-one tells them they might have to consider starting out in a more junior position and on a lower salary. No-one tells them they’ll probably need to be flexible when they start out and work their way up. No-one tells them.

There are those who ought to (deserve to?) succeed more than others and there are those who succeed against the odds. And sometimes I wonder whether the reason for this is expectations. Maybe sometimes those who should succeed don’t because the reality of the world of work and finding employment has just totally floored them.

But who’s to blame? Well, in my humble opinion, we all are.

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Don’t be a Smug Git

So I like to think I’m reasonably tolerant of cold calls from recruiters. They are calls that I myself sometimes have to make and I hate when people give me  the run-around rather than just saying from the word go that they’re not interested. But you know what? If you’re going to cold call any company, then try and retain some form of professionalism and don’t be a smug, arrogant git!

The website of my recruitment-related employer often attracts agency phone calls. We’re very niche and, while we do often recruit in-house, we also recruit for external positions and, if you don’t look at our website properly, it can be an easy mistake to make.

Of course; if you read the website properly it’s screamingly apparent…

So anyway, yesterday I had a phone call from an agency (who shall remain nameless… for now!) touting for business. I didn’t have to, but I took the call. The guy made his pitch, spoke about a specific role we were advertising for, told me how he had looked at our website (looked perhaps, but not read…), and asked whether we’d be interested in utilising his services. Though he had read the job ad, he had clearly done no further research on the company. He didn’t understand what we were or what we did. I explained that we wouldn’t be interested and why. I explained what the company is about how we work. I was, in my humble opinion, perfectly polite, friendly and helpful – if you know me then you’ll know it’s not generally my style not to be.

At the end of the conversation – clearly annoyed by his lack of success – he opted to take the sarcastic, smug approach and closed with “Oh, I see. Well in that case, I suspect the job you’re advertising is for XXX company – thanks for the heads up on that!” [Note: For this to really work, when you imagine him saying it in your head, you have to imagine a really smug, stupid voice and, at the end, a really fake, self-satisfied laugh]

Well there was no need to speak to me like that. And, actually, it wasn’t for XXX company at all…

…But thanks for the lead! 😉

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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About Me

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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