Tired of Recruiter Mismatch on LinkedIn?

Posted on February 20, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Search Tips, Recruiting, social media |

LinkedInMeet Bill. Bill is a Systems Engineer who is in full-speed job search mode. He put together his LinkedIn profile a few months ago, and ever since then, he has had nonstop calls from recruiters.

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, it might be if the calls were relevant to Bill and his job search goals. But they’re not. He is flagging several calls a week from recruiters about jobs he is not a fit for (over- or under-qualified) or interested in pursuing.

Bill is suffering from “recruiter mismatch.”

Yet, Bill still thinks his LinkedIn profile is “working” because he is getting calls. But he is still unemployed, and the calls are getting him anywhere.

Bill doesn’t understand niche marketing. Why should he? Bill is an expert in systems engineering, not necessarily in marketing.

Now meet Ava. Ava is a Business Analyst. Ava is happy with her current position, but she would like to make the jump to Project Manager and wouldn’t mind getting calls from recruiters about possible opportunities in that area. She cut-and-pasted her old resume into her LinkedIn profile about a year ago. She’s heard from two recruiters during that time, but once it was for another BA opportunity and the other time it was for contract work. Ava doesn’t want that.

Ava is suffering from both recruiter mismatch and lack of response.

Yet, Ava thinks she should just wait it out a little more. After all, she likes her current job. She just knows eventually she needs to move on. She just hopes at some point the right recruiter will come along with the right opportunity.

Ava doesn’t understand social recruiting. Why should she? Ava is a busy professional who also happens to be a mom of 3 kids. She doesn’t have much time to learn the ins and outs of “LinkedIn optimization.”

Perhaps these two scenarios sound a bit familiar. They certainly do to me. I spend a lot of time talking with my LinkedIn contacts, and many of them are Bills and Avas or someone in between. And whether they are the active Bill or the passive Ava, they are both frustrated with recruiter mismatch. They’ve heard that LinkedIn is the “place” to meet recruiters and get noticed by them, but they aren’t getting the kind of notice they were hoping for.

First and foremost, recruiter mismatch is not new to social recruiting.

Many recruiters or head hunters have been notorious for this even before social media and the Internet changed the recruiting world. Why? Well, there are two main reasons:

1. “Some” recruiters don’t read effectively. In fact, I have had several of them brag about their lack of reading to me as if this makes them look good in some way. They do keyword searches, and when they get a hit, they “skim” over your info for more hot spot words (like certain credentials, etc.) and then start contacting you if they see most of what they are looking for. In their defense, the ones who do this the most are the ones who are being pushed to find candidates and to find them fast. So, really, who has time for reading? (It would seem to me to take more time to waste their time and yours than to stop and read over the profile in more depth, but I digress…)

2. “Most” candidates don’t write effectively. Putting together your LinkedIn profile, much like putting together your resume, is about understanding audience. Therefore, the profile needs to be optimized to that audience and to how they are searching for you. Now, yes, as I said, some of them don’t read very well, but some of them do. And those are the ones you really want to attract. If you are only hearing from the other kind, who didn’t really read your profile and who don’t sound like they even understand the type of work you do, then yes they are frustrating, but there is also something wrong with your profile.

Because the good recruiters are out there, and they are not contacting you.

Now, this is hard to grasp because what’s the big mystery, right? You write down your background, publish your employment history, and showcase your credentials. How hard is that?

Harder than you think, apparently. Here is what I see:

  • LI profiles with old or inaccurate information. I meet professionals all the time who tell me certain things on their profiles are outdated or “not quite right.”
  • LI profiles that are incomplete.
  • LI profiles that are poorly written. Unlike resumes, LI profiles can be written in a more narrative form. And truthfully, most people are not that great at this. They spend their time these days writing quick-hit emails and texts with abbreviations. Let’s be honest. English and grammar skills are poor, really poor. That isn’t to say that recruiters are writing gurus, but you’re asking a lot when you’re asking people to muddle through your poor writing.
  • LI profiles with the wrong focus. Much like with resumes, many of us see our LinkedIn profiles as a list of achievements. It’s a “here’s everything I have ever done in my career; now you figure it out” kind of thing. In actuality, that is not at all what resumes or LI profiles are about. They are meant to match you up as a candidate with the needs of the potential employer. So, the more you understand what the employer is looking for, the more you focus your materials on that. (It’s great that you went to Harvard, but if the employer doesn’t care about that, then you are barking up the wrong tree. So you need to know your audience.)

Listen. Even the good quality recruiters are still using search algorithms and rankings to find you, and chances are you aren’t coming up in their searches…even though you should. A lot of that has to do with how you are presenting yourself on LinkedIn and on a lack of understanding about how LinkedIn works. I wrote a post a few weeks ago called “LinkedIn Is a Numbers Game, After All” addressing this very topic.

Bottom line: If you want to avoid recruiter mismatch as well as lack of response on LI, then it pays either to get help or to get educated from someone who does have the time to keep up with the latest in social recruiting trends. Like it or not, social recruiting is on the rise, and LinkedIn is the primary avenue.

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Perception, Reality, and Stealing Employees

Posted on December 30, 2013. Filed under: Career Management, Job Market Trends, Recruiting, Work Issues | Tags: , |

cultural fit[I've been posting a good deal of content lately that has generated some great discussions on my Twitter and Google+ feeds. As a result, I wanted to post a follow-up to some of the feedback I've been getting.]

So recently I published a post called “Does Your Career Hinge on Perception or Reality?” The main discussion in this post “hinged” on a particular management style laid out to a friend of mine by her newly appointed telecom director in which he stated that to him the perceptions of those around you made up “reality.” In other words, how your staff and colleagues saw you was how he saw you and it didn’t really matter whether you agreed, if it were “true,” etc. What mattered is that it was up to you (as his direct report) to fix it.

At no point during her meeting with this new director did he mention results or performance or objectives. He kept it all to culture.

One thing I did not mention in that post is that he also went on to tell my friend that because some colleagues perceived her to be argumentative that he would not at that point consider her for a promotion. When she asked about other measures, such as results, performance, etc., he said that they were less relevant to him. When she mentioned that she had the highest ratings of any manager in the entire company (and it is a VERY LARGE company) for employee satisfaction, he said, “yes, but your peers are not happy.”

Now, I’m not exactly sure what the end game of this conversation was supposed to be, but he clearly wanted to get his point across that culture matters, and in his mind, it rests on the perceptions of everyone around you (I did bring up the point that I am not sure how he reconciled differences of opinion per se). As a result of this post, I received some great comments from around the blogosphere. So I thought I would share them here:

  • “Both [perception and reality] are important aspects!” by Jill S.
  • “All decisions are based on perception! Whether perception is right or wrong will determine the outcome.” by Bruce G.
  • “Whose perception/reality?” by Denton H.
  • “I care about what other people think, but I can’t always ‘fix’ that, especially in my job. Sometimes I just have to move forward doing the best I can.” by Stacey S.
  • “Your friend’s opinion should matter too in how he weighs things. Otherwise, she really has no way of defending herself.” by Joe T.

I’m not sure we can really resolve the philosophical debate about whether perception is always reality, etc., but I do think this managerial style in regard to culture is interesting (and was the real point of my post).

How responsible are we for cultural fit? And does culture trump performance in the workplace?

Because the “reality” for my telecom friend is that her performance results are very good and her employee turnover is very low (these are not perceptions; they are measurable reality). The “argumentative” comment is coming from peers who do not have these numbers and who have shown weakness in some areas, which my friend has voiced her concern over…whether her approach was “argumentative” or not is, well, a perception made by underperforming colleagues, which she felt she was trying to help when she voiced her concern. Now, she is being asked to fix that perception regardless of the reality of the situation with these colleagues.

In my mind, it brings up an interesting discussion in regard to all the initiatives to make “culture” more of a hiring/promotion issue. Just how much should it matter?

And that is where the “stealing employees” part comes in.

In another post, “Getting Stuck in the LinkedIn Wasteland,” I made the comment that recruiters like to “steal” employees away from other companies. Not surprisingly, this drew a little bristle from some of my recruiter pals who essentially said, “We don’t ‘steal’ candidates; they want to leave out of dissatisfaction with their current corporate ‘culture.’” (I will admit maybe “steal” is a little harsh, but surely “entice” would be fair. My point in the post was that recruiters prefer currently employed candidates over unemployed ones…they like to “woo”…a pronouncement they don’t like to admit but one that bears out in their actions.)

So, there it is…”culture” again.

This belief that people jump jobs primarily based on “cultural fit.” It sounds nice, and I would imagine if you took a survey, many candidates would rank it highly (creating a nice “perception”). But I don’t see it played out in “reality” very often.

Most candidates, especially technical candidates, are looking for an environment that is relevant to their experience and interests. And that pays them decently…with good benefits…and won’t go bankrupt or lay them off in a year or two. Even with this ongoing “war for talent” in the tech arena, candidates still don’t seem to be prioritizing culture over the basics…a thriving company offering competitive pay and room for advancement…as much as companies are banking on them doing.

Somehow techies are being perceived as only caring about the “cool” factor (offices without walls!) and about flex time, and these are the tools being used to try to “steal” or “entice” them away. It’s not surprising, then, that they are not being all that effective either. Many top tech pros aren’t leaving, even when they don’t “love” everything about the culture.

The reason? Because results, opportunity, and performance matter more.

Yes, it would be nice to have a boss who worries about how you perceive him or her. But it is much nicer to have one that recognizes the results of your work and rewards you for it (with more than just letting you wear jeans to work).

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the young, hip vibe has its perks, but eventually you get tired of being treated like a college kid. You grow up and understand that everyone isn’t “nice” all the time and that sometimes out of “argumentative” debate come the best ideas.

And you want real recognition for the real work you’ve done, not because you beat everyone at the cultural perception game.

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Navigating Through Mobile Recruiting Waters

Posted on December 24, 2013. Filed under: Career Management, Job Search Tips, Recruiting | Tags: |

technical recruiterBoy, do we love trends. A study like the one by PotentialPark comes out that 19% of job seekers are using mobile devices to look for job opportunities, and suddenly we have an outbreak of mobile recruiting (the study also states that 50% can “imagine” doing so…whatever that means).

Social media is a buzz with how the mobile job search or “mobile recruiting” is (and I quote) “going to change everything.”

Wow…it is certainly hard not to be impressed by something that is going to do all that!

(BTW, for the record, I also have no idea what “change everything” means, but as a career services pro, I have certainly heard it before!)

Now recruiters have moved from endless chats on “social media recruiting” to “mobile recruiting” as if they’ve unlocked some secret code. HR consultants are busy pressuring companies to “get on board” the mobile job market trend or…else! And everyone is dancing a jig that the resume is officially dead! (I’m not sure how turning the resume into a “mobile resume” makes the resume dead…but hey, it seems to make everyone happy to say it.)

Woohoo! Everything’s changed (or, er, changing)!

Now it’s all “faster” and “more meaningful” and “better for job seekers.” Or, rather, it is going to be…soon…very soon.


Now, I love my recruiting and HR friends. I really do. (So when I speak of them, I speak in general terms, not specific ones.) But I have learned from hard-earned experience working on behalf of top-quality tech candidates that when recruiters or HR consultants say something is better for the job seeker (or, worse yet, when they start using phrases like “enhancing the candidate experience”), it is really just code for “we want to believe we are helping the job seeker because we like to think we are doing it all for the love of God, country, and humanity.” (For some reason, it is bad form to talk of the “business” of hiring, so they prefer to speak about hiring as a humanitarian effort.)

Believe me. This is certainly not the first time we have had this happen. Here are a few examples:

  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). The ATS was supposed to help job seekers because it was going to weed out all those unqualified people who were applying for the same position and it was going to bring your qualified resume to the top of the heap. In other words, it was the job seeker’s friend, and it was going to make things better and easier. In reality, job seekers now just have another thing to worry about…how to make sure their resume “passes” through the ATS because the ATS generally does not work the way it should. There are cases upon cases of qualified candidates who get lost in its black hole. And job seekers spend a great deal of energy trying to figure out how to get around a company’s ATS.
  • Social Media Job Search. LinkedIn and the rise of the social media job search was introduced as the greatest thing for job seekers because now they could reach out to hiring pros across the world and “network” with them. And in some cases, it has worked…although getting pure stats on just how often is sketchy at best. More often than not, however, what has happened is that now job seekers are burdened with yet another element to their job search strategy. They suddenly have to figure out how to make social media work for them, and it isn’t just enough to do face-to-face networking or attend professional groups. Now you must devote time to your online influence, content marketing, and quality communities. You must convince the world you are a decent-looking subject matter expert that people all over the globe will recommend because you blog well.
  • Death of the Resume/Rise of the LinkedIn Profile. As a resume writer, people seem to take great joy in telling me how the resume is dead, how they hate resumes, and how no one reads them. They proceed to go on and tell me how the LI profile is so much better. And it is then that I know some recruiter told them all this. The reality is that although the traditional resume’s role is changing (basically because now it just isn’t “enough” anymore), it is still very much alive and well. (In fact, I might argue it is more essential than ever!). Here’s the thing. The LI profile is important, and in mobile recruiting efforts, it will be even more important. But at the end of the day, no matter how much search goes on across LI, you still are being asked to present a resume. And as much as everyone hates them, they still better be good and on target, especially because no one is taking the time to read them through! And while the mobile resume might get you in the door, as soon as you walk into the room, the hiring manager (you know, the one who really makes the decisions in this whole thing?) will say, “do you have a [traditional] resume I can review?” No, all the rise of the LI profile has really accomplished is to add yet another skill to the job seeker’s list of “must haves.” You need an effective resume and an optimized LI profile. (And with mobile recruiting, apparently, you will also need a mobile resume now!) So, we went from having just one document, the traditional resume, that no one reads to at least three (plus they claim they want to see online content like web bios and pages, blogs, Klout scores, etc. You’re telling me they have time to read all that but not a resume?)

So what does all this mean?

You can thank the hiring industry (and it is an industry, not a charity) for making the job search even more expensive and confusing for you, the job seeker.

The problem, of course, is that in reality there is nothing about the hiring process that really “cares” for the job seeker. But, again, they don’t like to admit it.

Both external and internal recruiters are there to represent the company and its interests. If your interests as the job seeker coincide with those of the company (and you’re willing to jump through its hoops), then you are most likely hired. If not, then, well, you’re not.

The “old” ways made this clear. The “new” ways cloud the issue.

Therefore, inevitably, then, any “new” process put in place by the recruiting and HR industry is necessarily going to benefit the hiring company the most. It has to. That is who they work for. That is who is investing in all these mobile recruiting apps and ATS (which isn’t to say that these practices really work on the company side either; check out my earlier post on “From the Corporate Goo to the Tech Job Market Zoo“).

Now, all this doesn’t mean the job seeker completely loses.

But it does mean the job search has become a multi-layered, time-consuming, even painful process for the job seeker who is sent mixed messages and hoop after hoop to jump through. The waters are murky and tough to navigate.

So, yes, mobile recruiting will make things “convenient” for job seekers. Sure, it will be nice to have a mobile version of your resume handy. But don’t be too fooled. Your 5 minutes of convenience now will cost you.

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