Recruiters Are Hypocrites

We recruiters tell candidates to do their homework before contacting any potential employer, and what a bunch of hypocrites I am finding out there.

“Being busy” is not an excuse for laziness or poor sourcing habits. As a senior IT recruiter in Seattle, I list out the technologies I work with on my resume. I have many years of experience at Microsoft on various recruiting teams. So it’s fairly natural that I come up in keyword searches that have “Microsoft” or “.NET” or “C#” or “HTML” or on them. I’ve pretty much recruited for every type of software development position out there.


My profile title is “Senior Talent Acquisition” or “Senior Recruiter” depending on the board. And I have an “objective” statement to weed out those things I’m not interested in and what I’ll consider. These are the *first things* on my resume. So I cannot begin to tell you how annoying it’s getting to be contacted for software engineering and SDET (Software Design Engineer in Test) contract openings at Microsoft (or anywhere else). Now, my resume is up on all the major job boards, mostly because as a contractor, you never know when your job is subject to budget cuts. I also like to see who is out there hiring. And it’s up there in confidential mode so I don’t get a ton of agency sales calls (I get enough of those from LinkedIn and my consulting site.) And, I use one email address for Dice and Monster and another for Careerbuilder.

Usually, my standard response is:

“What is your split policy? I usually charge 50% for a direct placement or 5% residual on contractors. I am happy send you my standard recruiting contract.”

But today I really got rubbed the wrong way. I got an email WITH MY NAME USED by the recruiter. So, obviously this person did enough due diligence to figure out who I am or they had my resume “on file”. But they were contacting me for a Web Developer (subject line) position in California. (My “objective” includes the cities I am willing to discuss). I admit I got a bit snarky.

02/23/11 4:29 PM

Dear Kristen,
… Our records show that you have experience in .NET. This experience is relevant to one of my current openings. It is located in Santa Clara, CA.

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My response:

(Recruiter), obviously you didn’t read my resume fully or you would know that I am a senior technical recruiter in Seattle.

OK, I don’t know why this one set me off more than any other. But being someone working with an OFCCP-compliant organization and being someone who believes that part of our job is to actually read resumes, I’m getting sick of this laziness being fobbed off as “busy” with far too many resumes to review.

First of all, I’m a master at writing and running a Boolean search, especially in tech positions. Second, it doesn’t even require extra effort to read the title of the resumes you have sourced from a job board.

DO YOUR JOB. Sourcing is something you commit to when you accept a job as a recruiter. And let me tell you, your branding is suffering severely when you pull this kind of half-**sed job with your industry colleagues. Believe me, I know who the major offenders are in Seattle, and I pass that information along to candidates who ask. A staffing company’s reputation is only as good as its recruiters. The candidate experience starts with that first email or phone call.

Kristen Fife is a senior technical recruiter in the greater Seattle area. She has been in recruiting since 2004, starting as contract Researcher for the Microsoft Strategic Recruiting Group before moving into full lifecycle agency recruiting for Volt Technical Services. Her move into corporate recruiting started with both sourcing and full lifecycle contract roles at Microsoft (including MSFT Research, Legal, and various product groups). In addition to Microsoft, Kristen worked for 3 years for RealNetworks/GameHouse as the Senior Technical Recruiter and Sourcing Specialist; at the University of Washington/Harborview Medical Centers as a Sourcer, as well as smaller companies such as Varolii (now part of Nuance Communications), Covestic, and bSquare. Currently she is an RPO Senior Technical Recruiter, she sits on the Leadership Team for Sourcing7, and is a regular presenter, trainer, panelist, and speaker in the Seattle area for recruiting forums and job seekers. She has been a regular contributor to the Seattle Times, including an employment topic column, regular blog, and the NWJobs Hire Wire newsletter for the local recruiting industry. Her blog for job seekers receives several thousand hits a week. She has been quoted in several publications including ABCNews, AOL, the Seattle Times, and The Wall Street Journal.


4 Comments on “Recruiters Are Hypocrites

  1. Kristen, this is dead on and filled with brilliant insight. I have had the same experience over and over again. The state of Talent Acquisition and Sourcing is deteriorating as I reply to your post. The overwhelming lack of responsiveness and hiding behind the facade of “too busy” is a joke. I ask myself; “What do these people do in a day?” and “How do they manage their work flow?” The skill level is just as unimpressive.

    Last week I was speaking with a recruiter who had replied to a post of mine. He was rude in his answers to my questions. When I asked him if I had offended him in any way, he hung up on me. I wonder how he manages a candidate or a client that is having the ubiquitous bad day?

  2. “Second, it doesn’t even require extra effort to read the title of the resumes you have sourced from a job board.” This is so important! If we’re not engaged with the subject matter we lack the mental sharpness required to act on the right information. Reading carefully & proofing can save so much time … and embarrassment. This is important in every field. I was pleased you wrote about this. thank you!

    1. Kristen, while I agree with your vision of the right way to do things, consider the reality. More than likely, someone created a search string in an AIRS like bot, and you received an auto-soliciation e-mail. They probably didn’t even read your resume, it was a e-phishing expedition. I think recruiters at large are talented and want to do a good job, but the down economy has departments stretched thin. Recruiters are asked to do more with less and you’re seeing the result.

      1. Robert, this goes to show that the tools these particular recruiters are using are creating a very poor candidate experience, and we as the customers that use those tools need to then insist on ways to improve the experience with the vendors. I’m sorry, but as I said, I don’t buy “do more with less” as a valid argument for not properly doing our job. Phishing is a perfect example of what NOT to do. Quality should always take precedence over quantity. It is what differentiates a mediocre recruiter from someone who knows how to manage their pipelines and sourcing efficiently.
        -Kristen Fife, author

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