I have a confession to make: I hate recruiters. Can’t stand ’em.
As most of my readers know, I am a reasonably bright guy with an incredibly diverse professional background which includes multi-modal logistics, purchasing, inventory management, cost accounting, budgeting and reporting, international trade finance, sales, marketing, and ecommerce (obviously). I had ALL of this experience at the time I was laid off in the 2001 recession, and I couldn’t find a job to save my life. Seriously. I couldn’t get arrested back then.
All of the recruiters I dealt with were totally useless.
In turn, each recruiter looked at my resume and saw a guy with “food industry experience” and stated flatly “I don’t know anyone who’s looking for a food guy. We’ll keep your resume on file, yada yada yada.” I felt radioactive.
It didn’t matter that I was business-oriented. It didn’t matter that I was hungry. It didn’t matter that I had worked overseas three times and hold a Masters degree in international business from a top five school. It didn’t matter that I have great people skills and am self-directed. It didn’t matter that I had a track record of success in the food industry (and I had the references to prove it.)
All that mattered to recruiters was I was a round peg, and they had square holes to fill.
Now, I know what you recruiters will say in the comments section below: “What were they supposed to do with your resume, Harry? If your resume wasn’t a match, then it wasn’t a match. You know how that works. We get paid to source candidates who fit the position requirements. That’s what we do.”
Bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit.
The resume is just a leading indicator of whether or not a candidate will create value for the client. It’s a starting point in the vetting process. It’s not the Bible. In fact, resumes can be downright misleading.
The joke in the recruiting industry is that “a candidate is only perfect twice in their life: at birth, and on their resume.” That’s why there’s a cottage industry of resume writers trying to make balls look like strikes. I’ve seen great candidates with lousy resumes and lousy candidates with great resumes — and until some rocket scientist builds a web-based tool to separate the dogs from the stars, I’ll have an important job to do.
A great recruiter is supposed to help his clients build better companies. The goal is to source Game Changers. Period. In addition to sourcing the obvious rockstars, a world-class recruiter is supposed to bring the non-obvious candidates to the attention of the hiring manager and explain to them in the client’s language why the candidate should be considered. The client has Monster.com as a source of obvious candidates.
In any case, because of those lean years, what I have described above summarizes my approach to the recruiting business. That’s why I am a trusted advisor to my clients, who can draw on my diverse background to make equity enhancing candidate recommendations.
None of this makes me a genius. It simply means that, evidently, I have an unconventional approach to recruiting. It probably also explains why my team will touch 150 ecommerce searches this year. Where other online marketing recruiters think their job is to knock you OUT, I think my job is to knock you IN.
But candidates: Here is the point of this post …
If you are an underdog in any search I’m managing, I absolutely promise you that I will do everything in my power to make sure that the hiring committee appreciates the unique ways that you can create value for their firm. Very few ecommerce recruiters, I think, are as qualified or motivated as Harry Joiner to tell your story to a client in a way that leverages your strengths, mitigates your developmental areas, and positions you uniquely against the other candidates vying for the role. However, …
That doesn’t mean you won’t get beat!
I am very blessed to work with the most talented ecommerce directors and VPs in the North American online retail community. The level of talent in this space is breathtaking. And these are nice people, too! That’s what you’re up against. For my clients, picking the “best” candidate in one of my searches is akin to naming a favorite Beatle or picking one’s favorite president on Mount Rushmore. There are no wrong answers; there are merely “less good” ones.
Did I reject you?
If I did, it’s probably not because of your background. More likely, it’s because of your competitors’ [plural] backgrounds. You just got beat, and there’s nothing I can do about that other than help you understand where you came up short relative to the competition and how you can shore up those holes in the future.