Frustrations


This morning, Brian Mageirski  pointed me to an article in TechCrunch about  a Reduction in Force at Jive Software in Portland, Oregon.  The post highlighted a former employee’s take on the layoffs, and his thoughts on why he felt the company mismanaged the process.  This employee was not laid off – he had already found another job and given his notice, but he was surrounded by the folks who were caught off-guard by the layoff.  Chris’s post and the associated comments didn’t say anything different than what we heard during the dot com bust.  There’s nothing surprising or outrageous here.  Nothing I didn’t hear from (or, for that matter, say to) my friends and family when my husband was laid off.  What’s different this time is the audience.  Chris is no longer sharing this with his closest friends and family – he’s sharing it with the world.  And the world is listening and responding.

And so are the world’s former and future bosses.  Uh-oh.  Are those bridges I smell burning?

This, of course, started some conversations internally.  I was talking to our Social Media Studette, Susan Scrupski, about it, and she mentioned that this was something she was already addressing.  We got into a discussion about how we have a choice as we move forward…  We either change the way we react to other people’s honest postings, or we encourage self-censorship to head off potential future problems. 

Social media advocates (like Susan) will say we need to change the way we react. They believe that this type of transparent, vibrant, open discussion is how we’re changing the world.   We need to “get over ourselves and our big egos” and encourage people to say what they feel, and use that to develop better processes and solutions in the future.   They’re drippy, lovey Liberals that way… 

I, on the other hand, am terribly old-fashioned.  I encourage self-censorship.  Thinking before you post.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again – the internet is pretty much permanent.   If you might be embarrassed by something five years from now, I suggest you refrain from posting it.  I’m a boring, old, humorless Conservative that way…

Back to Chris’s post, though…  There are some important points in this post.  Companies might be able to take away some valuable lessons about how you treat exiting employees.  Keeping their personal items isn’t just harsh – it’s sort of stealing.  And it looks REALLY bad.  Even if we don’t have all the information, it doesn’t matter.  Perception is 9/10ths of reality, and Jive’s going to have a hard time recovering their employment brand after this.  And, what’s worse is that it was a pretty cool brand before they kept people’s wedding pictures.

Employees might be able to take away some valuable lessons, too.  Remember that HR doesn’t generally make the decisions about who stays and who goes during a layoff.  That’s a decision that’s handed down from the business leaders.  And most of the time, HR doesn’t have a lot of input into severance packages and exit details.  So, projecting your anger on the messenger (HR) isn’t fair, and it’s not healthy.  HR people get laid off and find new jobs, too, you know. 

I can understand the anger (my husband was working and laid off during the dot com era, too), but I could appreciate who made the decisions and who had the unenviable task of delivering the news.  Be careful how loudly you cry and gnash your teeth – your potential future employers might not be able to fully empathize with your circumstances, and your on-line behavior may be used against you in your job search.  Google is a hiring manager’s best friend, after all, and in a market where there are more potential employees than there are open jobs, hiring managers will be picky.

I guess Chris got a lot of feedback, because while I was writing this post, I was alerted to another post by Chris, which comes across as much more positive.

The very best reply of the entire year came from someone claiming to be Chris’ mother:

Chris, you are blessed beyond words in so many ways. God protected you and gave you another job before this all happened. Don’t forget that Jive was a blessing for you. You made a lot of new friends and learned a lot. Changes in your life have always been for the better and this won’t be any different. Your new company will be better to have you just like Jive was!! I know you aren’t upset about this, just surprised that stuff in the world happens in the manner in which it did!!

If we’d all just listen to our mothers, our lives would be so much easier.

And, since it’s my birthday, I need to give a hat tip to my mother and father, Bernadette and Bob Carty.  Thanks folks.  I appreciate the gift of a very happy life.  Here’s to another 36+ years!

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention that the only things I removed from this email were the guy’s full phone number and last name.  Everything else is EXACTLY as I received it.  Including the field codes.

Do not send me something that looks like this (true story – really happened today):

Hello (%Naren%)

As you know, I represent a staffing company whereby we work at a national level, servicing our clients in the IT / Engineering area, helping them fill their contract openings or direct hire positions. If I can assist you fill job openings at (%BeyondTekIT.com%), please send me a job description and then contact me ASAP.

Since 90% of our business comes from repeat business, I would like to make you one of our repeat clients.

I look to hearing from you shortly, with a favorable reply.

Thanks,
 
Naren <Last Name Removed>

Tel: 714-xxx-xxxx

If you send me something like that, it tells me two very important things:

  1. You think so highly of yourself that you assume I know who you are, who you work for, and what you do. 
  2. You have a terrible grasp of Mail Merge, because you couldn’t even get the fields to populate.

I’m not going to respond to a blanket, mass email sent to the Careers address for my company.  I don’t send bulk emails to my candidates, so I expect that people who are looking to provide me with a paid service would be smart enough to take a few minutes of research time to figure out who I am and what I do.  I expect a personalized note, and I expect that you will attempt to build a relationship with me before I do any kind of business with you.  

Recruiting should be a personalized service.  I expect that my third-party partners are taking the time to understand our needs, as well as those of the candidates they refer.  The partners we’ve used in the past have been successful at this, because they are interested in what each party needs and wants, and are able to effectively bridge any gap.  Some of our recent, successful partners include Modis, Hirestarter, and the Laurel Group. Each of these organizations has done a great job of developing relationships with nGenera, and when they provide us with candidates, they are as interested in the right fit as they are in the placement fee.

So, to reiterate…  If you’re a third-party recruiter hoping to do business with us, please take a minute to do a couple of quick Google searches to see who you’re dealing with, and try to actually build a relationship with us – don’t just throw us your candidates and hope one sticks. I can guarantee you that there is no quicker way to my “blocked senders list” than by wasting my time.

I’ll admit that this doesn’t have anything to do with Recruiting.  However, it has everything to do with marketing and knowing your audience, so I’m going to post it.  It’s all about the Care Bears.

In 1985, my beloved Cheer Bear looked like this:

Cheer Bear 1985 was a cuddly, happy, fat (all the Care Bears were fat), snuggly friend.  She was aimed squarely at the junk-food-eating, tv-watching slugs that me and my Generation X buddies were.  AND WE LIKED IT!  She made us happy.  So what if she was a little overweight?  She was Rubenesque

Last weekend, I happened to turn on the television, and I saw some cartoon characters that looked vaguely familiar.  They were pastel-colored, and they had little symbols on their tummies…  Could it be? Yes!  Yes, it was!  It was the Care Bears.  But something was very, very wrong.  My Cheer Bear, my dear friend, my confidante!  She was…  CHANGED!

I guess American Greetings, the company that owns the Care Bears brand, did some customer research, and decided that today’s kids were tired of the stereotypes.  They wanted their Care Bears thin!  They wanted them active!

Well, actually, a little bit of research uncovered a NY Times article from last month detailing the “21st Century Facelift” that the Care Bears, along with Strawberry Shortcake, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and many other characters are undergoing.  The characters of my youth are going under the animator’s knife to come out looking more youthful profitable.  The Times article makes it pretty clear:

If the classic characters look less stodgy, the companies hope, they will appeal not only to parents who remember them fondly, but also to children who might automatically be suspicious of toys their parents played with. For parents, nostalgia is considered a bigger sales hook than ever because of the increasingly violent and hyper-sexualized media landscape.

So, American Greetings DID do their research, but they didn’t decide to make the Care Bears skinny just because skinny is the new black, but because they wanted me to want to buy them for my kids (heritage) and they want my kids to want me to buy them for them (innovation).

Probably my favorite quote from the Times article is this:

Licensing experts say they perceive a subtle psychological game at play, an attempt to hit the nostalgia button on a generation of young parents just as they start to feel their first twinges of middle age.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a new Corvette to buy, and I need to find myself a trophy husband.  I feel a crisis coming on.

Okay, this is more a call for help than a real blog post. If you’ve got input, please feel free to comment….

I am in the process of looking for an expert in C++ performance tuning. The person I need must understand high-volume, real-time transaction processing systems, and must have experience in tuning those systems in the past. I’m not going to be using third parties for this search, so I’m working to find the candidate myself.

My first step is always to use the job board to which we are subscribed. I didn’t find anyone using my standard Boolean searches on the board:

C++ and (“performance tuning” or “performance enhancement” or “improved performance”)

Coming up empty-handed, I moved on to my super secret Google searches. Well, they’re not super-secret. I use inurl and intitle to help me limit my results to resumes, and I use standard Boolean logic to construct the search (thank goodness I was a programmer before I became a recruiter, and I actually deeply understand Boolean logic). So, I run a Google search that looks like this:

(inurl:~resume OR intitle:~resume) “New York” C++ (“performance tuning” OR “performance enhancement” OR “improved performance”)

This isn’t all that fruitful, either. So, I pull a trick from the Bag o’ Recruiter Stuff, and start to think about where I might find a website where C++ performance experts congregate. Maybe I could find a niche board. I’ve had good luck with niche boards in the past – fixprotocol.org, for example, is an excellent place to post for people with experience in FIX Protocol implementations. I commenced searching. And, much to my chagrin, came up with very little. Where do all the C++ programmers hang out? I found a community that focused on Quantitative Finance, but it’s run by a publishing company, doesn’t appear to be very vibrant, and has no job board. I also found a couple of C++ usenet groups, but they don’t allow job postings.

I’ve searched LinkedIn, and even though I’ve got over 2.5 million people in my LinkedIn extended network, I haven’t come across anyone with the skills I need. I’ve got a trial of ZoomInfo, so I’m going to try that, although I’ve been warned that it’s more focused on higher-level executives than mid- to senior-level programmers. I don’t mind cold calling – I’ve just got to get the names.

So, here’s my plea… Some of you awesome recruiters out there must have some thoughts on where to find these stellar C++ experts. I could use your guidance. I’m still new at this, and I know when to ask for help.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

-Katie

About two months ago, we had two people not bother to show up for interviews at our New York office. I had set up the interviews, the interviewers had made an effort to be available, and I had confirmed with the candidates two days earlier that the interviews were still scheduled. And yet, they didn’t bother to show up, nor did the bother to call and let us know that they would not be there.

After the no-shows, I called both candidates. I got voicemail for both. I left messages. Two days went by, and I didn’t hear anything. I emailed both candidates. I got no response. About a week later, I emailed again, just to follow up and close my process. One candidate responded that he was really sorry he hadn’t made it, and would call me that day to explain. You guessed it… he never called. Oh, one other important point: both candidates had submitted their resumes to us. These were not passive candidates, they were actively seeking out new opportunities, and sought out BSG Alliance.

When I called my boss to see if that was something to be expected, she was pretty surprised. She’s been in recruiting for a long time, and she hadn’t really encountered that behavior. But, she’d never been a recruiter in New York, so she thought that maybe the very tight labor market allows people to get away with such poor behavior. It’s hard to find good people in New York, and I guess that some of these candidates figure that they can get away with whatever they want because employers are desperate for good talent. Well, I can tell you this: BSG Alliance is always looking for talented developers, but we’re not “desperate” by any means. We look for people who will help us build a team, not people who think so highly of themselves that they can’t show common courtesy to others.

So, you’re asking why I am bringing this up so long after it happened. Well, it’s because I had a similar situation last week. A candidate found a BSG Alliance job posting, and submitted his resume. I scheduled a phone interview with the candidate for the following day. I blocked off an hour on my calendar, which gives me enough time to really get an idea of what makes the candidate tick. I made the phone call to the number provided, and… I got voicemail. Now, I have to admit that this isn’t unusual – sometimes my candidates are in a meeting from which they can’t extricate themselves, for example. What was unusual is that I left a message, and never got a return call. I called back about 15 minutes later, and still got voicemail. I left another message, and followed up with an email asking to reschedule. All were ignored. This candidate now finds himself on my “NBM List” (Not BSG Material – a holdover from my days as a sorority girl).

I also had a candidate recently who was unavailable during the time we had scheduled to call. Actually, he had been “unavailable” twice before, but had rescheduled both missed calls, so this was my last shot with him. The number he gave me for this particular call was his home number, and one of his family members answered, none too thrilled to hear from me. I waited for a 1/2 hour for the candidate to return my call, and when he didn’t, I sent an email letting him know that we were no longer interested. About 5 minutes later (when I was preparing for another call) the candidate called my cell phone. Since I knew that I didn’t have time to devote to an interview, I let it go to voicemail. The candidate proceeded to call me back at 3 minute intervals for the next 45 minutes, leaving 5 voicemails. I finally spoke to the candidate, and explained that after the amount of time I spent scheduling and rescheduling, only to have him miss a third appointment, I didn’t think he was a good fit for the organization. I almost felt sorry for him, because he didn’t seem to understand that his behavior was a pretty big red flag for me.

I guess this all brings me back to the concept of bridges – more specifically, the burning of such. I like to keep communications open with all candidates, whether or not they’re a good fit for BSG Alliance today. And I hope that people see the value in keeping contact with recruiters who might be able to help them in the future. When someone doesn’t show up for an interview, or is unavailable for a scheduled phone call, and they don’t offer a valid explanation, they find their way onto my NBM List, and they burn my bridge.

At BSG Alliance, we pride ourselves on respecting the time and talents of every candidate we encounter. Common courtesy says that the candidates should also respect our time and efforts. If a candidate can’t show that respect during a job search, then I fully expect that they will be unable to show respect to their co-workers on the job. They are not the kind of people I want on my team.

So, long post short: If you don’t show up for an interview, or aren’t available for a scheduled call, you’re going to make it onto the Recruiter’s list of people that they won’t consider for employment – EVER. Not a good place to be.

Have a great rest of the week. Make sure to check out my cool jobs on the BSG Alliance website.

-Katie

When I was just getting started in the Recruiting business, a very successful recruiter told me that one of his red flags was a typographical or grammatical error in a resume. His point was that a resume is the most important document a person uses to “sell” his/her skills, and he/she should make darn sure that there are no errors. My mentor told me that a lack of attention to detail on something as important as a resume often indicates an overall lack of attention to detail on the job.

I found a resume on a job board today, for example, where the job seeker meant to type “skillset,” but instead typed “skillets.” If he were looking to be hired as a cook at Denny’s, that might have been okay, but since he was looking for work as a Senior Developer, his skillet experience doesn’t quite fit. Although, now I’m craving an omelette.

But I digress… Lately, I have noticed typos in resumes that aren’t necessarily indicative of a lack of attention… Instead, they’re more likely a result of English being the job seeker’s second language. A good example of this kind of typo is one that I come across frequently: using “familiar in” instead of “familiar with” to describe exposure to technologies and concepts. Missing “a” and “the” qualifiers (“I am Java developer” instead of “I am a Java developer”) are also common errors in these resumes. Oftentimes, this is how people who have learned English as a second language speak, so it doesn’t appear incorrect to them when they type it on their resume. And, I’ve checked in Microsoft Word… the grammar checker doesn’t always pick up these types of errors.

When I see a resume like this, with minor grammatical errors, I stop myself before making a judgment call. These job seekers have worked very, very hard to learn a language that is nothing short of incredibly difficult to grasp. There are nuances to this language that don’t exist in a lot of other languages (the sheer volume of irregular verbs, for example), and it can be very difficult to learn. Heck, many of my fellow Americans can’t even speak the language properly, so I feel I should give some leniency to those who were born elsewhere and took it upon themselves to learn the language.

This makes me think about what my resume would look like if I had to write it in Spanish. My guess is that it would look something like this:

Sra. Katie Tierney

Calle Rojo
Chaska, Minnesota

Yo soy una “recruiter” de una compania de software consultado en Tejas.

As you can no doubt tell, my Spanish resume would really suck.

I do have a suggestion to the job seekers out there who don’t speak English as a native language. Take the time to have a native speaker review your resume. A native speaker will probably be able to help you flush out some of the errors that might not be evident to you, but can be very evident to hiring managers. It doesn’t take too much time, and I know there are lots of people out there who would be willing to help.

And, once you’ve got it all proofed and prettied, take a look at the jobs on BSGAlliance.com.

Have a great week!

-Katie

Today was a good day. Today was one of those days that energizes someone like me. Today was a day full of really good candidates, a glowing reference for someone we’d really like to hire, and an overall renewal of my faith in Generation Y.

The day started with an excellent conference call with the BSG Alliance Recruiting Team. Yes! We’re now officially a team! Leeanne Hallquist, a former BSGer and stay-at-home mom like me, joined us last week as a Recruiter, and has hit the ground running at warp speed. I’m so happy to be able to have her as a support system, and as someone I can bounce ideas off. She and I talked with our boss, Susie “Recruiting is in my veins” Buehler, and made a lot of progress.

Then, I went right into interviews. My days lately have been one big blur of phone interview after phone interview after phone interview (which explains why I haven’t been blogging very much). And I’ve interviewed some good candidates, but a lot of them haven’t been exactly the right fit. It gets kind of discouraging when you think you may have found the right fit, only to find out during the interview that the skills you expect aren’t there, or that the candidate isn’t actually interested in the opportunity you’re presenting.

Today, though, it seemed like everyone was a great fit. I talked with a database developer who had just the right skills for one opportunity, a business analyst with a great background and a beguiling voice, a project manager whose skills seem a perfect match to our requirements, a fascinating discussion with someone providing a reference for another candidate, and, finally, the culmination of my day…

I talked to a gentleman who will be graduating from a very prestigious university this Winter. He came through in the interview as driven, articulate, detail oriented, hard-working, and willing to work to make a difference for BSG Alliance. After talking with a lot of young people, and reading a lot of interesting studies and statistics on the behavior of Generation Yers, I’d started to lose my faith in Generation Y. I can say that this young man singlehandedly renewed my faith in the youth of this country. A word to the Recruiting Animal (my hero!): it looks like not ALL Generation Y employees have a “what’s in it for me?” attitude.

In any case, it’s been a long week already (can someone explain how I have managed, since Sunday, to already work my 30 hours?), but I am excited to get into the office tomorrow and find some more rocking candidates for my rocking job openings.

Thanks to everyone I talked to today. Thanks, especially, to Susie Buehler, who gives me more guidance and mentoring that she can imagine.

Have a great rest of the week!

-Katie

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