These recent few weeks have seen me set up my blog and make one sweet post (as the fabulous @christopherHR called it – thanks!) and another about recruitment tactics used by agency recruiters and candidates. This last week in particular has been a real eye opener to how far the written word can go on the internet!
My second post had been up for a total of 28 hours and not one, not two, but three people had made comments either directly to me (away from this blog) or through my colleague to me about my post and how I should be careful what I say. They were all agency recruiters who (quite surprisingly) I’d never worked with before. Now to give you a bit of background, I was an agency recruiter not that long ago. I was that recruiter who cold called you, who rang you from my desk after being told we were doing a marketing morning, tried to take you for a coffee or similar. I wasn’t always successful with my business development, however I know all about coming onto a cold desk and having to build up business. For someone like me who simply loves recruitment, talking people into letting me do it for them seemed like something that should be so easy – I was eager, friendly and I’m pretty darn good at recruitment if I do say so myself. However, it was always a challenge and there were always 3 or 4 more recruiters (if not more) just like me looking for the same business. I know all about being top of mind and getting in front of clients as much as possible.
I’m not against agency recruiters, and I hope my last post didn’t make you think that. Don’t think I’ve jumped the fence into internal and I’ve now turned my back on agency forever to make snarky remarks and drag the profession down while I surround myself with endless vacancies and hiring managers cackling crazily to myself amongst cat pictures.
I do think that agency has a place in the recruitment world. However I don’t think there is a place for lazy agency recruitment and I certainly don’t agree with spray and pray as a marketing approach – particularly when the only contact I’ve had with an agency is that email. I’d much rather work with an agency (and plan to continue to do so) who wanted to understand our business, our culture and our strategic people plans so when we did have the chance to work together they could do it really well. If they can handle the cat pictures and bad jokes I’d even be partial to a coffee or glass of wine with them too! I think that goes the same for most businesses.
While I do agree that you need to be careful about what you post online – especially as this blog has my name and my photo on it – as a blogger I want to create discussion and I want my blogs to make you think. So I won’t be trying to keep the peace in the future and some of the things I post you might not agree with. Please, add a comment if you’d like to keep the discussion going.
I don’t want this post to sound ranty (although I’m sure it does). Please do know that I am actually having a really good day today – I just wanted to clarify a few things.
Above all else, please remember everyone, the best thing about opinions? Just like mouths, we all have one.
There has been plenty of discussion in the blogosphere (oh… using lingo in my second blog!) about the practice of agency recruiters using the “spray and pray” or “flick and stick” approach to recruitment. So many are quick to start talking agency recruiters down for this approach. However, if they didn’t get a bite every now and then, they probably wouldn’t do it now would they? I must confess even me as a (newish) internal recruiter took the bait a few days ago…. And the result was a poorly prepared candidate who was not aligned to our business values or the role and it really damaged my relationship with that agency. I’ve learned my lesson, and I hope the agency did too (I bet they don’t though).
My personal favourite “spray and pray” came from an agency recruiter I have never met (who shall remain nameless) at 1.14am last Saturday morning with a range of CVs and profiles of accounting candidates. I chuckled – we don’t even have a finance department in New Zealand.
However, I could talk about this practice all day (and possibly will in the future) but for today the question: Why do we not talk about the “spray and pray” tactics used by some candidates as much? These are the candidates who apply for your role (or multiple roles) 3-4 times across a number of job board categories, with no cover letter or at bare minimum a generic one. On top of that if you ring them about their job application most of the time they blindly confess they have applied for so many jobs they can’t remember anything about yours!
Some recent examples of this approach:
• An application with a generic cover letter addressed to “insert name here” with generic highlighted sections in it and (the best bit) signed yours sincerely “your name”;
• A candidate who applied for all 3 advertised roles – Executive Assistant, Sales Advisor and Retention Advisor position and inserted the job title into their CV summary saying that’s what they wanted to do long term;
• A CV stating they wanted an early childhood teaching position when they applied for a sales role; and
• In my time in agency land we had one candidate that applied to every single role within 5 minutes of it being posted – regardless of what it was – with no cover letter and just his CV!
While I know that there is sheer desperation for work from some people in this economic climate – if you really want to get working – stand out and prepare! As a candidate this “spray and pray” approach to applying for jobs not only reduces your call back ratio, when you do get a call back from an employer you aren’t always prepared for it and I can only assume that you blow it most of the time!
Some quick advice for candidates (particularly if you’re applying at Youi!):
• Prepare a well written cover letter addressed to the name on the advert (if one) or the organisation outlining why you meet the job requirements and a little more about you;
• Attach a well laid out CV to your application, and if you include an objective, cover statement or summary make it relevant to the role applied for;
• Keep a notebook or list of all the jobs you have applied for and where. Having a short summary or a few comments next to each job will help you to make any answers you give on a phone screen far more relevant; and
• As a side note if you are job seeking always answer your phone professionally, even if it’s a blocked number.
Going forward, I’ve learned my lesson about this approach. If you’re a candidate hopefully you can take some of these hints and put them into practice going forward. If you’re an internal recruiter or hiring manager think carefully about accepting that floated CV. If you do take the bait, you’re only encouraging and enabling the “spray and pray” tactics to continue…
I was always one of those people who swore I would never get on “that Twitter thing”. I always wondered how on earth could I tell someone something or get my point across in only 140 characters?! And who on Earth would want to follow me (apart from those cat ladies – you know who you all are). Me joining Twitter was a combination of peer pressure and the realisation that social sourcing wasn’t just a short term fad – and if I didn’t join I would be missing out on something very powerful (and possibly a few placements too).
It was in my time in agency land when the fabulous Kirsti Grant came to our offices to discuss social sourcing. I was new to recruitment, brand new actually. From a background in sales and key account management here I was bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to take on the world of agency recruitment (ohhhhh…. if only I’d known).
Kirsti talked me and the team through all the different social networks, how they worked, best strategies etc. Once she had gone through them all I thought to myself – how on earth am I going to get any work done if I’m always on social media?! I joined Twitter begrudgingly and got tweeting, to what felt like no one. It wasn’t until I made my first Twitter placement a few weeks later that I realised just how cool this thing was. I was making money from spending time online flicking around cat pictures, interesting articles and generally chatting with a huge range of diverse people.
Since those first days and weeks I’ve gone from not knowing the difference between a tweet and a twit (there is a difference – but you will find a few twits on Twitter) to today where if I I’ve missed out on something it’s normally as I haven’t been on Twitter for a while!
I’ve sat back and watched the HR community on Twitter in New Zealand and abroad go from strength to strength in the last 12-18 months (and possibly before – I just wasn’t around to see it!). Some people in NZ have really championed this growth and I applaud them – the time and effort that they put into growing this community is amazing.
So, I feel like I’m ready to take on the next step. I’m going to join the world of blogging. While I feel again like the girl not really knowing what this is for and how to really go about it – I’m ready to take the challenge, go to the next step and blog. Phew.
My name is Rachel Kemp. I’m a Senior Recruitment Specialist for a very fast growing business in NZ and I am going to blog.
**Views are mine, not those of my employer.