Recruiting in the IT bidnez…

02 Sep

Anyone who works in IT much knows about recruiting firms.  Love them, hate them, they’re a part of the industry. 

I have, in general, more of a love for recruiters and a hatred for the recruiting industry as a general rule, and this is pretty well known.  I have several people I consider “professional friends” who are recruiters.  I respect them – and admire their dedication. But, as with any industry, you can’t judge the entire industry by one or two bad eggs.  On the whole, recruiters work in an industry much like that of Used Car Salesmen and Personal Injury Lawyers.  Really.  We all know the stereotypical recruiter.  I don’t even have to give you a mental picture… you know what I’m talking about right?

The problem with stereotypes like recruiters, car dealers and lawyers… the truly great ones are the exception – and it’s the industry as a whole that behaves like a bad stereotype. (Which before all my Car Dealer, Recruiter and Lawyer friends attack… that is WHY there is the Stereotype.  People didn’t come up all those jokes and twisted views because they were bored.)

This week was particularly frustrating for me dealing with recruiting firms as I had two positions I was forced to pull out of or avoid a double submittal.  For those unfamiliar, a double submittal is just that, when two different recruiting firms submit the same person for the same job.  It’s heavily frowned on.  In fact most major companies have specific hiring policies for when this happens.  At the very least you can be dropped from consideration, in some cases your name is black listed for a period.  So it’s a pretty serious matter, and if you’re really smart… you just pull your name from consideration to avoid the train wreck entirely.  It’s a bit like committing suicide to avoid certain death – but you get the idea. 

I had two different positions this happened with… and so, we’re talking on 2 occasions, in one week, two different recruiting firms who approached me with the same job, talked to me on the phone about it, emailed back and forth, and got a right to represent… and at no point did I realize it was for the same job.

Now, if you will recall, I’d been working on my jobHunter toy is supposed to allow me to avoid this because it reads the emails, and it does all kinds of things and it stores it all in a database so I can quickly review and avoid such shenanigans.  And it failed.  It didn’t just fail a little – it completely missed this… twice.  Which to me, is pretty horrendous.  The reason why all of this failed is simply… if you build a better mousetrap, you get a better quality of mouse.

In this case, the recruiting firms are not actually to blame … at least not entirely.  Or at least we’re going to pretend like that is the case, because otherwise our only compensense for this foolery is they’re complete goits.  So, assuming they’re not… (Really they weren’t. Trust me, I’d call them a far worse than a goit if they deserved it…) Ahem… where was I?  Oh yeah… Assuming they’re not … and they weren’t… the cause was simple.  There was no error. 

It’s not that I’m infallible in my logic and work flows, far from it.  The process I use is only a few steps from waving a headless chicken over a campfire while chanting in Urdu… believe me, I have no illusions that it’s not flawless.  But, it is very good at one thing which is comparing texts since it uses a Levenshtein distance matching algorithm.   So if there’s two job descriptions – it’s pretty easy to pick them out if they match.  These had a matching value that was so far apart they weren’t even in the same zip code.  The distance on these was so far apart, I would have called the Space shuttle up and had them see if they could give me a reading on it from space but unfortunately WE NO LONGER HAVE ONE.  (Yes I’m whining… but I miss our space program.)

So why didn’t I pick up on it until the last minute?  Simple.  The job titles provided, the job descriptions provided – weren’t even close.  They were in fact, completely different jobs.  But each recruiting firm – in gathering the job requirement from the client, listened and heard completely different needs and recorded those.  (Both sets of needs, I’m thoroughly capable of performing ironically.)

As they say, you can’t plan for the impossible.  But you can check to see how often the impossible happens and learn to at least duck faster.  In this case – not possible.  You see, no matter how good the recruiters are… they would still have gone into things and gathered the requirements differently because they interviewed the manager differently, and so got different results.  Complicating things the hiring manager wasn’t sure what kind of title they wanted to give the job… so there really wasn’t a title for the job.

And that leads us to why the job hunting tool will probably never be available aside from if people want to play with it – and tweak it for their own needs. 

Because you cannot fix what is not broken.  The tool worked fine.  The recruiters did their job.  But things broke in two places.  1) I never solidly said, “Hey I have to have a specific ID or way to identify this position.”  – I relied on my tool for that, and it bit me.  In order for a tool like this to work it requires that there be for each position a specific and readily identifiable ID for each position.  Some commonality that can be shared among all recruiting firms to identify the position.  2) The recruiter’s client was not specific enough about the position with each of them so as to provide a consistent idea of what the job was.

I’ll keep trying to crack this egg… and maybe I can… but for now.  I’m going to be far more harsh with recruiters about the specifics of all jobs submitted for my consideration.

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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Uncategorized


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