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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting a Seat at the Executive Table

We all have stories about bad experiences with employment recruiters, traffic, and eating too much at In-N-Out burger after midnight. We love to tell the stories but have no interest in listening to others. That's why blogs are great tools for providing those needs that are only at the very tip of Maslow's Pyramid.

I have learned that I am an attractive candidate for jobs because I am currently employed. Online dating doesn't even produce as bizarre relationship dynamics as employment recruiters. They seems to covet most what they can't have (the currently employed) and doesn't want those who want them the most (the unemployed).

I habitually apply to jobs at other companies as a networking technique. It's part of the Generation X shark mentality where we need to keep swimming in order to stay alive. It keeps my resume fresh and my interview skills sharp, I meet people at other companies, and learn about opportunities. Some would argue that this is a terrible approach because the transaction always involves the word no. Either I say no to an opportunity or the company says no to me. However, I no longer become just another application to the recruiters and hiring manager for any future opportunity.

Therefore, I applied to a job at a company where I used to work to gauge my market worth and network with a new department. On Tuesday morning, I had an interview scheduled with a lead manager and vice president. On Tuesday afternoon, I talked with the recruiter. By Tuesday evening, I had no interviews, a fairly difficult questionnaire to complete, and the job requirements were changed. Not surprisingly, I considered this to be a fairly negative interaction with the recruiter. Here are the details:
  • The recruiter was waiting for the results of a questionnaire that she thought that she had sent me. But she had actually forgotten to send it which created a problem. If I did not complete the questionnaire before interviewing, then one could question the value of it. Therefore, she had to preserve the process and cancel the interviews.
  • One should question the value of her questionnaire. It combined the obvious details (Are you eligible to work in the United States) with the vague (Describe your experience in consulting, health care, project management, data analytics, and reporting. In other words, Tell me about yourself).
  • The recruiter's biggest concern was that I had not been fired from this employer previously. She was very good at zeroing in the obvious. To be fair, I've learned that people do like re-applying to companies where they exhibited the impulse control of a meth addict and the ethic of an Illinois governor. However, she had access to my file and could have easily answered the question.
  • Poor grasp of geography. The recruiter's concern was that I work in a region where they do business which could have been addressed with a compass and a road map. Actually, you don't even need the compass.
  • She closed by telling me that they had numerous qualified candidates already implying that she was doing me a favor by talking with me.
From reading Human Resource and employment blogs, I can even guess the defense from other recruiters. They could point that if they didn't need the information, they wouldn't have asked for it. All candidates have to follow directions and they won't go on a scavenger hunt looking for where we live or our employment files. It's their job posting so we follow their rules.

However, it was fairly clear to me that the recruiter was late to the game in the hiring process and had to stall or she would have lost control of the process. The recruiter's value-add would have been questioned. My blog is the one place in this world where I get to be judge, juror, and executioner (even when I babysit my 2 year old, I don't have that power). Which leads me to my main point that recruiting or human capital management has to have their basic operations in place before they can ask for the seat at the executive table. That step is still being skipped for those looking to transform Human Resources.

At my organization, I have watched responsibilities and budget steadily being stripped from Human Resources when they could not meet their objectives. When they lost applications, they were forced to focus on application management for basic positions and executive recruiting was removed. When they showed improvements, they were steadily given back responsibility. While basic blocking and tackling doesn't provide great fodder for recruitment and Human Resource transformation, it can prevent future business leaders from giving those assignments to the Human Resource department.

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