A friend and former colleague recently told me about a frustrating conversation with a recruiter. Come to think of it I rarely, if ever, hear from anyone telling me about a fantastic interaction with a recruiter. Why is that?
Anyway, my friend saw one of their connections “like” that recruiter’s LinkedIn status about a search they were working on. Thinking it looked appealing, my friend contacted the recruiter and expressed interest - provided the recruiter found their LI profile relevant. The recruiter replied with their email address and requested a resume.
A couple days later my friend received call from the recruiter who after exchanging “hellos” immediately blurted out: “my client is looking for someone with minimum X number of years experience as a ___ (specific job title). I don’t see that on your resume. Have you ever been a ___?”
Here’s the challenge in responding to a closed-ended question like that… My friend works in a field and is at a career level where titles are not necessarily indicative of actual scope of work and tend to have zero consistency from one company to the next. They have absolutely performed the work typically associated with the level requested, but inexplicably (not a reflection of their abilities) almost always with a more junior title.
Aside from that, (one of MY many pet peeves) number of years of experience almost never predicts actual competence. It baffles me that so many job postings contain lists of requirements stating “must have X number years of experience in Y, and must have X number years experience in Z” with no correlating explanation of how or why that would be applicable in accomplishing the goals of the job or the company’s business objectives.
Why not describe the outcomes that need to be achieved rather than require some arbitrary amount of experience that likely proves nothing? After an initial learning curve, mastery of most work-related responsibilities doesn’t necessarily increase exponentially year-over-year.
My friend attempted to explain their background including a brief stint with that specific title, but the recruiter was adamant that the client was firm on their requirement. This particular call was not scheduled and happened to come through about ten minutes after a separate call from a different recruiter that sourced them for a narrow niche job that would have been a fractional fit at best. That combination back-to-back left my friend a bit testy.
Not trying to change anyone’s mind, but simply stating the obvious flaws in the recruiter's client’s expectations, my frustrated friend said they weren’t shy in sharing their opinion. They informed the recruiter that their client is likely missing out on quality people by limiting their hiring criteria to such superficial information. That’s why they called me.
They were concerned they may have reacted too aggressively and burned a bridge. Hard to tell, but either way I’m frustrated on their behalf.
Apparently, the recruiter admitted agreement with my friend’s rationale, but took a “client’s always right” stance on the matter. Seems this recruiter, like many others, find taking the path of least resistance preferable to considering cumulative depth and breadth of experience beyond their own, hiring managers’ or clients’ shallow talent pool parameters.
The question is… At what point should a recruiter take advantage of the situation to educate their client or hiring manager about consequences of their limited preferences?
And, if that isn’t realistic for some reason, how about actually investing the time to understand the candidate’s potential to hit the mark and take a chance in “selling” the hiring manager on someone that very well could produce desired business results despite not checking all the boxes upon submittal?
Why not be wild once in a while and stash a wildcard into the mix to see what happens? The response could be enlightening.