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I'm a Recruiter and I Was Ruining My Own Job Search


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I recently had breakfast with my dear friend Adam Rifkin, to discuss my career. Adam is the CEO and co-founder of PandaWhale, and has been named Fortune magazine’s Best Networker. His advice is golden, so I was grateful to hear his feedback about my career. As part of my career as a UI/UX recruiter, I guide, mentor, and give advice about interviewing, but I rarely take the time to step back and see if I’m following my own advice. During my most recent meeting with Adam, he pointed out six main ways I was ruining my own job search. Below are the lessons I learned as a result of that conversation:

  1. Push back. A lot of the job descriptions for recruiters that I’ve come across lately want 8-10 years of experience, so I haven’t been applying. Adam pointed out that because I took on so much in each role I’ve had, that I would qualify for these 10 year experience roles, even though I only have 4-5 years of experience as a recruiter. I realized he was right. I implemented a Learning and Development program at Houzz. I lead a major reorganization at Google. I went to design school to study UI/UX. All of these things are above and beyond what your typical recruiter has done, and Adam pointed out that I really should be leveraging that experience.

  2. Share your concerns. I was telling Adam that I was concerned because typical ramp up time for a recruiter at a new job is about 3 months, and I was interviewing for a 3 month contract. The company wanted 25 hires within that time. However, because of the ramp up time I’d only be able to give them one or two hires, not twenty five. Adam suggested that I ask the company if the contract could be extended, so that I could be more successful in the role. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that! I asked if they could extend the contract, and I’m now waiting to hear back.

  3. Narrow, don’t expand. As part of my job search I was applying for all recruiter jobs near and far. Then I started hearing back from all of them. I became bombarded with interviews, and even found myself interviewing with companies that I wasn’t even that interested in. Adam said that this would make it harder to find that right fit, and that I should narrow-- not expand-- my job search. By doing this I can give my full energy and attention to the jobs I’m most interested in.

  4. Stay true to yourself. As part of this job application blitz, I applied for companies that are inherently wrong for me, due to their company culture. There was even a company or two that I actually despised, yet I was interviewing with them. Adam reminded me to stay true to myself and only pursue the companies that have the company culture that I’m looking for, as that’s the only way the job can truly be a good fit for me.

  5. Hold others accountable. Sometimes people behave badly, and it is up to us to hold them accountable. I know this as a general rule, but never thought about applying it to my recruiter. I had interviewed onsite for a job position, and was told that by 2 days later I would hear if I got the job. A week and a half passed and I had not heard anything from the company, despite emails I sent to check in. As a recruiter this really bothered me because I would never do that to one of my candidates. Then, at 10:48PM one night, I got the rejection letter. Not even a phone call, which is what I have been trained to do when you reject people. I responded to the email politely, but let the recruiter know that my experience post-onsite interview had been very negative and that I didn’t appreciate being left completely in the dark. I was reaching offer stage with other companies and I needed to know if their company was still in the running. Luckily, when I called her out on it, she accepted full responsibility and said it was a good learning opportunity for her.

  6. Let other people help you. If you’re anything like me, sometimes it’s hard to let people help you. However, if someone is willing and able to help you, let them. I help people all the time so that they can be better at their jobs, but I never think of accepting help myself. I think the sooner I can learn to accept a lending hand, the better off my career will be.

I honestly did not realize I was making these errors in my job search, and I am so grateful I had Adam to point them out to me in the well-intentioned, friendly way that he does. Thank you Adam - my career is better off because of you!

Stashed in: Jobs, Be yourself., Awesome, Networking, @ifindkarma, @ifindkarma, Lessons are repeated until they are learned.

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You're very welcome, Stephanie. This is heartfelt, and I appreciate your sharing it.

Is it safe to say that you already knew all of these things, but it was helpful to hear them again?

I think that is a true statement. It's advice I would give someone else, yet somehow had not given to myself.

Lessons are repeated until they are learned. :)

Stephanie, how rigid are online applications, e.g., entering less than the 8-10 yrs. experience that they require? From what I've understood, which was a long time ago, applications were initially scanned, with no opportunity for a narrative.

Unfortunately that is still the case, so the narrative needs to take place on your resume. When I list these huge projects I've worked on, or schooling I've done, it speaks for itself. It should be enough to at least get the recruiter interested in chatting with you more.

And that's the primary goal of a resume: To begin a discussion. 

Stephanie FYI I changed the title of this post. I think it's a lot more compelling now. 

Oooh, I like it!

I'm glad you like it. I don't change titles unless I think it can help. 

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