Recruiting 101 - An Introduction

Many of you may not be aware of the fact, but ACP/TPF Today is not a full-time job for me. My chosen profession is TPF systems programmer, and that is not only where the majority of my time is spent, but also where the majority of my income is derived. My most recent confrontation with the ever changing job market happened a few months ago in July, when my contract with my client came to an end. What I quickly came to realize, was that all of the experience and credentials in the world aren't worth a thing when you run up against inadequately trained company recruiters. Economics aside, unless Human Resources is prepared to do their job, you may not ever get the chance to do yours!

There are several things I'd like to point out that I believe can only benefit companies looking to staff technical people. First of all, it's a good idea to provide your recruiters with some technical background. A one day overview in most cases is sufficient to give a recruiter enough of a background in the job responsibilities and related skills required to do the job. Most recruiters are the first contact a candidate has with a company, and those first impressions are critical to both parties involved. By not putting your best foot forward, the company runs the risk of losing the candidate within the first 5 minutes of the initial contact.

The next thing that needs to start happening, is for Personnel to take an active part in the job description and posting process. Not only does this affirm the education process for the recruiter, but also keeps Personnel actively involved in the entire process, from start-to-finish.

Of equal importance is for Personnel to make very sure that the remaining steps in the process have been intelligently organized. One of my less than successful attempts at finding a job was severely hampered by the fact that the position I was applying for was 1) being screened by an acting Manager in a temporary position, 2) slated to report to a different Director for the first 6 months, and 3) being moved under yet another Director after the first 6 months. It doesn't take a genius to realize that the politics alone made the situation impossible.

Lastly, what must never be overlooked is plain and simple professionalism. I can't tell you the number of times that I've asked what I thought were reasonable questions about benefits and company policy, that the individual sitting across from me could not answer. Recruiters need to understand that in addition to their credibility being on the line, so are the company's chances of hiring that person. It's best to be prepared.

On the opposite side of the professional coin lies the reality that not everyone is qualified for every job. As an example, consider the following letter.

Dear Mr. Sadowsky,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with us and discuss the position of TPF Systems Programmer. At this time we feel that your background and experience does not match with the position, however we would like to keep your resume on file for consideration in the event a position does open up in the future. Thank you again for taking the time to visit with us, and blah blah blah...

So what's wrong with this picture? In the first place, it's obviously a form letter which leaves a less than desirable taste in anyone's mouth. But more importantly, there is no discussion at all about why you're not qualified for the job. Wouldn't it be nice if you were told what your shortcomings were, so you could take steps to enhance those skills which they felt were lacking. If a company won't take the time to assist you in improving your possibilities in the future, why should they bother to keep your resume on file? That's a lose-lose situation for everyone!

I did find a good job, with the company of my choice, so this is not to be construed as sour grapes. But there are a lot of talented people out there without jobs, and part of the responsibility for that has to rest with the Human Resource organizations. Without the ability to properly screen technical candidates, the available talent in the marketplace goes wasted. Without the desire to maximize the "human resource", and to nurture its potential, the message projected is clearly one of complacency which leaves a negative image that can never be erased. The immediate effect is that the candidate does not come to work for you now. Since that is your decision, the point is of little concern. The long term effect however, is that the candidate is likely to never come to work for you in the future. That becomes the candidate's decision, and that may be more costly to the company than it ever realizes.

Alan Sadowsky