I recently received this response to my blog on unemployment, the ability to find talent and the assumptions that are made:
...you recruitment agents constantly make uninformed judgements, based upon paper alone, and almost always your opinions of the job seeker are wrong. Try being a job seeker with a degree and post graduate qualifications, who consistently gets brushed off without answers from people like you. We try to avoid you and go directly to companies, and by avoiding your agencies, this is maybe why you don't see 'enough' talent. You are not useful to job seekers.
First, let me acknowledge that being a job seeker at the moment would be very difficult, whether you are entering the market post education or you are have twenty years experience and are trying to secure a new opportunity after a redundancy. It is very common for recruitment agencies to be the scapegoat in a difficult market, so I thought I would take the opportunity to address the comments made. 'Recruiters make uninformed decisions based on paper.' It is true that recruiters, whether they are employed as an in-house recruiter with a company or with an external agency, must make an initial assessment of a candidate based on his or her resume. This assessment is based on some key criteria that are set by the client or, in the case of an internal recruiter, the line manager. This shortlisting process is unavoidable and must be made based on the information available. Interviewing every applicant is not feasible for companies and recruitment agencies. The challenge for the job seeker is to ensure they are doing the best to meet the job criteria so that the recruiter doesn't make what may be perceived as a wrong decision. Here are a couple of tips:
- Ensure that the resume submitted reflects the key criteria in the advertisement. Make no assumptions. Spell out exactly how you believe you meet the criteria. For example, you may have undertaken a case study at university that dealt specifically with one of the key criteria. Detail this in the resume or cover letter.
- Make sure your online presence is up to date. Your Linkedin profile should be complete and match your resume. Your Facebook profile should have all the correct privacy settings. Delete any inappropriate tweets.
- Sweat the small stuff. Spelling mistakes and bad grammar are an easy way to eliminate candidates who are up against stiff competition.
'No answers as to why'
Any recruiter who does not return a call needs to be singled out. If you want feedback, make sure you follow up, and if the recruiter does not return your call, then escalate this to their manager. If you are expecting detailed feedback every time you submit an application, this is not an effective use of the recruiter's time, as literally thousands of people may apply for one job. If you want feedback, you need to take the initiative and ask for it, and if you don’t receive feedback, escalate it. A colleague wrote an interesting blog on this recently, which you can find here.
Applying directly to companies
This is a great – and essential – option for job seekers in a changing recruitment landscape. Large corporates have internal recruitment teams many times bigger than most agencies and in many instances manage these teams like a recruitment agency in house, except the clients are internal line managers and not companies. Consequently, many companies only outsource to agencies as a last resort when they need to locate extremely hard-to-find talent. The last statistics I saw regarding this (and even this figure is probably too high) is that recruiters only see about 8% of vacancies. That means 92% of all vacant jobs are filled by companies themselves. So in summary, to our job seeker who posted on Facebook that 'agencies are not useful for job seekers', the answer is that agencies are only a part of the job seeking equation and are statistically only engaged to fill a small percentage of roles. Ultimately, recruiters are likely to remain the scapegoat, but remember that the world of work is more complicated than it first appears.