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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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So I get a call, in the middle of the workday, from a recruiting firm. Blocked number, as always. They introduce themselves and their firm, and mention that I “worked with one of their colleagues” in the past. Kay. From memory, it played out roughly like this:

Me: “No, I’m happy where I am, thank you.”

Them: “Really, so you’re not looking?”

Me: “No, thanks.”

Them: Well, you’re still at UBS?

“Listen, if you can’t be bothered to do the minimal legwork to figure out where I’m working, I have no interest in working with you.”

“Well, I could find you, if I wanted to…”

And I hang up.

I’m not interested in cold calls from second-rate recruiters. Never mind that I’m at work, it’s during the work day. I really don’t appreciate being contacted during working hours for any reason.

About a minute later I get a call at work from the same recruiter.

“Aaron?”

“Yeah.”

“Hey, this is the recruiter you just blew off. I guess I can find you. See, I found you. Good luck with your search. And your life, for that matter.”

He then hung up. Way to go, guy, you found me! You win! Five points!

He completely missed my point. It wasn’t that I was challenging him to find me. Or suggesting that it would be hard to find me. It was, in fact, the opposite. I’m trivial to find. It’s easy to get updated information on where I’m working and what I’m doing! You have to be pretty ineffective at your job as a recruiter if you aren’t searching the web for your cold calls ahead of time.

My point was that the minute of work it took to find me once he got blown off could have been spent finding a current resume for me and doing a quick check on who I am now. Before he called me. Then we could have had an intelligent conversation!

Instead, he made two things clear. First, it’s obvious that for this firm, I am just a line item in some database. Every six months the new junior recruiter needs to check off all the stale contacts, mine them for contacts, and see if they’re looking. For brownie points they can update the record with new contact information and employer data; obviously they haven’t done this, since I’ve been repeatedly pestered with stale information by this firm! Secondly, this recruiter made it clear that I’m not a priority. He made it very clear there would be no legwork done on my behalf, and that there’s an inability for his firm to professionally handle a situation when things get difficult.

Yes, I blew this recruiter off, but let’s get hypothetical. What if he called me a minute later on my work phone… Instead of behaving smug for having looked me up on Google, he could have apologized for not doing any legwork ahead of time, and indicated that he actually had some pretty exciting opportunities. He could tell me that he didn’t appreciate being hung up on. He could tell me I’m unprofessional. Or, he could lie and tell me he understood my frustration. He could pander to me and get me interested in what he’s selling. That’s his job!

The game is easy: Try to convert me to a sale! Get me to at least listen to what is being sold. You’re cold calling me, during working hours, on my private number. You better have something pretty nice, and if you don’t, you better be able to wrap a nice bow around it if you’re going to waste my time. Calling me and begging me for the contact information of my friends and not even knowing where I’m working is going to get you exactly nowhere.

I know the market is much better for jobs than it was. That said, I’m also positive that it’s still hard to find top talent. Maybe that’s not what this recruiter was looking for. I’ll never know; I’m sure I’m on the firm’s blacklist now. Good riddance. I’ve worked with exceptional recruiters before; they are different creatures. I got a form letter from a recruiter the other day that was carefully filled in. They mentioned where I went to school, where I’m working now, and celebrated my past experience. We’re talking about a form letter that probably took the recruiter thirty seconds to assemble, but it had a personal touch. It showed a bit of effort. That sort of attention to detail gives people pause and makes them take you a lot more seriously.