August 16, 2006

Reflections of a...Recruiter?!?!

So much to blog, so little time in the day. Hopefully, I'll be able to write a couple of posts tonight before hitting the sack.

Well, last week I took the plunge and began training as a recruiter with The Bolton Group here in Atlanta. It's 100% commission which, on the one hand, is janky as all hell, and on the other hand, trés cool because it provides me with all the tools I need to learn the business while I (ethically) continue my search for a KM position. Besides, the ultimate goal here is to develop a niche within KM and that's the prize I have to keep my eye on.

As a people/community development centered knowledge manager this is probably a horrible thing to say, but recruiting over the last week and a half has brought me back to ancient (read: high school) wisdom I used to swear by: people are basically stupid.

With all due respect to corporate loyalty and to Accounting/Finance professionals who probably field a dozen calls from recruiters each month (many of whom are most likely obnoxious and sales-y), when someone calls you with nothing to offer but their phone number and email address in the event that you, or someone you know, might be interested in exploring a new opportunity, you don't hang up on them or turn them away; you politely take their information and tell them you'll call if you need their services. Of course, if they are an ass who calls you every week with the same sales pitch, feel free to give them a mouthful - a good recruiter should at least remember with whom s/he's spoken, but even then, you should feel good knowing that you have options and you're a valuable commodity in the job market - a lot of folks don't get to experience that.

Speaking for myself, I've pretty much ditched the script we've been given and simply use the networking approach - give out my name and company, explain that I'm a recruiter/headhunter and ask if they'd like to take down my phone number and email address in case they (or someone they know) might be interested in seeking out a new opportunity/situation. I say "hello" and "thank you" and ask them how they're doing (contrary to what the shady Brit who's instructing us has said). I don't ask them highly specific details about their current job (except their title) and experience, unless they engage me in a conversation and, even then, I keep my questions to a minimum out of respect for the fact that they are at work - and the fact that I've got at least sixty of these calls to make each day; if they're serious, they'll send a resume and give me a time to call them when we can get into all of that.

About half of the folks will at least take down my information or ask me to send them an email with my contact info, but the other half will tell me how happy they are and decline to take my information.

The recruiter in me is dumbfounded: exactly how many people does the average person have on their list of contacts and among their circle of friends that, if they decided to look for a new job/position for any reason, they could call up and have them be completely dedicated to finding said job/position (more than likely at an increased salary) at absolutely no cost to them???? I can tell you right now, I've got bupkiss - nada, no one. I've got folks who will "keep their ears open" but none who will do the job search and finesse the offer for me.

The knowledge manager in me is perplexed: if all of these folks are so friggin' loyal and happy why aren't most of 'em properly and adequately sharing their knowledge? Are these people the moth-eaten coats in your corporate knowledge closet that need to be cleaned out and dumped in the donation bin?

That's not completely fair, it is possible to be satisfied with where you're at and be a contributing member of that organizational community. I guess I'm just bitter because I don't have any recruiters blowing up my phone and all the ones I've worked with in the past were basically filling the position as a one-off for a client they'd previously worked with. They didn't understand enough about KM to effectively flesh out the job order or prep me for meeting with the company; same with HR. That's what I hope to change. Who better to help companies ascertain and retain the right candidate for their KM and organizational needs than a knowledge manager.

God, I love being an innovator! I just hate making cold calls! :-)