by Mike Dailey on March 1, 2009

The global economy continues to fluctuate between bad and worse, while the outlook for Information Technology jobs seemingly ebbs and flows with the latest economic news headlines.  As the information technology workforce rides the waves of uncertainty, IT recruiters flood prospective candidates with email and phone calls in an attempt to fill every IT related position crossing their desk.

Many of these emails and phone calls, however, miss the mark in terms of candidate skill, location, or compensation.  These are not small gaps in skill requirements or experience, but major differences between what the employer needs and what the prospective employee can offer.  When these types of opportunities land in front of me I am often dismayed at how little research the recruiter has done before contacting the potential candidate.

Below is an excerpt from an email I received today.  This email was from an IT recruiter seeking to fill a contract position.

*****Immediately Needed A Consultant****
Position:Jr. Cisco Network Engineer (3)
Location:Bronx. NY
Length:12 months
Start Date:ASAP
· MUST BE A CCIE

For anyone familiar with Cisco certifications and the field of Cisco networking, it will be obvious that a CCIE, the premier certification from Cisco, is not a junior level certification.  For an IT recruiter to seek a CCIE to fill a “Jr” position shows that this recruiter is completely out of touch with the field he is recruiting for.

In addition, had this recruiter actually read my resume, as he stated he had done in the opening of the email, he would have found that I am not CCIE certified, which is a stated requirement for this position.  Why would he pursue a candidate who does not possess a key skill or required certification for the position?  Quite simply, this recruiter did not take the time to read my resume or to understand who I am as a candidate in order to pre-screen me before sending the email. 

My resume is publically available through the leading IT job search services, and indeed, this is how recruiters are finding my contact information.  Given that fact, they have a complete profile of my experience, types and levels of certifications, and my employment history.  I receive upwards of a dozen emails such as this per week, and at least half as many phone calls.  In the largest percentage of these the position is so out of line with my skill set that I’m left wondering what the recruiter was thinking when they decided to contact me.

As a potential candidate with over 17 years of experience in my field, I take my career seriously.  I expect a recruiter to do the same, especially in a tumultuous economic environment where my ability to earn an income and support my family depends heavily on the experience and dependability of the recruiter.  Having access to my information through job search and recruiting sites, and using this information to locate me as a prospective candidate, there is an expectation that the recruiter will also use this information to pre-qualify me as a candidate.  When a recruiter contacts me, without first understanding who I am compared to the position criteria, it is a clear sign that the recruiter invested little or no time in learning about me as an individual or prospective candidate.  This is not the type of recruiter I want to work with, and neither should you.

I understand how hard it can be to find a good position in this economy.  It takes the investment of a great deal of personal time and energy to undertake a job search.  Having that time and energy wasted by a recruiter, reviewing or discussing opportunities that completely miss the mark, is something that simply should not be tolerated by you as the candidate.  Recruiters make their living from the fees earned by filing a position, and in many cases a recruiter will attempt to shoehorn a candidate into a position just to close the deal.  This does a major disservice to the hiring organization, and to you as a candidate.

When contacted about an opportunity, and it becomes clear that the recruiter did not take the time to research you as a candidate before contacting you, take a few moments to politely let them know.  Do not be afraid that the recruiter will pass you over for future opportunities.  They are in their role to earn the placement fee, and I haven’t met a recruiter yet that turned away a placement fee because he and the candidate did not see eye to eye. 

When you find a good recruiter, however, one that does their job well, do everything you can to maintain a good relationship with that individual.  You can be an asset to each other, partnering to the benefit of each of your careers.

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