Death of a Recruiter? I Don’t Think So

I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there’ll be nobody home. A sob rises in her throat. We’re free and clear. Sobbing more fully, released: We’re free. — Arthur Miller

All too often we as a society forget the classics of literature and are drawn to cinema houses or Netflix for entertainment. We forget the truly talented scribes of yesteryear who penned novels before television or movies. Life was simpler then, though harsher. We used our imagination, not our opposable thumbs with video games to entertain us. That entertainment came in the way of books, radio, and plays … glorious plays that not only entertained generations but taught us lessons about life, love, and happiness. Arthur Miller, one of the greats, penned a tragedy about Willy Loman, an outside salesman whose life was intertwined with his work. That work taken away from him leaves him despondent and unable to care for his family, so he kills himself in order to leave something behind being the sole money provider.

Right now you are saying, “Why bring up such a tragic tale? How is this about recruiting?”

There is something to be said about the Willy Lomans of the world. These are the people who so ecstatically throw themselves into their world in order to make the world a little better by being a helping hand, calling the candidate back, sending an email, or responding to one. AI in all of its glory and shininess cannot replace the one thing that we can and should bring to the table: the human touch. People young and old want to hear from people, not machines. They want to know that we actually care that they took the time to apply to our jobs.

Recently we had a position that was closed because the team felt it would be better to fill next year. There weren’t a ton of resumes collected, and no one had been interviewed, though I had done some screening and gotten some people into the pipeline. I called the few people in the pipeline to let them know that the position had closed. The others, the ones I had not gotten to, got an email from me explaining the circumstance and to the reasoning. Then it happened: they emailed me back thanking me for not being a black hole. It was not one or two responses, it was man.

Take a moment to let that sink in. Multiple people took yet another moment out of their job search to thank me?!

Really!? 

The emails varied. Some just said thanks. Others asked to be thought of for other roles or ones that were possibly pending but not posted yet. Others asked to be kept in mind for the very job that was put on hold, saying they were really interested in if it opened up again. A few simply thanked me, saying that it was refreshing that a recruiter at least chose to let them know that the position was closed.

I have to admit, a tear went down my cheek when I read them.

Is it really that way, still? After all the conversations and presentations about candidate experience, nothing has seemingly changed, and that, dear readers, hurts my heart. As a side note, this was a software development role. They are out there  … maybe they remember when you did not send them an email or made a call.

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A recruiter’s brand is a thin skin easily cut with careless abandon, and very few have the resources to protect themselves from daggers and cannon fodder fired their way. I suspect many would agree with me that the inevitable phone call or email tears away a little at your soul when you have to give a rejection. I know this all too well, being 50 and single — trust me, I know rejection. However, it’s part of the job you have chosen. And unlike being 16 and the guy/girl you liked rejected you and you feeling animosity, most times the candidate will respect you and the company. There are a number of marvelous companies out there that I have zero interest in helping or working for based on the treatment I received early in my career and even mid-year to senior level. The arrogance was astounding to me.

Frankly, I am surprised I have lasted this long. I suppose that I am a Willy Loman of recruiting, I simply would not know what to with myself if I was not doing the job that I love. Unlike Willy, I don’t have to make that choice quite yet, and I doubt that I would choose the way he went out. I know firsthand what happens when you do. Instead, I will continue the good fight and try and educate those who are coming up the proverbial ladder.

Derek Zeller

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry and has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing within the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliancy. He has experience sourcing for many skill sets including IT, accounting, nursing, and sales He is the senior recruiting lead for comScore’s west coast operations covering all things IT. He has experience with both third party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of applicant tracking systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Helives in Portland, Oregon.