the post in which I accuse everyone of incompetence

A reader writes:

Why are recruiters idiots, he asks in absolute frustration?

I talked to a recruiter today that didn’t let me continue the application process or talk to me after learning I didn’t have a specific experience on my resume. I’m a programmer, and this is experience that A) is not coding and B) is similar to other experience on my resume. It would be like me putting WordPress on my resume and the recruiter saying, “Well, I don’t see MovableType on here so, I’m sorry, but…”

Granted this all means I’m glad I don’t work there. Still, how does it get to this? Why do recruiters insist on falling back to cookie cutter molds for the people they are looking for?

People looking for a job are people. They have different experiences, knowledge sets, ways of learning. I have never understood why one specific thing should make or break an application process. Find out what the person is like from the resume and by talking to them, not by a word search.

Well, you’re talking about some recruiters, not all. And yes, some aren’t good at their jobs, just like you’ll find people who aren’t good at their jobs in every profession.

This is why I think it’s good to talk to the hiring manager whenever possible; HR people and recruiters don’t always fully understand what the hiring manager is looking for. The good ones do — but again, they’re not all good. (The hiring managers aren’t always good either, of course — but at least then you’re cutting out the middle man.)

You can try to educate the person by explaining that the experience she’s looking for has the same foundation as your experience in ___, and it’s possible that might work. But it’s also possible that she might be the kind of person who won’t or can’t think outside the checklist she’s working off of.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that they really do have a good reason for requiring some very specific skill or experience that you can’t see from the outside.

But really, think about how much incompetence you see in daily life. It’s everywhere. I suspect the rate of incompetence among recruiters is no more or no less than in any other profession. It’s just more frustrating when the person in question is someone who has your career in their hands (understandably).

I’m sure that cheered you up.

{ 8 comments… read them below }

  1. Kerry*

    I've known lots of recruiters like that.

    But…I've also had circumstances in which I've had a hiring manager who says, "I absolutely don't want anyone who doesn't have (fill in the blank…a college degree, 2 years of experience with our proprietary system, or something else that isn't reasonable at all). Some of these people just could not be swayed (and then whined when the job went unfilled).

    You can't necessarily tell from the outside who the idiot is…just that there's an idiot in there somewhere. And really, it doesn't matter much, because the end result is the same.

    It sucks, but all you can do is move on to the next one.

  2. Anonymous*

    I know a lot of recruiters that are like this as well.

    If I'm right in assuming that the requirement was stated in the job advertisement, maybe a way to get around it would be to explain what you just said to AAM in a covering letter. If you explain that the experience that you have is highly similar to the requirement of the company, then that might help?

  3. Richard*

    Aah, lazy recruitment departments who work off keywords and set checklists. Always fun.

    And they are the same reason that to this day, I get emails from recruiters who found '.net' in my CV from an URL, and assume that I'm a interested in a �60k a year senior .NET programming position because of this.

    I'm currently in an entry-level position, and as much as the �40k raise would be nice, I don't think that I'm who they are looking for.

  4. Joanna Lord*

    "But really, think about how much incompetence you see in daily life. It's everywhere."

    Ha–> hilarious, but I'm so glad you pointed it out. It seems as the job market took a turn for the worse there became an unrealistic expectation put on a lot of companies/HR managers/recruiters. Its important to remember that with every occupation comes the best and the not so best.

    Thanks for the reminder…

  5. novice-hr*

    wow. I had the exact same experiene as the OP. When I was applying for a HR position, a recruiter called me and right away she said "Oh, I love your experience and it seems impressive, however, do you have experience in Peoplesoft?" I told her no but I have used something similar at my previous company. She immediatly told me that Peoplesoft is a criteria and that although she loves my expereince, she can't proceed further. I tried telling her that eventhough it's different, I'm sure I can adapt to it quickly. But she refused. I was pretty dissapointed after I heard that. But like Kerry said, all you can do is move on and don't let it pull you down! Good luck!

  6. Anonymous*

    There are a lot of recruiters, HR managers and hiring managers out there who just like to go through a bunch of checkboxes for very specific skill sets. If they don't get all 20 out of 20, then you're a reject. These people are clueless, and you're better off not working there anyway.

    From my own personal experience, this is particularly true if you don't know version X.Y.Z of some software program.

    Just move on – it's their loss, not yours.

  7. Anonymous*

    I kind of resent the idea that software (such as PeopleSoft) and coding languages are easy to learn.

    Perhaps I don't have the time or energy to train someone on a basic skill set that we need for our company? Perhaps it's absolutely necessary that the candidate know X to succeed in this role? Perhaps, just perhaps, it's more important than candidates believe it is. You don't know much from the outside looking in and nothing is more frustrating than candidates who fell entitled to positions, as this person clearly feels.

  8. Anonymous*

    It is very frustrating dealing with the recruiters when they have no idea what the job really entails. For example, I am a medical professional and dealt with a recruiter who is not. He has no idea about the job! He told me I was not qualified for the experienced position because I did not have Basic Life Support (BLS). I flat out told him that the reason I did not list BLS on my resume is because I am certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). He was confused…I told him that it is understood that I have BLS because you can't have ACLS without it. Any other medical professional would know this and it's frustrating to get that response from him. I listed 3 other specialty certifications above and beyond the BLS certification – he didn't know what they meant. He finally put me through to the hiring manager and of course she thought I was well qualified for the job and offered it to me.

    What is really frustrating is that these recruiters hold your application and it is up to them to decide to pass it along or not.

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