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industry recruiters

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:06 pm
by Lisa
I would like to know whether contacting one's references before forwarding a resume/CV to a company is common practice among industry recruiters? I recently had an experience with a recruiter during which I was told I needed to put her in contact with a professional reference before she could forward my CV to company X. Though I am open with my post-doc advisor about my current job hunt, I was hesitant to ask for a referral for a company I may not be interested in and who may not be interested in me (I have had no success with getting interviews by going through recruiters). Consequently, I informed the recruiter that, though I was interested in the position, I was unwilling to provide the names of references at such an early stage in the process. I have not heard back from this recruiter. I would like to know if this is standard practice by recruiters?
Thank you, Lisa

industry recruiters

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:19 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Lisa,

I'm a recruiter, so I'll comment. I think you blew the "mutual respect' element of the recruiter/candidate relationship. You will likely not hear back from her or her firm in the future. That doesn't mean you are out of it with recruiters permanently -- just give them the respect that they require in order to represent you accurately to their clients.

I have no idea why a recruiter would be working on a position that is entry level (companies find their own grad student and postdoc hires, at much less cost, via networking, job fairs and ads). However, she obviously has a personal "quality control" element to her work that anyone should admire. She's not going to put anything in front of a client hiring manager with her name on it that she hasn't checked out first. We do the same here at CareerTrax. You wouldn't have needed to bother your mentor with letters, etc. All she needed to do was to talk to someone for a few minutes in order to learn that you aren't some kind of a nut, and that you really do good science. (You wouldn't believe the things we find out by calling and talking to people for a few minutes, but that is a subject for another post).

Next time, give her the name of another postdoc in your lab, or a Prof on your committee, etc. It's just a phone call, not a big waste of that person's time. Often, the recruiter doesn't even make the calls but they asked you for the reference names to make certain that they were on an even ground with you as far as personal respect goes. She may have found that some PhD's treat her as an "h/r person" and because of this she likes to put them through this one hoop before she works with them. That's something they teach you in Recruiting 101.

Dave Jensen Moderator

Q for Dave on recruiters

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:39 pm
by Drew Parrish
Dave, a question about recruiters:

I've been contacted twice in the past couple of months via voicemail from recruiters who have explained that there are positions available that I may be interested in and to give them a call. It's probably terribly rude, but I haven't called either of them back, because I'm not even entertaining the idea of leaving my current company (I still feel like I just got here). What is the etiquette here? Should I be calling them back and forging relationships in case some day I would like to switch positions?

industry recruiters

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:50 pm
by Val


PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:59 pm
by Lisa
Thank you, Dave for your response. I was not aware that I was showing disrespect by being unwilling to provide references upon the initial contact phone call. I did hear back from her, however, and she agreed to forward my CV to the company, so it looks like there are no hard feelings.

I would appreciate more feedback from you regarding what I should expect from a credible recruiter, and what is expected from me (i.e., what is involved in the mutual respect relationship to which you refer?). For example (and related to the previous question in this thread), how common and/or beneficial is it to maintain a relationship w/a recruiter? I ask this because I have tried to follow up w/ a couple of recruiters and have had no responses. I would think that it is beneficial to keep in touch w/me as it would be for me to keep in touch w/them so as to take advantage of new opportunites- is this misguided on my part?

Again, thank you for your insight!

Q for Dave on recruiters

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:00 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Drew,

Sounds like they are just "Trolling" and looking for people to present to their client companies. Perhaps they aren't calling you about any one project, in which case a general "please return my call" message is left without any specifics. I would say the protocol here would be only to respond if you were truly "looking." Frankly, the best firms don't make general calls like this. They only call when they have a specific project and they are networking. In those cases, you'll likely hear that they've been asked to find a Senior Scientist in your area of expertise, and would you please contact them. In that case, I'd say return the call. You'll make an acquaintance that could help you in the future.

Drew, at least 50% of the contacts that any networker makes, even a recruiter, don't return the calls, and it should NEVER be considered rude. That's just the way people are.

Dave Jensen, Moderator

industry recruiters

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:04 pm
by Dave Jensen
Val writes, "Now there is a question -- how do you know that you can trust the referee ?"

Val, that is an excellent question. When you are just making ONE contact, as in this example, it would be a very critical and easily made error on the part of the recruiter. There's no way to trust just one referree. You have to go further than that, and seek out trends and familiar patterns of behavior. But, in the early days, when you are just trying to get a general "handle" on what a person is like, if that first reference you called was a bogus one, 90% of the recruiters doing the work would just drop that candidate and move on. That would be an obvious mistake in your case. After all, everyone knows you are a perfect gentleman ):

I guess this shows the importance of having your references "primed and ready to go," eh?



PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:10 pm
by Dave Jensen
Lisa asked, "How common and/or beneficial is it to maintain a relationship w/a recruiter? I ask this because I have tried to follow up w/ a couple of recruiters and have had no responses. I would think that it is beneficial to keep in touch w/me as it would be for me to keep in touch w/them so as to take advantage of new opportunites- is this misguided on my part?"

Lisa, that might be the case if you were a very senior person or a person in a small field with a very marketable background. But, scientific recruiters have a ton of resumes in their file drawers and there is no way they can keep in contact with candidates. If they work only a small field, say "Apoptosis researchers," than yes -- keeping in touch with them and them keeping in touch with you would occur. But it doesn't work that way. A recruiter can't make a living in a very small sphere. For them, it is a big world of many different disciplines and types of jobs.

However, recruiters have a very long memory through the use of their database, where they will make note of you and your professional communication with them. This just adds a "plus" to your future prospects with that firm.

In reality, though, recruiters are SO LOW on the totem pole of successful ways to find a job for a new grad or postdoc, that it is better to spend your time networking and working your job search personally. It's actually dangerous to fall into the "recruiter trap" of "just leave it to us - we'll find you a job." That happens so very infrequently.

Dave Jensen, Moderator

recruiters: expanding Dave

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:55 pm
by Kelly
can you expand a bit more of recruiters and how they work? I get calls for people looking for me but I have also gotten calls from people asking about people I knew in graduate school and post-doc. I'm never sure what I am supposed to say.

For example, I can indicate that we were mainly friends as opposed to working in the same lab? One person I got a call on was actually an ex-date. Do I need to identify that relationship?

Can you give us a little primer on what one properly tells recruiters in these types of circumstances where the contact was mainly social as opposed to lab?


How to take recruiters calls -- For Kelly et al

PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 2:21 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Kelly,

I guess you are getting both kinds of recruiter calls.

1) The call to identify candidates for an open position: In this case, the recruiter is often calling to see if you are interested in a particular job. Even though they describe the position and then ask you if "you know anyone who may be interested in such a job," they are still indirectly asking about you. So -- the right response is to say exactly what you are thinking. "Well, that's me in a nutshell, but I'm not interested myself in a move right now. However, there is a guy I used to work with over at Arizona State . . ." In other words, give the caller a couple of leads. Your name will not be used in reference when the call is made (insist on that - but it is standard protocol most of the time), so you are free to help that caller in any way you want. Also, don't assume they know everything about the subject. Give them some obvious names of the gurus in the field, saying that "these won't be candidates, but they certainly could be good sources of information, and they may actually know candidates themselves."

2) The call from a recruiter about a reference on someone else: Every company or institution has its own rules and regulations about how to take a reference call, so these suggestions I make take a back seat to whatever guidelines you are asked to follow in your location. However, when asked about a person, I'd comment on two things only: their ability to do the job, and your overall feeling about them as they rank along with other people you know. If you hate that guy they called about, don't ding him just because you don't like the guy. Could he do the job? Yes, but you may also want to mention that the person is known to be difficult to work with, etc. Just remember that when you start "talking trash" about someone, you are leaving yourself open for problems. If you only know a person personally, as in your date, than all you can say is that you know the fellow personally only, and can't make any comments about how the fellow would perform on the job. "He and I would get into technical discussions, and I was always impressed with the size of his knowledge base on the subject," would be about the best you could do. Also, remember that it is OK and expected for you to pass the names along to the reference-checker about other people who know that person better. "Yes, I knew Fred personally, but you ought to talk to Susan Ames over at ASU who was his colleague for awhile and then his boss. She'd have a more appropriate response for you."

It's funny, but people from the academic world have no idea the extent of the reference checks that are done on them when they consider industry. By working via phone as opposed to letters of reference, the callers are able to get a broad range of responses, and from people who were not on the original list of reference names.

Hope this helps,

Dave Jensen, Moderator