Update: In case the point wasn’t subtle enough, I have accepted a job. The notes below are my initial brain dump of the other interviews I had leading up to this. Thanks to everyone so far with the outpouring of support.
I thought I would share some of the experiences of the past 4 months. My hope is that you might find the information, especially related to the job market and my job search, insightful. I’ve also decided to keep the names of recruiters, agencies, and employers anonymous wherever possible.
There are many great challenges one faces in life, and for me my most recent one began in earnest in July of last year when my wife found out that the drug-research company she was working for was closing down their office in Durham, NC. In October the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself in the form of an offer for her to carry on her research at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
And so it began…
First and foremost I have to give great praise for my employer and my boss. When my wife and I decided on JHU I was immediately forthcoming, upfront, and honest with the decision and ramifications. My boss took the news with understanding and compassion and I consider myself very fortunate to work for a company that has such amazing leadership. It speaks highly to the culture they encourage and the mentorship program they have which I found such tremendous value in.
Second, there were some great people I encountered along the way that really kept my hope alive. Thank You. Thank you for reading my resume, for taking the time to talk with me and understand my situation and goals and for being honest and upfront. While not all the opportunities were the right fit it was your professional and courteous demeanor that stood out. These qualities were ultimately key influences in the decision on the offer I accepted.
Third, I couldn’t go on without reaffirming the power of friends, community, and networking. Sometimes you just need to hop on IRC or Twitter and vent or proclaim. Other times it’s a beer and hot wings shared with a recruiter or former co-worker. Let folks know what’s going on. Remain positive and up-front and keep everyone up to date with where you are. You might be surprised by the connections that get made and the words of encouragement that come unsolicited.
The End Result: You’ll go to this face-to-face interview. Maybe it goes well, maybe it doesn’t. Don’t take bad news/feedback as a loss, but as invaluable input on how to improve your search. The good interviews that lead to job offers will in retrospect seem so obvious.
If you have been at this for awhile you start to pick up on telltale signs that the person who just called or emailed you hasn’t even read your resume. It’s as obvious as the subject of the email describing a position for a skill-set you don’t have, or the way they lead into the phone conversation and pitch vague details on the job or client. Sometimes these are great opportunities in sheep’s clothing, and other times they are wolves. Push for as much information as possible early on, be direct and drive the conversation.
Be prepared for the “recruiter-spam” flood. It’s hard to avoid and will almost certainly drag you down if you are not prepared for the onslaught. There are some great people out there who are hard workers. There are also allot of people who search on wild-carded skills and mass-select and email every match they find. Sometimes these folks work for agencies that scrape multiple job sites for resumes and keyword-match and hand out lists for them to cold call. This shot-gun approach is the worst possible way to find a great candidate and your needs and ambitions are never in their best interest.
I found that a ‘canned recruiter response’ that is easily copy-and-pasted into a reply email is the best way to politely handle the large volume of these inquiries. Be polite but clear in this response on your high-level career goals, marketable skill-sets, and commute-range or telecommute stance. From my experience you’ll here back from about 10-15% – and they will acknowledge your existence and are polite about your response. The rest you will never hear from again.
The End Result: You might find yourself actually doing a face-to-face interview at some prospective employer. My experience has been that you’ll look back on this and categorize it as part of “The Ugly” and learn to hone/filter out better “The Good”s.
And then there are the scumbags and outright scams. This ate on my soul in words I can’t describe. It sometimes came in the form of a forged email from a job site, in others a call (or two or three or four back-to-back) from different folks who all sound like they are calling from a bar or cramped convention-center hall – the background noise is a huge red flag. If they are using call-sheets or can’t tell you which job site they found your resume on, hang up. If they are the 2nd or 3rd recruiter to call you in a day about a position that you saw and applied for already last week, let them know you have already been submitted, and leave it at that. Don’t divulge the details of who or when or how. Be firm, polite, and don’t return the follow-up calls from “the account rep” over the person you just talked to. Again, big red flag.
There are a number of other indicators that may come up that would flag this as a bad deal. Do your research, make sure you get the full name, phone number, and website of the person who called you “out of the blue”. Check out their website. Look at the jobs they have posted and where their offices are. Use Google Maps ‘Street View’ option to see if they are in a rundown warehouse or in a respectable looking office building or office complex. It could be a clue.
The End Result: If you find yourself doing a face-to-face interview in this situation, it’s not an interview, you have been suckered into the “also ran” corral so someone (with less skills, drive, salary requirements, and experience than you) can seem more promising and make the potential employer think they are getting a great deal from the other candidates they have seen. Chances are you are the 2nd or 3rd person this recruiter agency has rammed through and you are just there for show. Recognize.
…And that’s it for this post. Share your thoughts in the comments below..