Q and A - Pinging the HR Guy; Job Search in Another City; Slow Moving Employer Decisions; Interviewing After-Hours; An "Agent" Recruiter

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Thank you everyone who sent your great questions about the intricacies of the hiring process! Below I address some of your submissions. The names of the senders have been omitted, and questions have been edited as lightly as possible for purposes of space and clarity (thank you for understanding).

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Question: As a human resources professional, you put up a post, you get hundreds of responses, candidates want to check status, etc. Candidates search on LinkedIn for an HR person in the target company. How well is this type of query received? Do you guys prefer to not be contacted (I would assume yes), what is the etiquette here?

Answer: You hit upon a key observation - it's typical for a recruiter to get hundreds - if not thousands - of résumés for a job posting. I would advise that you follow up with HR using kid gloves - meaning, limit your followup to a single phone message or email to your HR contact to inquire about your résumé. Whether you reach them or not, be gracious with your inquiry. Have something memorable about yourself in the message ("I am an IT engineer with 10 years supporting CISCO"), thank the contact for their time and consideration, and most of all, make your inquiry brief. An email is nice because it can always be written with a great deal of thought AND can include a fresh copy of your résumé. Remember, calling once is a reminder; calling ten times is a form of stalking.

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Question: I've lived in Houston for over 20 years since graduating from college, and I am now looking to move to Los Angeles in order to be closer to family. Any tips on effectively conducting a search remotely, as there's no way I'm leaving my current job until Ihave one lined up in L.A.?

Answer: Conducting a job hunt from another city is extremely difficult, unless your skill set is in super-hot demand (for example, a CPA can pretty easily find work anywhere right now). But, there are a few strategies I would suggest.  The first action I would take is to make your résumé reinforce your connections to your target area. You can get a Google Voice phone number for any location in the United States, which will forward to your current number; in your situation, I would recommend signing up for a number in the 310 Los Angeles area code (or nearby) - this Southern California number will signal to target companies that you have ties to the area. On your résumé, change your address to reflect simply your Google Voice number and email address. As you apply to positions, you will have increased your chances of getting a response from potential employers. While this is no substitute for living in the new area, it should make your phone ring more often. When you speak with potential employers, indicate you are actively looking to move to L.A., and can make yourself available for an in-person interview at their convenience. Then hop on a plane for an interview when asked to do so.

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Question: Why are potential employees told that a decision will be made within a certain time frame when that is not the case?

Answer: Several, perhaps infinite, possible reasons. Here are some potential reasons I can think of off the top of my head:

  • The hiring team may have decided on a candidate and made an offer in their initial time frame only to have their selected candidate decline the offer.
  • The hiring manager had to take unexpected leave.
  • The company had a reorganization and they need get everybody settled.
  • Somebody on the team quit, now they need to figure out how to reallocate work - the original hiring specifications may not be enough.
  • The hiring manager was recently promoted and is new to the process, and didn't realize it would take so much damn time and effort to hire somebody.
  • A key interviewer is traveling on business.
  • A budget freeze has placed the position on hold.
  • The recruiter is stalling for time because he doesn't know how to break the news to you that you're not the leading candidate.
  • A colony of red ants has taken over the office, and everyone is busy applying Benadryl to the bites.

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Question: Why do potential employers/recruiters not understand that when you are currently employed you cannot always interview in the middle of the day or with almost no notice? Not everyone can call out sick. leave early, come in late or use time without risking their current job.

Answer: I get it, believe me. It's tough to do the disappearing act at work without people noticing. Nobody really enjoys staying late at work for several hours unless they're avoiding going home. So, they're trying to make the best use of their hours during the workday, when it's easiest to get everybody lined up for an interview agenda.

But consider what it says about a company when your interview takes place after work. It could mean that the company is trying hard to accommodate your schedule. It could also mean the company culture dictates a work ethic of getting business done at all hours, work-life balance be damned. As an employer are they being flexible to meet your unique needs, or would expect you to be tethered to your phone all waking hours?

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Question: I'm starting a job hunt. A recruiter with a staffing firm contacted me and asked me to not contact any companies directly. He asked instead that he send to him any job postings I see that I'm interested in & he will contact the companies directly. It sounded kinda flaky to me but I was wondering if there was any legit reason for me to do this?

Answer: This recruiter may know people or be working on jobs at some of your target employers, so he may be able to open some doors for you. But I get the sense this recruiter wants to be your “agent," and keep you all to himself so that if he doesn't place you somewhere, nobody does. His motivation would be to get a fee from whatever company he places you at. The issue is that this may close some doors for you - not every company wants to (or even has the budget to) use a staffing firm to fill a position, and by asking you to work through him, this recruiter is asking you to limit your options in the market. Unless you're a Major League Baseball player or a Hollywood actor, where using an agent to contact employers is the norm, I can't recommend heeding his suggestion.

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Do you have any questions about the hiring process you would like to see answered in this blog? Do you have ideas for future article topics?  If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to email me your questions and suggestions to scottcsinger@gmail.com. Submissions will be kept anonymous when published.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.