Towards the middle of last year, when it became clear that my employer would get acquired, I started to do myself what all of my applicants had done before me: Putting together a resume and starting to put out some feelers into the job market.
This process and experience was greatly edifying on the one hand, and quite humbling on the other...
Let’s cover the humbling part first: I had been with the same company for almost seven years. As the company’s Director of Recruiting, I filled dozens of technical and sales positions all across the country, and was the “expert” in all matters related to resumes, interviewing, and career moves. Putting a resume together for me was the furthest from my mind, and even if I had to do it, I thought, “So what. I’ve got this! I know what to do. I know all about resumes and job searching. I am a recruiter!”
First of all, I was amazed at how challenging I found it to write my own resume. I must have given resume advice to hundreds of applicants in my 15+ years as a professional recruiter, but when I finally sat down and had to start listing my own skills and experiences on a sheet of paper, I froze (deer in headlights). This was a lot harder than freely dishing out resume tips!
Next, I found it enormously tricky to divide my mental focus (and bandwidth) between the task at hand (doing my job I am getting paid for and was expected to perform in at a maximum level) and investing energy in exploring new options. It was an odd mix of emotions that went along with this process, including a healthy portion of guilt. As a recruiter, I surely was aware that this is something my applicants went through as well, but I didn’t really deploy any significant amount of empathy towards this balancing act. Working and job hunting at the same time is really, really hard!
The thing I struggled with the most during my job search was the time it took to apply to different opportunities. The overriding conclusion to this experience, and most edifying to me, was the realization that had I partnered with a good recruiter, my job search would have been a lot smoother! I was stubborn at the wrong time... This recruiter really could have used a recruiter!
A good recruiter can make the logistics of evaluating and vetting potential job opportunities so much more effective.
Spotting interesting opportunities online on my own was the easy part, but then came the additional steps:
- Filling out some sort of online form/application (I expected this with larger companies, but I was amazed at how many smaller, even start-ups, seem to have inserted this step into the application process)
- A phone call by HR (1st phone interview) or an in-house recruiter
- Composing and sending a thank you email
- A call with a hiring manager (2nd phone interview)
- Another thank you email.
- Take time off for 1st face-to-face interview – even for a 1 hour initial meeting, that meant taking off minimally ½ day (something that was impossible to “sneak in” in my role – as I was reachable and online pretty much at all times)
- On more than one occasion was then asked to compose a “motivational letter” or to submit a 30-60-90 day sales/business plan
See what I mean? I haven’t even gotten to the 2nd round of interviews yet, but I am already 1+ days into the process. These steps seem all fair and reasonable, but how often can you really manage to engage on that basis when you still have a full-time job? Maybe once a week? Between my full-time job, business travel, and a busy family life, I managed to pull this off only approximately once per month – Not nearly often enough in order to have thoroughly explored all my options.
In the end, I was blessed to have been presented with an offer to stay on in a new role, and also received an offer to join a company started by a former colleague of mine, but for a while I had this nagging feeling I left a lot of stones unturned...
The flood of “job alerts” from indeed and LinkedIn were overwhelming: Almost without exception, all of these opportunities looked great on (digital) paper - fancy career pages, amazing teams, great ideas etc., but I started to tune them out just a week or two into my job search. I kind of grew numb to them, knowing full well that there was no way I could really take the time to properly vet or explore all of these opportunities – unless I were suddenly unemployed with plenty of free time on my hands.
Or... what if I had just partnered with a recruiter. Someone that I could have had a real conversation with about my skills, shortcomings, interests, goals and ambitions. A person that would have helped me work on my resume and then could have vetted job opportunities in advance, made introductions only when appropriate, and managed the job search process for me.
Somebody told me once that doctors make for bad patients. Not sure if that’s true, but being an experienced recruiter, I surely thought I could manage finding a new job on my own... Not a good idea!
Lesson learned: The next time I am exploring the job market, I will partner with a good recruiter! I encourage you to do the same. Happy job hunting!