The recruiter diary
While you look for a job, they're looking for you.
November 30, 2010 6:07 PM
The six job recruiters are stationed on the left side of the office. Each one is posted between gray cubicles, which they have made into homely little nooks. The vibe is calm and pleasant, and the dominant sounds are clicking and clacking on the keyboard. One recruiter is holding the phone while leaving a voicemail, while another is finishing up some Chinese food at his desk. Then there is junior recruiter Rosie Edson, whose hands never seem to lift off her keyboard and mouse.
Edson looks intently between her two Dell monitors and talks through her headset with a firm voice. She keeps a headset on so her hands can be free to type at all times. After about a year of working at TechLink Systems, Edson was promoted to recruiter where she quickly broke the company record for being the fastest to place an employee at a job.
Currently six months in as a recruiter, Edson believes her job provides the ability to learn about other people's careers and different industries. The job is considered flexible where the outcome of your work is defined by how much effort you put in. This means, putting in extra hours may deliver better results.
TechLink Systems is a privately held recruiting company that acts as a middleman between prospective employees and hiring companies. TechLink CEO Jane Kim and her two siblings manage branches in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. According to TechLink's website, their goal is to "provide contract and contingency placements of highly skilled professionals to organizations nationwide." Some of their major clients are within the finance, engineering, information technology, health sciences, industry and government, and science/chemistry industries.
Each recruiter has a monthly goal to place at least one to five employees at a job, whether it is a permanent or temporary position. In some ways, being a recruiter may be viewed as a professional nanny for adults looking to work. Potential employees, or "candidates" as the recruiters call them, should feel appreciative for having guidance throughout the job obtaining process.
In the heart of San Francisco's Financial District, Edson steps out of her morning meeting focusing on her daily tasks with a cup of coffee beside her. Throughout a typical day, she will receive up to four positions to fill. These positions are given by vendor managers, for example, Kelly Services and Manpower, who act as middlemen between TechLink recruiters and their clients, some being Google and Johnson & Johnson.
Edson then looks through her file of old candidates, which she refers to as a pipeline, to see if anyone is interested and qualified to work the positions she is told to fill. If not, she creates a new search string and types a bunch of keywords into job boards such as Monster, Careerbuilder, and LinkedIn among others. These job boards all provide access to people's resumes.
After reviewing numerous resumes, Edson will find potential candidates she thinks are suitable for the various positions and starts making phone calls to them. These calls are an important step in the process as they resemble mini-evaluations to make sure the candidates are not fabricating their resumes.
"I'll ask questions like 'what's your experience using product X?' or 'what was the turnout after using this certain program?,'" Edson says. She makes about twenty to thirty phone calls a day.
After the phone call, if a candidate sounds fitted for a position, Edson submits his or her resume to the client. She looks over the resume to make sure it is in the client's requested format. If anything needs to be altered, Edson will make changes on the resume herself to save time. After submission, a waiting game happens where the client may not give feedback until a month later. In the meantime, maintaining relationships with the candidates is important so that they do not lose interest.
"Anyone can recruit, not everyone can be good at it. It takes patience and perseverance to not have candidates talk over you," Edson says. "Especially as a junior recruiter, credibility over the phone is big. You have to establish this [credibility] from the beginning and focus on the opportunity being given."
Edson also has to send an informative email to the candidate with notification of submission and overall details about the client and job description. If the client is not interested in the candidate, he or she is put in the pipeline and informed of future opportunities. However, if the client is interested, Edson calls the candidate back and sets up an interview. TechLink recruiters aim for a 30 to 40 percent interview ratio out of the people they submit.
After an appointment is set, Edson sends the candidate an email with interview tips, focusing on things to avoid, things to say, what to research about the company, and a confirmation of date, place, and time. Edson explains that this mandatory step can boost a candidate's confidence and settle the nerves before an interview.
"If you know what your clients are looking for, you know what they want. You can give extra insight to your candidate like, 'you only have a twenty minute interview, so focus on these five specific things,'" Edson says.
Just because the interview goes well does not mean the recruiting process is finished. If the candidate is an extremely qualified individual, they may have different job offers from several other recruiting companies. In this situation, Edson would have to use her sales skills and convince her candidate that TechLink's offer is better than any other.
Waiting and sitting around is not tolerated in the recruiter world. To be successful, you constantly stay on top of the game and fill in the position before another recruiting company may get to it. On certain nights, Edson works late in the office, even past two rounds of janitors. By these hours, only the sounds of her keyboard and the janitors sweeping remain. Edson's persistence of working voluntary twelve-hour shifts shows in the outcome of her work.
Even after a job position is filled, it is the recruiter's responsibility to maintain the candidate's status and record. The recruiter is the go-to person for the rest of the candidate's contract with the company.
"TechLink is the candidate's employer. Everything, including work hours, needs to be approved by TechLink first. Checks, benefits, and health insurance are all given by our company," Denise Oyama, TechLink's adminisitrative coordinator says.
After a candidate receives employment from a TechLink client, the process is still not over. Oyama rounds off the final steps, on top of doing administrative office work and assisting all of TechLink's employees. Oyama sends the candidate authorization forms for background checks that may include drug screening, criminal history, education, past employers, residence history, credit history, and claims.
The screening companies actually call employers and schools to verify dates and degrees. In addition, the drug screening companies request a standard urine test which can check for five to ten types of drugs. For medical environment jobs or labs, a tuberculosis test may be required.
While waiting for approval, Oyama organizes paperwork for the candidate to fill out. The first set are TechLink documents which include an offer letter, tax forms, an I-9 form, data records, and emergency records. The second set of paperwork varies in length depending on the client. All the finished paperwork is sent to the employer before the candidate begins work.
As this process is only for one hypothetical candidate, TechLink recruiters may go through this procedure a number of times per day with overlapping situations. This environment forces TechLink employees to think on their feet and practice tremendous organizational skills.
Edson and Oyama both agree that TechLink's recruiting process is a teaching experience, "Sometimes it's about trial and error. You learn from your mistakes and there's nothing you can't do if you aim high."
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