Open Letter To Recruiters

This was originally posted on My Linked in Power Forum. So it’s taken somewhat out of context but you’ll get the gist.

This is more like an open letter to the recruiting industry. Lately I have noticed that more and more recruiters are asking for more and more from me before they will even show my resume to their client. Here is my answer.

1.) No, I will not rewrite my resume to fit the needs of your client. My resume is something that I have been working on for years and is my marketing piece. I will however take your suggestions on improving my resume. I appreciate your insight and experience but I feel no obligation to put my resume in your format or answer extensive questionnaires for the privilege of being submitted to your client. If that makes me loose an interview here or there I’m OK with that. If you lose a quality candidate are you OK with that?
2.) No, you may not have references before you set up an interview. This is just silly. If I gave out references to everyone that ever asked, my references would stop saying nice things about me because their phone would be ringing off the hook! My references are doing me a favor by taking your call. I would be doing a disservice to them if I asked them to take the number of calls your industry is asking me to ask them to take. I prefer if you make reference checks after the first interview. In my line of work it usually takes several interviews before an offer can be made so you can wait till after the first one. I might be persuaded to let you check my references after you setup the first interview but before it takes place. Under no circumstances will I let you bug my colleagues before you even submit my resume to your client!
3.) No, I will not fill out your application prior to the first interview. This is mostly HR departments or internal that do this and not traditional 3rd party recruiters. I understand that your application is important to you. But you would not believe the hours I have spent filling out applications that go into a black hole. I don’t expect to hear back from you. I don’t expect to be told why I was not considered. I don’t expect any feedback that is at all useful to me.

Folks it’s all about return on investment. My time is valuable to me. I know that my time is not nearly as valuable to anyone else as it is to me. But I am responsible to managing my time. No one else is. If you can get less qualified or more desperate candidates to jump through all your hoops more power to you. But I get the sense every time I speak with one of these people that they think they are doing me a favor. I got that sense from some of the responses to my last post too.

Yes you are getting paid by your client to fill a position with an adequate candidate. I understand you don’t work for me. And it’s not your job to get me a job. Frankly no recruiter has ever gotten me a job. I got me every job I’ve ever had. Sometimes recruiters were used as an advertising and screening mechanism by the employer along the way. But the recruiter did not impress the employer in the interview process. I did.

I get the feeling that more and more 6 figure candidates will revolt as time goes on. This will make good old fashion networking more and more important.

The Group Mind

How a survival exercise can save today’s church

My friends know I’ve recently been on a training exercise up in Redmond, WA. In Redmond we did several team building exercises. One of which was a survival exercise. Could your team survive a plane crash in the cold terrain of rugged Canada?

You and your teammates survive a plane crash. You salvage 15 items from the plane. You must rate the items in order of importance first individually then as a team. After you complete the exercise, you will compare your ratings against the experts to see if you lived or died.
So we went about quietly rating our items. Then it was time for the team to get together and work out the team ranking.

My team first wanted to try to walk out like many others. But after talking about the risks and challenges involved, we came to a consensus that it was safer to try to make camp and wait it out. In our plane crash scenario it’s important to understand there was no one “in charge” of our band of survivors. Even the captain of the plane was supposedly dead. So the only power that could be exerted initially in the exercise was that of leadership and charisma. So we as a group came to a decision. And no one was around to tell us how to make that decision.

How we came to the decision to stay was interesting in itself. During the initial chaos someone came up with the idea that we should find out if anyone had any survival training. Two people spoke up but only one was heard. The one that wasn’t heard interestingly had the best training and ultimately the best individual score. This is important.

In a fair system you might simply average the scores each item received and go with that. That would give each person equal input into the decision process. Or we could vote on it. And choose as a group to go with the vote. We might find out who the most likely expert is and just agree to go with the experts choices.

So we each argued some more passionately then the others about why our choices were in essences better then everyone else’s choices. In the end we came up with a list that no one was happy with but everyone agreed to follow.

You might find the results interesting. One might have thought the team expert who ended up having the best individual score would have beaten the team score. But he did not. It wasn’t even close. Our unhappy team did survive because we choose to stay verses attempting a walk out. And we did good enough on our ranking.

Lessons learned out of this exercise were in our face. Had we all took the time to really understand who in our group had the expertise we would have fared much better. That is not to say we should have abdicated our decision making to him. Because clearly as a group we were better than he was alone. In addition he should have made himself heard. Only half the blame goes to the group for not listening to him. The other half is his for not stepping up.

The other big lesson was that the group mind is smarter than the average of the component minds. Had we just taken an average, we would have died. And the two people with the previous training, (a previous boy scout and a Norwegian trained soldier) would have been the only two to survive.

So how does this apply to the church? The church in the U.S. is primarily run in an authoritarian style. There is usually someone at the top that is paid to be the expert. And that expert makes the decisions the others generally agree to follow mostly without question. Because if you question you can be thrown out of the church (or otherwise ostracized.)

But in our exercise two points contrast with the U.S. church of today. For one the real expert wasn’t the most charismatic on my team. In today’s churches the “successful” ones are often headed by the charismatic types. There is no way that one man can be the expert in all aspects of church. And secondly even if he is an expert in one thing or another, does that mean that he is more expert then his entire congregation? Probably not.

In fact as the group gets bigger and more minds are available the level of expertise of the group can grow dramatically if it is molded to do so.

The pastor is most often like the most persuasive in our team exercise. People listen to him. For whatever reason, he has the skill of working with people. His job is not to make all the decisions. But to make certain the group mind can work effectively. To make sure the real experts are heard. And to work on connecting people in such a way that the best results and outcomes are achieved as often as possible.

There is an exception to the group mind theory. And that’s when the group is just plain wrong. It’s rare but it does happen. See the Israelites leaving Egypt for several examples. But that’s another blog.