Are you in a high demand industry? 2 things you should know before posting your resume online
My friend Lisa* is a doctor in her late 40s who’s been practicing for most of her life after finishing med school. Which is not quite as impressive as it first sounds once you consider exactly how much time becoming a doctor actually requires… but I digress. I’m a recruiter, we tend to do that from time to time. Digress, I mean.
Anyway Lisa and I had dinner last week at an amazing new restaurant called Stock and Stable in the vastly underrated food town of Phoenix, AZ. I absolutely love living here and would not change it for anything, except for the summer. It’s starting to get hot.
Lisa’s been simmeringly unhappy at her current job (like many other doctors) for at least the last three or four years — she works in an under-funded, low-income medical setting where she feels exceptionally underappreciated sometimes. In many ways, it’s an untenable situation with no clear ethical solution — she’s slowly becoming worn down from all sorts of petty and bitter backbiting from co-workers, but her patients love her and need her because she takes such good care of them. It’s a really tough spot to be in, so after much thought, Lisa decided to post her resume online and see what else might be out there.
She’s been swarmed by recruiters ever since. They call her at work because recruiting is one of the few industries which still has mandatory call lists — who uses phones anymore? At least for calling people.
Most of these recruiters are pitching positions on the East Coast, California, Texas, Colorado… anywhere but Arizona, where Lisa lives. Lisa’s another one of the crazy ones who loves living here — in addition to family reasons, she bought a house and has spent the better part of 5 years personalizing it in a way that only Lisa can do. Her backyard patio? A Michelangelo of modern landscaping.
Lisa didn’t know what she didn’t know… which is why we started this medium account! Anyway, here’s what she should have known before offering her resume to the internet gods and recruiters.
Recruiting firms are generally not made up of top talent
Imagine a situation that too closely resembles real life — let’s say a Fortune 500 company needs to hire a particular C-level executive to replace someone who left to head up Google’s UX department. They post a job ad on their internal career site and the relevant job boards, but not enough people are applying, or maybe the right person hasn’t applied yet for whatever reason. The job has been vacant for six months or so, there are production targets to hit and the work isn’t getting done… worse yet, the company’s overall stock might even be starting to lose momentum. Recruiters are hired, as saviors, to find exactly the right person to excel at the job required.
That’s another digression that needs to be written about, which is what recruiters look for in an ideal resume or LinkedIn profile! We’ll write about that in a later article. Too much digressing :)
Anyway while recruiters hire key executives, more commonly we hire mid-level doers and practitioners who physically do the work involved, whether it’s building software, manning customer service phones, or in Lisa’s case, seeing patients. This makes good sense — each team has only one leader, so as you get higher and higher there are generally fewer and fewer openings for recruiters to work on, although the fees at the executive level tend to be higher (which is yet another digression).
In all cases, companies pay a great deal of money to find top talent. And that means recruiting firms are always looking to hire other recruiters to help them find key professionals.
Why does this matter?
In terms of recruiting company composition, many recruiting firms are made up of armies of recent college grads with low base salaries and promises of high commissions (this is especially true of the larger firms). At first glance, a high-upside, community-focused, and results-driven culture seems like the perfect environment for a young, motivated, and driven person to start his or her career after college. And in a lot of ways, it is.
The problem? Many young, motivated, and driven people are interested in other things, like working in a sexy Fortune 500 (or starting their own), succeeding in a high prestige occupation like medicine, law, engineering, entertainment, or investment banking (yes, it is still a thing in some circles), or maybe going to an elite grad school to further their studies. Very few top students have ever considered recruiting as a career — the industry’s just not that well known as a career destination, which is part of the reason for this blog and the business goals we’ve set for my recruiting company.
Regardless, in general the recruiters you are working with are not even close to the caliber of most of the professionals you work with side by side at the office. I’m not saying all recruiters are bad — that’s certainly not the case — but maybe 75% are people I wouldn’t want to work with, let alone provide advice on your career. A significant percentage of these 75% will be completely out of the field within 1–2 years, but in the meantime the law of numbers says you’ll likely be speaking with one of these people about your next potential position.
Before Lisa and I spoke, she assumed recruiters are as professional as she is, and why wouldn’t she? After all, her context is narrow — for her entire career she’s been surrounded by other doctors in healthcare. Her co-workers, including the petty and backbiting ones, at the very least had to get accepted and graduate medical school, which takes an enormous amount of discipline for an extended period of time. Given they take their lives relatively seriously, it’s fair to assume that they take their jobs seriously too.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of most recruiters.
So, what should Lisa have done when she posted her resume online?
1) Very clearly state what kind of job opportunities she’s open to hearing about
Remember that Lisa, like most people, isn’t actively looking for a new opportunity, but she’s open to hearing about jobs she thinks might be interesting. But what kinds of traits would those jobs share?
Even the good recruiters aren’t sure. She didn’t mention anything in her resume. It would have been very simple for Lisa to include something like the following sentence right at the top of her resume:
“Open to hearing about primary care opportunities in the Greater Phoenix area only.”
As another aside, would that do the trick? Not completely. We just discussed how recruiting isn’t generally the most professional industry (certainly not compared to medicine) so there are still some recruiters who would send non-relevant jobs regardless … but I’d estimate that one sentence would weed out at least half of the unwanted recruiter spam. If Lisa’s more picky (let’s say she clearly states she only wants to work with disadvantaged patients), the odds of her being found by that particular type of job go up exponentially. We’ll discuss why this in a future article.
Back to Lisa. What else could she have done?
2) Get a recruiting specific email address and potentially a burner phone
At a high level, there are certain industries where employees tend to be aggressively courted — a few spring to mind immediately (software engineering, nursing, and medicine for starters), but there are definitely others too.
If you’re in an industry and are curious as to whether it’s high demand, ask yourself how long employees generally remain unwillingly unemployed between jobs — I’m not talking about planned 6-month sabbaticals, vacations, or taking time off to raise kids — I’m talking about time spent actively looking for work before finding an brand-new position. In a high demand industry, like software or medicine, you’re generally looking at 1–2 months maximum, which is anecdotally known in the industry but still surprises many developers when they look for new jobs.
For most people not in those industries, that is an absurdly low amount of time, which is part of the reason that these fields tend to be more lucrative and stable — companies are encouraged to pay and treat their employees well or risk losing their workforce to competitors.
If you work in a high demand industry, do not include your daily email address on your resume. Once you post your resume, recruiters will continuously email you, which is flattering at first… but gets frustratingly annoying when the emails continue after you start your new job. A low cost solution is to sign up for an email account at one of the free sites (Yahoo, Hotmail etc) that you can then stop using without disrupting your existing life.
With regard to phone numbers, the advice is more nuanced — getting unwanted recruiting calls at work is never fun, but some recruiting firms still insist on making phone calls rather than sending emails… so it’s possible you might miss out on your perfect opportunity by not including your phone number. Which kind of defeats the purpose of posting your resume online, right?
Regarding phones, you could get another phone number via google voice even maybe even a short-term cell phone, but either option takes time to set up. A more realistic alternative is to add the following statement (or something similar) to the top of your resume:
“Please contact me via email about relevant opportunities at [dedicated recruiting email]”
Recruiters LOVE statements like this because it means people will likely read the emails we’re crafting. More on that in the “what recruiters look for in an ideal resume” post.
In summary, if you are in a high demand industry and want to post your resume online:
- Place a specific sentence (or two) at the top of your resume saying what kinds of opportunities you’re interested in hearing about and
- Get a new email (and possibly another phone number) dedicated to recruiting — you’re about to be overwhelmed with job opportunities!
Questions / comments / concerns? Please comment or email us at email@example.com. Thanks and have a great day!
Warm Regards, Ronjon
*Lisa’s name is changed for privacy