Here come the recruiters, hide your long-term unemployed

corporate meeting

This says "stats." If you had eyes, you'd know. (courtesy of

Three recruiters contacted me last Thursday, all within about an hour of each other. The stars must have aligned just so, creating a world where my resume springs to the top of every job board search for “digital marketing professional.” Does this signal the end of the famine, or the beginning of the famine? I’ll let you know when I eat, or die. Maybe it just means I should buy a lottery ticket.

The first recruiter was filling an in-house search engine marketing position, but expressed concern about my extended unemployment. His clients – potential employers – think there’s a problem when a candidate’s unemployment stretches past six months, horrible job market notwithstanding. Skills deteriorate; people get lazy. The long-term unemployed guy, the thinking goes, must be spending all his free time watching “Roseanne” reruns and inhaling Little Debbie snack cakes by the the pallet. Why hire someone who can barely remember how to bathe himself?

But a job search takes a month for every $10,000 of expected income. If my second grade math skills hold up (it has been 30 years), anyone expecting to make over $60,000 a year (6 X 10,000) may want to reexamine their options. A lower salary may be preferable to perceived obsolescence. I understand the recruiter’s point. I don’t like it, but he’s probably right. The burden is on the job seeker to prove continued relevance in an ultra-competitive job market. It’s nice to know the job of finding a job is that much harder.

I wasn’t really qualified for the opening anyway. We both knew it. I tried to talk my way into a meeting anyway, because that’s what I have to do. He backpedaled away from any sort of firm commitment, like a juggler on a unicycle. Recruiters are good at that. The call ended with his promise to run my resume by the company. Even if he actually does, nothing will come of it.

The second email came from an HR person at a reputable company. I would happily work at this place; I’d even hang out in their cafeteria just to make people think I work there. My qualifications line up nicely with the company’s needs, upon first glance. I followed up by phone but couldn’t get through, not even to a voicemail. So I expressed my interest via email, twice. I’ve yet to hear back, though my fingers and toes are crossed, and crossed again. Typing is painful. I’ll follow up once more, by phone and email, before writing it off. It’s frustrating to fail before actually getting a chance.

The third recruiter left a voicemail message while I was cleaning the kitchen and blasting old Rush albums (Power Windows, Hold Your Fire and Moving Pictures, for those of you who were teenage boys in the 1980s). Following up on an email I never received, he invited me to interview for an account manager position. I don’t remember applying. Nor could I find any record in the vast Excel spreadsheet that tracks my job search exploits. Many open positions don’t include the company’s name or identifying information. So I didn’t think much of it. He left a phone number but no name.

I called back later that afternoon to inquire. A frazzled receptionist who only spoke in rapid fire confirmed the company was interviewing for an account manager. She asked a bunch of questions and then put me on hold. Upon picking up again, she had me repeat everything. She then put me on hold again, picked up again and asked for another recap. We eventually arranged an interview for 10:30 the next day. The company forwarded directions via email later that evening. The email stressed that I should “…dress professionally, and to bring a copy of your resume.” A call confirming the meeting came early the next morning.

The initial phone message and followup email both seemed weird at the time. What recruiter calls and doesn’t leave a name? And when does a company ever remind someone how to dress for an interview? The phone conversation soured me some, but didn’t seem that unusual. Having just wrapped up a stint answering phones, I know all to well that people can be distracted at work.

I researched the company as I always do, reading the website and Googling what I found there. Grammar mistakes and misspellings aside, the website was fine for what the company seemed to be – a small marketing agency. It only contained a few pages and didn’t say much of substance, but many are like that. The Flash elements on the site were pointless and annoying. All in all, though, I’ve seen much worse.

The lack of additional info beyond the website concerned me too. Besides a few online press releases, which anyone with a PRWeb account can post for free, there was nothing. Maybe I didn’t dig enough. But a search on any company name should yield tons of stuff. My name brings up pages and pages of results, not that I ever Google it. I especially don’t search for “Norm Elrod” in my pajamas, late at night, while listening to “Juke Box Hero” on repeat and pining for the fame and fortune I so desperately desire. That would be dysfunctional.

And I am anything but dysfunctional. I may have forgotten marketing and basic math, as far as recruiters are concerned. But I am not dysfunctional. I am desperate however. So I went through with the interview. As my next post will reveal, that was a complete waste of time.

Read Job interview, aka complete waste of time

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  1. Sassy Sundry wrote:

    Sigh. I hear you. I’ve applied to jobs like that posted on Craigslist, consoling myself with the thought that at least they really need me.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 8:12 am | Permalink
  2. Sarah wrote:

    I was shocked to get an email from a recruiter last week. I guess employers have released the hounds, so to speak. I had the same anxiety about gaps in employment, but luckily as an artist I can say I’ve been freelancing in between, which I actually have. It makes the gaps less unattractive to potential employers.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  3. After being a Staffing Manager myself, I can confidently say that Recruiters, Temp Agencies(especially Accountemps) and Employers can go blow themselves. I have been a stay at home dad for the last 2 years and have no worries about gaps on my resume.

    Be careful when you go to interview because if you show any ambition they will not want you. Most employers wan’t Swamp Donkeys with a pulse.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Permalink
  4. Oh man. The end of this one was like a punch in the gut. (And yet, a punch in the gut that’s real, and one that everybody who is still lucky enough to have a job should get just to remember what it could be like.) I just whined about something at my job, and now I feel rather silly.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink