ALC Consulting

October 8, 2009

From the Other Side of the Table

Written by a medical device recruiter, but the recommendations apply to any situation working with a recruiter.

For more information, go to: http://recruiterearth.com/profiles/blogs/confessions-of-a-medical

Confessions of a Medical Device Recruiter (Posted for all my Recruiter Friends – do I hear an Amen?)

How to Get the Attention of Your Favorite Recruiter

I love the recruiting business. Nearly 25 years in the medical industry and I’m still like a junkie about the newest Gee-Whiz device or “inside scoop” into what’s going on in … your company…

But, in the past few months, with this oddly strong need for fearless and unflinching leaders in our Client companies, I find myself struggling to keep up with staying in communication with viable candidates I’ve known for years who are among the unfortunate thousands being laid off through no fault of their own.

My daily email drawer has swelled to 200 – 400 per day – not counting the Viagra and WOW ads nor the 1000 or so emails that go to our general mailbox or to one of my staff. It’s daunting to open up Outlook and see that 329 emails have come in since I left the office at 9pm the night before. Incoming phone calls have increased to a dizzying pace and I hear the urgency in the voicemails of many of the candidates.

To combat this, I’ve increased my average of 20-40 telephone appointments per day by decreasing the average time on each call and tacking on an extra hour or two to the day. My team is charged with reaching out to 80 people per day “live” on top of their other responsibilities which include research, staying current on industry news, email and writing up the final 2-5 candidates that they will submit for open positions.

I try to talk fast and listen faster and feel like I’m in “auctioneer training” half the time because the sheer velocity of the conversation.

Like most of you, I’m now working 70-80 hours routinely in the office despite having added two more employees to try to stay responsive to the candidates and clients that have built our company into such a player in the industry.

But I feel bad when I can’t get to you as quickly as either of us would like. Why? Because we really do try to help and there’s just not enough hours in the day. Most good recruiters – and all the great ones – want to create that “Perfect Storm” of matching executives to the right companies.

So here’s some tips to get your message out to your favorite recruiter(s):

1. Be succinct in communication. I do care. But if I can get a 16 second voicemail with your basic information and purpose of the call, I can get back with you faster. Name, most recent company, phone number (speak clearly and/or leave the number twice so I don’t have to replay) and purpose of the call are fine. Hopefully, you’ve checked my website and can give me the title or Job ID so we can get to the point quickly. And chances are, if you’ve been laid off, I probably already know the reason – and that it’s not a reflection on you. I understand.

1A. Be flexible. Please don’t leave a rambling 8 minute message and then tell me you’re available between 4 and 4:15pm next Tuesday. I do want to communicate with you, but like you, schedule my appointments a week or so in advance to be as productive as possible.

2. Email when possible. I can answer emails late at night even when I can’t phone you.

3. If possible, ALWAYS “apply” online on my website for a position you’re interested in rather than asking me to look over your resume and see what I have that may be a fit. When you express an interest in a position, it “flags” one of my recruiters and puts you at the top of the heap to be contacted – generally within a day or two. If I receive a general “please let me know what you think” query, I save it for the weekend and then assign it to one of our administrative staff – and currently – as of today there are 3291 resumes in queue for general processing. Actual number. And we can only process 100-200 per day per staff person. By applying online and telling us what you’re interested in – you’ll generally get a response (either phone or email) within a few days on most positions.

(Note to self: hire another recruiter).

4. Look at our forum
Medical Device Guru. There are nearly 5000 articles, resume tips, news stories and tons of ideas – that we update daily. You may also want to join the Linkedin Group of the same name or on Twitter .

5. On that same topic, make sure your resume is pristine – and descriptive, including not only your current/most recent company and a brief description- but the website as well – embedded in your resume. If you list your company as “Tyco” or “JNJ” rather than the division or SBU, I can’t as quickly assess where we might have a spot for you. By embedding the URL that best reflects your role, or describing the functional areas of responsibility you managed, my staff and I can have a greater understanding of your career relative to your total organization.

6. Link to your favorite headhunters – like me – on LinkedIN

7. Be generous in recommending other people to us if a position we present to you is not a fit. If it’s a confidential referral, we will honor that. Interestingly, you should know that the single biggest referral source I have for the most senior level positions that I typical work on – is YOUR BOSS. Of course, I can’t tell you this, but more often than not, if you’re talented, but have no room for promotion in your current organization, your boss will confidentially share your name. There’s a lot of good people in medical – and it’s such a small world, is it not?

8. Be patient with us – and any recruiter you work with. The medical device world is still hiring a strong pace. The New York Times reported on January 24, 2009 that white-collar unemployment is 4.6% as opposed to 11.3% for blue collar workers. This is little solace to the 4.6%, but I believe that medical device will continue to fare well in the near future. Even at our company,we’re fortunate to have more opportunities today than this time last year. But the bar is higher and candidates that are difficult, uncooperative and demanding are not getting in front of our clients. It’s human nature. There’s a great saying in my business… “People are hired for what they do – but fired for who they are.” In this environment, as everyone is trying to do more with less, your work-place demeanor and ability to work – and play well – with others is being assessed throughout the interview process. Right or wrong (though it doesn’t happen often) I’ve pulled candidates that were egregiously rude to my adminstrative assistant simply because they could be an HR nightmare to my clients. (Remember that the title of this blog is “Confessions of a Med Device Headhunter… I’m just telling the truth…)

9. It’s OK to “touch base” every week or so if you’re in active consideration for a position and haven’t heard anything. We’re not perfect and sometimes things DO fall through the cracks – especially when the hiring manager is taking a few weeks to set up interviews because he/she is working 70 hours+ per week and doing three jobs – or has lost admin help – or is travelling. We do try to communicate the process, but so much of it is out of our control. By the same token, give us a little breathing room. Noone want to place you more than WE do.

10. Do your homework once we have an interview scheduled for you. While we will do a verbal prep with you and send you materials on our client, you can increase your odds by doing your own homework on the company. We’ve created the Interview Prep Guide for Medical Device Careers as a help – it’s 24 pages packed with medical career interviewing ideas. And its free.

Finally, every day – many times a day – I get asked how the job market looks – quick answer – it’s very strong in many niches within medical device. The smaller companies seem hungry to add top talent and even some of our Fortune 500 clients are planning responsible additions in Q1. Frankly, no company is going to grow without smart, dedicated, and creative talent to weather the next few quarters. While Legacy MedSearch is but one executive search company (and there are alot of great companies like ours), we had a 40% growth last year and are already ahead of plan for 2009 as of May with a week left to go. My guess is that we’ll place 4 people again this month and at least as many in June

I really hope one of those people – is you.

Thanks for working with us. We really are trying our very best.

Advertisements

May 2, 2009

A Must Read for Job Seekers, Contractors and Recruiters!

Susan Tait, a very intelligent and competent writer whose beat is the Portland unemployment scene, has published some great articles on successful job searches and abusive recruiters.

Check out her columns at

http://www.examiner.com/RSS-3773-Portland-Unemployment-Examiner

We find ourselves dovetaling a lot these days. Susan is an excellent resource.

Add her columns to your ” must read” list.

April 15, 2009

Dear Abby

Filed under: Contracting,Networking,Recruiters — Anne Cloward @ 1:24 pm
Tags: , ,

dear-abby2
Dear Abby,
I am a reasonably attractive single woman with a degree and a good job. My friends all say I am reasonably well adjusted. My problem is why can’t I find a guy? You know, “the one?” Where do I begin to find him? Can you suggest some places to look for him?

Lonely in the Northwest

For years I have read variations on this post and Abby’s advice is to get busy, start hanging out with people who share your common interests, and even go to church. She suggests avoiding bars.

The same problem exists when you try to find the good recruiters. How do you find the good ones? Where do they hang out? How can you meet them?

They hang out in their offices, on the Internet, at professional meetings such a local special interest groups, and anywhere people are prone to gather to conduct business. I have a secret for you; they are just as anxious to meet up with you, if you are a well qualified candidate and work with you. Good recruiters are always willing to add new people to their list of candidates.

Over the past 11 years, I have worked with many recruiters and they have come into my life in various ways. Here are the most successful ones:

  1. Ask contractors you know for the names of their recruiters. Ask them if you can use their name and then contact the recruiter. Since many recruiting firms offer a referral bonus, contractors are willing to recommend you to their recruiters.
  2. Ask for recommendations on Linkedin from any of your contacts and groups. People are willing to share their experiences and help. If they are in Linkedin, that’s a sign they are open contacts with new people.
  3. When looking at job openings on the Internet, take note of companies and recruiter’s names. Contact them. Recruiting firms often have their niche, and you want to find the ones who place people who do what you do. Have a well-crafted résumé ready to send to them.
  4. Attend networking meetings, both general and specialized. Often recruiters are featured speakers. If a recruiter is speaking, get his or her card and contact them. Introduce yourself to the recruiter. Give your 30 second speech. Hand out your business card and produce a hard copy of your résumé if asked. Follow up with a brief email and electronic copy of your résumé.

Or, contractors may find you. If you have posted your résumé on any of the career boards (Monster, Dice or CareerBuilder), you will have contractors calling and seeking you out.

After initial introductions, a recruiter may want to pursue a relationship with you. The next step could be a phone screening interview. During this time, the recruiter tries to get to know you and may ask you more detailed questions about your work experience and history.

You may instead be asked to come into the contracting firm’s office for a face-to-face interview. Handle this as you would any formal business interview. Dress accordingly. Just because you won’t be working every day with this person, he or she is trying to decide if they want to present you to potential clients. Even if you meet off site somewhere, as in a restaurant or coffee shop, this is still a business meeting.

Avoid the temptation to badmouth past bosses or companies. No town is too big for them not to know someone who works there. Like ex-spouses or boyfriends, casting dirt on them will only get some spread on you. The boss who drove you nuts with his passive aggressive behavior or the one who never reviewed your work should not be mentioned.

It’s also fine for you to interview the recruiter. Ask about the company. How long has the recruiter been with the company? Who are their major clients? How many people have they placed in the past few months? What types of workers do they place? What is their general philosophy as a company?

After your meeting, follow up with an email or written thank you note. Trust me on this one It’s just good manners to do this.

A sign of a poor recruiter is the willingness to skip this step. Recruiters who call you from across the country and don’t take the time to screen you, but ask for your résumé and permission to submit in a first email or phone call, are usually not very good. Know these for the frogs they are, and hold out for the real thing, a prince or princess.

As with a dating relationship, maybe you may never hear from a recruiter again. But you may hit pay dirt and find some excellent ones who having met you, will go to bat for you and help you in your job search. I have met recruiters who had nothing specific for me at the time, but called back weeks, or even months later with an opportunity, remembering me from our first meeting. As one excellent recruiter once told me, “It’s not about the job; it’s about relationships.”

If you honestly don’t like the recruiter or just feel that you cannot work with him or her, then politely let them disappear back into the woodwork.

Following these suggestions should start you on building your network of recruiters, and eventually finding contract or full time work.

Next: Boutique Recruiting.

April 2, 2009

The Farmer and the Cowman (Contractors and Recruiters)

Filed under: Contracting,Recruiters — Anne Cloward @ 11:30 pm
Tags: , , , ,

oklahoma-cover2

I participated in drama and public speaking in high school, which lead me to participate in the yearly musical. Since I don’t sing all that well and was not a long legged dancer, I got to work backstage. I like to boss people around, manage and organize things, so I was the stage manager. During my sophomore year, we put on Oklahoma, that old Rogers and Hammerstein chestnut, Some of my duties included feeding lines to actors and filling in for missing actors. By the time the final curtain came down, I knew every line of the play.
The story is set in the Oklahoma territory, just before statehood. There seem to be two groups of settlers there; the farmers and the cowboys. The thrifty farmers build fences and families, while the footloose cowboys want to roam free on the range. Things come to a head one night at a barn dance, where the two factions confront each other, at what is supposed to be a community building event. Being a musical, they spar throughout the song. Ike is a Farmer, as is Eller, and Annie is a lost soul who likes everyone).

(Ike Carns):

The farmer and the cowman should be friends.

Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.

One man likes to push a plough, the other likes to chase a cow,

But that’s no reason why they cain’t be friends.

(Chorus)

Territory folks should stick together,

Territory folks should all be pals.

Cowboys dance with farmer’s daughters,

Farmers dance with the ranchers’ gals. (repeat)

(A Farmer)

I’d like to say a word for the farmer,

He come out west and made a lot of changes

(A Cowboy)

He come out west and built a lot of fences,

And built ’em right acrost our cattle ranges.

(A Farmer)

The farmer is a good and thrifty citizen, no matter what the cowman says of things.

You seldom see ’em drinkin’ in a bar room

(A Cowboy)

Unless somebody else is buyin drinks.

(Another Cowboy)

But the farmer and the cowman should be friends.

Oh, the famer and the cowman should be friends.

The cowman ropes a cow with ease, the farmer steals her butter and cheese, but that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

(Chorus)

Territory folks should stick together,

Territory folks should all be pals.

Cowboys dance with farmer’s daughters,

Farmers dance with the ranchers’ gals.

(Aunt Eller)

I’d like to say a word for the cowboy, the road he treads is difficult and stoney.

He rides for days on end with jist a pony for a friend.

(Ado Annie)

I sure am feelin’ sorry for the pony!

(Aunt Eller)

The farmer should be sociable with the cowboy if he rides by and asks for food and water.

Don’t treat him like a louse make him welcome in your house.

(A Farmer)

But be sure that you lock up your wife and daughters!

(At this point, mayhem breaks loose and Aunt Eller clears the air by firing shots in the air and forcing everyone to sing.)

(Chorus)

Territory folks should stick together,

Territory folks should all be pals.

Cowboys dance with farmer’s daughters,

Farmers dance with the ranchers’ gals.

I am using this example to cite how we view others through our filters and assign stereotypical characteristics to each other.

Only the two groups I am talking about here are Contractorsand Recruiters. I was at a networking meeting recently in which a job seeker stated he just might have to talk to a recruiter one day soon. And he sure did not seem happy about it. He seemed to regard recruiters just as negatively as the farmers did the cowboys.

Get over it. Recruiters can be your friends. They can be your lifeline to getting interviews and eventually getting hired.

This is the way the system works:

  1. Clients have needs for people with skills.
  2. They contact recruiters with their needs.
  3. Recruiters screen and find the best candidates for the clients.
  4. Clients hire candidates and pay the recruiters for their services.

I was stunned when a friend recently that a recruiter had called him and said for $1500, he could find him a job.
You should never pay a recruiter to find you a job; you should thank him, but it is not your job to pay him.

Recruiters vary in their abilities and backgrounds. But their way of making a living is the same. Clients pay them to find people to work.

So Candidates, quit thinking of recruiters as the enemy. They are your friends.

For my next few posts, I am going to discuss the nuances of good candidate/recruiter relationships. There are things you can do as a candidate to help the recruiter do their jobs. There are also characteristics that you should look for in good recruiters.

Coming next: How do I find recruiters?

March 30, 2009

It Ain’t Necessarily So. . .

Filed under: Contracting,Networking,Networking Meetings,Recruiters — Anne Cloward @ 11:26 pm
Tags: , ,

enan_0001_0003_0_img0218

Way, way back when I was expecting my first child, “Natural Childbirth” was all the rage. We women were supposed to free ourselves of the tyranny of the medical establishment, reclaim our bodies and enjoy the experience of bringing a child into the world without any drugs, all on our own. Well, we could have our husbands nearby, as coaches, but the doctor and nurses were just supposed to be in awe of us as we brought our young ‘uns into the world without their help. It was supposed to be this joyous, amazing experience, available to any woman, any woman ready to throw off the shackles of the oppressive male dominated medical system.

I bought into that construct with all my young enthusiastic heart. After all, if I was going to be the mother of a dozen children, this would be the way to go, right.

So I got pregnant with my first child, and everything went great. Until my due date, in the middle of the summer. Simmering in a 3rd floor apartment, I canned apricots and the day passed uneventfully, except for the men walking on the moon. Two weeks later, I was still pregnant and miserable and hot and not sleeping. On a Thursday morning I went in to see my doctor, tired and crabby and ready to have this baby. I was having contractions, but after one false alarm at the hospital, I was waiting to get my doctor’s OK before going in again. If nothing happened by Friday, go in on Friday night, he said. I went in on Friday night, having good contractions and they put me to bed to wait and see what would happen. Finally, late Saturday night, they decided to do a C-section and get the kid out of there. I woke up a few hours later, hurting and got to see my 8 pound 10 ounce baby boy, who could never have survived a “Natural” delivery. His two brothers and sister also came into the world that way.

I had a condition called “non-progressive” labor, due to some anatomical issues.

Now what has this got to do with careers? Well, we often get the idea that there is only one way to hunt for a job and we wear ourselves out following that path, and sometimes, it seems as though we are in the throes of non-progressive labor ourselves. For those of you who have had to venture out into the job seeking world lately, it is not a pretty sight. There is new conventional wisdom that is being dumped upon us, new ways of finding a position and if you don’t get with the program, you will never get a job. After a while, it begins to sound like a broken record.

I agree that the least productive way of job hunting involves applying online and sending your résumé in response to a job posting. Yours will join the hundreds of others who are also sitting there. And I agree that agreeing to let someone in Bangalore represent me for a job some several thousand miles away is not the way to go either. But what about all the rest of the suggestions?

You go to job seekers meetings, week after week, month after month. You connect with recruiters and even get submitted for positions by some of them. You sign up on Linkedin and reconnect with all your old co-workers, employers and anyone else who wants to. You go to focus groups. You join any association remotely connected with your field that may provide access to others. You clean up your web presence, getting rid of any embarrassing photos. You rewrite your résumé five different times, trying to make it stand out. You email it to everyone you know. You attend some support meetings to commiserate with others, and find you could be going to many more of them throughout the week.

In short, you follow all the advice, and still nothing happens. Then you just burn out.

Just as I had had it when, after all those hours of labor, the doctors finally decided another course of action was needed to get results, some days you are ready to throw in the towel and give up.

This happened to a friend of mine last Friday. After a very stressful week, at the end of another job seekers networking meeting, she just had had it. She started crying and started verbalizing her complete frustration at the situation. She is one of the most talented people I know in her field, with a great job history. She is working for a local company for peanuts just to keep her name out there. Yet nothing is happening for her. In spite of all of her efforts, connections and hard work, she was completely frustrated. All I could do was to sit by her and listen. I could not offer any great advice, because I know just how she felt. Some other guy who knows her came by, with his comment that as tough as things were for her, his situation was much worse, he was sure. That was not the correct response in my book.

Oregon’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average. It’s a great place to live, and there is a well educated population here vying for jobs. These are unusual times, and even though there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, it hasn’t trickled down to some areas yet. There are still those hiring managers who believe that developers can develop, debug, test and document their creations, since they created the applications (Right!). When will there be a turnaround and our phones start ringing with recruiters at the other end who have real jobs in real companies? I have no idea.

In the mean time, my friend and I just put one foot in front of the other and know that we are there for one another. We know that when we reach the end of our rope, the phone may still not ring, because right now, not much is out there.

It will pass. Things will get better, but right now we aren’t seeing much action. Lots of words are out there, too many to absorb, but no jobs.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.