In the October 4, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a guy minding his own business meets a dog from another city.

Would you be a stupid recruiter? Let’s see how you perform. Try this exercise.

I’m going to give you $50 and tell you to buy and bring me a dog within 60 minutes — any kind of dog, and you can obtain it anywhere you like. (But you can’t keep the change. recruiter-dogIf there’s any change, we donate it to an animal shelter.) The sooner you appear with a dog, the bigger the bonus you’ll earn — up to $1,000.

You can start from one of two locations, and I’ll take you to either place you choose, but you have to make your own way back to me with the dog. One location is Grand Central Station in New York City. The other is an animal shelter in Princeton, New Jersey.

I’ll be waiting for you at the train station in Princeton. Ready? This will reveal what kind of recruiter you’d be.

Stupid recruiter?

According to the federal government, to news media, to human resources experts and employers, there’s a massive skills and talent shortage. That’s why companies can’t fill jobs. It’s akin to the startling shortage of dogs in Grand Central Station. So armies of recruiters are being deployed daily to find the right talent. Most of them are stupid.

What kind of recruiter would you be? (Hey, that could be a new interview question.) Would you chose to start looking for a dog at an animal shelter? Every day, platoons of stupid recruiters look for dogs in Grand Central Station and the Grand Canyon, by waving a “dog wanted” sign on the New Jersey Turnpike, and in dark caves.

Reader Stephen Liss sent in this e-mail exchange he had with a stupid recruiter who solicited him for a job. Liss didn’t even have a question for me. He was just tired of being mistaken for a dog.

From a recruiter

We noticed your information on the job boards or in our database and thought you may have an interest in an opportunity with a large F500 client in the Rochester,  NY area. Here are the details:

We are looking for a Technical Writer in Rochester, NY to work with one of our major clients. Please go over the details and let me know your interest.

Technical Writer with PM Skills in Rochester,  NY
6+ Months
Pay Rate: $36/hr on W2 / $40/hr on C2C
Key Skills: Technical Writing, Some Project Management Background/Skills

[truncated… I mean, who wants to read the rest?]

Stephen Liss replies

You want me to relocate from the west coast for $36/hr? Please take me off your list.

The recruiter’s response

We get these opportunities everywhere. Unfortunately our software doesn’t work by location only by skill set.

First of all, these recruiters “notice” you “everywhere” — on job boards, in databases, by sniffing telephone poles… Sheesh. Does this dog even hunt or does it just snap at whatever comes along?

The recruiter’s software organizes jobs and people by skill set only. Not by location. It doesn’t matter where the dogs are. Or where the dog has to be shipped, or how much shipping costs. The software will shout into the Grand Canyon, then move on to the Turnpike. So will most recruiters. They’re like Energizer bunnies — they will bump into anything, turn, and keep going until they find a dog.

And they will pay only $36.

Got that?

tom-perez-catThe U. S. Department of Labor

In an interview about the “talent shortage,” Tom Perez, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, tried to explain why employers can’t find the people they need to fill jobs:

“I speak to a lot of business leaders who are trying to hire. They want to hire. And the most frequent thing I hear from them is too many people coming through the door don’t have the skills necessary to do the job I need to do.”

Did you get that? The business leaders Perez talks to are counting people “coming through the door.” Thomas Perez thinks he’s hanging around with business leaders?

Hey, schmuck! Nobody walks up and hands you what you want. You have to go look for the people you need where they hang out! Be the leader of your pack! Figure it out! Stop hanging around Grand Central Station peeing on poles to attract talent. Go hunt, because a pooch isn’t going to walk up with a perfect resume in its mouth. Woof.

(Many thanks to Stephen Liss for sharing that roadkill of a recruiter solicitation.)

What proportion of recruiter requests match you and the work you do? How many are just dogs? I’m looking for Stupid Recruiter Story #2.

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  1. I thought getting pinged by an algorithm followed by a clueless recruiter was old hat around here. What else is new?

  2. Apropos of a previous blog post here, how are any candidates getting through the door in the first place when employers are calling the cops on them for even suggesting that they appear at the door?


    • Ba-da-bing!

    • oh snap. There were some reasonable arguments put forward in that blog post as to why having people say they are just “turning up” to a business, without asking permission from the people who are hiring, is not necessarily a good idea. I agree that calling the cops was probably an over reaction, but given we have no idea on what the background was of the person who was hiring it is impossible to tell; I didn’t see that anyone had sought a right of reply from them. You are not entitled to an interview; you are entitled to being kept informed of the process. You are also not entitled to personally attack, or harangue, people who disagree with your opinion; which I saw some pretty bad examples of in the discussion on the blog post as well.

  3. Nick,

    I notice that you’re in the market for a dog. I’d like to discuss a new, revolutionary system that will save you time and money and help you find the perfect dog.

    As we all know, there’s a lot of risk and effort involved in finding a new dog. You have to be sure it’s the right fit for your household. It has to have the right chemistry for your family. And it needs to be trained properly. Who hasn’t run into the shortage of 3 year old dogs with 5 years of obedience school?!?

    Thanks to my amazing new business, we make finding a dog easy for you. Using a patented algorithm, we film and analyze millions of dogs from our CTS (canine tracking system) to determine the best ones for you. No more going to pet stores or animal shelters or breeders. Who has time for that? Additionally, our automated screening and petting system eliminates bias in the dog selection process. By removing human interaction, we provide the optimal canine behavioral analysis.

    Gone are the days of finding a dog that only has 23 of the 24 characteristics you require. Our keyword matching software ensures we’ll find you exactly the dog you need…..all from the comfort and convenience of your laptop or smartphone. You won’t even get any annoying dog hair on your pants!

    Please contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss how this amazing new technology can help you find the dog you need.

    • Do you have an app?

    • I’ve never felt more ‘canine’ in my career! ;-) That is the exact pitch, rewritten, that ZipRecruiter uses in its radio adverts.

      • Well, that’s pretty bad, then, because I’ve never heard one of their ads. Just goes to show how deep the corporate recruiting BS is getting.

  4. Because barriers to entry are low for the “throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks” crowd, people in business get inundated by recruiter email blasts. Many are so off the mark that hitting the delete key is the only rational response. These types of recruitment notices are no better than spam for worthless nutritional supplements.

    That said trying to educate these people is like trying to teach a hamster to sing. It annoys the animal and wastes your time.

  5. Love the article. It reminded me of an interview that Jim Cramer (CNBC) had on his show with a CEO that was complaining he couldn’t find people to service his equipment. If I could have called the show and spoke directly with the CEO I would have loved to ask “Do you have an apprentice program?” Companies used to train people without the specific skills needed through apprenticeship programs. Now all companies complain about is I can’t get people with skills on my specialized equipment.

    Then the companies complain about lack of loyalty. They burnt that bridge with the downsizing in the 90s.

  6. Great stuff Nick, thanks, and some great comments too. Looking forward tot he next story.

  7. Currently, I work for a health insurance call center. After nine years of this, I updated my skills in order to return to my original job as a broadcast engineer. My resume reflects this, as does my LinkedIn account. So, what do I get? I get four five emails a week from an fowlbased insurance company who says I am ” a perfect fit for selling their insurance”.

    In my reply (the poor woman actually used her name and email) I asked “WHERE does my resume indicate I am interested in SELLING anything but my skills as a engineer?” She said the same, that they used some sort of keyword finder to locate applicants. I went back and removed the word “Insurance” from my resume and emphasized “engineer”. The emails are less now but still coming. No wonder recruiters can’t find people. They’ve gotten too lazy.

  8. I received two of these over the weekend, one of them ended with “I’m expecting lots of applications in my inbox on Monday so, don’t miss out on this hot opportunity!” So, if you’re going to be bombarded with responses, then why should I even bother replying if my email will get lost in your inbox? Reminds me of a used car salesman tries to hook you with “I have another buyer on his way down right now so you’d better hurry up and buy that car!”

    What bothers me the most about the email exchange in this blog post is the now-typical “d’uh” type of response from the so-called recruiter who clearly doesn’t care about how bad their company looks here. What happened to being an “ambassador” for your company? Last week I stumbled across a job that’s been posted on ManTech’s website since last February. It was a design gig requiring 3D modeling AND a security clearance AND it was third-shift. Rather than wasting my time with their online application I emailed them, “Are you still trying to fill this position? I am experienced in 3D modeling/animation, however, I do not have the required security clearance.” I figured (assuming this job is real) that after seven months they’d realize they have to knock down their demands (I know a security clearance takes a while to get, but it’s not impossible, for cryin’ out loud). She replied that it is still open and encouraged me to apply, “Once you have applied, let me know and I will send your status request to the recruiter.” Well, I began the app and was immediately kicked out because of the security clearance issue. Now, I stated in my first email I don’t have the security clearance, so why the hell didn’t she just say “sorry but that’s an absolutely requirement” in her reply???? I emailed her back what happened with the app, ending with “I’m going to assume that after seven months there really isn’t much of a need to fill this role.” Here’s the useless response I received: “When a job requisition states clearance level – we must hire someone with an active clearance at the level identified. We hope that you will continue to review our job opportunities and thank you again for your interest in ManTech.” I replied, “A job opening that remains unfilled for a whopping seven months is not a real job opening…I think I’ll look elsewhere.” They state in the job description that it’s working within the Department of Defense. I’m tempted to write a letter to the DoD about this, asking whether my country’s DoD is this incompetent (I’m not gonna bother because I’m pretty sure the job is fake).

    • “A job opening that remains unfilled for a whopping seven months is not a real job opening…I think I’ll look elsewhere.”

      They don’t care. That is, the personnel jockey doesn’t care. (That’s not a real recruiter.) Betcha the CEO cares. More betcha DoD cares. I’d make the call to DoD. If the contracting company is posting fake DoD jobs, there’s another problem.

  9. I’m kind of amazed at the number of solicitations I’ve gotten for non-managerial jobs (I’ve been management for five years), contract jobs (I’ve been staff for over a decade), and jobs outside my metropolitan area (I’ve been here for 15 years).

    But perhaps I shouldn’t be, given that a recruiter once tried to place me in a director-level role, then gave me the hard sell once the position was downgraded to supervisor-level with less authority than I already had. That was someone who had already spent a great deal of time speaking with me about my background and my goals–in the end, I was just another dog to him.

  10. @John

    “Companies used to train people without the specific skills needed through apprenticeship programs. ”

    Good companies grow their own talent, and when Finance whines about the cost, Management slaps them into submission.

    The classic

    CFO – What if we invest in our people and they leave?

    CEO – What if we don’t, and they stay?

  11. I estimate that 75% of the recruiter calls and emails I get are for on-site jobs in cities where I do not live and 75% are for jobs that are not a good match for my skill set. I do change management communications consulting, which requires a varied skill set, so I get contacted for all kinds of jobs that utilize one or two of the skills listed on my Dice profile (e.g., graphic designer, web copywriter) but for which I would never be a competitive candidate.

    That said, once in a blue moon the magical email comes in for a great job in the right location. So I’m not really complaining. It’s not a burden on me – as a contractor who does short-term projects, I actually like to know what companies are looking for and base my professional development goals on the experience requirements that I see – but it does seem like a waste of energy on the part of recruiters.

    • How much energy is exerted by carpet bombing a contact list generated by software?

  12. I’m trying to understand how recruiters are actually connected to the employers. I often see several recruiter postings, often from all over the U.S. (and their people in India!), for the same job. The recruiters say they are “working with” the employer. Do companies send these opportunities to a big mailing list of recruiters, or are they posted somewhere for anyone hanging a recruiter sign can see? Or do these folks see the posting and then repost it themselves?

    • Some recruiters, particularly those from developing countries, solicit employers as well as employees. That’s why you see things like, “Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.” on Craigslist, for example.

    • This may shed some light on the phenomenon. Throughout 2013-2014 I was routinely spammed by “recruiters” for jobs at Siemens’s nearby location. In June 2015 I began receiving them again again, so I went to the Siemens “Contact Us” page and sent them a nasty message demanding that they tell all their recruitment agencies to remove my name from their list. I received a reply from their “Manager of Talent Acquisition” asking for further information so he could “better understand the situation.” After replying with details like screenshots of the emails, he replied: “All I can say are that these are from third parties. We have a national contract with Ranstad for all contract labor in the U.S. they undoubtedly sub contract with 100’s of other agencies. So for these roles we would open a requisition with Ranstad and they will send it out to their network for submittals. How or if Ranstad prescreens before sending to us I do not know. I do not have access to see who or what would have been submitted to us from them but in many cases it could be a good number of profiles. I have recruited directly for the Norwood site and manage a good deal of our full time hiring across the U.S. and I know in the Boston market there are a large number of qualified graphic designers including many with direct experience in medical instrumentation and devices. So I know the manager is receiving numerous submissions…”

      So, number one, this guy in charge of recruitment has NO CLUE who’s recruiting for his company. And, number two, he admits they’ve got “a large number of qualified applicants,” so why the need to resort to this nonsense every time they have an opening? Shouldn’t these applicants be in their network to contact whenever the need arises? The stupid is so strong it hurts…

      • This stupidity intrigued me. Following my instinct I did a little research: The CEO of
        Randstadt (correct spelling) is Jacques van den Broek. A Jan van den Broek Directs Siemens’ major technical partner. When something seems beyond stupid, look for a relative –doesn’t make it less stupid, just explains it.

      • SIghmaster, in this case I’m sure Randstad was working as the MSP (Master Service Provider) for finding candidates to present to Siemens. They turn around and use a VMS (Vendor Management System) to tell outside recruiters about current openings.

        Generally, there is no further coordination between those outside recruiters. The recruiter is paid only if he/she was the first to submit the name of the person who is ultimately hired into that role.

        This all started to reduce outside recruiter costs and speed up candidate submittals. What it’s done is reduced quality (no time to build relationships, if you’re breathing and possibly interested I’m going to submit your name ASAP just in case you’re qualified) and created a flurry of unnecessary activity like bothering the same potential candidate multiple times about the same position.

        I’m really surprised it hasn’t caused more backlash before now, but in my mind, this represents the absolute worst use of recruiting technology that I’ve seen.

        • This whole system is polluted with Indian recruiters with unintelligible accents working for Indian-owned firms which have WEBO shingles in the US. The VMS agreement gets them tasked by Randstadt to find the cheapest contractors they can. Their ‘vig’ depends on it!

      • Two years ago, during the crazy oil boom years (I am a petroleum geologist), I was repeatedly contacted by a recruiters from different recruiting companies

        Some were mostly comical: Recruiters that asked where I work(!!!), or suggested irrelevant places, sectors or jobs I am totally unqualified for, because they were “too busy” to spend two minutes on the LinkedIn profile.

        I got cold calls from, I think, seven different recruiters that all tried to recruit me to “X Petroleum”. It usually went like this:

        Phone number starting with +44 called…

        – Hi, Karsten speaking.

        – Hi, this is Some Guy calling from London [and speaking very fast from a crib sheet]. I represent Recruiting Company With Long And Posh Sounding Name. We are a specialised Company that recruit the best people for international oil and energy companies. I was referred to you by Someone I Will Refuse To Disclose, and wondered if you might be interested in a position with a very well funded upstart oil company that has recently got acreage, and the compensation package will be very good and…

        – Hold on your boiler plate talk for a second. I assume you refer to X Petroleum?

        – How could you know?

        – Because I know the local oil industry much better than you, and because you are the seventh recruiter from as many firms that calls me about it, all delivering fast boiler late speak. So I have some boiler plate for you as well:

        If and when I need a new job, I will simply pick up the phone to my industry network. I do not need you, you are a redundant friction cost.

        Secondly, the fact that you are just one of many cold callers tells me that you just want my resume to spam to the company. You have really no integrity.

        – …Er, it is OK if you are not interested, but are there anyone you know that may be interested?

        – In such case I will refer them directly. No need for the friction cost to go through a person I know nothing about. Sorry, bye.

        As an irony of destiny, I currently work for X Petroleum. Had to change after my previous company went down, due to clueless management. I picked up the phone, they told me to send an email, then we had three meetings with constructive discussions. And none of these firms actually had any agreement with X to provide recruitment…

        At least a good effect of the downturn in the oil industry has been that most of these recruiters got weeded out.

    • I wonder how much recruiter spamming causes misleading job ad counts. In my area, the local body shops/recruiters seem to spring up like weeds with ever changing names, rerunning the same ads almost verbatim, scraped from actual employers. Add on the national/regional recruiters for more replication. Very seldom do I see an original ad, and I suspect many of those to be fake. As they clearly do their own recruiting, impossible to believe these employers would have any relationship with all these shops reposting their ads. Another annoyance are the supposedly local listings that turn out to be hundreds of miles away, especially for temp jobs.

  13. First, the recruiter needs to find some new software. It wouldn’t be that hard to write something to limit names to within a distance from the job. Think they’d fly Mr. Liss to Rochester for an interview? Nah.

    But to continue with the dog analogy, even when companies look in Princeton for dogs, they seem to test the dog in the shelter to see if he can sit, stay, roll over, and come. If the dog cannot, they reject it. And they probably don’t find any dog who can do all this stuff. The idea that they could train a good looking dog escapes them.

    • I get your point, and I agree with you, but they have no reason to filter or be selective because they might get a hit. Of course, they do risk alienating candidates by being too aggressive.

      I don’t mind telling you that I would move across the country for $36/hr, but I have no roots or dependents. I don’t know if Nick is catering to the six figure crowd these days, but $75,000 base is nothing to sneeze at if you believe that over half of Americans make less than $30,000/year.

      • Living out of a car and sleeping on a futon gets old. Rochester is miserable
        in winter. Permanent relocation for a temporary job seldom makes sense. You said 75k base – you are optimistic – it is somewhere between 0 and 37.5k max. A 6 month contract, where they have the right to fire your ass at will, day one on the job. You want this? I can put you in touch with the recruiter so they can put you in their wonderful database. I have a life and a high maintenance dog on the west coast.

        • Sorry, Stephen. I missed the “6 months” part, and I saw no mention of contract or temporary.

          Thanks for the offer though! ;)

    • It wasn’t unusual for a prospective employer to fly me in for a face to face interview.
      That’s how I got in at Motorola.

      In my consulting days, for temporary jobs like this one (6+ months), where there is no expectation that I would relocate, the employer provides (in addition to base rate) a per diem for meals, transportation home each weekend, and temporary lodging while the consultant is on site.

      Does this work for me at $36 an hour? On a possibly 6, possibly 7, possibly whatever month contract? Without relocation? Can you pay for temporary lodgings (in addition to your home residence on the west coast), eat well out of a motel room, pay for a rental car or walk and take the bus to and from the jobs site to your motel, and fly home every weekend to the west coast, from Rochester? It takes a good part of a day to commute each way. 2 days per week commuting. And you plan to pay 36/hr? Good luck with that.

  14. Many years ago, before I got my first job as an advertising copywriter, I responded to a headhunter-placed ad in the NY Times for an entry level copywriting position.

    All prospective copywriters create a “book” of sample ads, and I had spent many weeks on mine, and reviewed it with one of my professors at Baruch College in New York, and he…a former copywriter…had pronounced it very good.

    I eagerly presented my book to this headhunter in a shabby little office near Grand Central. He trashed it, and said the only job I might get was as a messenger for an advertising agency, and he fortunately had a listing I should jump on.

    I more politely than I should said no thank you, and stumbled out of his office, crushed.

    Two months later, however, I beat out sixty other applicants…many with Ivy League degrees…for an entry level copy job at Weber & Heilbroner, a now defunct clothing store in Manhattan.

    One day the advertising director was telling me stories about his own experiences in the business, and recounted a story about how he had once contacted a headhunter for a job, only to be told he was far from qualified, and how he should look into a much lesser job the headhunter had…

    …it was the same guy.

    And about a month later I got a cold call from guess who, asking if we had any openings, and bragging about the stable of excellent candidates he had for…get this…EVERY job area.

    I put him on hold and got the advertising director on an extension. We both talked to him, and recounted our experience, and then, in unison, we yelled the name of a law firm with a Chinese and Jewish partner.

    Fong. Gould. (Nick: I grew up in Astoria with lots of Greek guys; they all knew Italian obscenities as well as I did).

    • I love this story, Astoria Jim! As they say in Sicily, revenge is a dish best eaten cold. (And with a side of laughter!)

    • The few times I worked with recruiters, more often than not, I experienced the same trash talk trying to convince me that I had to lower my expectations. Yet none of them had anything to offer besides the dress down. Fortunately, I ignored them, and got all my jobs on my own.

  15. Sometimes I think some recruiters wouldn’t recognize a dog if they saw one.

    A month or two ago, I got a call and an email from some recruiting firm. They had been retained by a large local employer to source talent. At first I thought it was some scam, but I checked into things, and, yes, the company had outsourced this function. Yeah, kind of a red flag in terms of said company’s hiring practices, but I’m out of work, so I decided to take a chance. The position looked like I might be a fit, and I thought if I could at least get a phone screen with someone at the company, I could turn it into an onsite interview.

    I called and emailed back, saying that I was interested. Never heard another word. I wonder if the hiring company realizes how this subcontracted recruiter is damaging their reputation. Why should I respond to any further calls from their recruiters?

    To continue the dog analogy:

    Nick: “How’s the dog hunt going?”
    Recruiter: “Horrible. I went down to the shelter and held out dog treats. A bunch of 4 legged hairy animals with tails approached me, but not a single dog was interested. There were lots of them with feathers and two feet, but they just don’t like dog treats. Weird.”

  16. I’m with Charles, the first commenter: “Stupid recruiter stories” isn’t new to AtH. Nearly every post pulls up at least one.

    Stupid recruiter = normal
    Intelligent recruiter = exceptional

    The more depressing story is the quote from Secretary Perez, continuing to propagate the “talent shortage” myth. What he is saying is that nearly all of US education is a total failure, and every student of every high school, community college, tech school, and university is being ripped off. He’s admitting that all of the money all of the levels of government have been spending on trying to reform education have been wasted.

    In other words, he’s saying that all of his boss’s actions regarding improving education have been a total failure. Yes. I’m implying that Sec. Perez is “blaming Obama,” indirectly, because Pres. Obama was the one who chose Sec. of Educations John King, Jr. and Arne Duncan.

    Dear friends, if you haven’t read “An Underground History of American Education” yet, please do. It may be mostly anecdotal, but you can verify Gatto’s claims for yourself.

  17. I believe the majority of politicians prefer to parrot the standard industry response, “… can’t find qualified …”

    It’s easy for them to do this, they don’t have to think, they simply have to knock the problem over the wall to the job re-training programs coordinator.

    Take a quick look in the CIA FACTBOOK, Germany versus USA.

    Germany recently had a wall come down and they had to pick up the slack and absorb a whole bunch of underemployed and unemployed East Germans, go through a monster mess of political upheaval and change. Then, they got whacked by the same economic tailspin of 2008 that we all did. Now they recently absorbed a million refugees that walked across Europe to get to a better life.

    Funny thing, the German economy is doing pretty good, so is German industry and schooling, hey you know a higher education in Germany is free, for all residents, including non-citizens, you do know that, right?

    Now look at the USA, not great, slowly improving economic outlook, bad employment prospects, industries closing or moving out, and higher education, sheesh, what is up to now, about $150,000 cold hard cash for a PhD?

    Seriously, not only is the whole hiring process broken, so is the education system and Donald Trump, he hasn’t got a clue about how to fix any of it, and he hasn’t even articulated anything about it. Mind you, Hilary Clinton isn’t much smarter.

    • IIRC the German government stepped in to pay 20% of the salaries of workers facing layoffs during the 2008 financial crisis, so a lot of businesses who would have laid off people did not have to do so…

    • Richard and Michael: Far too many of today’s politicians are bought and paid for by corporations, and with low voter turn-out for most elections, they listen to the lobbyists because corporate America has bought them and the lobbyists are the ones who contact them. I agree with both of you, but I’d go further: politicians and political appointees (such as Sec’y Perez) are only parroting what their corporate masters are telling them. It is easier, keeps the donations flowing, and this way corporations are off the hook. You can blame the education system for not turning out perfectly trained widgets employers can get at bargain basement prices and without having to invest anything (time or money) in training them. And when they can’t, they simply howl “Talent Shortage” and lobby Congress for more H1B visa slots.

      I don’t have a lobbyist to represent me or my interests, and teachers and anyone in education have been so demonized that people believe it.

      John made a point earlier in this thread re how at one time companies didn’t expect you to know everything–many had apprenticeship programs and they’d train new hires. It seems that this practice has gone the way of the dodo bird because it is easier to bring over Indians to work dirt cheap compared to Americans.

      Sorry to be so cynical, but I think we need a revolution.

      • Amen. You’re sounding like Bernie Sanders, Marybeth :-).

        • I’ll take that as a compliment, Nick! Bernie didn’t win the primary, but his take on money in politics and its oversize influence is spot on. What we have now is working for a few people, but not for most of us.

          Your find me a dog analogy is apt, and truly illustrated how asinine the whole process is. We need a revolution on that front too–to get job hunters and employers to stop using stupid hiring tricks!

          • Marybeth, I could not agree more. For a perfect artistic [exaggerated] visualization of these issues see the old silent film “Metropolis.”

  18. How do we start on what is wrong with current employment practices. A shrinking job market, an internet that allows anyone with a CV to apply for any job anywhere in the world, HR departments that get swamped and filter based on key words and HR people who don’t keep applicants abreast of what is happening. We then add “head hunters” who think resume shopping is doing their job, applicants who get too pushy and don’t give HR time to make a choice and toxic companies that are run by MBA holders who aren’t interested in anything but their own egos and certainly have no experience in what the company actually markets.

    As long as someone has the minimum qualifications for a position, for most jobs the most important thing is that someone fits in with the people they are going to work with and that their employment will improve productivity and customer satisfaction. I have no idea on how you get that into an employment ad, but it would save a lot of issues if someone can develop that piece of software.

    • I agree with everything you said except shrinking job market. Jobs are being added. In the Bay Area so many jobs have been added that some roads are jammed from 6 am – 8 pm.
      What’s the root cause? In the last 30 years companies have cut everything that some accountant can’t show is directly related to the bottom line. HR for recruiting? Who needs ’em. Add more people to a boss’s staff so she has no time for unessential jobs like recruiting. Add to that the ability to job hunt without doing the work and we have a mess.
      If we forced every job hunter to pay for a stamp and a piece of paper to apply, the load on HR and bosses would go down and they might have time to do the job right. Several behavioral economic studies have shown that if you make something free (vs just very cheap) demand goes way up. We’ve made applying for jobs free. That is why so few put in the kind of effort Nick recommends.

      • HP recently laid off workers, and there were other lay-offs (I can’t remember the companies just now, but I remember that there were more). If they’re hiring in the Bay Area, that’s great, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of hiring in my area (Massachusetts). There are service jobs, which tend to be part time, contract, and don’t have benefits, and seasonal jobs, which go away once the holiday shopping season is over. The Boston job market is tough–it isn’t unusual to see tech and engineering jobs with so many specs that I am convinced the job is a manager’s fantasy. If it isn’t a fake job (no job but posted in order to get people to submit applications so HR can justify their jobs and to gather your personal to sell), then it isn’t a job, it’s a person (employer already has someone in mind and they’re posting the job just to jump through hoops).

        • The long laundry list of specific skills and experience is probably from a specific H1B candidate so that the candidate will be the only one that qualifies. Therefore can’t find “qualified” talent in US. Frequently seen on state run job service sites.

          • 25 years ago those H1-B ads were pretty easy to spot. Now they all look that way. Back then applied to several apparently real jobs by Microsoft, while they were also running those fake ads. Only got called back for the fake ads. Subjected to several identical surreal interviews asking about my citizenship, education, employment status, but not my background or job interest. Absolutely no attempt to verify my professional qualifications. Now with ATSes, no need to even bother with calling back.

        • His comment is just further proof that folks like you and me are invisible to the rest of the country (spam filter won’t let me post link so google “invisible americans”)…

      • I have a personal anecdote that I like to use…

        My former employer was located in a nice office park, where they made an effort to make the surroundings like an actual park – you know with trees, shrubs, flowers, picnic tables, benches, etc. And they tried to keep things nice and well groomed. Naturally, many people would eat lunch or take walks around when they had a break.

        The two top employers in the area, as well as several F500 companies among others all rent space there and I know for a fact that there are technical operations going on.

        Anyways, there is a technical recruiting agency that had an office here as well. I’ve gotten several calls/emails from time to time them over the years. The kicker is, it seemed to never be from the local office – it was always someone from a call center in a far off land looking to fill a local job.

        What always got me, why weren’t the actual recruiters here actually trying to meet people who were literally right next door? I’m not saying you go knock on their door and ask them directly for business or if they want a new job. But, what I am saying is why aren’t they introducing themselves to people they see around because they are basically sitting on a gold mind of talent and/or people that may be looking to hire.

  19. Tom Perez has been consistently clueless . . . very annoying for those of us w/real life experience. Unfortunately, just another crony w/only HIS best interest in mind.

  20. A few weeks ago, I received an email from a recruiter at my former company asking me if I was interested in returning for a customer support associate role. 1) I had that job 15 years ago and had clearly moved on, 2) I am a senior manager making six figures, which is easily inferred by my resume and geographical location. Why would I be interested in a phone jockey role paying $11 an hour?

    The other industry that breaks every reasonable recruiting practice is insurance. I’m pretty sure every insurance carrier that serves my local area has contacted me with an extremely long email trying to entice me to join their company to run my own business as an insurance agent. I’ve worked in tech for 15 years. What about my resume says “insurance sales”? Friends have also received these solicitations, so it’s clearly untargeted spam, and there is no way to unsubscribe.

    I think it’s fairly clear that this problem is getting worse over time, not better. Some of this is poor targeting on the part of so-called “sourcing recruiters” who clearly have no training. Some of this is tied to recruiting agencies where recruiters are incentivized to spam–e.g., pay for performance is tied to the quantity of candidates contacted rather than the quality of candidates brought in to the organization.

    • No one is reading anything; software is scanning for keywords, dates, gender, etc. and the recruiters are just spamming the universe (throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping that something, anything sticks, be it you or someone else). They don’t care; it’s cheap (must be like the scam phone calls I get all the time–it costs less than few pennies to robo-call 20 million people at the same time, and if some sucker picks up and provides a bank account, credit card number, SSN, or falls for the “send me a check and I’ll send you $40 million” Nigerian thieves. All it takes is one.

      I get a lot of solicitations for jobs that Pluto to my Earth–no experience, no education in the field, and for a while I wondered WTH, but like you said, you can’t unsubscribe, and clicking or trying to reach them only makes it worse (like the scam phone calls).

      What was that about monkeys banging away at typewriters eventually typing out Shakespeare’s plays? These so-called “recruiters” must operate the same way–eventually they’ll place someone in a job somewhere.

  21. I put my resume on one of those well known job boards a couple of years ago in desperation but now I regret it. It’s like a zombie resume that keeps coming back from the dead. I work in IT and I get a ton of random phone calls, emails or whatever from off shore recruiters that are just trolling for warm bodies hoping to find someone, anyone to fill a position. I would never put my resume up on a board again simply for the fact that when I was actively looking, I think the legit recruiter to spam was about 1 in 1000. I literally got over 100 emails and phone calls a day looking for “talent”. Clearly these “recruiters” had no idea what they were talking about!

  22. This post reminded me of several articles I encountered recently bemoaning (and puzzling) over the decline in labor mobility, particularly geographic mobility, especially since the year 2000. In typical bonehead fashion, some economists offered supply-side explanations, like occupational licensing or business regulations, high housing from zoning restrictions, anchoring from homeownership, dual-earner couples, aging population, non-portable public benefits, relocation expenses, etc. Problem is, aside from aging population, these have been long standing problems that didn’t hamper mobility in decades past. Fortunately, a few more enlightened economists suggested a far more plausible demand-side explanation: declining demand for labor. As evidenced by the drop in labor mobility within and across all regions, age groups, and labor sectors, with corresponding wage restrictions. Or to put it more plainly: job offers are fewer and farther between, and often not good enough to induce a switch, especially when relocation is involved. You wouldn’t think it should take a PhD to figure out something so obvious. Naturally, the goofy supply side articles prompted many comments to the effect of: Hey, its the jobs, stupid!

  23. Indian recruiters are part of the candidate elimination mechanism that U.S. tech companies are using to AVOID HIRING U.S. BORN WORKERS. So it goes like this, a semiconductor company, an aerospace company, or an IT company will have a position that will be based in the U.S. well that sucks for them because they DO NOT WANT TO HIRE A U.S. CITIZEN !!! So they have a process where by which they will put a U.S. citizen candidate through an elimination process that the he/she will likely not get through successfully, Indian recruiters are at the FRONT of this process perhaps unwittingly. The elimination topics are wide ranging and include testing/quizzing the candidate on their specific knowledge of their career discipline, requiring an obscure skill set, a need for particular experiences, perhaps an ability to speak a certain language and often strange work hours like third shift. Nothing is wrong with a process that helps to determine the best candidate, but it takes only one wrong answer to eliminate the U.S. candidate and 99% of the time this is exactly what happens, it allows the company to report to the Department of Labor that they made a “good faith effort” to hire a U.S citizen but couldnt find one, and then they are able to file an LCA “Labor Conditions Application” with the DOL that explains the “need” to bring in an EB a PERM,GREENCARD or H1B VISA holder. People think of farm workers when they hear GREENCARD worker. This is not the case anymore, tech companies seek to bring foreign workers onsite because they are cheap, easy to intimidate, and can be sent back if they ask too many questions. When an Indian recruiter calls you, he is eager to SUBMIT you because that is all they do! They are not there to help you get the position, they are there to provide these companies with a necessary amount of U.S. candidates to the company that can be reviewed and crossed out so they get their HB/EB/PERM/Greencard worker certified and hired in.

  24. I’m so fed up with Indian recruiters that I’ve taken to addressing them as “sir” each time I speak with them. Sorry, that would be S.I.R. (stupid Indian recruiter). They are the most massive waste of time and are always a huge pain in the ass. I wish they would all go away.

    • The last two sent me jobs that were many 100s of miles away. I had a ton of them on Monday who were contacting me for a $15 per hour job when I normally make $30 or more.

      Not in a single instance in all the years these pests have been calling me (and I do mean PESTS) has one of their jobs been worthwhile or appropriate to my skills or needs.

  25. I’m considering inventing a solution to combat these pests. I will sick the I.R.S. on them.

    That is “Indian Recruiter Swatter”, which of course is meant for use on S.I.R.s

  26. I love that some of them are starting to use North American sounding names in their emails, if you listen to their voicemails, you end up hearing an Indian accent coming from someone whose name is “Hugh”, or “Danny”, or “Mike”. They are an insult to our injured economy that they have damaged with their race to the bottom rates that none of us can compete with.

  27. It is in fact the idea they are foreigners working for a much lower wage. I think that’s what you mean. None of us (not me or you) would refuse to work with an Indian-American citizen working at an American-owned company and based here. Gladly I would. However, it’s awfully difficult to tell them apart sometimes. I make my judgement partly on if the company has an office in India and who their leadership is. In my experience, I only got it wrong once or twice out of the hundreds of times I have been contacted by Indian recruiters as to whether I thought they were U.S. citizens or not…on pretty rare occasions, they are. The race baiters out there love that it is very difficult to distinguish between Indian-Americans (citizens) and Indians who are not, will ask how you know the difference, with the idea you should ignore the problem because of the ‘danger’ of getting it wrong on occasion, but I won’t.

    The problem would be easier, only if I were allowed to solve the problem at the point of origination, but at least will not allow you to do that.

    Here’s something that will boil your blood as it did mine today. allows employers to say “MUST BE AN AMERICAN CITIZEN” in their job offerings. It’s legal, and part of the legitimate reason for it is to protect American jobs (every country has a right to protect the jobs of its citizens…except in the minds of some idiots here it seems).

    I got pretty scolded and an insinuation was made that I was a racist by some anonymous authoritarian prick at who thinks I’m putting on my resume that I only work with American recruiters (which is my right to do if I wanted to…I haven’t started doing that yet).

    I got that merely for suggesting they put a checkbox in our profiles that says “American recruiters only”. That is all I was asking for. Pretty innocent request. I can show you the email.

    My relationship with a recruiter is basically a financial one where he gets money if I allow him to represent me (if I hire him, in other words).

    Now, thing is does not ban employers who say they only hire American citizens, so why are they picking on a job applicant who expressed how inundated I was on Monday when I got calls and emails from 15 different companies for the same $15 per hour job. What about what is happening to me, and that doesn’t see that problem.

    Made me really sick. I actually sent a fax including the email to’s CEO.

    • I will let you know the results once I get a reply. I made a strong point for them to allow me to specify American recruiters, since they allow employers to specify American citizens.

      It just makes sense to support your American citizen brother and sister who is trying to keep their job. It makes me depressed when I think American recruiters are losing their jobs because of this insane flood of 10,000s of foreign (i.e. usually Indian) recruiters on a VoIP line from Bangalore. Not to mention a lot of American IT workers who are losing jobs or having their wages watered down by 100,000s of H1-Bs here on the ground.

      I voted for Trump partly because I got tired of this stuff. I want our country back. It is right to feel that way. It’s not morally wrong. I support American citizens of all races equally.

      Every country looks out for its workers but us. Here we have a bunch of elite people who wouldn’t mind if another flag was flying. They are loyal to nothing but globalism. They and their foreign hordes need to leave.

      You should see Silicon Valley sometime. I was raised in that area in the ’60s and ’70s. You go down any main street there and wonder what country you are in. Really depressing.

      • I am not a lawyer.

        Employers need to be mindful of the Civil Rights Act (1964, Title VII).

        Pay attention to the last item on the list below. Employers cannot legally discriminate on the basis of
        citizenship, without a very good reason.

        Title VII of the civil rights act prohibits certain kinds of employment discrimination.

        Citizens, permanent residents, temporary residents, refugees, and asylees can all work in the USA.
        It is illegal to discriminate against non-citizen permanent residents, temporary residents, refugees.

        Under Federal law, employers generally cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of:
        National origin[1]
        Disability (physical or mental, including HIV status)[4][5]
        Age (for workers over 40)[6]
        Military service or affiliation[7]
        Bankruptcy or bad debts[8]
        Genetic information[9]
        Citizenship status (for citizens, permanent residents, temporary residents, refugees, and asylees)[10]

      • Steve S.: I agree with your points about ridiculous recruiters using Monster and other online recruiting channels to waste people’s time. But that’s a problem to take up with Monster and the employers and HR departments that fund the Monsters of the Internet.

        But what’s this got to do with anything:

        “You should see Silicon Valley sometime. I was raised in that area in the ’60s and ’70s. You go down any main street there and wonder what country you are in. Really depressing.”

        I was working in Silicon Valley as long ago as the late 1970s, and there were people of many races and ethnicities walking down the street and working in SV companies. What’s that got to do with anything? I was in the Bay Area a few months ago — and it was clear what country I was in. Nothing depressing about it. In fact, it’s very cool what a melting pot it is — like New York City in the late 1800s, when people from many European countries were pouring in.

        I think the issue is how recruiters behave, no matter where they’re from and no matter where the job seekers are from. Employers do little to keep standards of recruiting high, but that’s hardly the fault of people looking for work. The abuses of the job boards are legendary — but regulators do nothing about it.

        • OK, since you asked…

          It’s just the radical change from how it used to be when I was a kid, that’s all.

          It’s way too different now than it was back then. Not just a little bit, A HECK OF A LOT. Culture shock on steroids. Up until the ’90s, you used to be able to readily find American businesses and restaurants without having to look around at all. Now in some cases, you have to look around. You can go blocks without finding anything. I think that’s a bit much.

          Truth is a lot of people there are not there legally (lots of people with overstayed visas are in California, besides way too many people with legal visas). Also, many $$$ billions have come in from China and bought up a lot of real estate and that has caused real estate to skyrocket, making it unaffordable for most American citizens who live there and have never owned a home to buy anything, even a measly condominium.

          Brand new house in 1964 (my parents old home) was $16,500

          Same house in 2006 was $565,000 and now valued at over $800,000

          Nobody without an income of at least $150,000 a year can even think about buying anything in that area. To buy my old parents house, you would need to make at least $200,000. That house was nothing special…just an ordinary 3 bedroom tract home that a furniture factory worker could afford. You have to admit…a lot changed.

          So, that’s where I’m coming from. I lived there from 1962-1995 so I really know the place intimately. What it was like in the ’70s is absolutely nothing like it is now because I’ve been there enough times in the past 5 years to see what changed.
          If you’re saying the place now is no different than the 1970s, then with all due respect…I’ll leave that out.

          You’re correct there were people of all races there all along way back then…all that was great (I grew up in that area and was always used to that) and that isn’t the point.

          The point is the proportions have turned completely upside down and the fact there is a much higher percentage of newly-arrived foreign born than there used to be. I stand by the point I made…sometimes you don’t know if you’re in America when you’re there. Talk to someone whose been there continuously from the ’70s until now and they will say the same thing. Most of those people have moved out of the area (like me) mainly because the real estate went up so fast.

          People living there now often have to share 3, 4 or more people to a very expensive apartment. If you’re from the 3rd world, that’s not a big deal. If you’re an American citizen, you can’t tolerate that so you move out of the area (which is what happened). I suppose eventually there will be a real estate crash of a more permanent nature there once all the real estate is owned by foreigners…I would not cry if that happened.

  28. I need to make the point that people who are not citizens don’t have the same right to even be in this country in the first place that a citizen does. That right can be revoked for any reason. A citizens right to be here cannot.

    So that’s where an employer’s legitimate concern can come in and where he can do other than what you are saying.

    You might be interpreting this wrong. An employer can favor a U.S. citizen over a non-citizen.

    It’s fairly common to see employers saying they only hire U.S. citizens. I see it a lot.
    It’s not merely because of working for the government and requiring a clearance.

    Maybe it’s the distinction we’re struggling with…nearly all the time with respect to recruiters from India we’re talking about people who are either not even physically here anyway (so the non-citizen resident argument is moot), or else they are here with some type of work visa. They are probably never someone with a green card which can make them a legal permanent resident. This is probably because if they were a legal resident, they would be able to get the same wage as an American. Employers don’t have to hire someone with a visa if they are looking for permanent help because they are only temporary guests…and they have to be sponsored to even be here (i.e. H1-B), also which is not a right any foreign worker can expect to receive.


    I’m certain that what I am promoting is perfectly legal. I do not as an individual person looking for work have to hire a foreigner to find me a job and I will not do so under any circumstances. Especially because of my personal experiences with them. I have a right to favor an American recruiter over a foreign recruiter. Doing that doesn’t violate anything and I feel is being unfair because there is a real problem and they are preventing me from finding a solution that works.

    It’s time we favor American citizens. If that law you speak of needs to be changed or clarified by the Supreme Court so that American citizens are favored, maybe that needs doing.

    We are making some big mistakes giving foreigners too much ground to stand on, if that’s true.

  29. “An employer can favor a U.S. citizen over a non-citizen.”

    Yes, they can do this. I’m sure it happens.

    It also happens to be illegal, if this is the only reason for favoritism.

    Civil rights act, 1964. Title VII. Look it up.
    I am not debating this with you. It is illegal, period.

  30. Hello Stephen,

    OK, I actually went to the page showing the law itself and read the relevant parts:

    It says it’s legal in some cases to not hire non-citizen legal residents, just not as much as I thought. You’re saying it’s always illegal and that is not accurate. There has to be a justification.

    So maybe that law probably needs to be reviewed as far as the citizenship aspect. That’s a discussion for another day. I don’t want to argue that.

    Anyway…the people I’m talking about are not covered by that protection because I’m pretty certain in 95% of the cases, they are not even physically here to begin with, and for the rest…they are not legal residents but on temporary work visas. I’m certain that law does not apply to visa holders because for instance H1-Bs don’t have a right to an unexpiring H1-B visa, nor do they have a legal right to remain and work here once their employment expires. It’s a privilege that can be revoked at any time for any reason by the employer. No argument there.

    But good point about legal resident non-citizens and thanks for pointing me to that because I stand corrected. needs to make an accommodation because there is no legal right for foreign recruiters to contact me against my wishes. Turning them away one by one is not a solution.


    • Steve S.: “ needs to make an accommodation because there is no legal right for foreign recruiters to contact me against my wishes.”

      If you’re being contacted via Monster by recruiters who are wasting your time, that’s something to take up with Monster, whose policies are so lax they invite all kinds of abuse.

  31. Yes, sir…I’ve done that. They came back with my idea for a box to check that specifies “American recruiters only” as somehow being discriminatory, racist, etc… which was really offensive. I sent a fax message to the CEO Tim Yates’ office about that.