Recruiters, Headhunters and Employed Elitists – Shame on You!


After 13 wonderful years with my employer, I recently resigned (gasp!). It was a difficult decision but one I felt necessary. I was looking forward to exploring unemployment, the lazy morning cups of coffee and eyeing the job boards. So, down the rabbit hole I went….

Linked In is a reputed good place to start and there I came across an interesting discussion called “Good Manners Matter, Don’t They?” The numerous tales of how people are quick to request work be done for them but slow to respond (if at all) are disturbing. Work hard on preparing a proposal or material for a prospect and apparently, unless the answer is yes, most opt to say no to saying no.

And we, of the Unemployed, are no more worthy of attention. We work hard when applying- researching the designated place of future joy, customizing our resume, following up with emails/calls/letters. Yet, publications abound with iterations that the Unemployed should or do feel ashamed of their situation.

Well I say – Shame On You, IABC magazine Communication World which compared and contrasted the aftermath of a natural disaster to the wake of a layoff. According to the article, the former elicits sympathy and support. As for the latter, “Those employees who have been let go may be ridden with guilt, embarrassment, shame and a lack of self-confidence. They are often politely shunned by former co-workers, neighbors, and even family and friends”

On Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole, her drink from the vial literally shrinks her to ten inches tall. My trip- our trips – down the rabbit hole to UnemploymentLand should not do the same. After all, who among us has never been fired, dumped, betrayed, used or abandoned?

While most of the aforementioned article addresses the physical and mental state of employees who have survived layoffs, at no point does the author point out how invalid and unacceptable it is (and it is!, in many cases) that this state of mind is the Unemployed’s onus. Be it self-inflicted or, in the reverse of the Shakespearean greatness, thrust upon us by publications like this one or one appearing in Fortune Magazine’s April edition. “How Do I Get a Headhunter Interested in Me” interviews a headhunter who is portrayed as saying, “Don’t Call Us: It doesn’t help.” Shame on You! The Bible says “Ask and ye shall receive.” Even disregarding it, how will we- the qualified, competent individuals with strong work ethics- get noticed if we don’t ask, call or write?

Shame On You, hiring managers for allowing this behavior to proliferate. Your in-house recruiters are a direct reflection on you. The people who answer your phone (and don’t return calls), whose names are connected to yours (and ignore personally addressed emails) and those from whom you request follow up be done (and it’s simply not) are how we perceive you. Maybe you practice “do unto others,” but if those around you do not, you are guilty by association. In my eight years as a hiring manager, I made sure that my team and I treated all applicants as does Nabisco (see below).

Yes yes I know- you’re swamped, overwhelmed; you get so many calls, applications, inquiries and emails. Poor you of the Employed! Because I have yet to meet a working person who cannot easily improve their daily productivity by 10% (let’s just start by you shutting Facebook or whatever social media/internet site is your weakness and yes, I mean keeping it closed for the entire workday), I cannot empathize with you. It’s always a question of priorities.

Some people do understand this and therefore practice it in their organizations. Thank You to those headhunters, almost always of small firms, who are graciously responsive. Thank You to those of you who are Employed and care- You know who you are and you are the true elite, far superior to your colleagues,

Thank You to the New York Times which published an article expounding on the discourtesy and disregard characterizing the hiring world today and the few, unique companies who refuse to cow to this trend. It was titled “Be Nice to Job Seekers. (They’re Shoppers, Too.).” How right the writer is! I, for example, will no longer shop at Ann Taylor given their treatment of me as an applicant. The write-up included the following:

“I recently heard a story about a manager from Nabisco…When he declared that his company responded to every resume it received – solicited and unsolicited – he was met with incredulous stares from his peers.

“Why respond to every resume when that’s clearly not necessary?” someone asked.

The Nabisco manager smiled and replied, ” Because – everyone eats cookies.”

How delightful- and insightful- a response. So why are such wonderful individuals and companies like Nabisco and Southwest Airlines apparently in the minority? Perhaps this wake-up call is all that’s needed! Then again, it could be that the failure to reply and say ‘no, thank you’ is an unfortunate side effect of the manners we hold so dear. The word ‘no’ is one which invokes a multitude of unpleasant associations and many of us seek to avoid it at all costs- including not saying it to others. Maybe it’s time for our optimistic society to embrace the usually-chastised naysayers for the level of comfort they have developed with uttering the N-word. Chances are that receiving an appropriately customized ‘no thank you but we appreciate your time’ would leave us all much more satisfied and inclined to continue purchasing…be it cookies or clothing.