There are so many urban legends associated with job search that I generally don’t know where to start when I talk to new members.
Since I get calls every week from members of the search community, I thought I would take a few minutes tonight and discuss the reality of your resume being on file with a particular recruiter.
First of all, it is very easy these days to blast your resume out to lots of recruiters. Even if you lack a mail merge program such as the one I use to send out the newsletter, sending out a few hundred resumes by email is no big deal. Anyone can do it, and lots of people do. You can even personalize them to an extent and still do a huge volume on any given day.
If you are going to blast mail your resume to recruiters who are open to receiving them, at least do yourself the favor of renaming the file to the convention of “LastNameFirstNameMI.doc. Resume.doc and the 100 other variations I have seen over the years will guarantee that your resume will never be seen again, if it stood any chance at all. DO NOT paste your resume into an email. That makes it totally and completely useless for any purpose.
Distribution lists are available from lots of sources.
Now let’s examine the reality of recruiters maintaining their own files. Back in the old days, some of the major firms spent fortunes developing the ability to build their own databases. Now the major job search boards have places where recruiters can do searches using various approaches. My guess is that very few boutique search firms go to the trouble of building any kind of database. And, of course, they also have LinkedIn.
That said, sending out mailings to recruiters you have come to believe service some area of expertise of yours may work. My belief, however, is that it will still be pure coincidence if your resume lands on someone’s desk the day they need you. Lightening does strike, and if you have the time, you should blast out email on a regular basis.
If you look at it analytically, perhaps the folly of expecting to be called can be clarified. Every search is unique, even one within certain arcane areas. The skills required and the geographic locations all vary. A search firm may specialize in industries like Pharmaceuticals for example, or in skill sets like Treasury. What are the odds on any given day that your EXACT background will be a fit for the searches they have in a YEAR? Alas, slim to none.
A search firm is much better off utilizing the blast capabilities of email on what I call the “run it up the flagpole and see who salutes” approach. If they have written a detailed position description and place it in the right places, only those who have interest will arrive back on their desks. This is basically the strategy we take in The FENG. I almost never recommend folks to recruiters who call. Who am I to know or understand their requirements, let alone your individual capabilities? By putting it in the newsletter you and they get to decide. It is simpler and much more likely to get a proper result.
Even when the large firms had extensive files, many of the recruiters who worked for the firm didn’t use them. We were better off and they are better off if needs are communicated out, rather than if they attempt to search their files or if you attempt to get into them. An extensive search of their files may only yield those who have landed, even if they find one with a perfect background. What are the odds?
Please don’t take comfort in the fact that someone tells you “you’re in their files.” It is the world’s greatest conversation stopper to tell a job seeker not to worry because you are in their files. The truth is you have to be top of mind on the day they have a search that EXACTLY fits your background.
Again, what are the odds? (Let’s get back to networking!)