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Beware of Reference Harvesters
Have you ever submitted your resume to a recruiter or
headhunter or placement agency in response to a job they've posted, and
landed the interview only to have this happen: You show up for the
interview (or they call and start a phone interview), and after a few
questions about you, the subject changes to your references.
You're a little puzzled that would come up so soon, but you
supply them because hey, this is an interview and when they ask for
references, that's good, right?
Except you never hear from the recruiter again.
But you hear from your references. And they're
complaining that the recruiter is calling them, not about you, but
instead to sell them on a job opening -- maybe even the one you
applied for -- and the recruiter is being pretty aggressive. You're
mortified, and furious. What do you do?
Unfortunately, this kind of practice is commonplace, if I
can use client reports as any guide. I call it "references
harvesting". It is dishonest when your own references are not being
used as they're supposed to be, to support your candidacy. And it's
outright thievery when the recruiter pursues the reference for his/her
own purposes. The theory is that unethical recruiters do this to find
more experienced people in the field who could be good candidates for an
Now any good recruiter or headhunter works to expand
his or her network of connections. But ethical ones would ask your
permission to speak to your references about topics unrelated to your
candidacy, and they would ask your references themselves for the same
permission. And they'd respect your answer.
And career coaches, like me, who don't recruit or place but instead coach
you in how to work with such folks, will not ask you for your references,
but we'll show you how to best use them, and care for and feed them.
So what do you do once you realize you've been, well, used?
Your choices include:
- Warn fellow job seekers
to avoid that recruiter
- Bring it up to the
recruiter, live or via voice mail, expressing your concern that
"someone" at their company must have misunderstood the
role of your reference. See how the recruiter responds. If he or she
says "tough", or fails to respond at all, then escalate
the issue to their management. And if they don't seem to
care, go to the next bullet below for another way to handle it
- Complain to any
professional organization to which they belong, especially if that
organization has a Code of Ethics
candidates let such dishonest operators know that this harvesting
practice will not be tolerated, it will stop.
getting job search guidance?
When Is the Best Time of the Year to
often asked "When's the best time of year to start a job hunt?"
There really is no one "job hunting season". But know that it
usually takes longer than you expect, so starting a search near Memorial
Day with the expectations that you'll be in a new job for July 4th would
be, for most people, unrealistic. I tell most job-seeking professionals
who are between jobs to expect a three-month campaign, and if they're
working full-time, a transition taking about six months is not unusual.
Job fairs usually follow
the calendar of the school year. In other words, they are usually not
scheduled during the summer or close to the December holidays. While I
think job fairs are usually a mixed bag at best, some are well-run with
quality companies who have real jobs. Better to use the job fair ad to
see what companies will be there, then check their web sites to see if
there are jobs in your career area. Not every open job is posted but
what's there will give you an idea of what their needs are.
There are certainly times of the year where it's more difficult to sit
down with network contacts or hiring managers. Mid-December through the
first of January is tough because of their many out-of-the-office
commitments. But many recruiters are available at this time of year so
try to reach them then.
It's not as easy to
reach networking contacts or hiring managers from late June through
mid-July. This is when many people are away on vacation. While this may
continue through the summer, the toughest period is the two weeks around
So plan ahead when you're
hoping to make a transition. While the time of year might not have a huge
impact, hitting your stride when people are around will be to your
For a collection
of web sites with job postings...
Just When You Thought You Didn't Need
That Cover Letter...
recently surveyed executives who review resumes about cover letters. Only
44% of the executives said that job candidates show knowledge of the
company in their cover letters. The execs also said that the cover letter
(cover email, today), when it matches the candidate to the company and to
the job, prompts them to call the candidate for an interview.
So while some companies'
representatives say they never read cover letters, most still do, and
they pay close attention to them. And so should you.
For some cover letter
tips, click on the link below.
Some Cover Letter
The Right Words
You woke up this morning saying "Oh, no, I don't yet
have my copy of The Resume Queen's Job Search Thesaurus and Career
Guide?! How can that be?!"
Well, fortunately, that's a problem easily solved.
You can get it here
or on Amazon.com, where it's getting wonderful reviews. AND it's also
available as a iVersion
for your iPod.
By using the Thesaurus and Guide, you'll improve your chances of
communicating your value to a prospective employer. In these uncertain
times, why not give yourself every advantage?
Thank you for your order!
Thought of the Day:
Diamonds are only chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.
-- Minnie Richard Smith
We are proud members of:
- Association of Career
- Career Management
- Career Counselors
- Chapman Private Practice
- Business Networking
Called "The Resume Queen" years ago by a career
counselor colleague, Joanne Meehl decided to have fun
with the nickname (which we've officially trademarked). But she also
takes it seriously by keeping her career management skills on the leading
edge, through research and ongoing dialog with hiring managers.
You're now seeing us use "The Job Search Queen", which
better reflects the breadth of our services. The trademark is pending. We
use both "queen" nicknames in our materials.
Take a look at our
redesigned web site. A whole new look and easier-to-find
More changes: You'll see that the name of our company is now Joanne
Meehl Career Services. This better aligns the company name with the
person clients work with. Dave Balzotti is now enjoying his new role as
our Director of Research.
Our new location is Minneapolis, Minnesota. However, we're still working
with professionals in job search who live in Massachusetts, New England,
and elsewhere in the US via phone and Skype video. So wherever you're
located, we can work with you to ignite your search and get you where you
want to be!
The Heart of the Matter
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