Category Archives: Rants

The Desperate Vibe? Really?

Laura Bassett, writing about something called “the Desperate Vibe” in the Huffington Post, quotes Isang Inokon, a recruiter for Amherst Healthcare as having “trouble placing jobless pharmacists.”  Inokon, according to Bassett, asserts that “the reality of today’s job market is that employers ‘want someone who’s wanted.'”

Maybe.  But as I have said before, the Inokons of the marketplace don’t get paid easily for producing candidates who have already applied for the job, who have their own effective plan for getting the prospective employer’s attention, and who (it must be said) don’t need the help of Amherst Healthcare in order to get a good job.

I believe the headhunters of the world are an enormous asset to the job market, workforce, employers, and the business community in general.  But, the headhunter quoted here has some skin in this game; describing a “desperation vibe” as a good reason for his seeking (in his own ad, in his own interest) only employed pharmacists to offer to his unnamed clients is at best disingenuous.  His alleged value to his target client is that he can locate and represent the so-called “passive job-seeker,” also probably alleged to be (via a significant leap of logic) the cream of the crop.  By advertising for (and attempting to induce fear of someday appearing desperate in) that candidate on Craigslist?   Unfortunately, “passive job seekers,” who may also be known as “those who haven’t been laid off just yet,”  are hanging on to their jobs and not sending resumes and cover letters to the Inokons with much frequency.

Any movement in the labor market is really good for recruiting and headhunting, and no one can blame Mr. Inokon for his position or his efforts.  If he dislodges and places a clinical pharmacist, he has another opportunity, to fill the job he opened.  This is his business model:  he gets paid when he adds value, places people in jobs, and earns his fee.  If you get to the job you want before he does, though,  he doesn’t get paid at all.

But “a desperation vibe. . . ?”  “Interview from a position of weakness. . . ?”  That isn’t real.  In fact, I imagine that there are plenty of employers who, if they are able to, will break a tie between the best candidates by awarding the job to the one who needs it.  And, decision-makers have trouble understanding what you want from them if you have a perfectly good, and very similar job.  Bidding wars for great candidates are sort of not happening right now.

It is never good to act from desperation, always better to exhibit confidence, and superior candidates consistently package themselves as winners, no matter the condition of the economy.  The economy as a participant in your own job search is pretty hard to quantify and harder still to manage.  So don’t bother enlisting it in any way at all.  It will not help you to buy into a belief that unemployed means undesirable;  in all my years in Human Resources, we never asked a headhunter to limit his or her search to the employed.  Why would we?  It is fully self defeating, expensive,  and ridiculously bad business.  And, it might just perpetuate illegal discrimination, a risk few HR professionals would deliberately consider.

Consider the other side of the coin:  Unemployed candidates are more willing to relocate, accept the range minimum for a particular job, are less demanding of perqs, and can usually begin work sooner.

If there is a legitimate concern on the part of an employer, it is simply that active job seekers do tend to leave the process before a big company finishes its selection.  They consume headhunter time as they juggle multiple opportunities–the advantage of being unemployed in the job market is that you can spend all your time on your search.

I’ve commented on the issue in the past.  And I believe that some employers aren’t sure what to do when confronted with choices; we are conditioned to want the less attainable and we convert it in our heads to the more desirable, somehow.  But I would not be confident, if I were a well-employed clinical pharmacist seeing Mr. Inokon’s ad on Craiglist, that the best thing for my career is to hand my resume over to a headhunter who says I’m at risk of interviewing poorly if I don’t interview right now.

What to Give Your Kids Before Graduation: Respect

A few weeks ago, I went to the grocery store on a weekday morning. I think I’d been listening to the Swine Flu story at great length, and was advised by some authority or another to have groceries on hand in the event of . . . well, it wasn’t clear if the point was an illness in my house or an epidemic so pervasive that we wouldn’t want to shop. Living in hurricane preparedness country, I know the drill, however.

Weekday morning traffic was light in the aisles of my local Publix, the better to overhear the cell phone conversations of my fellow shoppers, as it turned out. You know how we all start in the bakery, go through the deli and the produce, and then finish up in ice cream? In other words, you can’t get away from the people you entered with? In my case, I was doomed to shop alongside a woman who was, shall we say, highly critical of her teen-aged daughter.

I didn’t want to listen. I had no choice. She was angry, she was loud, she was blameful, she was articulate, she was disloyal; she was, I think, either entertaining or soothing herself—at the expense of her child.

I wasn’t alone in the store; we live in a small enough town. The Talker Mom was no doubt recognizable to many people, though I don’t know her (yet). No matter; from the sound of this rant, she will tell her stories time and again to many, many “friends.”

Of course it gets worse. In her shopping cart, attentively listening to the sound of her mother’s voice and words, was a two and a half year old toddler, presumably the errant teen’s younger sister. Who was learning about her world, and not getting her mothers undivided attention and gentle guidance.

Here’s what I think I heard, while trying to organize flu food. The teenager is at or near puberty, may have a mild learning disability, is frustrated and is frustrating to parents and teachers, is given to tantrums and willfulness, misbehaves, talks back, refuses to do chores and homework, skips classes, and is comprehensively unpleasant to have in the family home. And it’s her teachers’ fault. Mom’s diagnosis: bored with school, learns bad habits there, friends are unsuitable, and she got them at school, too. Oh, and may be depressed.

I know you are as appalled as I am. This is wrong on so many levels that it hurts to write about it; it was hard to listen to. But all I can think about is that Talker Mom is systematically destroying her daughter’s prospects for a future. Never mind that she built the adult-to-be with whom she is so angry—blame is not the subject. The cold hard fact is that if your parents can’t recommend you to anyone, no one is going to want to hire you. This angry parent is telling the world to stay away from trouble: her daughter. It’s a sure bet that when Mom’s anger subsides, and the hormones get back in line, and the family vacation turns out okay for a change, Mom will be happier, but the neighbors will remember that this is one babysitter not to call.

Don’t be this parent. I’m not a therapist or a parent of a teenager, but we all know how difficult parenting can be and that mother-daughter relationships have special problems, and blah, blah, blah. As a practical matter, your children learn about work from you. The world learns about your children from you. You are the source. You are essentially writing their resumes. Think about what you really want for your kids in the long run.

And consider what you really want the next time you take your children out of school for a long weekend vacation, when you complain in front of them about your miserable day and your lousy supervisor, when you violate your daughter’s trust and privacy by sharing her intimate problems with your book club, when you have one too many drinks and drive the carpool anyway, when you fail to discipline yourself and encumber the kids as a result. Or when you teach more spontaneity than planning, when you fail to budget time and money, when you talk about friends behind their back, treat others with disdain, and compete for anyone’s attention on any available platform. Your family is the first organization your child experiences. Are you the leader? If so, what are you teaching, explicitly or by example?