Are You … Tainted?

One of my CFO clients called me yesterday to get my thoughts on a conversation he had with a recruiter in New York earlier this week. The recruiter told him, “if you don’t find a position by June (which would be 6 months after he worked himself out of a job), you’re basically tainted and no recruiter will work with you after that.”

Ouch! It is a cold, cruel world out there … particularly in the shark infested waters of job searching.

First, there are some recruiters who feel that way. Not all. However, the reality is … as I’ve said numerous times … companies don’t, as a rule, pay recruiters to find unemployed candidates.

Second, “why” you’re unemployed is important. There is a difference between losing a job and working yourself out of a job, so your story is important. Third party recommendations on Linked In from your most recent employer and letters of recommendation can certainly help your cause. So can a strong visible and credible digital footprint … do the people who need to know about you actually know about you?

Third, there is no question that once you walk out the door for the final time, even with a big severance package and everything else being exactly the same (talents, contributions, skills, etc.), your marketability takes a huge hit. If you’re unemployed, your challenge to win those competitive opportunities is infinitely more difficult. High-value targets are passive, socially well-connected, and credible. 

If you’re unemployed and looking … and not getting the results you want … get some help. Chances are extremely good that if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. And, at least according to this recruiter, a long and protracted job search will only further hurt your chances.

If you are currently employed, now is the time to begin planning for your next move. You are, after all, only and always, between searches. You can do it the hard way or the easier way. It’s your choice. 

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2 thoughts on “Are You … Tainted?”

  1. Excellent post. Definitely an “ouch” moment. Your remarks are spot on. I agree with all of them.
    I’d like to add one more point to the mix. Another consequence of individuals being unemployed for longer stretches of time is they’ve circulated their resume pretty much everywhere. Whether a company shows interest in you or not, they may still be retaining your information. There were some candidates who came my way who had already chased the places I would go with their profile. Companies can refuse to pay a third party recruiter’s fee for someone they “already have” in their pipeline. There were occasions when I was able to make a convincing case the company having that individual in the pipeline wasn’t enough as they clearly didn’t go to the lengths I did to realize the potential fit. The candidates resumes/applications were long forgotten. That argument was only successful with companies I had solid, long-standing relationships with. The other companies simply decided to cut me out of the equation and call the candidate through the information they had on file. If I’ve got a lot of potential candidates to work with, I’m going to pick the ones more inclined to make my efforts pay off. Candidates approaching a recruiter for help who have been looking for a while should come with a complete list of where they’ve submitted their resume already, whether the company showed interest or not. If the recruiter can see some room to cover ground the candidate missed, it may improve the chances of a recruiter making the attempt.


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