Misdirection in the Job Search

After reading Phred Dvorak and Joann S. Lublin’s article, “Outplacement Firms Struggle to Do Job,” in today’s Wall Street Journal, I couldn’t believe how similar Ms. Service’s experience was to mine. While my employer did not refer me to outplacement, several recruiters contacted me after I posted my resume on an online job search site. After speaking with two different firms, I arranged to meet with a recruiter from what seemed to be the more reputable agency.

After two and a half hours talking with the recruiter, I was beginning to have mixed feelings. While he seemed to have many contacts in the accounting industry, he knew very little about the field, confusing the most basic of terms related to my work experience. As he planned to revise my resume, this began to worry me. Next he informed me that I could not have a copy of the new resume and that I should not send out any resumes without first clearing the recipients with him. Nonetheless, I left the initial meeting determined to let him start my job search for me. His firm has a decent reputation and, given the economy, I was looking for all the help I could get. As it happened, I was otherwise preoccupied for a few weeks and had little time to look for a job on my own.

My concern turned to worry after not hearing from the recruiter in response to messages I’d left regarding requests he made of me during our initial meeting. I left an additional message and two days later, the recruiter finally returned my call, nearly two weeks since we had last spoken. After politely telling me that the job market is slow right now (tell me something I don’t know), the recruiter asked that I refrain from calling him. Instead, he will contact me if a job prospect becomes available. Needless to say, I will not be working with a recruiter going forward.

In recounting my experience to a family friend in the job search industry, he confirmed for me an ugly truth. It seems that hoarding resumes into a proprietary database is a growing trend in the industry. As the Journal article noted, these template-driven resumes often contain blatant typos and reflect little of the individuals they should represent, doing the applicants more disservice than benefit. Not surprisingly, the family friend reached the same conclusion I did regarding the recruiter: ditch him. If, by some miracle, he does find a lead, great; otherwise, I have no intention of calling him or any other recruiter during my search.