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recruiters are the ultimate stalkers

In Today’s Job Market Stalking is a Two-Way Street

I often joke with my friends that recruiters, sourcers, and headhunters are the ultimate stalkers.  For years we have developed expert ways of uncovering information on passive and active candidates, some we were looking for and some we just happen to stumble upon unwittingly.

From old school Boolean searches that can still carry their weight, to going sans technology and pumping our networks for word of mouth information, to all the new technologies, platforms, tools, social media outlets, and websites at our disposal, it’s just a matter of plugging in a keyword or two and a way we go.

Often, we were just looking for a phone number or an email address or an industry list of names to start plugging in to LinkedIn, or we just want to make sure you are who you say you are and that everything checks out from your resume and/or interview.  But, for savvy recruiters, sometimes even the most extraneous piece of information could be a lead to either send us down a rabbit hole or lead us to a jackpot of candidates or the right connections.

I’ve been surprised myself as an unwitting passive job seeker on a number of occasions on how a recruiter was able to call me on a private second cell line I’d never given out or who came to a Meetup event I was attending to introduce themselves in person.  Some employers have even taken their recruitment efforts up a notch with extreme personalization in trying to attract job seekers. Check out this article on TalentMagic showing a recruitment video prepared by employer Teradata. (Do you find this innovative or frightening?)

Back in the days when I used to recruit heavily in my day job, I often experienced just how quickly and easily the line blurred between my day job and the rest of my life when it came to finding information and just how much information was readily available if you were willing to work for it.  Especially when it came to things like online dating…

You’d be amazed at how just a key word or two from your personal profile and the right basic information could lead me to exactly who you were online without knowing your real name prior to a search.  (And yes, I’ve actually sourced candidates through dating sites I was never a part of as well, the same way you can find LinkedIn profiles online without being connected.)

At a certain point for myself, I had to draw the line when in a non-recruiting role I once tasked with a particular objective for a client and was able to uncover who the golfing buddies were for a particularly hard to reach CEO, what bar they frequented after their weekly Saturday morning games and/or which little league fields they’d be headed to after to watch their kids play, in order for a startup friend to run into them and network as possible investors.  There’s a point when you just don’t want to know these things and you have to stop yourself…but I digress.

The point is the information is out there if you put it out there, and that can be a good reminder when in a job search or building your personal brand.  What’s also good to note is that the majority of the tools I mentioned above are available to the masses, and the internet has really become the great equalizer between candidates and recruiters.

Many great job seekers have learned to tactfully stalk recruiters, hiring managers, and employers for their own gain of successfully landing a job.  (Check out this candidate’s confessions of their bold efforts from MyJobLinx Blog) And, as long as both sides don’t borderline on the narrow trench into the “creep” factor, I support this.

We should all be utilizing whatever tools we have at our disposal to make a mutual job match.  (Megan Atkinson’s article on internet stalking may be a few years old but she makes some great points and offers some good tips.) And if a candidate is willing to work just as hard to research a recruiter and the company, they obviously have a strong desire for the position—one which I would challenge in a phone conversation or interview to uncover that desire and see if there is a fit—because the right attitude and willingness to do the job can often overcome gaps in skills.

And, that’s also where the workforce seems to be shifting these days, in taking a cultural and attitudinal approach to the hiring process.  Companies want candidates who want to work for them.  We all don’t have to settle for the status quo and we can make the system work for us more on both sides.

Instead of putting up barriers, let’s embrace the knowledge zone and provide more transparency to create a mutual attraction for jobs, and stop creating extra work for both sides.  (Have specific ideas for how we can do this?  Share them in the comments!)

In the meantime, I still think candidates are starting to give those in the recruitment industry a run for their money when it comes to stalking.  My advice: go for it, just know the limits and show respect for others, because when all is said and done, respect is always key in building future relationships.

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