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  #1  
Old 07-31-2015, 10:44 AM
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Westley Westley is offline
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Default Westley talks about recruiters

I got another PM about a recruiter today and decided I'm going to do something I've threatened to for a while: have a thread just about dealing with recruiters. Now, this is on a website that a recruiting firm has generously funded, so I'm not going to get into recommending for or against that or any other firm, but I still think there's a lot that actuaries don't understand about recruiters and how they work, or how to work with them.

This thread will be more about things I think actuaries need to know about recruiters, generally. Like, finding a good recruiter, getting rid of a bad one, how a recruiter's incentives align or do not align with yours, and whether using a recruiter or not using one is the best idea in a given situation. I do have some mod powers in the Employment threads (not sure I even know exactly what I can do, but maybe it's time to test drive that), so this might turn into a somewhat moderated thread. Put another way, if you want to make posts about using real analysis to identify the best recruiter and P/C recruiters > Life/Health recruiters, those probably aren't going to stick around long.

Questions and comments, in this thread or by PM*, are welcome. I plan to add to this thread over time, not intending it to be a one-time thing. People posting their own experience and disagreements with my comments and advice are always welcome. I will also be borrowing over time from other threads that have recruiter info.



*I reserve the right to post PMs with my response in this thread. I will, IMO and at my discretion, appropriately "genericize", falsify, or redact identifying information that you provide me in PM. If you specifically request that I do not post your PM even in redacted form, then I will honor that request as well.
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Old 07-31-2015, 10:46 AM
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Copied from the "Best of" thread in my sig line:

Really bad recruiter stories:
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...ad.php?t=52413
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...ad.php?t=21018
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...ead.php?t=3093
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...ead.php?t=2720
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...ead.php?t=9043
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...ad.php?t=16133

Just for fun, to start.

So, apparently my limited mod powers in Employment allows me to just take all the lame meme-ish garbage and dump it here in a spoiler, which you're free to read if you want:

Spoiler:
give me the names of worthy recruiters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Westley View Post
P/C recruiters > Life/Health recruiters
Subtracting recruiters from both sides:
P/C > Life/Health

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abelian Grape View Post
Subtracting recruiters from both sides:
P/C > Life/Health
Haha, I think you meant dividing both sides by recruiters.

But, either way, it's like you just proved that 1+1 = 2.

No, I believe in unity and keeping everyone together. Dividing is bad.



Haha, I think you meant dividing both sides by recruiters.

Unless we know for sure that recruiters are either positive or negative, we can not divide by them in the mentioned formula as the inequality may or may not needed to be flipped.

-Riley

Quote:
Originally Posted by whoanonstop View Post
Unless we know for sure that recruiters are either positive or negative, we can not divide by them in the mentioned formula as the inequality may or may not needed to be flipped.

-Riley
True, a very basic mistake on my part... assuming recruiters are not equal to 0, we can divide both sides by recruiters. But, the inequality will also depend on whether they are positive or negative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by campbell View Post
I have been hearing from recruiters a lot recently.

Self-promotion is not an issue for me, nor industry contacts.

But I have a weird preference set, as well as a geographic restriction. While I get out there and talk to everybody, not all hiring managers are as well-connected as I am.
Nice humblebrag about being able to talk.
Spoiler:
This post will be a "holding pen" for topics I want to address later, or things to go back to, to add to the thread:

1 How does the fee get expensed/how does the company think about it
2 How to handle multiple recruiters
3 How to apply on your own and also use a recruiter

Need to pull in items from PMs and "Best of..."related to recruiters.


Last edited by Westley; 08-17-2015 at 06:37 PM..
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  #3  
Old 07-31-2015, 10:56 AM
Dr T Non-Fan Dr T Non-Fan is offline
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Just want to add that the blurb in Freakonomics about real estate agents is also true with respect to recruiters. Page 8, and a deeper discussion starting on page 71.

And the incentive from the recruiter's POV is that you accept an offer from a company that he/she presented to you (whereby he/she gets a commission), and not to accept a counteroffer to stay with your current company (whereby he/she does not get a commission).
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Old 07-31-2015, 12:13 PM
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So, here's some off-the-cuff advice to the PMer I heard from this morning. I'll follow up with more later, as I think of things.

When I first hear from a recruiter, there's really two mains openers that they will have, whether it's an email, phone call, LinkedIn message, or live intro.
1) I'm currently recruiting for _____ position, can you help me with that (leaving open whether the "help" they want to hear is "hire me" or "I know somebody you should talk to" because either answer is fine)
2) I'm a recruiter that would like to establish a relationship with you for future use (when you're looking to hire or looking to move - they don't really care all that much whether you're a client or a resource, the relationship has value either way)

I'll leave out the first one for now.



I think the problem most actuaries have with #2 is that a recruiter calls and they really don't know what to say or ask to identify whether they want to work with this recruiter. Some recruiters are bad, some are great, how do you sort?


Step 1: Know what you think a good recruiter is (for you). I think of it as: I want a better job, and I need somebody to fill in the weaknesses that I have that prevent me from getting a better job. I have my own list of what I think a recruiter needs to do for me, but what are some weaknesses you might be looking to fill that prevent you from getting a better job?

1) Not enough industry contacts to know about all the jobs
2) Can't negotiate well
3) Can't get the attention of the hiring manager or HR
4) Not a strong enough resume
5) Not enough experience
6) You aren't the match that a hiring manager or HR might visualize as "a good fit" even though you actually are a good fit
7) You're not a good fit
8) Poor at selling yourself
9) Not enough interviewing experience
10) Don't know what opportunities are out there
etc
etc

Some of these are holes that a recruiter can fill, some are obstacles they can help you work around, some they can't do anything about at all.

But, you need to figure out what you think you want a recruiter to do for you - because, as Yogi Berra said, if you don't know where you're trying to go, you might not get there.


Step 2: Evaluate whether the recruiter has the skills, background, experience, etc. for the needs you identified in Step 1.

Recruiters, if they're any good at all, are excellent at sales. You want this, because they will eventually be selling you. But the problem is, whatever you ask them, they will already have an answer for why they're awesome at what you want. So, I'm looking for some level of validation.

So, first thing I listed: "Not enough industry contacts" - almost everybody sees this value in a recruiter. You can't possibly know everybody in the industry, or every open position (and neither can a recruiter, although they will sometimes try to tell you that they do).

Does the person that just called you have enough industry contacts, relative to the specific jobs you're looking for? I had a "lone wolf" (i.e., not with a firm) call me and tell me that he's been recruiting actuaries for years, etc, etc. I asked him about how he found open opportunities, how he could compete in finding open positions with a firm that had 20 people doing the same thing, etc, etc. Didn't really have an answer. I also asked him who he usually worked with, it was a very generic list of the biggest names - that's great that when I mention consulting, you can tell me you've talked to lots of people at Towers Watson and PwC, I'm pleased that you've actually heard of two of the very largest employers of actuaries; anybody else? (to the person who PMd me today this seems particularly relevant as the little bit you told me about your specialty/experience/geography suggests that you have a very small number of very large potential employers, plus a bunch of much smaller options that you want to know that they can find).

A related story that I'm sure I've put on here before: Had a recruiter call me and tell me that he would be a great choice to help me with finding something. He already had the right place lined up yada yada yada. The position he recommended was totally uninteresting and unrelated to what I was interested in doing, and I told him. So, he asked me what I saw myself doing, and I described a position that I thought would be interesting to me, and his response was (sounding as if he was being very gracious and accommodating), “How about I call up contacts at X, Y, and Z and I’ll show them your resume and discuss what you could do for them?”. The employers he named were the largest employers in the area and all places that I could easily call several people that I knew pretty well, so what’s the benefit. Tell me you have some kind of contacts that aren’t already on my LinkedIn, or what value are you providing?


So, before you talk to recruiters, you should have in your head the things you want them to demonstrate. And there's nothing wrong with a very direct: Look, I already talk to X and Y recruiters, what can you connect me to that they can't find already? Because I can find Towers Watson on my own, know lots of people there.

Some random questions worth asking:
What areas, specialties, levels do you primarily work in? (expect them to say that you're exactly what they work with, because they're selling you, but some good follow-up questions are: for people in my specialty, area, and level, what do you see as most of their issues - finding a position that fits them, convincing the hiring manager, negotiations - what's the sticking point for most? Also, great to slide in a (mild) technical question and see if they can give you any useful info - are the changes from Obamacare driving people to change the types of roles that they're seeking, are they thinking about its impact on their careers long-term, or just responding to the short-term demands because that's what's in front of them)
How long have you been doing this?
What's the current hottest market you're working with?
How long do you think it would take to find me a position in location X, with comp in line with what I've told you I expect, etc?
You've heard my background, you talk to people that are hiring, what type of position do you think I should be looking for?
One of the problems with my resume, background, etc is ____. How do you think I can spin that in the recruiting process?
What's your process for presenting candidates you represent and how do you go about selling them to the hiring managers?



For all the questions you ask, don't be surprised to get very vague responses, and push back to get more specifics if it's an important question. As in:
You: The economy's pretty strong right now, is that driving demand and salaries? How much difference is that making?
Recruiter: Oh, it's definitely making a difference.
You: As in?
Recruiter: For sure the strong economy is affecting comp, there's no question.
You: That's a pretty vague answer, I guess I was hoping that given how much time you spend on this you could at least offer some insight based on the people you're talking to. Are you seeing companies adjust their comp versus what they were doing 3-5 years ago? Any companies that are specifically staffing up to handle increased demand? You know I really want to work with a recruiter that can offer me insight into what's actually going on to help me make a smart move, so this is the kind of info I'd expect to get from a recruiter that I'm going to trust my next career move to. Can you provide any useful insight on this or not?



Finally, after a conversation and whatever, it's really a gut level decision: I feel comfortable with this person representing me, or I do not.
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Old 07-31-2015, 01:32 PM
Dr T Non-Fan Dr T Non-Fan is offline
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Quote:
8) Poor at selling yourself
Probably need to make this #1.
Hard to do this without making it sound braggy or grandiose. The audience (an actuary) is already somewhat skeptical of nearly everything.
Having someone else do this is a lot easier on all parties.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:02 PM
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For a more serious post, this thread comes up at an interesting time for me. I literally just had a few recruiters get in touch with me and have been debating how to move forward. For the record, I'm not necessarily in the process of looking for a new job, nor do I think I'd switch companies within the upcoming year. However, I have been debating starting to work with one of these recruiters in a less aggressive approach, starting to evaluate companies and less traditional roles they offer that might match what I'm looking for.

With that being said:
What is your opinion on how honest you should be with a recruiter? I've always tried to be as transparent as possible and I'm wondering if that is beneficial when speaking with a recruiter.

-Riley
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoanonstop View Post
For a more serious post, this thread comes up at an interesting time for me. I literally just had a few recruiters get in touch with me and have been debating how to move forward. For the record, I'm not necessarily in the process of looking for a new job, nor do I think I'd switch companies within the upcoming year. However, I have been debating starting to work with one of these recruiters in a less aggressive approach, starting to evaluate companies and less traditional roles they offer that might match what I'm looking for.

With that being said:
What is your opinion on how honest you should be with a recruiter? I've always tried to be as transparent as possible and I'm wondering if that is beneficial when speaking with a recruiter.

-Riley
What ever happened with your current job?
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoanonstop View Post
With that being said:
What is your opinion on how honest you should be with a recruiter? I've always tried to be as transparent as possible and I'm wondering if that is beneficial when speaking with a recruiter.

-Riley
If you trust the recruiter, then it makes sense to be honest with 'em. If you don't trust the recruiter, find one you can trust.
JMO, of course.
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My latest favorite quotes, updated Nov. 20, 2018.

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I should keep these four permanently.
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JMO is right
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I agree with JMO.
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And def agree w/ JMO.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MG View Post
This. And everything else JMO wrote.
And this all purpose permanent quote:
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Yup, it is always someone else's fault.
MORE:
All purpose response for careers forum:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorNo View Post
Depends upon the employer and the situation.
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Originally Posted by El Actuario View Post
Therapists should ask the right questions, not give the right answers.
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I feel like ERM is 90% buzzwords, and that the underlying agenda is to make sure at least one of your Corporate Officers is not dumb.
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoanonstop View Post
For a more serious post, this thread comes up at an interesting time for me. I literally just had a few recruiters get in touch with me and have been debating how to move forward. For the record, I'm not necessarily in the process of looking for a new job, nor do I think I'd switch companies within the upcoming year. However, I have been debating starting to work with one of these recruiters in a less aggressive approach, starting to evaluate companies and less traditional roles they offer that might match what I'm looking for.

With that being said:
What is your opinion on how honest you should be with a recruiter? I've always tried to be as transparent as possible and I'm wondering if that is beneficial when speaking with a recruiter.

-Riley
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Oveur View Post
What ever happened with your current job?
.
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:08 PM
Captain Oveur Captain Oveur is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbedNadir View Post
.
I was more asking about how the discussions with his current manager and/or the manager of the other open position went.
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