August 2008

It’s no secret that I am a Recruiter. Some would call me a traitor to my industry because I believe in keeping it real and calling out (some) recruiters on their shenanigans.  Have you ever wondered what some recruiters say about candidates behind their backs?  For the most part, many are empathetic and genuine.  But there are some who only see candidates as a commodity and not the potential human resource that could benefit their company (or client’s company).

I belong to a small handful of recruiter focused sites.  The main three arguments that are ongoing and never-ending are:

1) What type of candidates post their resumes online and does posting make them low level or loser candidates?

2) I don’t have enough time to respond to candidates. I will only communicate with finalists and I don’t need to close the loop with those who didn’t make it.

3) Agency recruiters are superior to corporate recruiters.

Yes, it’s disgusting isn’t it.  People see recruiters as the first line of defense for a company.  It is our job to keep the lines of communication open and treat all viable candidates with the utmost respect.  But there are some recruiters who don’t care about candidates.  They reason that if candidates are posting their resumes on job boards, then they are “low hanging fruit” not worthy of their time.  They only want to go after passive candidates (people who don’t post their resumes) because it means they are good at what they do and are more worthy of consideration.  They also say that there is too much on their plates to bother with candidate email or phone calls (some get annoyed when a candidate follows up!).  They say that candidates are not in control, recruiters are.  I disagree.

Let’s take a look at what some are saying:

  • The Job Boards don’t necessarily get you connected to the “best of the best”. Resumes are posted by candidates who are actively seeking a new job. These are sometimes desperate people who will apply to anything (choking up in-boxes along the way). The better candidate resumes get picked over in about 20 minutes — BUT, by everybody.
  • From a resume mining standpoint the major boards can provide a few leads, but I think you can agree that the quality of the candidate pool on the “majors” is very thin compared to the pool you can develop through traditional, “deep web” and Web 2.0 sourcing strategies. The job boards pretty much only contain the active job seekers & misses the “premium” active seekers because frankly they don’t need to post their resumes to get a job.
  • A recruiter is someone who can navigate the hurdles of finding the quality, high caliber, exceptionally skilled, and competent candidate for a specific position. Not finding them at the job board.
  • Active candidates are on the full–time job hunt and constantly visible in the candidate market, therefore the competition is intense even for these “low-hanging fruit”. Many smart companies have recognized this competition and have increased their recruitment efforts in targeting the elusive passive candidate.

A real eye opener huh?  I have been in countless discussions about respecting candidates and the importance of communication to an employment brand.  Now don’t assume that ALL recruiters are like this.  There are many wonderful recruiters out there who understand the value of relationships and establishing a rapport with candidates.  I would venture to guess that maybe 40% of recruiters (agency and corporate) fall into the ignorant category.  Fortunately, some companies are getting the message and are investing time, training and money to strengthen their employment brands and improve communication with candidates.

Let’s be honest for a second.  Wouldn’t it turn you off to go through an interview process only to never hear from a recruiter again?  Two months go by and you reach out and they say “oh that positions was (filled, on hold, canceled)?  How does that make you feel?  Or how about you just got laid off from your VP position and you have a family to support.  So as any logical person would do, you’d reach out to your network, but also find job boards that might have a lot of the major companies you’d like to work for, and post your resume.  Does this mean you are “low hanging fruit” not worthy of consideration?  No, it makes you a smart person who is exhausting all avenues and mediums to find your next position.  And that is the argument I have with some recruiters.  Posting a resume doesn’t make you unqualified or undesirable.  I’d go even further and lay blame at the way some recruiters post job ads.  Instead of giving you the skinny on what the position and company is about, they put out a formal job description (which is different from an ad) from a corporate binder listing all the duties required.  But at no time, does it give you the true essence of the job.  Then they want to get mad that they are receiving unqualified resumes. But I digress.

I can’t lay all the blame on the recruiters though.  Candidates also need to take responsibility in this when applying for positions.

  • Make sure you have a clear understanding of the job.  If not, ask questions.
  • Don’t apply just because you want to get your foot in the door at a company. You waste your time and the recruiter’s time.
  • Make sure you put your best foot forward.  Create a personalized cover letter and address it to a specific person.  I don’t care if you don’t see a name, research and find one.  In this letter, don’t just tell how much you think you fit, show and prove. Give examples of your accomplishments.
  • Make follow up your priority.  If you you have not heard from a recruiter by a given date, wait one more day, then follow up.  DO NOT call or email the recruiter daily. This only gets you put on the ignore/pest list.
  • Know when to cut your loses.  You pretty much can tell when an interview process is not going anywhere.  That’s your cue to keep it moving.  Don’t expend your energy on a long shot.  Find other opportunities.
  • Hold recruiters accountable for their word.  If they say they are going to follow up, hold them to it.

It’s a two way street that both candidate and recruiter have to navigate.  The easier you make it, the better rate of success you’ll experience.  The next time you get blown off by a recruiter, consider what I’ve written above.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham


The hottest trend on the internet and in business today is Social Networking.  At the forefront are powerhouse sites like Linked In and Facebook.  Anybody who spends anytime online knows about (or should know) the power of Social Networks. Many have heard about Linked In, created a Linked In network, and even toyed around with the Groups and Answers features.  But most people don’t know how to effectively use Linked In to grow their careers or business effectively.

Many people join the site, and send and receive invitations to connect.  Some follow the unspoken rules of the site, some don’t and make spamming a pass time.  While some people have managed to just barely navigate Linked In and create great networks, few people know how to effectively use the Social Networks they have created. While there are many social networking sites, for the purpose of this blog entry I will focus on Linked In.

There is a lot of information on Linked In and other places on the internet describing the features of the site.  You can find stories about the site owners and how they’ve raised money for the site.  You can find self professed gurus telling how their expertise can help them turn a Linked In network into a sales pipeline or using it for successful job hunting.  But you rarely learn about the work and effort you need to put into it to make it work for you.  Signing up for an account is the first step.  Putting up a profile is the next important step.  But if you leave it there, you are doing yourself a disservice and only adding to Linked In’s numbers, not it’s success stories.

To be effective in any type of networking, you need to put in the effort.  I set aside time each quarter to connect with all of my 700+ connections to let them know what’s going on in my world and how I can help them with any issues they are dealing with.  I am on Linked In daily because I run two groups on there and  get approval requests daily, not to mention inmail and invitations I need to weed through.  Every weekend, I am on Linked In looking for potential people to connect to.  I craft personalized introduction letters and request connection.  I also take time to answer questions when I can.  Sometimes I’ll answer publicly, sometimes privately.  But I try to take advantage of opportunities that will allow me to showcase my expertise (not solicit business or recruit, but show my expertise).  I send notes to my connections who have posted recent promotions, successes and good news.  They are almost always surprised by that action.  It shows I’m paying attention.

Another thing I try to do is humanize my networks.  To me, it’s not enough to just join a group or add a connections.  If I am connecting with someone it has to have meaning.  I’ll call when I can, and in some cases plan to meet face to face.  This coming Friday, I am having lunch with some of my connections and I am very excited.  What is the sense of “knowing someone” without getting to know them?  I’m not in some contest to see who can have the most connections.  I connect with whom I want to connect.  Somehow it all works itself out.  Remember that video I posted a little while back by IBM, where the guy is explaining he has 600+ friends on his network, and his boss tells him to find 10 potential high level employees?  And he responds that he doesn’t know anyone like that?  Well that’s an example of poor networking form.  I can guarantee that any type of position someone has I can find a contact who knows someone who is an ideal fit.  That is a wonderful advantage to have.  Because I keep in touch with my network, it is easier for them to remember who I am and makes them more willing to help me.  I’m not bothering people with forward requests.  I’m not referring people I don’t know.  I respect my network and am growing it organically. That is what makes me a successful networker.

There’s more to social networking but this blog isn’t long enough to hold it all.  I teach courses on social networking that breaks it down to the bare essence. If you’re interested, come check one out.  They’re not expensive.

So before you Link In, consider why you are linking in and what purpose it’ll serve.  Consider what amount of time you plan to put into it and what your expectations are.  Don’t connect for the sake of connecting or numbers.  Cultivate your network like you would your garden.  I guarantee the more attention and love you give it, the better your return.  If you don’t know how to do it, learn.  It’ll do wonders for your career and/or business

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

But to hear (or rather see) You Tube tell it, we don’t.  As I was conducting a search on some potential video to add to my blog I did a search for “professional black women”.  This is the results link.

Please, by all means, take a look.  I looked through each results page and could not find one single video celebrating, showcasing, or positively speaking about the professional black woman.  This angered me.  Is it that there isn’t anyone submitting quality videos?  Is it that main stream (internet) media isn’t ready to portray that image?  Is it because a person can get more hits by submitting derogatory videos (aka baby momma, video vixens, black women with attitude, men spewing hate of attitudish black women)?  For all that we positively contribute to the world, we still don’t get recognized unless it’s in a CNN documentary.  And even then at best it’s always hand in hand with a sob story.  We can’t catch a break.

I happen to know there are tons of black women out there doing great things in the business and corporate world.  Why are these achievements only noted in black awards ceremonies and company newsletters (if we’re lucky).  Now let me be clear, there are media outlets that do look out for us.  But they are few and far between.  Unless you are succeeding a white woman or a man, or you’re Oprah or you’re Dr. Rice or part of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, you will be hard pressed to find an article in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Inc, Fast Company, etc.  In my years of reading these publications, I cannot recall sisters being written about.  If they have, the piece was so small or insignificant that it escapes my memory.

And now, even on YouTube, we cannot find any decent examples.  I have found a very small number of videos but believe me, it was like treasure hunting in the arctic with only a spoon and a match.  So what do we do about it?  I don’t have the answer to that.  But I can make suggestions.

Take control of our own exposure.  Submit our own content.  Celebrate and share newsworthy experiences and successes.  Go to the editors and writers of major publications and demand representation outside of Oprah and Dr. Rice.  They are not the only black women in the universe doing great things.  Take local exposure and turn it into national or even international exposure.  Why is it we are only celebrated in Black Enterprise, Essence, Ebony?  We should be celebrated everywhere.  Stop letting guys and how should I say this, chickenheads, determine how the world views us. It is no longer enough to say “that doesn’t represent me so I’m not concerned”.  You SHOULD be concerned.

Hold on now.  We own some of the blame too.  If we don’t speak out and set guidelines, we won’t be heard.  Anytime a video vixen can get international press over a sister who has made it to a high level ranking position, something is really wrong.  We allow others to create our image as a whole.  Speak up.  Be heard, be seen.

I’m done ranting now.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

A few hours of your time per month.  That’s the price for building a network.  Networking is hands down one of the top three elements for success.  Why is it so many people decide to let it fall to the bottom of the priority list?

Men do it all the time.  They get together for golf, at the country club, at exclusive dining clubs, cigar clubs, etc.  They come together to shoot the breeze, chip some balls, and do business.  They seem to do it seamlessly.  Women for some reason, aren’t as focused on networking, or shall I say the true value behind networking.  Men do it without giving it a name.  They put in the time, get to know their peers or counter parts, and they make things happen.  No really, understand what I’m saying here.  Women network, but not like men.  We are often pushed into it and out of our comfort zones.  I don’t know. For some reason, women feel that they cannot safely network, especially with other women.  I guess they think someone will steal their idea, turn on them, steal a client, or whatever.  Women also get so caught up in being all things to everybody (mom, businesswomen, corporate executive, student, etc) that they feel they don’t need to network.  This is especially true for Black Women.  Yes sisters, I’m telling it like it is.  I see it first hand every day.

I am blessed and fortunate that I forced myself to learn how to network.  I’m a Recruiter by trade so it’s par for the course, occupational hazzard.  But I have learned along the way that my sisters don’t take networking too seriously.  As you know, I started a network for Black Women to network.  And it has been wonderful, now that I have tightened the criteria for joining the network.  There are wonderful women from all backgrounds, levels of responsibility, locations, companies, etc.  But a lot of them don’t feel comfortable networking just yet.  That is why I go out of my way to facilitate networking opportunities.  Right now, we are all coming together to master networking amongst ourselves before moving on to networking with others.  It’s coming along.  I had to remove some folks who signed up and never again returned or participated.  And when asked, the response was “I’m just too busy”.  Sad.

It really doesn’t take that much to network.  You set a purpose, list the people or types of people you want to connect with, and reach out.  The worse they could say is “No”.  Most times, people are glad you reached out to them if you have a stated purpose for your initial contact.  Sites linked Viadeo, Linked In, Facebook are godsends.  But they create a safety net.  As long as you can shoot an email, why should you bother getting to actually know a person.  Heaven forbid picking up a phone to introduce yourself to Bob who just linked to you on Linked In.  It’s not that hard.  You shouldn’t use online sites as the core of your networking, only reaching out by email to connect or when you have a problem that needs to be solved.  Develop relationships.  Get to know the people you connect with.  You might find you have some things in common.  Don’t wait for the annual conferences to tell people about yourself or to find out about them.  Follow up often (perhaps quarterly like i do). People like to help or do business with people they are familiar with.  Remember that.

My next conference call for my networking group is on September 4th.  I’ve decided to make it an interesting exercise to encourage more connections.  I don’t want to disclose anything just yet, but I’ll keep you posted on the results.  Next week, I’ll be meeting some of my Atlanta connections (men and women) for the first time ever.  I am very excited about it and can’t wait to sit down and break bread with my Linked In connections to get to know them better.  I’ll let you know how that went too.

So bottom line is relationships and networks get you where you need to be and what you want faster than going it alone.  It only costs you some time.  Pick up a phone.  Go to the golf course.  Attend networking events.  Ask for introductions.  Introduce yourself.  Just start networking.

How much are you is it worth to you?

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Coming soon…

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Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Social networking is a topic that is on fire these days.  You have Myspace, Linked In, Facebook, Viadeo, Xing, Twitter, and a host of other social networking sites on the web.  The one thing I find is people rush to sign up for these sites then never do anything with them.  People who are traditionally old school and don’t put social networking high on their list are doing themselves a great disservice.

Now, true that old fashioned networking methods will remain forever and not everyone has the time or is cut out for social networking, but it can add a boost to your brand and credibility.  This is 2008, not 1988.  We are a flat world and technology and communications allow us to virtually reach out and touch anyone anywhere.  It only makes sense that we look at social networking in the same way.   I teach sessions on using social networking and I am always pleased to see how amazed some people are by the time they finish the session.  They get to see social networking from the inside out and get a better understanding of how to incorporate it into their branding and development plans.  I do have a slight advantage as a recruiter, but I don’t use social networking merely for the purposes of recruiting.  I build genuine relationships and I keep up with my connections.  That in and of itself has gotten me clients, speaking opportunities and publicity (all unsolicited).

One of the main questions I get asked is what site should a person join.  It is purely subjective.  You have to determine what your end goal is and the type of people you are trying to reach.  Go into each site with an agenda in mind.  If you don’t have a plan, you’ll just be wandering aimlessly.  The next popular questions I get asked are what should I put on my profile and how can I learn how to use *insert site name here*.  Again, it takes time and patience and a little bit of exploration.  Most people come to me because they want an overview from a real person who has experience with the site(s).  I also let them know that they need to be careful about completing their profile.  It shouldn’t read like a resume or CV.  It should give just enough information to give people an idea of your professional self.

Business owners also are slowly turning to social networking.  But for them the rules are slightly different. All of the basics for the career person apply, but they need to incorporate other aspects to get their brand out into the world.  Something as simple as adding video can give potential clients something tangible to work with.  You not only want to showcase your expertise, but SHOW them what you can and have done.  But don’t go overboard with it.  You should not go into social networking thinking it is the magic key to fill up your client load.  Relationship building should be your foundation, always.

Social networking used to be about instant messaging, participating on message boards and sending email.  But it has evolved into viral message, branding and networking through the use of video (You Tube), blogs, message forums, social networking sites, etc.  But remember, these are the TOOLS, a means to get your message out.  It is ultimately up to you to take it to the next level and connect and build relationships with the people you meet.  It takes work just like traditional networking.  It just allows you to move faster and reach more people.

If you have any questions about social networking or are looking for instruction, please feel free to reach out.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham