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Job-Hunt Lessons from Recruiting Industry Mavens

What does the recruiting industry really think about the job seekers it helps place in companies around the country? TheLadders is an amazing place to find out. Because the company talks to both groups as they search for successful matches, my editorial team has had a great view of both sides of a mountain that can seem steep indeed, whether you're a job seeker looking for the next great job or an employer seeking the perfect candidate.
Last month, I was honored to participate in an event our company organized and facilitated that brought together leading HR thinkers for a roundtable discussion about how people get hired in this country â€" and how they're treated along the way.
A mix of about a dozen recruiters and industry observers braved the snow to join us at the Standard Hotel for an event called "Position Accomplished Summit." There, we talked about what's troubling the hiring market today and how professionals on both sides of the desk can make matters work better. A few of the sessions included:

  • The Evolution of Employment Advertising and Recruitment
  • Post-Recession Workforce: Connections, Communications, Sourcing
  • MythBusters: Recruiting
One of the major themes of the day: "putting the 'H' back into 'HR.' "

Among the other subjects we discussed during the seven-hour roundtable:

  • How to predict the intent of professionals to switch jobs before they officially enter the market. (Is there really such a thing as a "passive candidate" nowadays?)
  • The ways the Web has given recruiters new insights into candidates -- and the additional work it has created in terms of the sheer volume of applicants to positions.
  • The short professional tenure of most recruiters. Recruiting professionals are often in their positions for 12 to 18 months, and getting to know candidates and corporate culture can be a challenge.
  • "Recruiting gently." How can the people on the hiring side make the process less about the immediate transaction and more about building community for the future?
In the afternoon, I took a turn at the podium to switch the group's focus from the recruiting industry to the sorts of job seekers I write to here and met during our book tour for "You're Better Than Your Job Search." It was a treat to ask these experts for their take on some of the knottiest questions we heard on the road -- and nice to hear that their advice matched ours.
Their consensus for professionals suffering prolonged unemployment: Keep busy. They were generally enthusiastic about keeping your resume active with continuing education, relevant volunteer work and contract employment. Most agreed that in the face of the Great Recession, employers are exercising "candidate forgiveness" and will be more understanding of long periods unemployed or underemployed. The key is what you do with that period of adversity.
Take a job that suits your skills, even if it means a temporary step down and to the side. Work your network. Prove that you're a focused professional who'll turn even the roughest circumstances into a chance for growth -- and who understands the principles of the job search well enough to be the person an HR professional will be proud to put forward to the hiring manager.
This first summit is the initial conference of an ongoing series that will take place around the U.S. Stay tuned for future updates.
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