Headhunters or Headless Hunters Part I


By Harish Pillai: After an illustrious 24 years with one of the most elite organizations “The Indian Navy”, I decided to take a voluntary retirement.
The decision was primarily based on family grounds. My son had studied in four different countries. This coupled with no stable base, my sons academics had suffered. So I decided to join my family and step out into the civic street. This for a Military man is no easy transformation. The two things that hit me first were:

1. The uniform that I wore every day morning for the last 24 years was no longer needed.

2. The other of course was changing gears in your career.

It was time to look for a job or placement (as it is so often called today). A word of caution as you read on “my matter-of-factness should not be misunderstood for a sign of disgruntlement”. I have spoken to quite a few people before I got down writing this. I am recounting from personal experiences and I have satisfying job. Some HR consultants are inclined to say that Headhunters in the true sense are “Executive Recruiters”. I disagree and defend it by saying that Headhunters in their base form are all those who deal with any form of human resource recruitment or placement.

As I stepped out I realized the world of job hunting had changed completely. My old school ideas were indeed old school. The traditional hand written Bio-data had transformed into sophisticated, heavily researched, pretentious, cut and paste Resumes or Curriculum Vitae (CV). Employment news papers/wanted sections and job boards had given way to virtual portals or internet sites. Personal face to face interviews had paved way for across the seas telephonic and virtual staged video conferences. Physical knocking on office doors was no longer effective. Internet site hopping and virtual gate crashing was the order of the day. My old school job hunting techniques needed a complete paradigm shift!

I had this interesting incident I would like to share with you. I never understood why there existed so many resume writing professionals on the web. You are either a fresher or an experienced aspirant. If you are a fresher then you only need to show your qualifications and may be your projects in the resume. And if you are an experienced professional none can write your resume better than you. The assumption here is that you can read and write. Then there is the third faction who wants to fudge the resume and experience. They of course need the assistance of a professional tamperer, who with the help of templates, pyro-technique and psychedelic effects can increase your market value. But whichever way you look the writing on the wall is clear “You better take the help of a self proclaimed professional resume writer or perish on the battle fields of job hunting”.

So I decided to seek help to build my resume. First I sat down and meticulously made my resume of 24 years of education and experience. The first draft was 9 pages long, the second 6 pages and the final 4 pages. I was sure I had done a good job with my resume. With the writing on the wall playing out in my head I contacted a recruiting agency, Company-X. I registered with this very well known agency by agreeing to pay a substantial amount for their services. This included writing a “professional” (looking) resume, hosting my resume on their portal and a few freebies. They were very courteous initially and always promised that a resume writing executive would be assigned to me. This courtesy only lasted till they received my payment. After that it was my responsibility to keep checking back with then for the status. After 12 working days of coaxing I received my supposedly tweaked up resume. SURPRISE, SURPRISE! My resume was 3 1/2 pages long and all that was done was:
•A few cuts and pastes
•Reduced font size, which explained the 1/2 page shrink.
•Few flashy, bombastic and pretentious words thrown in here and there, supposedly to increase marketability.

After a few laughs and coughs l decided to take the resume building exercise a little further. I called up another resume builder (company-Y) and showed him the tweaked up resume. Company-Y’s executive had a hearty laugh and thrashed the resume, saying that I had zero experience in writing a resume (he of course didn’t know that company-X had already worked on it). After charging me another substantial amount they promised me that my resume would be the hottest property on the job market. After another round of coaxing I received an even more shrunk version of my resume with still smaller fonts, different colored headings / sub-headings, achievements in italic and thesaurus based bombastic words. They must be assuming that all of us job aspirants are fools or zombies. Or maybe they think job seekers are inanimate commodities that can’t read or write.

I created a fresh mail ID to keep track of my job hunting endeavors. After I hosted my resume on Company-X’s website I was flooded with emails from headhunters. To be precise I received 423 emails in 17 days. I felt like live bait with every headhunter in the, pecking and trying to get a piece of me. A closer examination and I realized that most of the mails were irrelevant. Most of the emails had been shot out automatically without even reading it. If I show you the offers I received, you would laugh your guts out. A little bit of math and the results were:
•90 % – Absolutely irrelevant
•2% – Close to my experience, but still irrelevant
•2% – relevant, but no response from the headhunters after I confirmed my availability.
•Wondering what the other 6% of emails were? Lottery and money laundering based frauds mostly from UK and Africa!

Every headhunter seems to be scurrying around trying to be the first to snare the job seeker and job listings. In all this hurry, grabbing the money and dog eat dog world both the employer and employee lose out. There is too much of dilution in the form of unnecessary discarding, filtering and rejections.

Read Headhunters or Headless Hunters Part II…