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Recruiters: Are you part of the problem?

The other day, I received an email from a friend – let’s call him John -- who had just been blown off by yet another recruiter on the basis of “lack of experience.” John responded, for better or for worse, out of understandable frustration. He gave me permission to use the email exchange in print, knowing I would do so in the spirit of raising awareness and maybe opening someone’s eyes. Here is what the recruiter wrote:

“[John], I reviewed your resume and do not see any sourcing experience in the food industry.
that is a key requirement for this position. Regards, [name].”

Ignoring for a moment the careless typing error which, by the way, sends its own message to candidates about their importance or lack thereof, the message suggests the recruiter didn’t even bother to read John’s resume. You’ll see what I mean when you read John’s response:

“Hello [recruiter’s name], Please note that I was a logistics officer in the US Army for 22 years
and provided thousands of meals/beverages on a daily basis for our soldiers. In addition, I also
provided all the ammunition, clothes and personal equipment for a Regiment of over 3000 soldiers
that spearheaded a battle that ultimately won a war. This surely qualifies me for sourcing food or
any other type of materials within the civilian sector of business. Once again please feel free to ask
questions regarding my logistics and/or procurement experience. Best regards, John”

My first thought after reading the exchange was, “I sure hope that recruiter doesn’t work for one of the many, many companies across the country that have publicly committed to hiring veterans.”

If this story were a one-off, it would be one thing. But the fact is, I have heard it too many times to count. It has to change. Veterans and Wounded Warriors need jobs, and organizations are saying they want to hire them. If progress is being held up by recruiters who are, knowingly or unknowingly, undermining hiring initiatives, we need to do something and fast.

If you are a recruiter reading this, ask yourself honestly, “Am I doing the extra legwork needed to thoroughly vet (no pun intended) military candidates, or do I put them in the ‘too hard’ category?” If you are a manager of recruiters, please provide whatever instruction and accountabilities necessary to ensure staff are doing the right thing for military candidates. We all know military resumes are not (yet) civilian-friendly, we all know they are long and full of acronyms and jargon. That’s not news; it is the state of affairs we find ourselves in. We need to get over it already. Flag waving and platitudes are easy. Following through with effort and action isn’t, but it is still the right thing to do.

Follow Emily King on Twitter: @mymiltrans