Let me start this off with a summary of a conversation I had with a recruiter friend. He and I have known each other for 10 years or more. I moved, but he calls intermittently to see if I know anyone for openings with clients. He’s smart and has a lot of industry background. But, our latest conversation was a bit shocking and frustrating:
- Recruiter: I’m looking for a project manager with at least 15 years experience and can handle a few multi-million dollar projects at once, as well as manage a few project coordinators.
- Me: What kind of project?
- Recruiter: Big data, which they also need to have experience in.
- Me: I know of one person who’s at [XYZ Corp] as the program manager for a large data migration and warehousing effort. They’re coming off February 1 and are looking.
- Recruiter: We can’t call them program managers because they want more money.
- Me: Money aside, I’m assuming you want the right person.
- Recruiter: Project managers are a commodity. If you get a few good ones bidding against each other, the hourly rate goes down and margin goes up.
- Me: You’re shittin’ me, right? You can’t get a Lexus on a Pinto budget and even though you’ll find someone at a lower rate, they’re probably not going to be what the client needs.
- Recruiter: Well, that’s the game we have to play!
People are not a friggin’ commodity!! When you’re a commodity, your brand basically becomes indistinguishable and you compete on price. Look at some of the budget airlines; low price but service is lousy.
We all have selling features that make us unique and valuable to our current company and to future organizations we may work for. Don’t sell yourself short. If you do, you’re setting a precedent for yourself and others in your career. Also, don’t let a recruiter sell you short. Take control of your brand and don’t turn into a commodity!
As for my recruiter friend, our conversation went on a little longer with a few more colorful metaphors being tossed around. But, we’re still friends and I hope we talk again in the future.