What Not To Wear: 5 Reasons Recruiting Advice Sucks

yoga pantsAt least a few times a week a friend or colleague shares the latest in internet recruiting advice. Today my good buddy Rob tagged me in a post cautioning women against wearing yoga pants to the office. The author (Business Developer. Recruiter. Blogger.) listed five reasons not to wear everyone’s favorite loungewear to work. His reasons included health issues (vaginitis and yeast infections!) as well as “excessive emphasis on your body”.

In addition, he states with no reservation “you will have difficulty performing your job well”. His words. NOT MINE. I will literally not be as effective at my job if I wear stretchy, comfy pants.

Well there are two reasons, of course. One, I won’t take myself seriously. Secondly, I will have a hard time “differentiating work time and play time in my mind”. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

men and womenI am 42 years old, have been picking my own clothes as long as I can remember and I have a recruiter who has been in the industry the same amount of time it takes to make a baby telling me how to dress. He has more experience running a froyo shop than he does helping people find work, but is going to tell me not only what not to wear but dare to imply how I’ll be received?

Let me tell you a little something about my office. I work in tech. The uniform of choice amongst my clients and new hires is Star Wars t-shirts and flip flops. Sometimes I dress up, sometimes I dress down. They don’t seem to notice one way or another because they have that thing called work to worry about. On top of that, I work from home a few days a week – my other office is a quiet little nook next to my kitchen. I have spent entire days sourcing in my bathrobe, and find they are often the days I get the most shit done.

Differentiating Disaster: Crap Content

stupid peopleBut I digress. I promised you a 5 point list (which everyone knows is blogging click bait gold) so here we go. This list is for all the writers, mansplainers, bloggers, recruiters, and nosy busy-bodies who try to tell me how to live my life.

I’m looking at you, school bus stop mom.

Reason #1 – You speak in broad, offensive terms which (intentionally or not) comes across as extremely arrogant.

My biggest beef with recruiting articles like this is they paint with ridiculously large brushes. YOU – the general “you”, anyone reading, audience at large, should not do this or that thing because THEY, the general “they”, bosses and public and whatnot, will react in a certain way. I wrote about this previously in regards to engagement rings and here we go again – same bias, different author.

Just because a handful of people agree with you doesn’t make you any less offensive to most of us. Question – is it actually a reasonable stance to say “this giant group of people should not do this thing because this other giant group of people will react in this specific way”? That’s reasonable? Really? Because you just did that.

What if I were to say something like this – “People shouldn’t have visible tattoos. If you have tattoos that can be seen, co-workers and customers will be afraid of you and think you’re a criminal. Any time you go to your workplace, you should absolutely cover up your tattoos, because you’ll be a better employee if you’re not showing your ink. Especially men.”

Sounds CRAZY, right? Well, put yoga pants or engagement rings in place of tattoos and that’s essentially what we’re being told. I can’t take that, or you, seriously.

Reason #2 – You do not possess the experience, knowledge, or skills to “teach” me anything.

I’ve made tiny humans in less time than yoga pants guy has been in the industry. This isn’t JUST about one blogger or one recruiting advice article. It seems a lot of junior folks think once they’ve made a placement or two they are now recruiting experts and write accordingly. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in damn near two decades of recruiting is that every day I find out just how much I don’t know.

The only thing I manage to pick up from nonsense like this is gratitude that the internet wasn’t around when I was a baby recruiter and that most of my mistakes were made in front of very small and forgiving audiences. This is not to say that junior recruiters or entry level candidates, and yes even Millennials, don’t have valuable things to say. Of course they do. Just don’t name yourself master of the universe if you can barely find your way around the block.

Reason #3 – You mansplain.

I rarely wave the feminist flag, but lately it seems that a lot of this shitty advice is coming from fellas trying to teach the “lesser sex” a thing or two. Do I really need a man to tell me to keep in mind my risk of vaginitis when considering what I’m going to wear for the next 12 hours?

How do you type that without punching yourself in the face repeatedly?

Take for instance the scantily clad, hot young thing featured in the article. She’s a beautiful girl who is clearly rocking those yoga pants. But what EXACTLY is the message we’re trying to send when we use graphics like this? Sex sells, so a cutie showing her belly button and backside gets more clicks? 

Editor’s Note: During the writing of this post the picture was changed to a man in yoga pants. Nice try, son. Screenshots are forever.

Reason #4 – You’re giving recruiting a bad name.

This one is for the recruiters and career coaches specifically. I love recruiting. I absolutely freaking love my job and can’t believe how much they pay me to talk to people and make connections all day. It’s not always glamorous or easy, but I really do love it. When you masquerade as a recruiter and spread this nonsense everywhere, you make us all look bad.

If you’re writing drivel like this, I under no circumstances can imagine a situation in which I would take your advice. I certainly don’t want my candidates or clients to think it’s a good example of how we all think.

Reason #5 – You are quite simply not helping.

Here’s the thing – if you know me even a little, you know my mantra is “assume good intent”. I’m trying so hard.

I want to believe that these recruiting advice articles are written from a place of wanting to help. I hope you genuinely want to help. But I’m not sure. I’m afraid there’s some part of you deep down that is so drunk on your own Kool-Aid you think you’re God’s gift to job seekers.

You’re not. Neither am I. At best we’re just people who maybe know a little more about job seeking than the average person, but even then we have to temper our advice with logic and more than a little bit of wiggle room.

Those of us who decide to put our random thoughts out in the bloggerverse must understand that our words will get a reaction. Sometimes positive, often times very negative.

I know in writing this I’m going to piss a bunch of people off and probably spending a fair amount of time defending my choice of words, let alone my perspective. I’m happy to engage in that discussion, and will apologize (and maybe even change my mind!) if I’m wrong. What I won’t do, is edit on the fly and try to walk back anything I’ve said without understanding and owning it. My writing is out there, in all it’s messy glory, just waiting to be picked apart, misunderstood, and mercilessly mocked.

Bring it.

About the Author

amy alaAmy Miller is a staffing consultant & talent sourcer for Microsoft, where she supports the hardware division as a member of Microsoft’s in-house talent acquisition team.

Amy has over a decade of recruiting experience, starting her career in agency recruiting running a desk for companies like Spherion, Act One and the Lucas Group before making the move in-house, where she has held strategic talent roles for the State of Washington’s WorkSource employment program and Zones, an IT product and services hub.

Amy is also a featured blogger on RecruitingBlogs.com and is a member of RecruitingBlogs’ Editorial Advisory Board.  Follow Amy on Twitter @AlaRecruiter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Amy Miller


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