Why recruiters turn down candidates:
Recruiters know which candidates they can work with and which they cannot. Some will tell you directly, “We do not believe we can work with you,” while others will silently put your resume aside. If you submit your resume to a recruiter and do not hear back, it does not necessarily mean that they don’t like your background. You will only hear from most recruiters if they are truly interested in your profile for a current or potential position. A few will also have the courtesy to inform you that they will not be able to work with your profile.
You need to understand a few things about what recruiters do: Their time is limited, so they need to budget it and work towards the most likely positive outcomes. They are not advocates for candidates, unless they firmly believe that the candidate is in their client’s best interest, and most have extensive experience in dealing with a myriad of backgrounds, so they know what won’t work for them. They are success oriented (the thrill of finding making the right match outweighs financial considerations for many), and they are risk averse.
A good recruiter knows that if he presents or insists on a “hard to sell” candidate, the chances of success are highly reduced, and he may find his reputation damaged or be put in a situation requiring him to drop everything to replace a poor hire. He will not go out on a limb for candidates he does not know, if he feels their background is not optimal for his clients.
That a recruiter rejects you does not mean you will not find a position. Either you are not suited for their niche, or you are not a good candidate for a recruiter.
So what do you do, if you are turned down?
1) Go solo.
Any new hire for a business is a risk. If your background contains several risk factors such as a longer period out of the industry, a number of recent short period jobs, or more than two or three years of ownership, an employer probably will not want to pay a fee for you. The candidate they are willing to pay a fee for must be risk free. They may, however, be willing to take a risk without the fee. A recruiter may, thus, be as bad a choice for you, as you may be a poor choice for him.
2) Go local.
As national and international recruiters, we seek fairly sure bets in our candidates. If we know someone personally and know his or her reputation, risk factors are easier to assess – you are not a pig in a poke. Local recruiters will who know your market will have an easier time figuring out where they can direct your information and where they should not. If the candidate is in another location, however, and has a spotty background in unfamiliar locations, then we haven’t got the time and resources to go on an advocacy campaign. A more local recruiter will know the properties, possibly the back stories of your failures and successes. His risk is thus lower, and he is more likely to welcome you in his stable of talent.
3) Pull in your chits.
If you are approaching recruiters, you should have been in the industry for at least five years. Whether you have had your own property, been involved in failing restaurants or have other issues which show on your background, you should have made friends and contacts. That includes your old purveyors, your sous chefs, management you have worked with and colleagues from other properties. Now is the time to pull in your chits and reach out for favors. Search on Linked in or Facebook if you can’t find them. You can of course email, but you should really pick up the phone.
4) Slip into the compound.
If you have been out of the industry or owned a consultancy firm, you need to find a crack in the wall to get back in. Career availability is much greater from inside the industry than from outside. Even in a subordinate position you hear the inside news and speak with people who visit several kitchens a day.
Try to meet people face to face. It is much more effective.
While you are looking go temp. Let past colleagues know that you are available for job shifts of someone does not show up or they have a sudden emergency. This, too, will get you inside the compound.
5) Stabilize your career before relocating.
This is no time to pack up and move house on good hopes alone. There are no rules in the culinary career world, but one of the non-existent rules is that it is better to stabilize a career locally then use that stability to move relocate with caution and rational decisions.