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Pro-cruit, don’t Re-cruit

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RC Gong Ke Gouldstone

Gong Ke Gouldstone (RC) asks whether we should look for the companies we want, not the companies that come to us.

[stag_dropcap font_size=”50px” style=”normal”]H[/stag_dropcap]ow did you feel, as you waited outside a hotel-room-turned-interview-room for your turn?  Was it excitement to have a shot at a dream company?  Was it trepidation at how your non-standard experience and background stack up against industry veteran classmates?  Was it confidence that you’re perfect for the role?  Or was it hesitancy because you were there as a result of a late-night panic submission on the HBS Career Hub website, thinking “give me something… anything!”?

I experienced all of the above, with different companies.  As I head into the last semester of my HBS experience not having something “nailed down” (even though it’s by design because I’m looking at industries that hire later), I have been pondering the recruiting practice and the overall recruiting industry itself.

The process of matching someone to a job or role that uses their skills and keeps them fulfilled is still very much flawed.  Millennials between the ages of 20 and 34 are reported to have an average of 11 jobs by the time they reach their mid-30’s.  HBS grads change jobs within the first two years.  According to the Quarter-Life Breakthrough, 70% of Americans are disengaged from their jobs.  Something is not right.

If you think of finding a house as an analogy for finding a job, companies are selling open positions (houses).Recruiters are seller’s agents whose job is to source the most qualified candidates.  Candidates are buyers who must win through each stage of the vetting process.  For positions where there are multiple candidates, a competitive evaluation ensues and much of it still comes down to luck.  Google HR published statistics that showed no correlation between interview ratings and an employee’s long-term performance.  So, are you feeling lucky?

Unlike buying a house, in finding a job there is not a buyer’s agent whose sole responsibility is to look out for the interests of the buyer and to help filter and guide purchasing decisions.

Sports stars, actors and actresses have agents who help them navigate offers for gigs or sponsorships.  So why not a talent agent for us, to help sort through hundreds of companies and roles (even after filtering by keyword, location and industry) to figure out which ones are best for us to go after?  Short of having a Jerry Mcguire in our corner, what can we, the future stars (*fingers crossed*) of the business world do to land the best role of our professional lives?

Thinking back to those moments outside of the interview room, I believe it all comes down to being aware of ourselves and being unapologetically selective in what we pursue…and having the courage to say “no” if your heart is just not in it.

I’m going to go out on a limb and coin a term here:  “Pro-cruit”.  Pro-cruit is about actively seeking opportunities that YOU want, vs. Re-cruit, which is reacting to what’s put in front of you.  As structured as our MBA program is, it’s easy to fall into the habit of working within the framework and limiting our search to what’s on career hub.  Indeed, being part of the Harvard brand might even get us used to having the world coming to us as tourists, visitors and employers.  While the resources here are plentiful, of the highest quality and worth careful perusing, it runs the risk of creating a walled garden beyond which unknown and potentially perfect opportunities await.  This is why I’m going to Pro-cruit, however long it takes, at least until graduation.

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You can find more writing by Gong Ke at You can find her on twitter @mbaparent3. And you can email her with article ideas and feedback at

February 5, 2015
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