I very rarely get recruited. So rarely that sometimes I wonder what I’m doing wrong. When my colleagues were getting picked off by that new Condé Nast magazine Portfolio–all right, all of two TIME writers defected–I got nary a phone call. Not that I would have gone. If I had, I probably would have regretted it, considering all the tabloid fodder that magazine’s generated: massive masthead turnover, a leader adrift, boring articles. Yeah. So there.
Imagine my surprise, then, to have gotten not one but two recruiting calls over the past month. One came via a beloved mentor who recommended me to another respected magazine company. The second came via LinkedIn, the professional networking service that’s even lassoed Barack Obama. The first one flattered me immensely. The second, not so much.
Like everyone else I know who’s on LinkedIn, I occasionally get requests to link up from complete strangers. If the stranger appears to know my work and has a legit reason for wanting to connect–say, a professor who studies workplace issues–then, heck, link me. But it was the first time I received a solicitation from someone identifying himself as an executive recruiter.
“I have a position that sounds like a good fit for you,” he wrote.
Huh. The first thing I did was check out the firm’s web site. It appeared to focus on jobs primarily in the legal and marketing professions, which obviously have nothing to do with me. When I pointed that out in my response (of course I responded; wouldn’t you?), he assured me he had an opening for a writer.
I agreed to take his call (wouldn’t you?). He sounded like a nice, young man. The opening, he began, was in Purchase, N.Y. Would that be acceptable? I thought that was a weird way to start, but what do I know? I’ve never been headhunted.
“What’s the job?” I asked.
“It’s in Purchase,” he repeated.
“I understand,” I said. “But what’s the position?” I don’t care if the job’s in Newark; if it’s the New Jersey correspondent job for Vanity Fair, I’m in!
The job, he said, was for a major credit card company, writing articles presumably for internal and client consumption. “Does that interest you?” he asked.
I took a moment to respond, mainly because I was so baffled that he would have to ask. “Uh, no,” I said. “No, it doesn’t.”
He persisted (admirably, I thought). “You would interview CEOs,” he said.
What does he think my job is now? Which led me to wonder: why had he thought of me in the first place?
“Well, your LinkedIn profile says your aim is to be a writer,” he said.
Oh. Dear. And here I thought I was fulfilling that dream.
“But I work at TIME,” I said, as if this made my point. Maybe it doesn’t anymore. Maybe he’s never heard of TIME. Oh. Dear. Things are worse than I thought.
“Well, some people like a change of scene,” he said. He had a point. There’s probably someone down the hall who’d give his firstborn for a job writing PR copy for a credit card company in Purchase. You couldn’t blame him for trying.
But I didn’t mean to put down the job–or the recruiter. It’s probably a great job that pays scads more than mine. The recruiter was just doing his own job, and making creative use of social networking sites at that. Purchase is lovely in the autumn. I wanted to help. I suggested he try the journalism schools, or perhaps look on LinkedIn for folks in PR jobs, or even freelance journalists. And as soon as I got off the phone, I e-mailed a few friends asking if they knew of people who might be interested.
I guess the lesson here, to mangle Groucho Marx, is that I wouldn’t want a job that would have me. I really have to get over myself.