Friday, February 10, 2012

Don't call us, we'll call you

I've had a recruiter call me recently at work, lying to get  past the receptionist to me.* I'm annoyed to be interrupted in the lab and we don't really have any private phones in the building. I'm even more irritated when the recruiter attempts to quiz me about the structure of the company.

This isn't the first time I've heard about such antics (this week, even!), and I'm reminded of a favorite passage from Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential", when he gets a call while he's working the line at lunch:
The intercom buzzes and I pick up, annoyed. 
"Line one for the chef," says the hostess.  
I push the blinking green light. It's a salesman, wanting to sell me smoked fish. I answer all sweetness and light, lulling him into the bear trap in the Bigfoot style: "So let me get this straight," I say, after he's jabbered away about his full line of delicacies, me trying to sound a little slow and confused, "you want to sell me food, right?" "Yes!" comes the reply, the salesman sounding encouraged by my interest and apparent stupidity. "And in general, you'd say," I continue, "you have, like, a lot of restaurant accounts, -- in fact, you'd probably say that, like, you are in the business of servicing restaurants... and chefs in particular?" "Oh, yes!" says the witless salesman, beginning a litany of the usual prestigious accounts, the names of other chefs who buy his fine smoked sturgeon, salmon, trout and fish eggs. I have had enough fun and cut him off cold. "So... WHAT THE F--- ARE YOU DOING CALLING ME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE F------ LUNCH RUSH?!" I scream into the phone, smashing it abruptly into the cradle. 
Recruiters, I love you. You have a hard job and I am in tremendous sympathy. I like hearing from recruiters, because I like trying to help people find jobs they want. But calling introverted scientists while they're concentrating on working at work while they're surrounded by their coworkers and cannot have a private conversation is really annoying. I want to help you -- don't start by unintentionally irritating me.

[I know the good recruiters [the ones who help his blog's readers and post their jobs on this blog] don't do that. I'm sure it's the last resort of relatively desperate folks.]

 [How then should we be contacted? Like most adults, I have a LinkedIn account. I'm happy to connect with you there, even though it's a public forum. I'm happy to talk to you via e-mail. If I get crazy, I'll even give you my cell phone number. Really.]

*Who do you think I'm more loyal to, the person I work with every day or you?


  1. Having just changed jobs, I'm very familiar with this whole situation. I found it incredibly frustrating that very few people made that exact link; you want me because I'm still working somewhere, and my skills are fresh, yet you call me during work hours and expect to chat at length about why I'm trying to leave. Especially as I've never seen a writing area for associates / bench scientists that wasn't open and shared amongst all your coworkers.

    It's also reaaaaaaally obvious to everyone else what's up when you answer your phone and immediately rip off your coat and high-tail it to a secluded spot.

    My rule at work was if you want to contact me, let me know by email when and I'll be ready to take it, otherwise it'll go to machine and I'll get back to you when I can. And don't call my work number.

  2. Honestly I feel like Anthony was a little over the top in his response - defintely not cool, it's just a normal guy trying to pay his family's bills (having been in sales myself).

    1. Well, yes. Some people take joy in being cruel when they can get away with it...

    2. Its a mistake to give anyone your lab number or cell number - you will never have peace for doing chemistry. Also tell your loved ones not to call you in the lab unless it is really urgent. I hate when I am called in the middle of filtration of a chilled mixture, with hygroscopic reactive compound that melts on the Buchner. In such situation I am trying not to sound mean (but it comes to me naturally)