UK Recruiters – the state of play

People I work with generally have a crap experience with recruiters in the UK.  The sad fact is 90% of the recruiters I’ve come across in my 13+ years of working experience aren’t actually worth their job title.  If you can spare 5 minutes of your day to hear my rant then behold the golden list:

Numbers game.  Oh look, here’s another recruiter getting in touch that’s got no roles but wants to harvest my CV and own me so they can present me to the next company they come across.  No thanks.  And please don’t invite me for coffee and a chat if you don’t have any roles.  I’d rather spend my lunch break eating my lunch.

Referrals.  When sending me an irrelevant job description, they ask if I know anyone who’d be appropriate for the role.  In exchange for my doing their job for them/providing them with a significant revenue stream (last I heard it’s around 12% of a person’s salary/day rate), they offer me some shitty £20 voucher for the lead.  No thanks.  Or let’s get really bleeding edge and set up an email distro list or LinkedIn Group or Twitter feed telling you of jobs out there! Thanks, but once I’m in a job I like to focus on that job.

– Buzz words.  Often I’ll get a recruiter who’s just scanned my CV, found a couple of buzzwords they were looking for and presto! I get contacted.  It didn’t occur to said recruiter that this role may be inappropriate i.e. I don’t want to be an intern again/I don’t want a commute to Buckinghamshire everyday/I may lead Android projects but I’m no developer etc

Using you for someone else’s gain.  So you’ll attended an interview or two.  More often than not the recruiter will ask you what questions were asked.  Why?  So they can drip feed this info to the next person they send through for a potential interview, to make them better prepared albeit at your expense.  Oh, so perhaps that’s ok because you could be that next person?  I’d rather everybody went into an interview on the same footing thanks.

Follow-up.  Twice this past week I get engaged by a recruiter telling me of some job which is perfectly suited for me.  I respond back.  I hear nothing.  Why bother me in the first place?  It happens too regularly.  If I did this in my line of work it would be considered ‘unreliable’ or ‘incompetent’.

– Feedback.  I go to 2 interviews in the same company and I’m assuming the job’s in the bag, until a week’s gone by, I haven’t heard back so I rightly assume otherwise.  Even if the job doesn’t play out, I’d like the courtesy of being told about it and some feedback would be very professional and appreciated. As Bruce Dickinson sings, “I’m not a number”.  If Iron Maiden said it, it must be true.

– The database from hell.   I’m being approached by recruiters about .net development roles in 2015 even though my last stint as a developer was in 2007.  That was 8 years ago!  8 years!  So they tell me their database is out of date and if I could send them my new details.  To that I ask them to remove me from their database altogether.  A week goes by and I still get messages from them (granted they’re in my spam folder).  The worst culprit was a certain consultant at Evolution Jobs who would SMS me (!!) about .net developer jobs.  I received these text messages for over a year despite my calling and emailing them to remove me from their database.  I even raised it with the Information Commissioner.  Eventually (and it did take another 6 months) I had my details removed (or so I’m told, however I wouldn’t be surprised if my data is still in there but with the SMS communications marked as ‘opt out’ only).

Tainting jobsites.  I’ve stopped using and for a few years now.  Why?  Because everytime I upload my CV my phone doesn’t stop ringing with recruiters that have no roles but want to represent me.  It’s literally like a tap that won’t stop leaking.  Thanks but no thanks.  I don’t want to speak with you unless you have a role.  I’d rather spend my free time between roles working the garden or on the PS3 thanks.  I’m also feeling these sites had their day. They were innovative back in the web 2.0 days. Not anymore now that LinkedIn has taken over that space.

Yes, I can hear already the commotion of ‘you can’t paint everyone with the same brush’/’you’re stereotyping’/’we’re not all like that’.  It’s true,  the few recruiters that I do trust and work with very regularly (I can actually count them on one hand) exhibit the following traits:

  • They return my calls.  I don’t call that often so when I do I appreciate a response.
  • They ask me about what I’d like my next role to be.  Just because I’ve been a Project Manager for almost 10 years that doesn’t mean I want to do just any PM role that comes along.
  • They don’t send me a weekly email telling me what the new roles they have going are.
  • They don’t call themselves ‘headhunters’.  That’s so 90s.  I wish people would stop calling themselves that.
  • They give me feedback throughout the recruitment process.  No hand-holding, just helpful status updates.
  • The first time they contacted me over Linked In they actually bothered to write a friendly introduction, instead of the Linked In default message.

Lastly, I should mention we now have company startups on the scene that effectively automate/make redundant the middle-man roles/attributes that recruiters serve.  Examples include flagd and Yuno Juno. Not entirely sure how successful they’ll be but the industry is ripe for improvement and innovation which can only be a good thing.

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