Banking

10 ways in which recruiters annoy candidates

A job candidate is the means of earning commission for a recruiter, but all too often is not treated as a supplier or partner, but as a necessary evil.

The relationship between job seekers and the agencies who undertake to find candidates for roles for their clients is frequently a fraught one. The agency is paid by the client, and that's where their focus remains, and so they have the dominant position in the relationship with the job seeker. The candidate is their means of earning commission, but all too often is not treated as a supplier or partner, but as a necessary evil. There are many recruiters who act responsibly and ethically towards their candidates, but regrettably there are more - and it seems to be a growing percentage - who treat candidates poorly. These are some of the ways.

1. Keeping the candidate in the dark

The candidate is only informed if there is positive news - requests for more details of the candidate, requests for interview, and of course any job offers. If the candidate has been turned down, or not short-listed, then he or she will only find out by contacting the agency for information - if of course they can get hold of a responsible adult. If there is no news, then how many agencies will contact you to explain the situation, to advise what actions they are taking and what they consider the implications of no progress to be? The rule seems to be: if you are on the client's radar, the agency is all over you; as soon as the client's interest wanes, you are dropped faster than a toddler's ice cream.

2. Not returning calls

When you try to contact the agent for information, they are often unavailable - not unreasonable, as they spend a lot of time on the phone or with the client. However, if you leave a message requesting an update, why do so few agents return your call?

3. Not notifying unsuccessful candidacy

Mostly, unless you are shortlisted by the agency, an application goes into a black hole. There is often an automated response that "we have received your application", then that's the last you hear. It isn't rocket science or huge effort overheads to enable standard "sorry, not this time" emails to be sent to unsuccessful candidates. That way we don't have to waste time and effort trying to contact the agent to find out if anything is happening.

4. Not providing feedback on unsuccessful interviews

When you attend a client interview, and it hasn't had a successful outcome, then you want to know why - so you can learn from the experience and do better next time. Most agents have no real idea - they don't ask the client (it's not of interest), and some may even try to make up a reason, but you can usually tell if it's their assumption rather than hard feedback. Wouldn't it be nice to know?

5. Posting job specs that are unclear

I just spent a couple of hours on two applications where the job posting sounded like a perfect fit for my background, which is services, products, and software. When I got to speak to the agent it became clear in both cases that hardware development experience was essential. Nowhere did the job description mention this. These applications were thus a complete waste of my time, and made me wonder if there was a way to waste theirs in return.

6. Misrepresenting opportunities

It seems that virtually all candidates - myself included - have experienced agencies who engage in dubious practices, such as advertising jobs that don't exist, and initiating candidate searches for positions which the client has not yet confirmed and does not have signed off. I am now hesitant about applying for jobs advertised online unless I can speak to the agent, as not only do they frequently go nowhere, but all too often it is not even possible to follow up with the agent.

7. Basing contract fee rates on pro-rata permanent salaries

There seems to be an increasing trend for contract opportunities to be offered at "pro rata permanent salaries", which is a nice way for the employer to obtain temporary staff without any overhead costs (National Insurance, tax, holidays, pension and so on), which the contractor must then fund out of their fees, as well as funding the gap between contracts, meeting limited company costs and the necessary accountant's fees, and so on. I was approached recently by an agency for a short term project management role, demanding significant experience, at a day rate well below what I'd expect net of tax as a salary. Clearly the agent was failing to challenge their client as to the wisdom of the fee rate being offered.

8. Acting as curators of CV museums

The large Interim Management agencies claim thousands of interims are "on their books." In fact, they only actually provide opportunities to a core few hundred favored candidates, and the remainder will never hear anything: the vast majority of potential candidates are just there to inflate the size of their CV pool so that clients will be impressed. I keep in touch with a couple of the leading IM agencies, not because I expect any opportunities, but because I'm interested to see if they ever contact me.

9. Sending you details of jobs you aren't qualified for

I register with some agencies for email alerts of new job postings, and I get some calls from agents who find my CV on job boards. It is clear that some agencies are better than others at keyword searches, and even when I get called by recruiters, they sometimes seem not even to have read my CV before contacting me. My best example to date was a request for applications from airline captains with experience of 747-400s and fluent Russian. My background is systems implementation project management, and my only Russian is "da" and "nyet".

10.  Being unsympathetic

I regret that some recruiters I've spoken to over the years have been somewhat abrupt in their manner. I've known some who were distinctly lacking in social skills - a bit strange for a people career - and those who can't wait to get you off the phone and aren't prepared to hide it. Worst of all in some ways are the ones who at the start of the conversation say, "How are you?" and clearly couldn't care less what you answer. I regret to say men are generally worse than women in this regard, but not always. Come on guys, be nice, it costs nothing, takes no time, and people do respond more positively as a result.

These kinds of treatment by agencies are very short sighted on their behalf - whether I undertake a contract as an interim manager or as a permanent member of staff, I frequently need to recruit other staff to resource the program I am working on. Naturally I will favor those agencies I consider have treated me responsibly and fairly. Those who have been cavalier, I avoid giving further business to. Like many interim or permanent managers, I now maintain a list of both individuals and agencies whom I trust or abhor, and act accordingly. Indeed, there are now 'consumer rating' websites to share experiences and score agencies.  Recruiters, beware...

Roger Emmens is an independent IT Projects Manager in the Telecoms and Media industry.

38 comments
RitaR02
RitaR02

I agree with the 10 issues identified with IT recruiters.  I would also like to add two more. 


First, recruiters are now requesting highly sensitive information to be submitted as a candidate for a position, such as social security numbers and/or the last 4 numbers of the SSN.  I even had a recent request to have a background check run on me just to be submitted to a position with the State of GA, i.e., supposedly a background check was run on every person submitted by IT recruiters for the position, even though the State of GA had not even expressed an interest in considering the contractor for the engagement.  I think it is unethical and potentially illegal for IT recruiters and/or direct clients to require candidates to submit sensitive info such as SSNs, date of birth, etc. and the candidate has not been offered the position. 


The other annoyance that I am seeing recur repeatedly lately, is that once an all-inclusive, independent contractor rate has been negotiated with an IT recruiter, after the client expresses an interest, the IT recruiter will then claim that the client "is having budget issues", and the IT recruiter will then request that the IC lower their rate!!  I've had this outrageous request made of me by about 5 different IT recruiters, and I am sick of it.  Of the 5 IT recruiters who attempted to get me to lower my rate, one was a direct vendor with the client, and the other 4 were direct vendors to the client's tier 1 vendor. I've decided that I am going to send a letter to the CEO's of the companies that are actually seeking to hire IT help, and let them know that their vendors are scamming contractors by claiming the client has requested the IC lower its rates due to the company's "budgetary issues".  Hopefully, once they lose the relationship with the client, the IT recruiter will think twice about making such incredulous claims about its client.

TiffanyBiopharm
TiffanyBiopharm

I have worked in a HR consulting companies working on site as a Recruiter on a salary basis, I have worked in an agency that was base plus commission (in the past and currently), I have never worked solely on commission and never will and I have worked corporate as a Healthcare Recruiter working with agencies to bring candidates on board. You can look at my entire background on LinkedIn along with references from candidates, clients, old bosses, colleagues, etc. I don't think this is industry specific whether you are a Recruiter in IT or a Recruiter in Life Science the job has the same base model you are just an expect Recruiter in one industry over another. I picked Life Science because it is the most interesting to me but I have recruited in IT, Healthcare (Nursing, Defense, Customer Service, Retail, etc. The bottom line to this entire article and discussion is that not all Recruiters are the same just like not every IT Project Manager is easy to work with either. I take great pride in my reputations because it is my livelihood. A good Recruiter will not burn bridges to get instant gratification (for a client, financial, for a candidate, etc) because after burning just a few bridges they probably should consider finding another job in another field. I have daily reminders that you treat candidates the way you would want to be treated, you live your life knowing there are 6 degrees of separation every where you go, and a candidates job search is their livelihood as well and I am here to find people their ideal jobs and my clients their ideal candidate so at the end of the day they all have a great experience. I have also found my second agency job as a referral from a candidates of mine, my first corporate on site job from a client that I worked directly with and my current agency position I get to work with an old client of mine who is my boss (from 4-5 years ago) ) as well. I think that speak volumes as to what kind of person I am and the reputation I have held onto for the last 5 years. So, everyone??? find a great recruiter, screen out as many as you want, and once you find that gem stick with them and they will return the loyalty. If you have specific questions for me feel free to email me any time at Tiffanybiopharm@gmail.com, link up with me, or Twitter @Tiffanybiopharm

jfg1963
jfg1963

Hi, I have experienced the 10 ways Roger describes, here in Spain. And of course there are cavalier agencies and few respectful agencies,

RW17
RW17

"Hi R.W.! How are you? I have a contract in SAP HCM - technical consulting that I think you would be perfect for. Call me back asap" This is the type of contact I receive from SAP-oriented headhunters. I will automatically disregard this message, not reply, and mark the head-hunter who sent me the message as essentially useless. Why? - In 15 years of SAP-oriented work, I have never touched HCM, and all of my distributed and (likely) re-sold resumes point this fact out. In fact, my Resume e-mail has an auto-response that says "I have now consulted solely within SAP IS-Banking for 4+ years and I will only consider functional business process consulting roles in this realm at this time (and for the foreseeable future). - I am the farthest thing from a Technical code-monkey! I don't even have a computer programming / engineering education, as listed on my resume as well. I am a social, client-interactive, senior business process consultant who's greatest skills surely are in my interpersonal skills and my actual business process analysis diligence. So, when I receive a call from a headhunter who thinks I am perfect for a position that I have no actual relation to, I know this headhunter has little idea what he / she is doing and is likely on the cold-call counter at his / her firm. At times, I have explained this to the headhunter to help build their knowledge set... and then 3 weeks later I get the following message from the same person: "Hi R.W.! How are you? I have a contract in SAP SCM - enhancement coding that I think you would be perfect for. Call me back asap" ... Just lovely!

fhrivers
fhrivers

I spoke to an enthusiastic recruiter some time ago who claimed to have a client and wanted my resume right away. He claimed to have spoken to the hiring manager and gave me details about the company and position. A few minutes after I hung up with him another recruiter from the same area code contacts me about the same opportunity. He wasn't willing to divulge any info about his client (because he wasn't able to), I had to coax it out of him. It seemed fishy. Weeks after sending my resume to the first guy I still haven't heard a thing. Even after multiple confirmations. Most recruiters are snakes. And don't get me started on the marble-mouthex ones from a certain curry-loving Asian country...

trenton.wilkins
trenton.wilkins

I'm an Infrastructure PM...not a Desktop/Helpdesk Tech. Why do I get 4 or 5 of these jobs a day from recruiters? I know..I have 'built Helpdesk', '42,000 Desktop Deployment' on my resume. Keyword Searches make me Crazy.

obrien2013
obrien2013

A big one at that... Recruiters that focus on money when it is communicated clearly that money is NOT the main decision maker for the candidate. REALLY annoying. I dropped several recruiters based on this annoyance.

uksp
uksp

1. Using 'ghost' job offerings to get updates or other information in, why not just be honest? 2. Calling me about a job (real or not) then moving onto trying to get employer contacts from me for previous or current placings, again why not just ask? (I will say no....) 3. Asking me to 'manipulate' my CV to show things I haven't done, a big no-no and bad for my credibility (how dare you....). 4. Telling me (verbally or by email) to maintain my CV on your system and giving me a logon to do it (like I have time to maintain my details across 00's of sites AND to remember all the logon's!). Most other things I can tolerate with a simple "no" or "not my skill-set but thanks".

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

In general you could write out their IT knowledge on the back on a gnat's kneecap with a 3" brush.

TBone2k
TBone2k

Similar to #5, many recruiter I found would post very vague job specifics and would only respond to sending your resume... perhaps seeding for #8? These postings are usually via the free sites like Kijiji and Craigslist. Another annoyance in this category is recruiter who post a job for a major city without giving you any hint where in the city the job is located. Makes it hard to determine if the job is reachable via transit.

TiffanyBiopharm
TiffanyBiopharm

I have spent the last 5 years building the best reputation I can as a life science agency Recruiter with my candidates and my clients. I make it my professional and personal goal not be stereotyped in any of these 10 ways. One day you will find that perfect Recruiter and that list will turn into 10 Ways Why You Can't Live With Out Your Recruiter. It is not a fair assumption that since you had a horrible run in with a hand full of Recruiters that all Recruiters fall under the same category. Just because you emphasized an opinion doesn't make it a fact.

cbader
cbader

I myself have mostly sworn off recruiters for most of the reasons youve mentioned about. On Dice.com I dont even make my resume available to recruiters to view.

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