A word to IT recruiters

Recently, I started looking for a new position, and fortunately that search has concluded successfully.  I thought I’d take the opportunity whilst serving my notice to share some thoughts on my interactions with recruitment agents, both during this search (which didn’t take long) and at other times when I wasn’t actively looking.

Firstly, the vast majority of contact were from recruiters to me, based either on my LinkedIn profile or updated C.V. on JobSite.com.  I only contacted two recruiters directly, one of whom I’d had dealings before and highly regard, and the other from a firm where I knew the IT director.  Both of these were very pleasant interactions that sadly were fruitless this time, but will certainly be my first port of call next time I’m looking.

The Bad

So, the vast majority of contact were people getting in touch with me with a role they thought I might be interested in.
The differences in quality of that initial interaction were massive, from emails simply asking me to call with no indication of sector, role, level or approximate salary bracket.  I had some roles offered that clearly indicated the recruiter hadn’t read my profile or C.V. : I’ve been working as a DBA for around ten years, so I’m definitely not likely to be interested in a minimum wage first line support role!

The Ugly

One recruiter was actually downright rude, starting with an unsolicited call (I never ever pick up for numbers not in my contacts) and then followed up with an angry email asking why I hadn’t answered as they had the “perfect” role. It wasn’t, it was in the wrong place, doing the wrong job at half the salary I’d be looking for.  Safe to say I shan’t ever speak to him, or his company, ever again; someone who employs a person with that attitude isn’t worth dealing with.

The Good

Despite this, a small percentage had really good initial contact.  They approached via LinkedIn or email, with details of the role they were recruiting for including the all important location, sector and salary bracket, and politely asked for a follow up call.  I replied to every single one of these to thank them and to either discuss further or advise that I wasn’t interested due to those three important factors not meeting what I’d be interested in.  Everyone of those people are now bookmarked as “good” recruiters that I’ll happily speak to in future.  The other thing to note are those people who gave a quick reply, even when I wasn’t interested for whatever reason, definitely go up in my book; it takes a minute or two to send a quick “no worries, maybe next time”, but that message of thanks builds our relationship further.

Help me to help you

So, as a desirable candidate (this isn’t being big headed; there are more SQL Server jobs than quality staff out there), my advice to recruiters would always be to ensure the first contact is written, via email or LinkedIn and contains:

  • Where the role is.
  • What the role is.
  • What the level and salary bracket are.
  • What sector it’s in.

This saves time on both sides, it means I don’t have to ask you and can save you wasting your time talking to me about something I won’t be interested in.  For instance, I don’t want to work 100 miles away, I don’t want to halve my salary, I don’t want to do (and probably aren’t going to be much good at) Java development and I have no intention of doing first line support.  That was, ummmm, eighteen years ago? (I’m getting old, sigh.)

Likewise, if I do ask questions to clarify those points, please answer them in your reply, don’t ask for a call to discuss.  An hour long conversation last summer was a waste of time because the recruiter in question didn’t pay attention to my question as to whether the role was an Oracle or SQL Server role, as I’m not so hot at Oracle and knew the shop in question was an Oracle house.  The recruiter was blasé about it and we wasted each other’s time for an hour.
Lastly, bear in mind that I probably get four to five contacts a week, and I’m not interested in most of them.  But I do know quite a lot of people of all levels and abilities.  I’m more than happy to do them a favour and help them find a position they’re interested in; more for them and to help their career than any referral fee.  If you’re rude or don’t give me all the information I need, I’m more likely to help a different recruiter than you!


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