Posted by: garispang | June 22, 2009

10 things we hate about recruitment companies

Acknowledges that, like it or not, recruitment companies are  firmly entrenched as part of the hiring landscape now.  However,  all the evidence seems to point to the fact that they notoriously over-promise and under-deliver.  Bit like casinos really.

So, given that many jobseekers are forced into using them (and we place the blame firmly with business who outsource when they really should be managing their recruitment inhouse as a crucial brand issue) we’ve put together a list of what to expect when you deal with them, and why we don’t like dealing with them at all!

1.  General position calls

If you see an ad anywhere (the paper, Seek, job boards etc) calling for an expression of interest (or similar) rather than a specific position   approach with care.  Only very rarely does this actually eventuate into an interview, let alone work.   Our understanding is that this is purely a marketing ploy that can be used to sell their “extensive database of candidates” to clients/potential clients.

2. Baiting

If you do manage to get some face time with a consultant, beware of the phrase “We had a position come in yesterday that would have been right up your alley” or “I’ve got a position that has just come across my desk that you would have been suitable for”.   Then you hear nothing, or the position has been withdrawn, or it’s gone to a redeployee (or any other excuse).  These are psychological techniques designed to get your hopes up and keep you hanging.

3.  Pigeon-holing

If you apply for one sort of position with a recruitment company e.g. as a temp, you will be a temp forever.  Even if juicy contracting positions come up, you will not be considered.  Once you have had your Word/Excel/Acess/FrontPage ability tested and your data entry speed recorded, you will be forever pigeonholed.  If you do, for whatever reason, have to register with an agency for a position, give them information that relates only to that position.  Less is more.  Oh, and one more thing: just because your have qualifications does not mean you won’t be pigeonholed.

4. Silence

Similar to piegonholing is silence or avoidance.  Basically, this occurs if they think you’ve done something “wrong” in the eyes of the agency, for example not taking a job that you were clearly unsuitable for, withdrawing your application for a position, not winning a contract position, or calling in sick on your first day of temping.  Guaranteed you will be placed on the black list.  This means that no matter what you do, calls or emails about jobs or contracts will not be returned.  It’s like you are in labour market limbo.  You can always wait for the consultant to move on and try again in six months or a year, but sometimes they are in these jobs for years, so the likelihood of this happening is quite slim.

5.  References

Agencies do check references, but our advice is don’t give them your “best” ones.  Our rationale is that you should  save your “best” references for real jobs.  Don’t get sucked into handing over the names and details of references until you really have to.  It’s a waste of good references otherwise.

6.  They are not your “agent”

Despite many recruitment personnel calling themselves agents (and we have referred to them that way in this blog for convenience), this is not the case and is misleading.  An “agent” implies they are working for you.  This is not the case:  they are working for their client – the employer – because that’s where the money is.  Get the whole agent thing out of your mind.  Only rarely will a consultant (which is also a misleading term) actually work with you.  If you find one, please let Even It Up! know because this is a rare breed.

7.  Beware of people not carrying pencils

If you do get called into an interview, beware of people not carrying pens or paper.  If no notes are being taken, or questions not being asked, it’s a sham.

8.  Amateur hour

Most recruitment consulants have little or no experience in the industry or field in which you are applying.  It is our experience that most are glorified sales personnel on a power kick.  Unfortunately, these people operate in a high stakes environment i.e. your life.

9.  Once is never, twice is always

If a recruitment company treats you badly once, it’s never.  However, if they treat you badly twice, it’s always, and you need to jettison them.  It’s not like they are doing (or will do) anything for you anyway. We recommend that you let them know with the following email (or similar):

Dear “consultant”

I would like to advise that you are unsuccessful in winning me as a candidate.  While I am skilled, qualified and experienced, and would be an asset to any employer, you will not have the pleasure – or remuneration – of representing me.

Unfortunately, you didn’t treat me particularly well,  even though I gave you a couple of chances.  I have therefore decided that I do not want to deal with you as there are other companies out there who will treat me with respect.

Please delete my CV and details from your database.

10. Gatekeeper status

Wants to know who died and made recruitment companies the gatekeepers?  Why do they have this status, and why do they retain it?  Every one (jobseekers and employers alike) hates dealing with them, so why are they still around? Why do they hold all the cards?  If a fast food chain was this bad at customer service and product delivery, they would be out of business in a flash!

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