Are IT Recruiters Worthless? (Part 3)

You know, these hot topics are the ones I really love because they get everything all stirred up. And at the very least people get to talking. I've had a lot of comments about something I said in the first installment, and I'd like to clarify something. As a side note real quick it's always amazing to me the hills people want to die on. Evidently, I can say anything I like about recruiters as long as I'm dressed

You know, these hot topics are the ones I really love because they get everything all stirred up. And at the very least people get to talking.

I've had a lot of comments about something I said in the first installment, and I'd like to clarify something. As a side note real quick it's always amazing to me the hills people want to die on. Evidently, I can say anything I like about recruiters as long as I'm dressed properly when I say it. As with so many other hot topics I write on, I’ve had no shortage of readers willing to write and give me their opinions on the topic of wearing sweats to a recruiter interview. And as usual, those of you who agree with me (it’s about 50/50), none of you come out in public through the comments, but choose to pat me on the back privately through email. That’s fine as long as you agree, but it would be nice if I weren’t out here all alone.

All that being said, I am going to clarify something finally. It’s not that I have such little respect for recruiters as people, it’s just that I’m so so tired of the whole recruiting process and what they put us through. It’s a joke the hoops they make us jump through just to get to a real interview. They drag us in there and ask us stupid questions that are clearly outlined in our resumes, and make us sit through a presentation of how their company got started and how long they’ve been in business and why they’re so much better than anyone else out there. And so many times they’re just trying to stock their DBs and don’t even have a real job. For some reason the name of the game seems to be just get the client in the office no matter what. It’s like they’re actually trying to sell us something and it would be harder to say no in person. I mean, do they really think we give a flying…flip… about their company? We’ve got one thing and one thing only on our minds; getting a job. That’s it guys. Don’t try to sell us on your company, and don’t try to tell us all the things you’ll do for us. In fact, you know what? If you want to really do something for me then send me on the interview with a minimum of stupid questions, and run-around. I don’t need you inspecting me before the interview. I don’t need you asking me the same questions again and again that are clearly on my resume. I don’t need you calling me and asking me if I’m interested in a job that’s clearly out of my skill set. And I don’t need to drive 30 miles out of my way to get job specs that you could easily send through email or on the phone. So NO, I’m not always going to dress up and treat you like a real interview because so many times it turns out to go nowhere.

It doesn’t take long to get really jaded to the process, and I have a real hard time hiding my contempt for recruiters once they start in on that… stuff. Go ahead… call me up and tell me you were just going through my resume and you wanted to know if I have ever worked with SQL Server. Then ask me if I’m certified. Really, I don’t mind at all… especially since it’s in size 48 font at the very top of my resume right by my name.

I also don’t wear a suit and tie to interviews. I just don’t believe in it. We don’t wear ties to work, nor is anybody else there in a tie, and I just don’t think it’s something that should be necessary to get a job. Put a random piece of cloth around your neck and suddenly become more respectable.

But you wouldn’t see this kind of crap in any other industry. Could you imagine a hospital recruiter brokering jobs for doctors? The recruiters make them come in to talk about a job that may or may not be real. Then they give them interviewing tips and tell them how to talk and what to say. Then they want to know what they’re going to wear, and may even insist on meeting them in the lobby to make sure they look appropriate. It just wouldn’t fly. Many IT jobs require degrees (believe me, a topic for another time), so we’ve all spent years in college too. And I’ve known many medical students and doctors and there’s nothing in the courses that prepares you better for an interview than any other major, so what’s the deal? Why are we put in this position every time?

Fewer people die most of the time when we make a mistake in IT, but it’s every bit, if not more scientific as medicine. IT certainly changes a LOT more than medicine does, and I’ve always been upset that we’re not more highly regarded than we are. It’s not like we’re out here digging ditches. We’re in a highly technical field and doctors have a few years of med school to get their license, but we’ll be studying for the rest of our lives just to stay in the market. I’m constantly studying and I still feel like I’m just barely playing catch-up most of the time. And yeah, doctors have to keep up their skills too, but they don’t have a completely new procedure or product dropped in their laps every other week that they’re forced to learn because it’s what their customers have already bought. It just doesn’t happen. The same goes with lawyers. You would never see them subjected to the same crap we are. Hell, cafeteria workers aren’t even subjected to our degradations.

And the problem is with the companies. They’ve outsourced their HR functions to the recruiters. It’s getting so you can’t even find a direct posting from a company anymore. If you want the job, you’ll only hear about it from a recruiter. So it’s not like we even have a choice most of the time. So, I don’t even play their game a lot of times. If they want me to come to their office, and I’m going to be in the area anyway, I’ll drop by for a few minutes, but if I’m not, then we can conduct all of our business over the phone. And yes, I’ve turned down interviews before because the recruiter refused to set it up until I came into the office.

With that in mind, here are some of the worst ones I’ve seen.

1. I was stood up twice by the same girl who made me drive 30mls to meet her. Then, when I refused to come out the 3rd time, she refused to setup the interview. So I passed on the gig.

2. I’ve had a recruiter actually come into the interview with me to make sure I didn’t say anything I wasn’t supposed to.

3. I’ve had a recruiter insist on driving me himself.

4. I even had one try to insist that I not work with anyone else. That he couldn’t represent me if he wasn’t going to be my only recruiter. I told him that was perfectly reasonable if he would also agree that I was his only candidate. I want him 100% dedicated to finding ME a job. He dropped it, and I dropped him.

5. I’ve been asked to get the contact info of other hiring managers in the company so the recruiter could use them as leads for new positions. This wasn’t for my current company mind you. I was supposed to ask the interviewer this.

6. I’ve been sold as a Java developer before. The recruiter told me it was a SQL job, and told the hiring manager he had an excellent Java guy. Then when I got to the interview, it was just a mess. I was pissed off, the hiring manager was pissed off, and the recruiter tried to blame it on me. There isn’t Java anywhere on my resume. I guess he thought that once they met me they wouldn’t mind changing the position just to get me on board… I’m sure that’s what the hiring manager was thinking too.

That’s all I can think of now. And those are just the absolute worst. I’ve had dozens of horrible experiences of varying degrees with recruiters. In fact, why don’t some of you share your stories with me and I’ll post them. I won’t use any names, don’t worry.

So the moral of this story isn’t that I don’t respect them as people. It’s that I usually don’t respect them as professionals, and I’m not going to treat it as a real interview when it’s not. It’s just not.

Oh, Oh, Oh… I just thought of one more thing to add to the list above… you’re just gonna love this one. You know how they’ll quite often ask you what you liked about your last job, and what your ideal position would be, etc.? Well, I actually answer those questions honestly to the recruiter because they’re supposed to be getting an understanding of what you’re looking for. Well, one time earlier this year during my last round of job hunting, this girl I mentioned in Part 1, was taking notes during this portion of our talk, and when I finally got to the interview, I start getting questions like this:

Why do you think managers are stupid?

Do you really think you’re so much better than everyone else that you deserve flextime?

Why do you find it necessary to send emails to your colleagues cursing them out?

Etc…

She had written down parts of everything I said, word for word, and given it to the hiring manager. And of course, she took everything completely out of context so he thought I said all those things verbatim. If any of you want those things explained, write me and if there’s enough interest, I’ll give you the real questions and answers.

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