By: <a href='' target='_blank'>aussiegall</a> - <a href="">CC BY 2.0</a>

Recently I have been looking for some paid work. Things are quiet on my own ventures, with my partners and previous clients and so, as part of my strategy, I hit my last resort – the open market.

And what I discovered scared me.

Before I carry on , this is where I’m coming from:

A recruiter has ONE job to do  – of all the things they think they are doing, only one really counts – building and nurturing relationships – all kinds of relationships but especially with hirers and with candidates. To help this relationship thrive they might specialise in a space and learn the lingo, join communities etc. But fundamentally when it comes to making the ‘sale’, it is the relationship above all else.

Anyway, the last time I had to resort to the open-market option was at least 5 years ago. So much has changed , and much of it for the worse.

I considered what the pain points of my experience were and I would like to share those in a positive way to help recruiters who care to improve. Also I want to help employers who use recruiters to get more value from the services they use.

Frankly the alternative would take me away from things I care more about – but if it didn’t I would build it and put every recruitment agency out of business, at least in the UK and at least in the tech sector.

FYI Employers –  you are possibly missing out on fantastic employees because the recruiters you engaged don’t know their ass from their elbows and don’t reply emails or pick up the phone to talk with them.

Rant over, here are the 3 top things recruiters could do differently.

#1 – Use Better Job Boards

Side rant:

I mean seriously, we have the internet and computing power that lets us unravel the secret of DNA and we have commercial space travel but we all mostly still find work via job boards? What the hell??

There are so many job boards out there. There are even job boards of job boards – that scrape or otherwise aggregate the jobs from other job boards into their platform.

It seems someone decided that blanketing the world with 3139 copies of each of the 9 jobs available was the way for reach. Really what it ends up doing is cluttering up the internet and increasing the amount of false positive emails recruiters get.

So, for goodness sake pick a job board that doesn’t scrape but has brilliant SEO so you can be found. Oh and pick one that shows how long the job ad has been active for – I wasted so much time on jobs that weren’t live anymore.

Whilst you are at it – don’t make me submit my CV and an application form through some weird site that I don’t really know who gets my details or makes me have to sign up to get to you. Simply show me your email and a phone number and lets get the relationship started.

#2 – Reply every email from an interested candidate within a day.Every one!

Remember the ONE job recruiters have to do? Well, imagine my horror when I emailed 5 recruiters in response to their job ads and not a single one replied me. Not a single one.

An email  – even a super short one – that said “I read your profile but …, sorry…” or “I read your profile, I think you’d be perfect, can we speak more between 3pm and 5pm tomorrow” – would suffice. No comms is bad comms.

Recruitment is a funny game. Recruiters are not paid for the search but for filling the roles. Recruiters are not paid by the person filling the role. So they essentially have two customers. The person who has the money and the person who has to be happy to take the role. In my experience of being the latter, the relationship is what swings it.

So if your customer sends you an email – do you simply refuse to acknowledge or respond to it – especially one that requests a reply or a phone call. What business runs like this? How might that work in a store? Would the store salesperson simply remain mute to every question you asked until you walked out of the store in exasperation? Hell no.

So every email that comes from a customer – you answer. In a timely and respectful way. If you are doing other things that prevent you from do this – do less.

#3 – Organise your day better so that you are available for a conversation

The number of recruiters that never seem to be at their desks to take a call is astounding – even at multiple times of the working day.

Again, actual communication is essential for the relationships on which recruitment is fundamentally based. Remember – you have ONE job to do.

If you won’t engage via email or take and return phone calls, how on earth are you building this relationship.

At least 3 recruiters seemed to be in meetings all day. If this were unavoidable, then return the calls later or pass the job on to a colleague to stop either the candidate of the employer from wasting their time.

It turns out lots of other people have the same frustrations with recruitment agents. At least in the UK and at least in the software sector.

I spoke with 18 people – both candidates and employers – who all have similar tales of their recent experiences. They have a lot more complaints including those that inspired the above.  Frustrations including very poor domain knowledge, misinformation, poor support in prepping for interviews, high commissions/fees, uncrupulous practices like luring people to submit CVs for phantom jobs.

Special Thanks

To Testing Circle, Aston Carter, Mortimer Spinks and MA Worldwide for inspiring the improvements in this post and for saving me and anyone I influence, the time of ever doing business with them.

Very special thanks to Thomas Walding at SquareOne for being the single black swan that saved the entire industry from being total crap.


If you are in the UK or use a UK based recruitment agency and you are not impressed with their conduct – you can request that they completely delete you from their systems so that no one can contact you or pimp your CV and they are obliged to comply under the Data Protection Act. Ask them to confirm they have done this.

I’d love to hear your tips for recruiters or even employers to improve how they recruit for their roles. It is time this whole experience was better. Help me.

Featured image By: aussiegallCC BY 2.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *