So what I will not do in this ranty post is say that recruiters are the most useless people on the planet. I think anybody who has had to job search (especially during a period of unemployment) can list off numerous unpleasant experiences with recruiters. I know that it can vary (some are good, some are terrible) and that it would be unfair to make any rude generalizations about a whole group of professionals.
However, I feel like I’ve had quite a lot of experiences with recruiters wherein the individuals have been somewhat incompetent and/or insensitive. And I know that my beef, if there indeed is beef, is with those particular individuals. But I would say that this is one of the worst things about the job search process: leaving your life in the hands of people that you don’t totally trust.
Some of the mistakes are somewhat basic. I received a confirmation email from one recruiter with somebody else’s phone number. My competitor’s phone number. (I was tempted to call it.) On another occasion, I received an email from a recruiter with somebody else’s name. Hi Ryan! We received your email and would like to discuss the role. I then received the exact same email with my name subbed in. There is nothing more comforting when you are looking at potential careers than the anonymity of being a name subbed in on a canned response email.
Sometimes, you have to work with “recruiting assistants”– 22 year old females, in their first post-college job, who frankly don’t seem responsible enough to work at the local McDonald’s. Their ability (or inability, it often seems) to do basic things like schedule a phone interview and then send you a confirmation email (two things, ladies– not that hard) makes the entire experience of job searching that much more painful. I’ve had numerous instances where I’ll be scheduled for a Monday morning interview and by Friday afternoon, still have not gotten a confirmation email from the recruiting assistant. Come on– how can I possibly have a shot at a decent interview when those entrusted with the scheduling are marginally retarded?
I just got off the phone with my classmate and we comiserated about the job search experience. She contributed that the worst aspect of working with recruiters is having to overlook their mistakes and still be nice and respectful when really you want to stalk them and beat them mercilessly with a bat. That’s not a threat. It’s just a fantasy. Or, after having gone through an entire interviewing cycle, not being given the respect and decency of a simple two line email that says “We have decided to proceed with a different candidate. Thank you for your time.” That’s all. Is that too much to ask? Some common decency, recruiters?
And I understand that sometimes things happen within a company or with roles that the recruiter unfortunately has to report to candidates. But for whatever reason: THEY DON’T. I recently talked to a recruiter who said, “Have we spoken before?” and I had to say no, we hadn’t. The truth is, she had previously emailed me about a role nearly a year ago, I responded back with my availability and she never responded. That’s right: SHE contacted ME, and then just left me hanging. And then I email stalked her maybe once or twice and then just totally gave up. I don’t understand how companies/recruiters think that the better option is just to ignore interested candidates.
As a side note: this reminds me of the episode of Sex and the City called “The Post-it Always Sticks Twice.” It’s the episode where Berger breaks up with Carrie via a post-it note. When talking to Berger’s friends, where one mentions that women go crazy after a break up, Carrie explodes, saying, “Uh huh. Most women aren’t angry, irrational psychos. We just want an ending to a relationship that… That is thoughtful and decent and honors what we had together. So my point, Billy, is this; There is a good way to break-up with someone, And it doesn’t include a post-it!”
The weirdest experience I have had with a recruiter was a phone screen with what I sensed was an older female recruiter. The company was an online/cloud based company. During our conversation, the recruiter mentioned that she didn’t think ecommerce had a future and then quoted the news from the year 2000 as proof of this position. Mind you, it is now 2012. And again, the company was a web based company. During our phone screen, the recruiter had me speak very slowly so that she could take notes and said that my phone was coming in and out (I have never gotten feedback that my phone wasn’t totally clear). Looking back, I’m wondering if she was taking notes with a typewriter and was in the moment using a rotary telephone. I mean: really? There was no hope that anything she was providing to the hiring manager would be anything like the words coming out of my mouth. Bad recruiter. Bad.
So yeah, some recruiters are the scourge of the earth and as competent as a half eaten sandwich. The others are great at their jobs. I hope to soon work with some of the latter. Just kidding. Or maybe not.