To recruiters, from a web developer

So this week I thought I would do a quick article, a bit of an open letter to recruiters, really. Throughout my career, especially when I was contracting, I have had a really rocky relationship with recruiters.

I have to say some agencies have been an absolute pleasure to deal with, others have been down right rude and their behaviour has bordered on harassment. With this in mind, there are a few tips, from my perspective for agencies.

To my favourite agents, and the true professionals, this will be teaching you to suck eggs. To some this may just be of interest, to others it may be a bit of a learning curve. Some may just be procrastinating and killing time.

  1. You don’t need to be a developer or even a techie, but it does make a difference when I can tell you understand the requirements of your client and how they match my CV
  2. Take your time to understand me, too. I get that I’m not your client. However, if you offer me roles that are of no interest consistently, I just junk your emails. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who gets bombarded by agents regularly. As such, those who target their emails well, and those who I have had personal communication with (especially those who have placed me) will always get read and always get a reply. Some get read, most get binned.
  3. Be polite to me, and whoever answers my phone. In busy times, when I’ve been interviewing, I’ve had my calls forwarded to my fiance who I trust wholeheartedly, knows my skills and is allowed to schedule for me, and effectively field calls so I don’t miss them altogether. When I was contracting she was also my account manager and handled invoicing and scheduling and such. Being rude to her just means I won’t return your call.
  4. Here’s a big one for me. I categorically, will not, ever, even consider looking at a role which fails to state the key details of a role. Location, skills, job role (junior, mid level, senior, lead, manager) and salary/rate (as appropriate). Why would I?
  5. Furthermore; “competitive” isn’t a salary. Competitive to me is in excess of £40k, I know people who are on £70k (who would find £90k competitive) and people who are on £16k (who would find £25k competitive) – all doing jobs with the same title. You telling me it’s “competitive” compels me to believe it’s actually not, because the best roles generally advertise their rates, because the highest rates attract the best candidates.
  6. Don’t assume that I can talk to you on the phone right now, or even in the next working day or so. Be adaptive, some days phone calls are best, they’re fast moving days. Other days I need to be on email and not on the phone. I imagine most web developers are the same; be open to communication on different levels via different channels.
  7. The easier it is for me to work with you, the more I’ll want to work with you, the higher your chance of placing me
  8. One final one. I’m not the most sought after professional in the world, but I’m sought after enough that it has never taken me more than about 2 working weeks to find a permanent role. With that in mind, please don’t be upset or offended if I have nothing tangible from you, so move onto the next offer, it’s just business.

I know which agencies I like (Emma Larrington, Luke Gardiner, and Elliot Smith at The One Group, and James Leech at Opus, amongst others) – so they’re the ones I always respond to with priority. The guys at the One Group have sent me for 3 interviews and placed me 3 times, in roles which were perfect fits on everything I was looking for.

I’m not the end client, but I am the product you may be trying to sell. Based on my success rate, and the fact they understand me, who do you think I call first when I’m looking for a new opportunity? Now I, as an individual, am not that important. But if every candidate is treated in this way, who do you think has the best talent pool?

One final footnote. Agencies are an integral and important part of the process, especially if you intend on aggressive career climbing or contracting. However, the relationship must, must, must be based on mutual understanding and respect. You have to trust I am exactly who I say I am, and I have the skills I say I have. I have to trust you’re going to work with my best interests in heart.

Know me, know my skills, situation, and what influences my decision. Make me happy and I’ll come back to you every time.

To my favourite agents; thank you for making career climbing obtainable and as enjoyable as the recruitment process can be, something which is stressful by its very definition. Keep up the good work!

I'd love to hear your opinion on what I've written. Anecdotes are always welcome.

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