Of Trawling and Tech Jobs These Days…

I stumbled on a post by Don Demask on the subject of tech/IT recruiter etiquette. Or rather, I should say, the lack thereof.  I’ve touched on a similar topic in the past (in fact, one of my first posts on this blog!) after I was simply driven mad by rude headhunters (one that kept asking me to doctor my resume) and many that implicitly discriminated by age by asking my graduation date (this is a very dirty tactic that they use to figure out where to bracket you in terms of rate, salary, and position, irregardless of your actual skill and knowledge level).

Since I graduated from Rutgers in 2003, I’ve already worked for six companies (that’s including my current employer, Zorch Software). Of those six, three of them were acquired through recruiters and there were many other times where I’d come across these sometimes very curt “professionals” as I was searching for better opportunities.

Of the many, many recruiters that I’ve come across, I would have to say that only one sticks out in my mind as being truly a professional: a Mr. Seber, who helped me obtain my first position out of college. He offered me great career advice, guidance on proper behavior on the client site, information regarding education, and was always open to listen to me bitch and moan from time to time.

These days, I’ll drop by and listen to his band play once in a while and we are still in contact.

While there have been a few other very courteous and polite recruiters that I’ve come across, the vast majority of them are simply rude, unprofessional, and lazy. One of the laziest and most annoying tactics that this type of recruiters use is to simply spam email lists with random positions; as Don calls it, “trawling” for potential respondents.

“Hot .Net Position in Chicago!”

No thanks!

I’ve seen worse though as I’ve even gotten emails that didn’t completely populate the formatting fields in the subject line and emails with bountiful spelling mistakes (what a terrible professional statement that makes).

Perhaps what annoyed me the most is that many recruiters simply didn’t bother to read my resume. In order to cut down on responses from jobs offering salaries below my desired range, I explicitly stated, in bold, the minimum salary and rate I would consider. And yet, I’d still get calls and emails about positions obviously outside of the range. I added a location restriction so that recruiters wouldn’t call me about positions in PA or Chicago or Alaska (yes, I once had a call about a position in Alaska, I shit you not). And yet, I’d still get calls and emails for positions all over the country. I added explicit descriptions of the types of positions that I was interested in. And yet, as my resume would pop up on the keyword “.Net”, I was contacted regarding any position that required .Net.

After a while, it was clear that I couldn’t leave my cell phone number in the resume as I was getting calls on client sites even after explicitly stating that the cell phone was for after hours contact only. Beyond that, I finally wised up to the spamming by recruiters that didn’t read my resume by using a “code word” and adding a simple request on the last line of my email: “Please add the text ‘DICEREF’ anywhere in your email message to bypass my spam filter; thank you for taking the time to read my resume!”

In the end, I can’t help but feel like…a piece of meat to these people. The sad thing is that, invariably, someone will respond to these low-lifes, which simply acts to encourage the continued practice of trawling for candidates.

It’s a lose-lose-lose situation for the recruiter, the employer, and the consultant. The recruiter loses potential responses from top candidates by not putting in the effort to sort through the resumes and use more refined searches. The employer obviously loses out because many top candidates simply will not put up with this type of recruiting (I truly believe only desperate developers respond to these emails). And consultants lose out as–who knows–the employer on the other end may be the perfect match.

So what can be done to fix the system? One idea I had early on was to implement a recruiter rating system much like Amazon z-shops and eBay have seller ratings so that potential candidates can see how other candidates were treated and perhaps even create a personal blacklist of recruiters. If you continually get spammed by a particular headhunter, you can enter a negative review and add them to your blacklist. The number of people who blacklisted the recruiters would be visible on the job posting and sortable in a recruiter listing so that candidates could simply find the cream of the crop recruiters and reward them for their practices. Not only that, you would be able to put a threshold where if a recruiter has a certain number of blacklist entries, they won’t even be able to see your profile in searches.

While such a system would invariably cause an initial revenue drop for Dice due to recruiters boycotting them after being blacklisted too many times (good riddance!), I think it would ultimately lead to more quality job posts, more thoughtful recruiters (even if superficially), and happier candidates.  As it is, to me at least, craigslist has become perhaps an even better way to connect directly with employers (it’s how I got my job at MediaWhiz).  Dice would be wise to act on this proactively and try to help candidates connect with the quality recruiters out there.

So what do you think? Any stories to share?

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2 Responses

  1. Haacked says:

    Hey man, I lived in Alaska and my folks are still there. It’s not THAT bad. At least its not New Jersey. 😉

  2. Chuck says:

    Well, the scenary there seems beautiful and no doubt the fishing would be awesome (I looooove salmon).

    And certainly, the population density there would be a relief from Jersey…

    But still, Alaska?