24 June 2010

Updates : Hate and rage

Hi, folks. It's been quiet from me for the last little while. This whole "chasing up a new job" thing has kept me busy, and, to be frank, rather uninspired. But I should keep you updated (so I shall do that at the very end of this post), but I also need to vent before I explode!


That word I've just written up there? It's a synonym with "arsehole." (But wait, there's more! I could add 'incompetent' and 'nasty' without blinking!) Not because they will come right out and be arseholes; no, that would be terribly unprofessional of them and possibly lose them money. No, they are arseholes in a subtle but deviously efficient way.

I had a stint a few years ago dealing with recruiters when I wanted to quit working for the National Library of Australia. I sent out my CV, wrote letters, wrote emails, called and talked with them, on and on. Those experiences are mirrored by my experiences of late. But before I leap into a lament, let me ask you something, where "you" are people in companies and organisations across the globe who might be looking for good people to join their team :

Why the bloody hell do you use recruiters? What is it that you hope to gain from using them? Is it simply that you think that quality people are queuing outside their shop, waiting for those skilled recruiters to match the perfect candidate up with your perfect job description? Seriously? Is that what you think? Because if that's so, I feel the need to tell you that that is not what's happening.

Recruiters are evil. No, no, it's true ; they do not care about the people involved in the recruiting process, they care about their commission in doing so. They are evil, money-sucking bastards that don't give a rats ass about who they match with whom, and so in being arseholes they treat people like crap. Unless they feel there's a slight chance of a match they simple will not contact you, they will not answer your emails or calls. And what do they base their matchability on?

Shit skills. Every time and every single recruiter I've had the pleasure of "talking" with during this last month of riding the Boogeyman their complete lack of understand of what the hell I was talking about was shockingly clear. The client wants a senior developer with MySQL skills, and I say "No problem, I know mySql, in fact I've been doing Sizzle for the last year." You can hear the humming buzz on the line as the other side tries to process this. I say "It's a MySQL fork". More silence. "So, you haven't done any actual MySQL work, then? Ok, that's too bad ...", so I interrupt "What? No, I've done MySQL for years [I mean, for fuck sake, I've been a web developer since 1997!], I was just pointing out that I'm really into the matter of things and hack on forks and play around with unofficial features through MariaDB and ...". Recruiter breaks in with, "so, er, mariaDB, right, so no recent MySQL work, then?"

Or when asked about PHP I said I've done Zend Framework for years, which the job description mentioned as a bonus. "Right, but have you done any PHP work?" Or when asked if I know SCRUM, and I said sure, and that I've done a bit of MODENA of late as well. "So, no real SCRUM experience, then?" Or when asked about if I know XML well, and I say that, sure, I've even created a full Topic Maps engine in XSLT, written a canonical XML dataset serializer (for some obscure project), and get a "well, I meant if you have any core XML skills?" Obviously not. Or how about being asked

Look, people, you're putting these people in charge of finding you the best people? Please don't. Every company I get direct contact with I have a good open dialog with. Recruiters are fucking areholes who treat people like disposable napkins (fit for wiping their saliva from thinking about their commissions, I suppose), and you should not use their services. It's not good for your organisation, nor is it good for the progress of humanity.


Now, the update. It's very short; I had 6 good leads. I blew one (I aimed too high with that one), 2 were with recruiters (and obviously they don't get back to you unless someone has thrown money at them, so I'm counting them out as I cannot find out what the actual companies are), 2 are in Norway (and they're pretty good, in as much as if nothing else happens within days, we will decide to move back to Norway), and 1 up-in-the-air with a really funky company locally that has great potential (but might fail due to time).

So, all in all, we're in a pretty downy, unstable, crazy place. We're considering taking off for a couple of weeks in a camper-van and see the south coast, but we'll see. Frustrations are running high, and I think the family needs to chill for a little while.

Take care!


  1. Ah, but do you really want to work for a crew who don't know that Sizzle =~ MySQL? Even when they have it explained?

    chin up - south coast camper van gets my vote, although it might be a bit chilly :)

  2. Well, I think the problem is that the organisation might know these things because they're the geeks, but we're being filtered through recruiters who haven't got a clue, and can't even pick the clues from conversations, bluntly stated to them ...

    Yeah, the camper van is slowly coming into focus. :) Thanks for the vote!

  3. My one experience with an employment agent was very good ... but that was back in 1973. He found this job that I would never have found, and what's more realized that it would be a good fit. It turned out to be about the best possible job for me at that time, and I've always been grateful. I think the my company felt the same way.

    Maybe I was just lucky back then, or maybe things have changed.

  4. Recruiters are well known for their ... agnostic approach to filtering applicants. They have these tick lists and they simply ask these terms and look whether the applicant's face is twitching.

    It is not really that difficult. And I think in 2-3 years most recruiters will sit in India and you will have a Skype-ish session in one of the recruiting centers.

    And the best part?

    Companies get what they are asking for. And that is GOOD. GOOD. GOOD.

    They do not deserve more.

    Going after advertised jobs is not the only possibility, though.

  5. Oh man. I have recently been in the same situation as you Alex -- well, at least as far as job hunting goes, when looking for jobs in the US.

    And yes, answering these kinds of questions can be incredible frustrating when asked by people without much clue. Questions like "have you worked with framework X" where you might answer, "no, but I have experience with framework Y, which is the same kind of framework, follows the same principles, built for the same purpose, etc" only to hear "oh, but you haven't worked with X".

    Or having worked with a wide variety of technologies, and not PHP *only* for the last 5-10 years. Some would say that is good experience. A clueless recruiter....well, you know.

    The good thing, though, is that there are good recruiters out there. It just takes time. Lots of time, and lots of applications, but once a good recruiter finds you -- you are better off.

    In my experience, these are most often not the ones posting or replying to job applications on job boards. What seemed to be best (in my case), was contacting - or being contacted by - recruiters on social networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter. Preferably company employed ... e.g. search for recruiters currently employed at Yahoo!

    This often resulted in very good feedback and follow up by people who clearly knew what their teams were looking for. Also you end up being phone screened by someone working at the actual company (closer to the tech teams), or by the engineers themselves.

    Maybe you have already tried doing so, though? I assume you're only interested in Australia or Norway based jobs?