Why IT Recruiting Has to Change

Developers are no stranger to recruiters contacting them on LinkedIn. Often a simple “Sorry, not interested” response will work; but there comes a time when you’ve decided to look for a new role, so you start responding to them.

This process is often disappointing.

# Traditional Recruitment Process

It seems like most recruiters just want to increase their database size. You make a heap of effort to tailor a resume for a particular job, perhaps even write a nice cover letter covering all of the selection criteria. Finally it’s ready, it only took 4 hours by the time you double checked everything, asked a partner to review it, explained all the technical terms to your partner, made some changes, and double checked it again. Finally you send it.

The following day you get a phone call asking for more detail. Of course this call comes during business hours even though your email with the resume and cover letter was clear that you are not available during business hours. You sneak off to a quiet area and arrange to call the recruiter back at a specific time.

That night you call the recruiter at the organised time; of course it goes to voicemail after ringing out. You leave a message, and 15 minutes later you get a call back. There’s a brief apology that they were having dinner when you called (really, you’re so disorganised you had dinner when you’d made an appointment to talk to someone, or is this a stupid power play?); then they launch into their questions.

The first question is almost always about what sort of roles you’d like. Despite covering this in the cover letter, and the email, you respond with a description. The next question is about expected salary, you waffle on for a bit to avoid the question, and ultimately say it depends on the role, but you won’t accept less than a certain amount. As the questions wear on, you realise 90% of them have been answered in the resume and cover letter you sent the previous evening.

As the phone call wraps up the recruiter tells you they don’t think you’re suitable for the role, or you’re asking too much, or they’ve put someone else forward, but they’ll let you know if anything else comes up. After the fifth or sixth time this has happened you realise all of these instances are just database building.

A few weeks after this process the recruiter gets in touch with a LinkedIn message and a job description attached. You have a quick look at it and let them know the job isn’t what you’re looking for. It’s agency and you said you weren’t interested in agency work; it’s a front-end developer job and you’re a back-end developer; the pay range is 20% lower than you said your minimum would be.

It isn’t always like this, sometimes the role is real and you really aren’t suited; sometimes the recruiter even reads your email, cover letter or resume; sometimes you get really lucky and the recruiter says they’ll put your details to the client. Every so often the whole process turns into a phone call with the employer.

# A Process that Works

After dealing with recruiters for a while you start to discover there’s a type of recruiter that breaks this traditional mold. If they reach out to you they’re already wanting an interview; if you contact them they’re quick at showing interest or rejecting you; they read your cover letter and your resume, they know every detail on your LinkedIn. These rare recruiters work directly for an employer. The company doesn’t use recruitment consultants, they limit their advertising on job listing sites, they search for people through networks and rely on people contacting them. This is a model that works!

# An Epic Recruitment Fail

Back to recruitment consultants though. This week I encountered the biggest recruitment fail I’ve encountered.

A recruiter sent me an unsolicited message via LinkedIn on October 15. There was a brief outline of a role and a request for what time they could call me. This first message had a couple of issues; they never asked for my phone number; and they didn’t give me a phone number to call them on.

As I was starting to consider a job change I responded mentioning I can be hard to contact during business hours but I’d be happy to arrange a chat one evening and would be willing to arrange a time to call.

Fast forward 3 months to January 16, I’ve found a new job, handed in my notice, served my notice period, had a 2 week holiday and started a new role.

I get a message from this recruiter with their phone number and a simple message of “I’m happy to give you a call around 5:30 if you free then”. That’s 3 months without contact, no request to see if I’m still looking, no apology for the lack of contact, just a message that implies we’d chatted only a few minutes ago.

I wonder how many perfect candidates this recruiter has missed because he can’t contact people in a timely manner. I wonder if his clients know how unprofessional he is.


Recruitment consultants waste candidates time; internal recruiters seem to be more efficient and are less of a cost on a candidate’s time; at least one recruiter out there takes 3 months to respond to a message after asking to contact someone.