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Letting rip against recruiters

Our article about nefarious recruitment practices provoked a tirade of responses. Didn’t get a chance to read it last time? Here it is again, with another chance to have your say.

With hiring buoyant and candidates scarce, recruiters might be expected to be incomparably charming in their efforts to woo finance professionals. Not necessarily, it seems.

An email exchange between a Tim Seymour of recruiter Seymour Chase and James Kennedy of recruitment firm Robert Half reveals the less salubrious side of the recruitment industry.

Seymour, a recruiter of recruiters, attempted to solicit Kennedy for a role with a ‘niche recruitment firm’. But rather than cajoling his target by telephone, Seymour’s first approach took the form of a mass email – which was visibly sent to around 40 other candidates.

And when Kennedy objected to Seymour’s technique? Instead of apologising, Seymour emailed back to say, “Couldn’t care less mate. You tw*t.”

Rudeness isn’t the only foible of insalubrious recruitment firms. Others include despatching CVs without their owners’ permission, never responding to job applications, and advertising jobs that don’t actually exist.

How common are these faults? You tell us. Kennedy maintains they’re not common at all: “I get called by recruiters a lot and this is the first time I’ve encountered this kind of thing.”

The recruitment industry is unregulated. As a result, unprofessional conduct is punishable only by market forces – the hope being that candidates and clients alike will give nefarious firms a wide berth. This may already be happening in Seymour’s case: a call to his Birmingham number reveals he’s out of the office – perhaps permanently.

Have you ever had a bad experience with a recruitment firm? Add your comment and let us know.

Comments (26)

  1. Only unsuccessful recruiters treat candidates badly. A good recruiter simply treats other people the way he or she likes to be treated him(or her)self. People are looking for respect and truth. If someone sends a CV, you should respond in days, not weeks. And if someone attends an interview you should give feedback in hours – no more than 48 of them.

  2. Having experienced inept and rudeness myself from the Recruitment industry it does beggar belief that these so-called Professionals are still doing business.

    In a recent experience, I was supposed to meet a recruiter twice and was then advised on the morning of the 3rd meeting (on Voicemail), that he would not able to make it – ‘Because something has come up.’ He then never, out of courtesy returned my voice message … It is not only Rude but very Un-professional. Not the treatment I would expect from a “Reputable” ??? Company.

    Given that these recruiters are Salesmen/Saleswoman, and thus reflecting poorly on the Sales Industry, as a Manager/Director I would have to dismiss this type of type of salesperson as not attaining the minimum standard required.

    The recruitment industry now needs to be regulated in the way the Finance sector is, under the FSA.

    If the customer is King….. I cannot help feeling that recruiters are missing an opportunity….

  3. Having recently submitted my CV online within a few recruitment websites, I have been approached by a number of recruiters. They are very kind and talkative during first contact, but after this I have never heard from them again. I have sent e-mails to some of them asking about the progress of my application, but never got a replay. I have my MS Outlook set up, so I can see if my e-mails were read. They always were, but no feedback. I find it very rude and I am thinking of contacting employers directly from now on. If recruiters don’t bother, why should I?

  4. Recruiters only call you back if it is in their interest – if they do
    not see the fit you do there is silence. If the client says no, no
    matter how much they may think the client to be wrong, the roll over and
    look for someone else and rarely call to say that things are not moving

    Jobs advertised that do not exist? Probably a significant minority of
    placements on this web site. The industry seems to be getting sleezier
    rather than more professional.

    There are exceptions.

  5. I am amazed at how few recruiters even have the courtesy to send out an acknowledgement email – and its is so much easier now that it was in the past … how long does it take to send an email?? A great deal less time than writing a letter, printing if off and putting it in an envelope! What ever happened to servicing the client – which we all in the investment industry consider paramount? Without us, they wouldn’t have a business! There are of course exceptions to the rule! However, I don’t think that regulation of the sector is the answer

  6. Not rocket science really but perhaps worth reflecting that today’s Candidate is potentially tomorrow’s Client.

    Professional service is often remembered but bad service is never forgotten; no clients means no business.

    As a business owner, it’s my livelihood. Available options therefore?

    Courtesy, honesty and professionalism shown to all, and whilst we’re at it… regulation please.

  7. Interesting article. It is exactly this kind of behaviour that got me into recruitment!

    As a qualified accountant on the contract market I encountered both good and bad recruiters. My most common annoyance was when the consultants didn’t listen. I had registered with one of the leading recruitment firms wishing to continue my career in the banking market. I expressly told them that I didn’t want positions in practice and every day for the next few weeks I was called by a different consultant from the firm wishing to run Big 4 ideas by me. Despite numerous requests to update my details they never did. It was only when I went to their offices to watch them remove my details from their database did they stop calling me!

    It is such a shame that recruiters get a bad name. There are a lot of us out there who do genuinely care about both clients and candidates. Unfortunately with some firms applying so much pressure on consultants, candidate care is often the last thing people think about with monthly targets being the first.

  8. I have found that standards in the recruitment industry have dropped over the last five years along with many others professions.

    I have found in my dealings with many recruiters in the UK ,some of which recruit on this site, that many lack basic professionalism, manners, and ethical standards and some are merely like the cowboy builders of old.

    Good service is the exception rather than the norm and I would not be surprised if surveys showed that recruitment consultants ranked in line with lawyers and politicians for poor reputations.

    I personally think recruitment consultants make it harder rather than easier to find the right role and think it was more beneficial to both parties when companies advertised directly.

    However many companies do prefer to use recruitment consultants as then they can be as rude and unprofessional as they like and if the candidate complains they can lock them out.

  9. Some of the industry tricks are:

    Bogus jobs – used to fill a database with CVs in order to impress clients with the number of candidates they have. Does happen on some sites, though after a while you get to spot them (very generic). Recruiter will never confirm if the job is live and will try to divert candidate to other roles they have.

    Lying as to whether candidate has been submitted for a role – used to reduce the number of candidates going through rival agencies. They will tell the candidate that they have been submitted for a role and may be given a reference number. The candidate then doesn’t pursue this with other agencies out of respect for agent / to avoid multiple submissions. He belatedly finds out (usually from another agency interested in submitting him) that he was never submitted.

    Asking for referees to “pre-vet” the candidate – a tactic method of illiciting names of management in previous employers who can be cold-called by the agent. Reasonably prevalent in my experience, though so subtly done that many candidates are unaware.

    Solution – In my opinion, avoiding small, newcomer agencies and sticking with those that you know value professionalism. Checking their website also to see if these values are championed and whether they mention clients they are preferred suppliers for, since if you are not with a preferred supplier agency you will not hear about those client’s roles. Alternatively keeping garlic and a crucifix handy…

  10. Having gone through the comments above, I can relate to many of the experiences that job seekers have gone through. The only time that they are polite is possibly when they are calling for the first time. I also feel there is a possibility that recruiting companies might be promising that the candidate’s CV has been forwarded to the prospective employer, without actually doing so. But then what is the solution to this? If another recruitment agency approaches the candidate with the same job, can the candidate ask this agency to check with the prospective employer if his CV has reached them?

  11. This is all interesting stuff! The problem lies not so much with firms but individuals. Having been in recruitment for over 10 years-5 of them on my own, I have always considered myself to be professional and client centric-to both companies and candidates! Many of my orginal customers are now good friends!

    That said, there is so much misdirection-particularly with ‘opting in or out’ forms (where references are a mandatory upfront process) and who actually represents who!

    Job Boards are not much better-easy to register, hard to delete yourself from.

    Good old fashioned networking and opportunistic applications is the way forward and a good Recruiter will be an excellent Networker!

    If you use a good Recruiter-love them, because they are worth their weight…the rest will eventually disappear through market forces!

  12. Hi

    Agencies are fast becoming a waste of time.

    You send your CV, and then are called to a meeting (approx. 1 hour)

    They inform you that they are sending you CV to a client, then nothing.

    You apply for a job on-line via and agency (A job that matches your requirement and that of the firm) sent the CV and then no response. This happens time and time again.

    I know the agencies sift through and only send those that they think will succeed, but I think they also apply Ageism and Sexism to the cut.

    I have experience of applying for a position that did not exist.

    On questioning the agency the quote was “This job has been filled and will be removed at the end of the month” although this has only just appeared on the web site.

    Many more examples can be quoted as to bad practices of the agencies.

    The best I have encountered is, Meet with agency, have job that matches the CV sent to the client after chasing for two weeks found that the client had changed the job requirement. On checking the client’s jobs vacancy list I found that the job did not exist.

    It is about time that these agencies were regulated.

  13. Recruitment agencies are becoming more and more unprofessional. Since there are plenty of jobs in the city nowadays, their job has become much easier, and they really don’t give a shi* who they’re talking to, as long as they see potential in you getting the job. The minute their client shows less interest, I can assure you they will just agree along and move on to the next potential ‘fish’.

  14. As someone who has dealt with recruiters as both a hirer and a candidate, most recruiters (there are a few, notable exceptions) are no better than another loved species of Londoner- the real estate agent. They have little idea about the business or the role they are looking for, will flood the hirer with a bunch of CVs that only vaguely resemble the job spec, justify their existence by an interview to determine if you are suitable (which they have neither the knowledge or the experience to judge) and then never, ever inform the candidates, who have wasted time providing both information and an interview, what the outcome is.

    Show me one candidate who would not like to know the outcome- be it good or bad, even if it was a standard mail saying- sorry, you did not make it.

    But if you try and dis-intermediate them and go directly, they make sure they blackball you because most firms will simply add your name to the pot. Their arrogance and indifference in how they treat candidates is only surpassed by their ignorance and shortsightedness, because candidates do not forget who helps and who hinders their progress.

    Recruiters will of course point to the sheer number of people they deal with. They forget one point- they are in the people business ! Supermarket attendants treat one with far greater respect ! Candidates are the fuel that stokes their home fires ! And yet, sadly, we are hostage to them, which is why we are all writing anonymously. That is the true reflection of their power and candidates’ current helplessness !

  15. I’m in the final stages of my jobsearch and fortunately am deciding between two offers.

    I work in energy which is a commodity. I’ve been treated like one for a large part of the jobseeking process.

    Countless recruiters haven’t acknowleged my applications to their advertisements. Others requested my CV but never returned my calls. I attended interviews but received no feedback even when requested. Worse were the job adds with no positions behind them. Some consultants were all over me like a rash one minute, then forgot who I was the next.

    However, there also those who treated me like a customer, took a positive interest in my needs and provided feedback. I’ve helped four ex-colleagues find new positions in the last six months. I recommended them to these consultants and vice-versa. Those at the bottom of the recruitment gene pool won’t benefit from my industry contacts, they can whistle for it!

  16. Having been in recruitment for 25 years with eleven running my own company I am so disappointed, though not surprised to read the comments below. We very much try to treat others as we would ourselves; we always acknowledge CVs; all our jobs exist – unless they are filled by the client without informing us; we always speak to people before forwarding CVs as the financial services industry is so incestuous and get back to people with feedback once we have received it.On the flip side, some employers do not give out ‘proper’ job specs and some candidates are unrealistic with regards to expectations. Having just had our processes audited and passed by the DTI in addition to winning a UK award for best small FS recruiter, I hope we operate properly and ethically.Please ask your next recruitment agency how they operate – if you do not feel comfortable with their approach then do not forward your CV as your career is much too important for that.

  17. Perhaps my response will be a little late, but I discovered this article only today thanks to a colleague. My experience with recruiters to put it in one word has been horrible. Actually, in my opinion the article seem kind of too soft and maybe the reality is even worse.
    I have experienced rude recruiters, others that never returned calls, and others that don’t even send a reply to a job application. I have visited the websites of more than two dozen Head Hunters in UK mostly in London and all I have seen is them preaching their professionalism, integrity and the promise to get in touch with a candidate shortly. Well, if you ask me, I can tell you that the opposite is the case. Actually, i would be surprised if they call at all. I get the feeling that sometimes the position they advertise do not exist at all. For instance I applied for a position through one recruiter, after several calls I was told that the role had been filled, meanwhile now a month later that recruiter is advertising again the exact same position, perhaps thinking that people are stupid and don’t pay attention. To add to that I am not sure if it is because of ignorance or arrogance, what I find disturbing is that if are lucky and you get someone on the phone, he or she starts explaining you what exactly is the recruiting profession and that they work for a client. I think it is clear that nowadays most candidates know the difference! Anyway, I will stop here because the list would be too long.
    To finish, I can only say that I concur with all the other comments.

  18. Dear Editor,

    Thank you for this article and the space you dedicated to our voices. It has
    been years that I am pointing at the agencies’ incorrectness and
    unprofessionally behaviour.

    I summarize the problems I had with those so called “employment agencies” in
    few points.

    – They are not able to ready resumes, especially technical ones.
    – They do not understand the client’s requirements.
    – They are not able to match skills.
    – They want you to use their “accountant agents” for payments because they
    receive a second cut from your wages (first daily commission plus a % from
    the accountant)
    – They fish resumes by advertising fake jobs.
    – They do not want to hear that your current job isn’t the one advertised
    and you applied to.
    – Several agency pay you after a month (This is my case as I supposedly
    getting my January wages paid next March … wish me luck)

    I can backup the above points as I have a friend that works in an
    “employment agency” and he shared this to me.


  19. They’re simply unskilled office fodder who just go to ‘work’, match a few words from a collection of CVs to the latest requirements, then go home/to the pub.

    Many of them can’t even read CVs. I had an objective on mine and they called me in ask me what my objective was!

    I guarantee that if you go to any of their websites, you’ll see lots of self-praise about how ‘unique’ their approach is…..

  20. Pretty relevant quote!

    “You pay peanuts you get monkeys. But a bed of benefits that is too comfortable can leave you with lazy and sleepy-headed primates.”

  21. I am sick to death of dealing with narrow minded agencies and bimbos that appear to only be interested in ‘pimping’ me out on a temp basis which I have said I would not do from the start – I have had no less than 4 calls from 1 agency I joined little over a week ago asking if I would like to temp.

    The reason I joinde this agency was an advert which at registration I was told I did not possess enough exp for (the ad said enthusiasm/experience) when I applied again via a website I was told ‘oh the ad was generated automatically.’ The idiot could not remember what she told me – she obviously thought she had said the post was filled at registration. Guess what – it is still being advertised…. I sent another app via a site saying ‘I see you are still advertising this role!!!!’

    I am going to recruiters direct now. Sharon & Tracy are not going to get commission off of my back. Bunch of vacant people on power trips with candidates CV’s.

    Regulate them? Nah – blow ’em up and then make them register with my agency ‘Karmic Solutions!’ Oh what fun that would be……

  22. Oh how glad i am to find this article and everyones comments.

    I have been a bit depressed lately with the way my agencies have treated me and i just realised that i am not alone. It’s really shocking that other people have faced the same problems as me. This is a real emmotional tourcher.

    I have been sent to 7 interviews via agencies and promised a phone call with 24 hours. All i have wanted is feedback on how i did so atleast i could improve myself in the future. They are so nice and helpful before u go for ur interview but if u didnt do well they couldnt care less. They are really ruthless and to think all the money and effort i spent in travelling and preparation for my interviews and they cant spare 2 mins to give me feedback.

    Its horrible and shocking…

  23. I regularly got about 3 to 5 emails a day.. that adds up over a year.. I remembered the agencies and the consultants… Needless to say when I needed something from them (by the way i replied)… as in a job.. if it was not resultant in a cut for them .. silence.. .. I will not go into the fact that this will be remembered and I would rather not use an agency. A good manager knows how to recruit and does not need them.. the sooner the industry wakes up to this applying for a job would be a more rewarding experience.

  24. Buttocks, hmmm.

  25. I think recruiters are as bad as real estate agents. From personal experience, i have not been impressed by any of the two….

    It is an extra layer of mostly dead wood and used car sales men that will not even talk to you if you don’t check all the boxes they require…Majority doesn’t even wanna meet you and they try to sell you for a role…absolutely ridiculous…

  26. please do not tar us all with the same brush! I am the first to admit that there are elements of our industry that are bad, treatment of candidates, lack of responses, CV going out without authorisation. But is every other industry so squeaky clean? I guess it is easy to pick an easy target. I must admit that this is not common practice if you choose your recruitment company carefully. It amazes me amount of people who i meet with who have met with other agencies and when i ask out of courtesy to make sure that anyone i put them forward to does not overlap with anyone else they may be talking with, I would say that 1 in 4 candidates have no real idea where their CV is going, ”it may have gone there, or, I think the other recuitment company may have sent it there” get a grip, grow some balls and control the process. This is in no way an excuse for the agent to flyer the CV. Regulation!?! for what – where we get our jobs from? In the greater scheme of things who really cares where our jobs come from? regulating the industry would be a complete waste of time – any other industry’s regulated because the reprocussions of it not being could be huge – but recruitment, come on..

    recruitmentrogue Reply

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