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GUEST COMMENT: My distressing experience with a recruiter who wasted my time

I am an experienced graduate currently looking for work in quantitative finance or algorithmic trading roles in London.

I would like to share a recent very unpleasant experience I had when I made a job application. The application was for a software development position at a ‘leading’ London hedge fund (aren’t they all?).

I applied through a recruiter and was asked at very short notice to take an online logic and reasoning test. Despite being ill, I did so. A few days after this, I was then asked to travel to the recruiter’s office – a considerable distance for me. Despite being ill, I did so again. Nor did I ask for reimbursement of my expenses.

I completed the test and was informed that the company would get back to me a week later. After two and a half weeks, I have heard nothing.

The recruiter informs me that the company hasn’t got back to her. And the company won’t even confirm that it has my test script.

The whole process has been a complete waste of my time and my money. I have never been as angry and disappointed with a recruitment firm. These people are supposed to be professionals, are they not?

Several words spring to mind when describing the client company and the recruiter. The milder of these are: “unprofessional”, “dishonest”, “incompetent”. How can these companies describe themselves using superlatives such as “market leading” and “industry pioneer”, when they seem to lack the basic professionalism required to deal with people promptly and diligently.

I am even more surprised the recruiter is one of the leading UK recruiters, a big name in recruitment.

I can only hope no one else has the experience I have had. We need to avoid these recruiters, who waste jobseekers’ time by raising their hopes and dashing them, just when least expected, who behave unprofessionally.

Recruitment agencies will find one day that they will be regulated to higher standards of professionalism, like that govern doctors or accountants, and recruitment agents will one day have to speak and deal with jobseekers in an honest and professional manner. If I had a pound for every time a recruiter has told me that he or she would get back to me about an application, and they haven’t, I would be a very rich man.

Comments (38)

  1. Welcome to the real world.

    been there done that Reply
  2. yeah coz accountants and doctors will get back to you if you don’t have relevant skills. Good luck with life in the real world darling. You come out of Uni and think people should give you time, advice and get back to you … why dont you try EVERY grad schemes out there of some of the leading corporations (finance and otherwise) and see how many will have the decency and professionalism to call you back

  3. Get over yourself. These things can get delayed. The recruiter shouldn’t haven’t committed to a time line but the world does not revolve around you. Obviously around 20 and learning the ways of the world????

    Take the rod from your back, put the feet up and have a cup of Tea and relax.

  4. Agents can’t certainly guarantee a response from the client, but is it unreal to demand professionalism from people who claim to be professionals?

    First round rejections of unsuitable jobseeker applications by clients are usually made by doing nothing at all, which is to say only shortlisted candidates are contacted, directly if the application was directly made, or indirectly via the agent, if it was via an agency. But it seems to me that someone who actually was invited to take a written test, after a first round test, should have got some feedback, as a matter of principle. But who cares about principle, right?

    I think there is a common view among recruitment agents and companies of jobseekers as fodder, an undifferentiated mass, which you are trying to sift to find the few gems inside. Unfortunately, this creates the perception that recruitment agencies exist to serve the needs of companies, not jobseekers.

  5. 5 years recruiting IT into banking and I have never asked a candidate ever to come to my office and take a ‘online logic and reasoning test’ I also 99% of the time meet candidates near there place of work or when they are next in the City. How on earth did you think this would help you get a position with a HF?

    One of the problems with the so called ‘Market Leaders’ and big companies is that they are so process driven that they train thier staff to do this to every candidate they speak to.

    An honest recruiter would tell you that you have been unsuccessful or if you are unsuitable for the position.

    If your good enough for the position you will get an interview with the company.

  6. Reimbursement for travel expenses to visit the recruiter??? Are you for real??? On what planet would you ever expect such a thing….

    And all of this happening whilst you were ill? Oh poor you…

    Grow up!

  7. oh mate.. if you thought that’s bad you’re in for a big disappointment.
    i am an experienced trader with 5 good years a tier 1 bank.

    I’ve had every kind of story with recruiters you can think of. was told my cv was sent to a company when it hadnt. was told a company rejected my cv a day after i had had an interview with them (he didnt know, so obviously he hadnt sent my cv).

    one recruiter called me every day for 3 weeks to check i hadnt changed my mind about accepting a job offer. he wouldnt get off the phone. then one day he stopped calling. after 3 weeks of emails and calls to find him, i gave up and called the company i interviewed with and they said they didnt get approval for the headcount. that recruiter didnt even bother to tell me.

    they are, indeed, the scum of the earth.

    and if you’re a graduate you’re even less valuable.

    word of advice: assume everything that comes out of their mouth is a lie. go along with it, because some will be legit, but assume its a lie, and you will save yourself much disappointment.

    haterecruiters Reply
  8. Do what I did once. Phone up the company, create a huge fuss (ask to speak to CEO) and then when the agency feels that their postion will be badly compromised, they (the agency) will cough up the epxenses you incurred.

  9. I hope you remember this comment in a decade when you are (hopefully) working and a recruiter is chasing you for feedback on her candidates.

  10. that last comment is spot on, I am afraid. Just think what it takes to be a recruitment consultant…or more appropriately called: head-hunters. You are their commodity. If you had more experience you wld be worth more and they wld treat you better….for as long as they think they can place you and earn a fee….

    If you do this you will look petty and ridiculous and what is more you will certainly to get a job in the HF, or any other.

  12. Recruiters are middle-men and if the end client doesnt get back to them with the results of an online test, what exactly are they supposed to do to get an answer? It can be construed as rude but you have to have a thick skin when applying for roles otherwise you will take everything to heart and get down at the smallest slight – it isnt personal!! And more than most roles, a quant position is one of the most challenging roles you can look for so toughen up a bit!!!

  13. pathetic. maybe ask mummy or daddy to drive you to your next appointment. perhaps they might even accompany you to the interview to make sure those nasty recruiters don’t waste any more of your precious time

  14. UNREAL… Pay for your travel… Who do you think you are?
    Can you really expect them to pay for you when you have ZERO experience….!
    your not a MD who is being flow to the states to meet the global head of trading for a Tier 1 investment bank….
    And im sorry for them dragging you away from Xbox Live and Call of Duty!…
    You need them more than they need you!
    Rant Over!
    Regards, Senior Rec Con

  15. “I can only hope no one else has the experience I have had. We need to avoid these recruiters, who waste jobseekers’ time by raising their hopes and dashing them, just when least expected, who behave unprofessionally.”

    Don’t blame recruiters for the fact that we’re about to enter a global recession and there arent going to be as many jobs for grads!! I understand you are probably frustrated at not being able to get a job but I dont see how in any way you’ve been messed around. If you want to work in the city you should expect to come and interview in London at your own expense. Feedback can take time! It seems your another grad who thinks everything is going to be handed on a plate that because you’ve done x ammount of degrees you deserve a job.

  16. I am a well known recruiter. I always treat my candidates fairly, I give them as much information as I can. BUT if a client point blank refuses to get back to me then what can I do except be honest. 2 and a half weeks is nothing for some firms. If I could fill jobs at my own will and speed I would be a multi millionaire.
    Thank you Dr Obvious. You are spot on. I would love my clients to get back to me quickly. The truth is this. A client will pay for what they want when they want it. People change their minds all the time and if you havent got the skill set that they are looking for, or if you are not the right fit for the role then in most cases they will just ignore calls from recruiters.

  17. SB is spot on. Clearly there are always going to be lowlife idiots who work in recruitment (just like any other profession). The problem is this:

    If clients disapear for a few weeks (which in finance happens a lot as recruitment is never as important as closing a deal) then everything gets delayed? Also, even with good clients and good recruiters, things still get sidetracked or stuck in limbo.

    Despite all logic, clients will still sometime progress one candidate through to the end of a process before changing their mind and going back to the beginning, This can lose them 6 weeks and frustrate everyone else that was initially approached/put forward, but it’s out of our control.

    The trouble is that if we turn round to candidates and say ‘i’m sorry but client x is completely useless’ then you’re going to be put off. This means you don’t get a potentially great job (as a slick interview process is always the rarity rather than the norm) and we don’t get paid. Therefore, sometimes trying not to give too much away – knowing the client might not respond for weeks – even if they’re keen – is the best policy.

  18. Wake up and smell the roses, recruitment consultants are are bottom feeders, loathed as equally, if not more than estate agents.You are nothing to them, they owe you nothing, you are not their client, you are just a means for them to make money. Of all the so called recruitment consultants I have crossed paths with over the years, none are any good, they are vile people.

    I understand how you feel but uncle Jack is now going to tell you a few facts of life, please don’t cry: 1. You degree is worth sweet-F-A unless it is from Oxbridge. 2. No one cares that you were on the college football team or travelled around Africa helping babies on your GAP year. 3. There are far more experienced and qualified people out there after the same jobs. 4. You are not that special despite what daddy and mummy tell you.

    That is the reality of life mate, time to dry your eyes and pick yourself up and stop moaning.

  19. A lot of recruiters on here trying to put across thier point of view, but seriously, if you have met someone and asked them to come into your office and take a test, a call to say you have not heard from you client regarding the application would n ot take more than 30 seconds and leave you with a bit of respect. Then there are a lot of recruiters who are scared of the phone

  20. I have to agree with the previous comments on: 1. this being the real world, and 2. recruiters being the scum of the earth.

    I understand where you’re coming from, but you’ll have to toughen up a bit, because recruiters are not likely to get any better, and you don’t want to waste your time overthinking about what happened.

    I am a trader, and can’t even count the amount of unbelievable BS I’ve heard from recruiters over the years, ranging from ”You don’t have experience” when I was a grad to ”You have too much experience” a few years later, ”The client cannot pay you enough”, ”Your current employer is NOT good enough for the client” and ”is TOO good for the client”, and on and on it goes, the list is endless. And this is not counting the times they won’t get back to you emails, calls regarding the outcome of the interview/job offer they have been pestering you about every day of the last two months.

    When I was a grad I used to feel terrible about all of this, nowdays I often laugh when I speak to recruiters on the phone, as what they’re saying is a real joke.

    My advice is, just get over it, get used to them, and move on with your life. And the best for your jo

  21. I skimmed this, admittedly, so am putting myself out there for all sorts of criticism:, To precis: person who considers themselves qualified candidate gets hacked off because they aren’t accorded respect by intermediaries or principals, and has hissy fit.

    Sweet bunnykins, what planet you livin’ on, honey?

  22. Some words of advice to the poster as has already been stated:

    – there are two links in the chain to kick you out and p*ss on you for completely arbitrary reasons.

    – recruiters will decide at will to speak with you or ignore you. Usually if a recruiter likes you they will speak to you on a regular basis – otherwise they will only be in contact if they have absolutely nobody else for a particular role. Hence you should keep speaking to new recruiters whenever possible, and really stick with the ones that seem to prioritise you. If someone ignores you, then ignore them for the time being. If they advertise something then sure, drop your CV again and a one-liner and their perspective might change.

    – employers basically get piles and piles and piles of CVs through the door and use whichever ones they don’t immediately fancy as toilet paper. If they liked you you would have heard something. Move on. This is a numbers game.

    Also, play by the rules – don’t contact companies directly, as one line above implies. Many recruiters are already a*holes – don’t give them additional reasons to be.

    Props to the few good recruiters I speak to on a regular basis. I won’t share who the

  23. I was at the duck and feathers the other night and had to wait almost 5 minutes for my pint of ale. Jill, the beauty behind the bar, was most apologetic. It turns out some other bloke had been using my tankard. Anyway, she offered me a pint gratis which I accepted and palmed it off to Charlie who oddly enough turned up at the appropriate time. Did I make a fuss ? No, I calmly accepted that sometimes life is like a box of chocolates, even in a small provincial town.

  24. Thats nothing. I once went to an interview with a leading investment bank. I went to the front desk and asked to speak to Mr.X, they informed me he would be down in 5 mins. I sat in reception reading the paper. I waited. And waited. Eventually it got to 6pm and the reception staff went home, so I stayed there in the hope I would catch him on the way out after work. It got to 2am an still no show. As morning rolled around I was woken by the security guard and read that days paper. In the end I was left waiting in the reception for 10 days with no access to food and water. When I got back to my house in the Shetlands on foot several weeks later I saw I had an email confirming the job offer. What had actually happened was Mr.X had came down to a different part of the lobby and had inadvertantly interviewed a passing motorcycle courier with whom I shared the name. Embarassingly for me, the courier was successful and had managed to close a big deal in his first week there due to his knowledge of automative logistics.

  25. I love how much of a battering recruiters get on this site. Some of the best people I know are recruiters – also, however, some of the worst people I know work in the industry too.

    I wish everyone would get over themselves and realise that recruitment is the same as the real world. Only deal with the people you get on with, treat you with respect, who are professional in the their dealings etc etc. I am NOT comparing recruitment to law but you wouldn’t hang around for long if your solicitor was a complete *rsehole

    Clients and candidates alike need to boycott scumbaggery so the good guys will flourish and the bad will burn in ex-recruitment hellfire where they belong.

    I am getting out because it doesn’t match up with my career plans (a career in recruitment?) but the world will always need recruiters, the naysayers and negative job seekers will probably get their next job through an agency.

    Do unto others etc etc

    Yours Aye


    Soontobee Xagent Reply
  26. Cry me a river. you want reimbursement. I really hope no – one employs you “i was ill”. Mate your lucky if you get any job as a graduate in this market

    annoyed with grads Reply
  27. Let me get this right. You sat a multi-guess test and then had a bus journey – That has made you so angry that you feel the whole world is out to get you….hmmmm.

  28. All these traders and bankers moaning about nasty recruiters and peddling scare stories will probably be the same ones who’ll come crawling out the woodwork shortly after bonus time calling you up with their tail between their legs when their numbers don’t add up! Recs, be warned. They will quite easily go for your sexy front office job, make all the right noises, convince you and your client they’re the right candidate, accept an offer…once your client sends that juicy contract over, they’ll gladly accept a counter or use your offer as a bargaining chip for other irons in their fire, dropping you like a hot potato! Thanks Mr evil Recruiter, you got me a nice pay rise from my current employer or prompted a competitor I was interviewing with to splash out more cash, now on your bike son! I’ve lost well over 100K in fees when candidates have gone back on their word and not accepted an offer they previously said they would, boo hoo, poor me! Candidates are equally capable of lying; cheating and manipulating because guess what? They are also human like the rest of us and no paragon of virtue. Believe it or not, people in the city will always put themselves and their interests first!

    Victorious Secret Reply
  29. back when i was a fresh grad, i had two banks pay for my airline tickets + 4* hotel, had 2 rounds with 1 and 3 rounds with 2. they paid for all costs, so it’s not uncommon. just make sure to ask ahead.

  30. Quant grad!
    Time to learn about the birds and the bees…
    Yes, the recruiters should have been considerate and professional enough to write a one sentence rejection email or made a ten second phone call after all that time you spent travelling to see them! Yes, they could have got off their backside and met you at Starbucks and bought you a nice hot chocolate with fluffy pink marshmallows! No, unfortunately you’re not special and unique in this economic market chances are there are probably hundreds of other grads competing for that same job so if you think any recruiter is going to pay your travel costs you probably need your head checked! Think we’d go bust if we did that… Was that a real comment?
    A recruiter’s livelihood depends on placements, they are PEOPLE BROKERS! You’re a commodity to them as brutal as it sounds and if their client has no interest in you then neither do they! How many candidates write me nice thank you letters afterwards for all the time I spend that yields nothing? It’s a symbiotic and transactional process!
    Welcome to the city!
    You don’t owe them anything and they owe you nothing…
    If you can’t handle the heat baby, get out of the kitchen

    Victorious Secret Reply
  31. I did an online test at home, then got off my lazy bum and went to an interview. But I was ill and didn’t get any feedback. Boohoo.

    Considering the state of the market, I would praise whatever god you worship that they bother calling you at all.

  32. grow up mate.
    you are a grad and therefore homogenous.
    recruiters, like everyone, are in it for the dollar.
    you offer v. little chance of dollar.
    play the numbers.
    apply direct.

  33. “I am an experienced graduate”.

    No, you are either a graduate or you are experienced. Exactly what is your experience in – drinking in the Student Union?

    Logic & Reasoning tester Reply
  34. @Victorious Secret

    Excellently put. Candidates and Recruiters need each other. Accept it and move on.

  35. THis is the real world kid. You need to grow a pair.

    People have had far worse experiences than this!

  36. This was “distressing” apparently.

    Tip: Don’t go into banking, if you found that distressing.

    You’ll be eaten alive. Reply
  37. Diddums. The type of person who would spend time writing this article between bouts of ‘being ill’ is the type of person who will always find something to complain about. Name and shame. Who is this big recruiter that was probably doing you a totally free service and never got feedback from a client who was probaby so unimpressed with your results they didnt bother responding.

    Another possibility is that the recruiter felt that by getting you off your death-bed to come to London, they would be able to truly toy with your emotionals and give themselves a purpose, have a laugh in the office etc etc Or not.

    Or this could have been a made up article.

    Now i’m really confused.

    A normal person Reply
  38. Did you tell your daddy?

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