In the July 1, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader expresses serious reservations about recruiters:

I am a 46-year-old woman who has been rendered 100% unemployable in the New Economy. I’d just like some help in understanding what’s going on. My experience with recruiters has been terrible, and as a recruiter I thought you could maybe offer some insight into why they have become so useless.

I’ve spoken with lots of other “permanently unemployable” professionals over the age of 40 and their experience with recruiters is identical to mine. Are recruiters truly incapable of providing real feedback? Why do recruiters suck so bad?

Nick’s Reply

sucks-so-badYou’re opening up a can of worms. So let’s tie on our aprons and take a good look at the slop that passes for “recruiters” nowadays.

There are some very good recruiters out there — both inside of companies (in the HR department) and on the independent side (those that HR pays to deliver candidates). They are few. (See Good Headhunters: They search for living resumes.) On the whole, recruiting sucks really, really bad today.

The problem is automation

The number one problem is that recruiting is now wholly automated. Both the HR profession and independent recruiters don’t really recruit. To recruit means to go out into the world to find, talk to, assess, judge, cajole, seduce, convince and bring home the best people to fill a job for a client. This still requires getting one’s duff out of the chair from behind the desk and the computer display to actually meet people. (See Executive Search: Don’t pay lazy headhunters.)

But, show me 1,000 recruiters and I’ll show you 999 lazy keypunchers who are terrified to talk to anyone, and content to get paid for diddling their keyboards. They pay monthly fees to access huge databases of “job seekers” — and their expectation is that “the system” will deliver candidates. So, what do employers need recruiters for?

The 1,000th recruiter — who actually goes out and recruits — is worth his or her weight on gold. He doesn’t suck. The rest aren’t worth spit.

Everybody can play!

The other biggest problem is that the cost of entry to the recruiting business is virtually zero. Anybody with an Internet connection and a cell phone can play. The automation thus allows a proliferation of drive-by recruiters who run over job applicants while scratching their lottery tickets. It’s why you hate recruiters: You’re just another casualty and there are plenty more where you came from. (See Does the headhunter own my job interviews?)

I could riff on this for pages, but I’d rather just show you the very disturbing trend that proves my point: It’s not about recruiting any more. Proof lies in the “state of the art” start-up firms that get funded because idiot investors get excited about “new business models” that do absolutely nothing to advance the art and science of recruiting.

If these are the kinds of companies that have been funded, what does it tell us about the state of the business? (See Employment In America: WTF is going on?) As you put it, this is why recruiters suck so bad.


One of the early dim-bulb recruiting start-ups was NotchUp, started in 2008 by a couple of guys whose first concept was a “pay for interview service” that didn’t quite make it. In 2010, BusinessInsider called NotchUp a “Hot Silicon Valley Startup You Need To Watch.”

What was this exciting new concept in recruiting? It was a “crowd-sourced lead generation platform on top of social networks.”

Notchup was basically an app that was supposed to leech job seekers from social networks. It was designed to avoid recruiting. The app circulated job listings across social networks and matched them to users’ connections. Then they waited for results, just as “recruiters” inside major corporations wait for job boards to “deliver” hires. NotchUp no longer exists.

Standout Jobs

This start-up arrived in 2007. Standout Jobs was described as a “do-it-yourself, interactive career site.” A few years later, founder Ben Yoskovitz admitted, “I didn’t have a strong enough understanding of the HR/Recruitment market going in.”

Surprise: None of the clownish “entrepreneurs” looking to cash out know a thing about recruitment. They’re selling apps and database services in lieu of recruiting.

Clicking on yields an “error establishing a database connection.” The business was acquired in 2010 by another up-and-coming online recruiting business, Talent Technology, which garnered a “top HR product” award from HR Executive magazine. The award seems to have been purged from the web, and Talent Technology Corporation is nowhere to be found online. (What does this tell us about HR Executive magazine?)

Tony Haley is a seasoned London headhunter who’s been watching these start-ups a long time. “You have people with little or no recruiting experience introducing new services and putting spin around them,” he explains, “about how they will improve the recruiting process without understanding it in the first place.”

Haley points to the real problem: HR executives who know nothing about recruiting, either. The recruiting services they turn to “match the misguided demand from employers that cheaper is better. These services encourage low-level, high-activity churn. It encourages more inexperienced people to go into recruiting — people who think they can make quick money. It drives down the quality of candidates and it hinders the speed of service.”

Referral recruiting

The main idea behind many online recruiting start-ups is “referral recruiting.” It’s simple: Recruiters suck at finding job candidates, so let’s find someone else to find job candidates, thus recruiters and employers can both avoid recruiting. We’ll introduce a cool new business model: Split the placement fee with anyone who touches the process.

I won’t waste your time with links, because most of them are dead, but the lsplit-feesandscape is littered with the corpses of brilliant, “award-winning” referral services:, KarmaOne, YorZ,,, and more.

When you get that call, you realize recruiters suck because the state-of-the-art in recruiting is not about recruiting. It’s about splitting recruiting fees while avoiding recruiting. And what of the employers that try out these services?

Says Haley, “Do they really think recruiters will do more for less? They will do less for less and the employers get what they pay for. Time spent working to fill jobs is minimized, which means quality is affected, speed of service slows down and the candidate experience is poor because no one really cares about the candidate. It’s all about the cost.”

Under this model, the recruiter who actually does the work is left with a tiny fraction of a fee. And you guessed it — this is how employers wind up working with really crappy recruiters, because the best ones don’t need help and aren’t going to share their fees. The intermediary “recruiting services” wind up pimping recruiters who can’t do the business themselves.

Scout Exchange

A representative from Scout Exchange ( tried to get me to write about this latest recruiting concept. I’ve included the URL in explicit form because the company’s mascot really is a dog. So they get their wish. The company charges employers to find recruiters who will find candidates to fill jobs.

Disintermediation, anyone?

I think what this tells us is that inept in-house personnel jockeys not only can’t recruit to find hires — they can’t find good recruiters. (Oops. We’ve inadvertently figured out why internal recruiters suck, too!)

Employers sign up for the service, which matches them with recruiters who sign up to share placement fees. Explained the rep: “Scout is an online platform that uses advanced data analytics and algorithms to find the best matches between specific job reqs from enterprise and specific third-party recruiters.”

(Note there’s no claim that anyone is matching workers to jobs. This is matching companies to recruiters. Recruiting recruiters. Do pimps have pimps?)

Tony Haley: “There are no advanced data analytics and algorithms that can account for human interaction, emotion and, therefore, decision making.” He took the words out of my mouth.

wild-dogWhen a job is filled after being “touched” by who knows how many parties, the employer pays a fee, which winds up shared by recruiters and Scout.

I was told: “Employers benefit from Scout’s bidding feature that allows recruiters to submit talent at the placement rates they feel are appropriate, often reducing agency costs for employers.”

This service encourages recruiters to fight like dogs for the right to have their throats slit by “clients” looking for bargains. When one of these recruiters calls you about a job, do you think they’re going to take time to act professionally? That’s the game.

Better yet, what do you think happens when a recruiter bids the lowest price? Does she bite the hand that feeds her?


My favorite new recruiting service is RecruitFi. The company’s Business Development Director pitched me to do a story about the company, and excitedly told me they have “gameified” recruiting. (It seems these firms spend a lot of time trying to get into blogs. Is that business development?) Like Scout, RecruitFi doesn’t improve recruiting in any way that I can see. The game is that it merely spreads around the fees employers pay. But they spread the fees farther.

Here’s how it was explained to me. Buckle in for some serious doubletalk. (I added the highlights):

“There is higher engagement with incentives, because we have a large pool it helps us keep recruiters motivated as we connect them with new clients. [sic] We want the highest quality candidates for clients and small rewards as recruiters do searches acts [sic] as an incentive to be in our community. We also pay the candidates which closes the loop of hiring conformation (as well as establishes the relationship with their recruiter and us).”

Read that part again: They pay the candidates!

I asked David Hines, an HR consultant with Human Capital Solutions, LLC, for his reaction. “This model will get 95% of back-bencher contingency recruiters to participate. The best 5% of recruiters would never play in this arena because it would quickly kill their reputations,” said Hines. “As for paying candidates… Unbelievable. I can’t believe that these idiots don’t see any ethical violations here.”

Here’s what I told the biz dev guy from RecruitFi:

“First, about 5% of independent recruiters/headhunters are really any good. The rest are fast-buck artists who will do anything to make a fee. That’s who your model will engage. ‘Engaging’ all of them is a waste of time and counter-productive. When all of them are chasing the same candidates, it pollutes the pool and makes it more difficult to hire the best people. (See Headhunters, Personnel Jockeys & Monkeys.)

razor“Second, the best headhunters will not invest their valuable time to get partial fees. They’ll go work on real assignments, where the client wants the best candidates and is willing to work closely with one headhunter – even if only on contingency — who will earn a full fee. Key here is the fact that you’re not lowering the fee the client is paying – just distributing it. There’s no benefit to the client. Having ‘more headhunters’ working on an assignment has never resulted in better searches or better placements.

“All your model does is encourage headhunters to slit one another’s throats for the benefit of working with you. You will wind up with a pool of poor or mediocre headhunters throwing all the spaghetti against the wall that they can – to make a few bucks. The best assignments and the best placements will be done by the best recruiters.”

The best recruiters don’t play games and have no competition

Does this explain why most recruiters you encounter suck so bad? The very recruiting industry now sucks, because the newest developments are not about recruiting — they’re about introducing more hands to grab at limited placement fees, and paying even more wild dogs to abuse job applicants. They’re even paying you when you accept a job! This is the business model venture capitalists like to fund — because they don’t understand recruiting, either.

Yes, it sucks. The trouble is, employers support these “innovations” which amount to little more than recruiting recruiters to do the work recruiters inside corporations aren’t doing.

Meanwhile, the best recruiters have no real competition. They don’t play “games” or dice up fees, or abuse job applicants. For more about how to distinguish the real recruiters from those dialing for dollars, check How to Work With Headhunters… and how to make headhunters work for you. Much of the book is about how to avoid recruiters that suck. The rest is about how to profit from the best.

Let’s hear about your experiences with recruiters that suck — and about those that don’t. And tell me whether you’ve encountered any clever new “recruiting services” that actually work to your advantage — whether you’re a job hunter or an employer or a recruiter.

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  1. Hi,

    I am a Dutch independent recruiter and I am trying not to suck. In general we have the same situation in Holland, poor quality recruitment. The cause is partly due to the hiring companies and due to the recruitment industry. There is too little focus on recruitment with the hiring companies and we (recruitment industry) accept no cure no pay (a stupid way to work), so we only go for ‘easy money’ which takes not a lot of time.

    I ask for a fee that is much less than ncnp, but covers my time. So I can give quality time to the candidate and hiring company. But most of the time it’s only ncnp, because that’s the market.

    I also don’t believe in new models/ apps that will change the recruitment market. Recruitment can’t be automated.

    PS the recruitment proces is a three way proces and responsability (company, recruiter, candidate). If a candidate takes his/her apllication serious, I will do too. If not, why should I? I’am sorry to say, but a lot of canidates suck too. (But not you :-))

    • Fellow Dutchie here: no cure no pay is not a stupid way to work. I want to pay for results, not for attempts. You are not paying a farmer for his time if they don’t deliver you the crops or the milk due to a bad harvest. I am not paying the mechanic for his time if he is unable to fix my bike: I only pay for the result.

  2. Nick, I’m a national recruiter based in the Twin Cities and we hear you! I was told a few months ago that everyone in company ABC loved me because, “she doesn’t suck”. Yup. Those words exactly. Every day I’m hearing from someone (mainly candidates) who are being lied to, presented without permission, told inaccurate information to the company about the candidate and are fed up.

    When I do coach people who aren’t working, I do my best to tell them to be careful with the automated automated systems. Luckily, many people have taken my advice and landed. Some, have already paid The Ladders before it’s too late.
    Why client companies don’t work more with small, dedicated recruitment firms like mine is beyond me. We actually do the work and aren’t trying to take the lazy way out. Automation helps with finding people in my database, but to do the job, I have to actually interview people, get to know them and share their gifts, skills and abilities with hiring managers who want that.

    As a firm without quotas, my pro bono work is dedicated to helping people navigate all of this and passing a great candidate onto an employer from time to time confidentially.

    After 18 years in business, it’s completely changed. Many giant companies want to work with giant search firms that have rookie recruiters slamming resumes into their system to make their quotas. Fortunately, I have clients, big and small, who see through those systems.

    The other component that Michiel brilliantly touched on is that there is pressure from hiring managers to bring a volume of resumes rather than that one, great candidate. This to me is also about education. Rookie recruiters don’t understand that they are helping their managers by telling them the truth. And telling candidates the truth that they don’t have a job for them.

    I think it’s coming down to coming clean on multiple fronts. And while I do think the dog logo on the new Scout system is cute, there is no way I’m going to be automatically matched with a company. That just doesn’t make sense to me. As usual, Nick, I’m riled up and excited to be the recruiter that doesn’t suck when I read your blog. Thanks!

  3. @Claudia

    ” This to me is also about education. Rookie recruiters don’t understand that they are helping their managers by telling them the truth. And telling candidates the truth that they don’t have a job for them.”

    I think this is the crux of the matter, in my dealings with recruiters. Even when they say “they have nothing,” it’s usually based on a quick parsing of a resume and maybe a couple of emails. How do you determine whether someone would be a good fit somewhere based on that?

  4. What I’m trying to figure out is why recruiters and HR exist at all.

    From what I can see, all they do is harass potential hires, babysit electronic paper shredders (ATS/applicant tracking systems), and pretend that they can find employees based on keywords and garbage psychology. (In most fields, the people who actually do the work are better at judging talent than paper pushers are.)

    Companies should make managers go out and meet people. Those are the potential hires.

    Without industry knowledge, intermediaries trying to hire with keywords and pop psychology is not too different from trying to find a husband by creating an OKCupid profile.
    Just post a fake picture (of an attractive woman) and fake profile, and then do the keyword match searches.

    In both online dating and ATSes you don’t find the mythical Prince Charming (“Sir Purple Squirrel of the Knights of the Round Acorn” in HR parlance?)from the keyword match searches and what you get in your inbox is a mixture of the good, bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately, because your standards say “never settle!”, the good ones are not identified because they are not 100% keyword matches (and won’t submit to your every whim)!

    All of this leads you to believe that ‘there’s got to me the one for me’ out there.. except ‘the princess’ doesn’t go out to find him…but don’t forget that, since you haven’t found Prince Charming yet, you must treat all other suitors like garbage.. because they aren’t a 100% keyword match!

    Sadly, there are hoards of worthy knights at the castle gate, but they cannot reach the hiring managers in person because there are moats and crocodiles chewing them up once they dare enter the castle to meet the hiring manager.

    If only the hiring manager (the princess in this awful, winding metaphor, I guess) could get out of the castle to meet these good knights…

  5. @Dave: There are two problems, but to understand the real problem you must follow the money. First, as you point out, recruiters fail to tell their clients the truth. Second, this new “easy, instant, cheaper, automated” recruiting industry lies to employers – who now expect low-cost services. When they get crappy service from crummy (or resentful) recruiters, they blame the “talent shortage.” (Yes, employers are incredibly stupid.) So they tell honest recruiters to bug off while they sign up with the likes of Scout to find the lowest form of recruiters at the lowest cost. Employers control the fees. As long as they’re primed to buy crud, the best recruiters will operate on the fringe, working with smart clients. Check Claudia’s astute comments about boutique firms above – that’s where the best of the biz is.

  6. I agree with the above comments. I heard an advertisement on the radio for Zip Recruiters. Their claim to recruiting fame is to post your job opening to 50 job boards and watch the qualified candidates roll in. Really–50 job boards?! Qualified candidates?!

  7. The original questioner has a worse problem:

    I am a 46-year-old woman who has been rendered 100% unemployable in the New Economy. I’d just like some help in understanding what’s going on.

    What’s going on is someone convinced you that you have no skills, no talent and nothing to offer anyone else on this planet that they’d be willing to pay you to do for them.

    The only way I’d agree that you’re “100% unemployable” is if you were Tommy, but since you were able to send an email, I know that isn’t true.

    • The original questioner is right on…as I am a 47 year old male who has ALSO been rendered 100% unemployable in the New Economy. I have more than 10 years experience in my field and although I limit my resume information to the past 8 years, its all worthless. My degree is also worthless. Talking to Apu is worthless as he wants more than 50% of my salary as his ‘fee’. Sending an email is worthless…get my point?!

  8. Driving every facet of recruitment down is the increasing prevalence of Indian recruiters in contract and FT employee positions–absolutely dominant in the IT field, increasingly strategic sourcing a/k/a purchasing and now polluting search for marketing/marketing communications.

    The typical pattern is either an H1-B’d if onshore, or an India-based screener who then sends out emails and/or calls based on what the ATS spits out for the job spec. They find people on the job boards such as CareerBuilder and Monster. These ‘recruiters’ usually do not have English as a primary language, their comprehension is low and they largely read from scripts. HR departments contract with them because they are cheap. Where your resume goes into is a corporate or third-party database which is then served up to corporate HR (often contractors) and then the hiring manager. So Nick’s point about HR abdicating their proper role in the hiring process is even worse than you might think!

    These ‘body shops’ also subcontract to each other. Typically you get two-three of these approaches. What’s oddly fun is on their calls, asking them the rate and for the same job getting three different numbers. Also pulling them off their scripts is good sport.

    Unfortunately even American owned firms get sucked into this because their corporate clients play the game. Major offenders are AT&T, Verizon–for starters.

    If you wind up contracting with one of these, be very careful of their contracts. They’ll put in all sorts of liability clauses and non-competes that are illegal or close to being so. Beware!

  9. @ Some guy: the ATS as electronic paper shredded, love it.

  10. Recruiters. Employers. The hiring process is broken from both sides.

    I’m glad that someone has already mentioned my (now) good friend, Apu the Indian Recruiter. I get far too many “urgent requirements” from Apu on a daily basis. Right now, if I’m left a voicemail that sounds like someone is talking into a Tin Can from the top of a Parsippany garbage dump, I just delete it.

    I get calls from “recruiters” every day. From every 100 inquiries I receive, I’d say that only ONE is worth following up on. For the inquiries worth following up on, I’d say that maybe one out of thirty is from an old-fashioned recruiter, who’s doing the best for her clients.

    It is now normal for a recruiter to not follow up when the hiring process has broken down, even if the breakdown is completely out of the recruiter’s control.

    Employers… It’s now normal for a recruiter to be searching for candidates with skill sets that have nothing to do with the actual jobs that are being hired for.

    There’s the Purple Squirrel problem. If you’re given the task of finding someone with 100 unique job skills & you find someone with 99 of those skills, that candidate isn’t qualified for the opening. It’s now normal to see job openings posted for over a year, because of the Purple Squirrel problem.

    If you manage to submit a candidate, there is no communication between the recruiter and the hiring manager. It’s now the norm for a hiring manager to not be briefed on a candidate for an initial interview.

    To that 46 year old… What you’re seeing is the new normal. It isn’t you.

  11. Bravo to the commentary on this incredibly important topic!
    @some guy, there is a huge need for recruiters. Think about it: we all are recruiters and recruit regularly beyond just for the job situation: to find a pair of shoes, a PC Support person, someone to build my website, someone to come with me to the Jackson Brown concert, someone to go golfing with, etc.
    A GREAT RECRUITER is someone that makes introductions. If someone asks me where I got my car, because they love it, or my outfit, etc. I SHARE. But I became so good at it that I decided I could probably make a living at it.
    Every candidate out there has to realize that the recruiters they are speaking with have quotas! If you work with a quota based company, you will be treated as such. Why do you think timeshare companies eventually get people to come to their presentations? It’s numbers.
    What you must do is be a good consumer. See what your recruiter can do for you and why. And if you don’t care – if you just want a body, or a job, any job…you’ll not get a great result.
    A great recruiter will tap you on the shoulder with a job that you may just want to look at because you wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for them. A great recruiter can help a company with a terrible reputation trying to turn it around, improve their branding IF they follow through. A great recruiter can give you great advice – FOR FREE.
    And a great recruiter will tell you the truth.

  12. Some recruiters are bad, some employers are bad, most candidates do not understand the process and think that a recruiter is responsible for getting them a job. That is a problem that is most easily fixed.

    Nick, looks like you have some good books to help candidates understand the search process and how to change careers. I hope candidates invest in your products, it would make them smarter, it would save many recruiters (those that SUCK and those that do not) lots of wasted time.

    I talk with candidates on a weekly basis about job searching and the role of a recruiter. I would say less than 10 percent of candidates understand the true role of a recruiter. They all mistakenly believe that recruiters take candidates and “promote the best ones to employers.” By the way, most candidates also believe that they can change from being billing or accounts payable administrators to being outside sales people by sending a resume to a recruiter that places sales people. The folks getting paid are searching our talent that is fully employed and moving that candidate from one full-time job to another. They are not just doing internet matches. And if you have ever been “headhunted” you know it is lots of work to get you to leave a good job for a better job.

    There is lots of blame to go around. Do some recruiters suck? You bet…big time! Do some employers suck? You bet! Are many candidates clueless (maybe that translates to sucks in your lingo)? They may not intend to be clueless but they are. They got fired, they have not held a position for more than 12 months in any of the last 10 years, they have resumes that are completely disconnected from the jobs they seek, yet recruiters should drop everything and find them a job.

    No system is perfect. When a good company, works with a good recruiter, and a good candidate gets placed, the system was effective. That happens about 500 times a year in our network. I wish it was more, but it is not easy work. It is hard work being performed by good people. Let’s not make everyone in any profession fall into the category of SUCKS.

    Again, hope people buy your books so there is less sucking and more understanding.

  13. OK. I’d like to add my 2 cents’ worth here as well, as I’ve recently joined the pool of “available experienced professionals” over 40, and have seen what today’s recruiters and their so called tools do for candidates.

    A HUGE 800 pound gorilla that is also extant here is one word: RISK. I was an aerospace risk lead on a number of multi-million dollar space hardware programs for over 16+ years. I know risk…

    Companies today (both high tech and not so high tech) are absolutely terrified to take ANY sort of risk. Not only does this apply to their core business, but also to hiring new employees.

    Gosh forbid that either the internal/outside HR “jockeys”, as Nick so affectionately refers to them, or the actual hiring manager(s), bring a person onboard who might not work out…

    If/when that occurs, the “guilty party” ends up with a HUGE black mark against them. What’s a company to do??? “Failure is not an option”, in the words of the late NASA flight director Chris Kraft…

    Simple. Design the job description to be 100 percent identical to either what the prior employee’s skills and experience were, or what the perfect (??) candidate would possess, and then automate the search process..!

    This way, no one is at fault if/when a new hire fails to work out. Why?? Simple. Either the position goes unfilled indefinitely (no decision, no chance to fail), or one can blame “the tool” and not any one person —— there just weren’t any truly “qualified” applicants out there that could be parsed by the algorithm..

    With that in mind, it’s a risk free business model insofar as the recruitment business goes. Anyone can simply use some parsing software program to downselect from a massive pool of applicants to a final few, providing a 1.0 correlation coefficient to the position requirements. Presto —– and no one involved in the selection is at risk!!

    Talk to candidates face to face? Hold recruitment events/open houses, or “fairs”?? Get off your backside and press some actual flesh? Naw. Too expensive, too slow, and too risky…

    • Chris Craft is still alive aqnd he never said thay. Anybody who embraces that mentality is inexperienced in the real world and I wouldn”t want them around in a real crisis. You are right about risk aversion but greed wins the day. Human nature sucks.

  14. Nick: Like most of your readers, I appreciate your comments immensely and could also rail for pages about the consistently low quality of recruiters. Claudia from the Twin Cities (one of those readers who seems to be in the high-quality minority) reminded me of a recent recruiter call I received in Minnesota that echoes this thread. Having determined that I met all of the position qualifications in depth for an interesting low-six figure job, the recruiter concluded that I was not among the “final 3” because I had spent so much time resurrecting and successfully redirecting failing or marginal companies. I said, “In other words, you’re looking for someone to occupy the chair without having a pulse? Why is the client looking at all? ” The recruiter was baffled by the question, of course. That job remains vacant after 6 months.

  15. For candidates, there is a simple solution to end harassment by sucky recruiters: stop dumping your resume into the swill pot (one of my favorite Nickisms,)er I mean uploading resumes to job board databases. Just opt out of the dysfunctional mess.

    One thing to remember about working with any 3rd party, be it headhunter, staffing agency whatever. Those will never be much help for anyone looking to change careers. Candidates are inventory for these companies. An employer calls a staffing company and says they need a warehouse manager. The company goes to their shelf to find a warehouse manager. No employer calls to say they need someone who could be trained to be a warehouse manager. Seems to me there’s a book out there that gives some great advice for career changers.

  16. Personal contact, hiring for talent and not skill, talent and not just personality…that’s how we used to hire them. And had ten year tenure (yes, that does sound kind of funny). @Steve thank you very much. @EclipseGuy – right- it’s as if it’s supposed to be some kind of science. Hiring talented people requires critical thinking and an ability to realize what you really need. Some companies want ‘A player’ personalities to do boring or career pausing work.
    The other thing that is happening is that companies won’t look at candidates from other sources than their ‘preferred vendor’ lists. This further perpetuates a lack of creativity. Thank you, Nick for continuing to bring this up. As for the 46 year old who’s thinking she’s “unemployable”. There is NO such thing. But if you’re unemployed you truly have to be your own recruiter. A friend recently was laid off and within three weeks, this person has had 7 interviews and will likely get at least one offer. All by being their own headhunter in a field where the salaries are less than $50k. It’s really hard to network when you’re working. Having a good recruiter by your side to make introductions can be valuable. My friend found non recruiters inside and outside companies and they played the role of recruiter which resulted in interviews. Everyone is employable. It just may take some time.

  17. Nic, I LOVE your posts! You are speaking a serious truth. When I went through a period of unemployment a few years ago, I dealt with various recruiters that left a bad taste in my mouth.

    One situation was so bad, that I spent time going through LinkedIn removing a handful of recruiters from my connections.

    Reading this post makes me think of a time when a recruitment firm contacted me because they saw my profile on LI. The first recruiter I chatted with was cordial and seemed to understand my industry. His boss, also the owner of the firm took over the rest of the process and got me an interview at a small tech firm.

    He told me that the hiring manager had spoken with people at my former employer and they all had good things to say. I never recalled giving him references, so in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “who did he speak to?”

    When I arrived at the company it was literally a ghost town, however after 1.5 years of unemployment, I was ready to begin working again. Situations were getting desperate.

    The interview went well and being the gullible, desperate job seeker, I thought I had my foot in the door. A day later the recruiter called to give me the bad news.

    The information provided in the feedback did not sound like my interview at all. I even asked if he was sure they were talking about me. Our perspectives were polar opposites.

    I was angry, felt belittled and decided to end the call. At this point I should have let it go, but I couldn’t. Something was off.

    I reached out to the hiring manager at the tech firm to thank him for his time and ask about him contacting people at our former employer.

    Five minutes later, he sent an email profusely apologizing and stated that he would never, ever do something that. It was then I realized recruiter was FOS. I think the hiring manager was just as shocked that the recruiter lied about him.

    I was still out of a job, but it was a blessing in disguise. Had I got the job I would have been laid off 4 months later. The company folded because the couldn’t pay their bills.

  18. First of all I hope the questioner this week realizes that her age is not an issue. Forty- something is still relatively young with an average of 18-25 years left in the workforce IF they choose to retire at 65. Get that negative belief out of your head. If you’re “done” at forty six, then that means the train of logic is to get hunkered down into a job by 40, stay there forever and die. Then that means if your industry may be low growth or phases out while you’re there in your forties you’re up poo creek. Ridiculous!

    Second, as always, the intelligent commentary from Nick and the commenter’s always drives the facts home. I hope she realizes that people hire people. It’s as simple as that. My job was acquired because someone from the organization I now work for noticed and realized my professional demeanor and character, and went to bat for me for my present job after meeting with me for just one hour. I now ironically transition people back into the workforce which is one of the stipulations of my duties. It is a government job and I love it!

    My advice for you is to check with your local and state workforce agencies and see if you qualify for job training programs to get you into a well paying high growth industry. These programs help people up to age 60. So trust me when I think you are not assessing your age “barrier” correctly. Nick told you right that you’re just around bad apples.

    One more thing, go to industry related trade shows of interest, do meetups. And by golly, go where people connect in person at venues of interest ! You’ll be surprised at how valuable these interactions are!

    Good stuff Nick!

  19. Hi, Nick.

    Great article, as always. In light of this reaffirmation that most recruiters suck, what should one do when a recruiter emails?

    I get contacted a couple times a month from recruiters on LinkedIn with specific opportunities in my field. Nothing has come up in the past couple of years that has interested me, but all of the advice I’ve been given about interacting with recruiters is that I should try to help them in any way I can. I always try to socialize their opportunities among the relevant people within my own network.

    Am I wasting my time? Are all of the recruiters who contact me on LinkedIn worthless (professionally speaking)? I am still an individual contributor, so I assume that I’m not senior enough to be contacted by a “decent” recruiter.

    Maybe at some point you might consider doing a blog post on how to respond to recruiters in this situation (if you haven’t already–I’ve read lots of the archives, but not everything).

    Thanks for your content–it’s awesome!

  20. Hi, Justin – I’d like to offer a suggestion since this post is a topic that I’m passionate about. I don’t know what field you’re in, but regardless, if a recruiter contacts you about a position remember that they may be trying to meet a quota. Find out what firm they are with and do a little research on LinkedIn to see if they have any recommendations from candidates or clients.

    See if they will have an exploratory phone conversation with you — before you send your resume. And don’t send your resume if anything is uncomfortable.
    See if they can tell you more about their client, the location, the stuff outside of a job description. And if they aren’t generous enough with their time to share that with you, run for the hills:-)
    There are plenty of good recruiters out here, and the bulk of what many of us do are the “individual contributor” roles. So be a good consumer as I referenced earlier. And let’s see what else Nick has to say.

  21. Thanks for the response, Claudia! My dilemma has been what do I do with opportunities that I’m NOT interested in? 90% of the time, recruiters contact me for lateral moves, and I’m just not interested in switching companies for a lateral move (at the moment). Should candidates invest the time and energy in getting to know the recruiter even when it’s not the right opportunity?

  22. Recruiters, Talent Acquisition, HR Suck so hard in America, that after 5 years of being unemployed/underemployed – I left America. I was hired within two weeks of arriving in Korea; I have several side line projects to keep me busy, and I have an active and happy social life.
    NONE of which were evident in America for years.

    When you fail at home, don’t be afraid to succeed overseas.
    Get on that Plane, Get out. Life is better here.
    (It helps to have a foreign language – and I do)

  23. Recruiters that ask where I work(!!!), because they are “too busy” to spend two minutes on the LinkedIn profile. Recruiters that suggest irrelevant places, sectors or jobs I am totally unqualified for…

    I have got cold calls from, I think, seven different recruiters that all try to recruit me to “X Petroleum”. It usually goes like this:

    Phone number starting with +44 calls…

    – Hi, Karsten speaking.

    – Hi, this is Some Guy calling from London [and speaking very fast from a crib sheet]. I represent Recruiting Company With Long And Posh Sounding Name. We are a specialised Company that recruit the best people for international oil and energy companies. I was referred to you by Someone I Will Refuse To Disclose, and wondered if you might be interested in a position with a very well funded upstart oil comapny that has recently got acreage in Norway and Other Places, and the compensation package will be very good and…

    – Hold on your boiler plate talk for a second. I assume you referr to X Petroleum?

    – How could you know?

    – Because I know the Norwegian oil industr much better than you, and because you are the seventh recruiter from as many firms that calls me about it, all delivering fast boiler late speak. So I have some boiler plate for you as well:

    Firstly, I do not want to change jobs.

    Secondly, if and when, I will simply pick up the phone to my industry network. My knowledge about the Norwegian oil industry is much larger than yours. I do not need you, you are a redundant friction cost.

    Thirdly, the fact that you are just one of many cold callers tells me that you just want my resume to spam to the company. You have really no integrity.

    – …Er, it is OK if you are not interested, but are there anyone you know that may be interested?

    – In such case I will refer them directly. No need for the friction cost to go through a person I know nothing about. Sorry, bye.

    (By the way, the reason X Petroleum has trouble getting people is that they are clueless about the Norwegian oil industry…)

    Anyone that knows why the British recruiting industry is soaked with these types?

  24. @Dave Nerz…With all due respect and not confrontational just curious, you stated, “the folks getting paid is searching our talent that is fully employed and moving that candidate from one full time job to another…” That right there is bothering me.

    This ideology is promoting one of the issues we have in the workforce of America today that I get to see everyday on my job. Good, honest eager to learn and adaptable people who are out of a job ( usually through no fault of their own) get shafted out of jobs because someone ALREADY employed gets it over them. Huh? So just because jerk is employed in IT, gets a job over nice IT Bob who is more courteous yet unemployed gets the brush off.

    I guess this perpetuates our non chalance to keep using unprecedented tax dollars to pay nice Bob unemployment and pay for programs to allow him to survive instead of giving him the opportunity to make a real living by giving him a job he is qualified for that would add back to the economy in a more meaningful way…hmmmmmmm…

  25. @Claudia: Thanks for discussing how really good headhunters work. Courtesy referrals, helping employers fix bad reps, coaching candidates, contributing to the professional community. It’s what the best ones do, and it’s why the rest aren’t worth responding to. Cattle calls seek cattle, not people. Just say no. But get to know the best recruiters in your field and stay in touch by offering useful info and good referrals to them. They will remember you. But don’t expect them to find you a job when you need it desperately – that’s just not THEIR job.

    @Dave Nerz: All good points. Candidates do indeed have unreasonable expectations. But it’s employers and recruiters that have created those expectations by acting like they really, really want to hear from EVERY job hunter ALL the time. Desperate recruiters who don’t know what they’re doing rely on “the numbers” – and as a result, they treat people like crap because no one can handle those kinds of numbers professionally. The biz has brainwashed job seekers, who need to educate themselves and get over it.

  26. @Eclipse Guy: I’m still laffing at your indictment of employers. Great post!

    @Ken: What a story. It’s no as uncommon as you might think. Some “recruiters” will tell the hiring manager about the candidate’s “great references” without checking any. Trying to pump up the candidate with make-believe is another common ruse, as you’ve experienced. What people need to realize is that the fee to fill a job can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The sleazier the recruiter, the greater the tendency to lie to get the bucks. Walk with eyes wide open, and ask lots of questions. My compliments for doing the unthinkable and CALLING THE MANAGER yourself.

  27. On the topic of lazy recruiters I received two mass distributed emails from a recruiter at large recruiting firm yesterday (I was blind copied so can’t tell how many people she sent it to). The emails contained no job description and not even a hint of what type of company the position might be at. It only said her client looking for a VP Finance with experience at companies with under $500K revenue, an international background, VP level experience, stability on their resume, and manufacturing experience is a plus. She requested that anyone with this experience send their resume directly to her.

    The way this recruiter got my email address is that they already have my resume in their database. The above qualifications would be very easy to spot with only a brief scan of the resumes of the people in her email distribution yet she was too lazy to even do that! I have to wonder how she managed to impress her client. One would think if you were paying a recruiter to find a VP level candidate you would expect them to go to a bit more effort than mass email everyone in their database. Of course she will get a hundred or more resumes and slim change she will respond to or acknowledge most of them.

  28. If the mark of a good recruiter is being able to search out great candidates by various means, why would anyone be interested in a recruiter who is unable to search out clients for him or herself?

  29. @Scott: “If the mark of a good recruiter is being able to search out great candidates by various means, why would anyone be interested in a recruiter who is unable to search out clients for him or herself?”

    AMEN, BROTHER! These parasitic “meta-recruiters” are recruiting recruiters to recruit job applicants for recruiters that can’t recruit!

  30. The whole idea of swimming in a new blue ocean, instead of with the sharks, is where the action is. I liked the book, was it called, “Blue Ocean Strategy?”

    You are right, we cannot swim with the sharks.

  31. Good recruiters/headhunter, are consistently good networkers, which is primarily why they are good. They invest a lot of time on their network, building and maintaining it.
    I think the writer would have been closer to the mark if she said the recruiting process/supply chain sucks.
    The process is not all about recruiters or HR, it ultimately includes the hiring managers…who just like the recruiting community suck in equal proportions. That is, Good hiring managers also are good networkers.
    And good recruiters and good hiring managers inhabit each others networks via trusting relationships.
    That’s why a good recruiter isn’t BSing anyone when they say they have valuable contacts and they have found good candidates AND hiring managers via their networks. The ultimate measure of a good, confident and ethical headhunter is that they are in a position to not only screen out bad candidates, but bad clients. They can, and do fire clients on both sides of the equation.
    The discussion didn’t touch on the middle ground. Unless you are spectacularly lucky, you don’t usually become good overnight. It takes time and effort. So there’s a middle ground of people, recruiters, managers, HR people and candidates who are trying to do the right thing, but haven’t quite made it. What stops you? Often environment. Working in a metric driven recruiting agency with a boiler work model who insist you play a #’s game. # of calls, # of interviews and bleed you dry of the time to do quality network and relationship building that will make you good. Or hiring managers in companies that micro manage your hires with useless criteria that hobble your network (the “requires” degree, gazillion years of experience, work for food).
    The good people persist and overcome the things that block what their guts and common sense tells them is the right thing to do.
    As Nick said, anyone can set up shop and declare they are a recruiter. If the jerks can do it, there’s no rule that says a job hunter can’t. I don’t mean be a recruiter vocationally (you can..but you may want to think about that a lot), I mean…be your own recruiter for your job search. Cut to the chase. Make your own calls, get out there and meeting people…target companies to explore, managers to meet etc. Learn to do that for your career, not to tire kick for the next job. Set out to understand what makes a recruiter be a good recruiter, and imitate it and don’t stop.

  32. @ Don.

    Good point you make! It’s indeed the system that sucks. To change that takes a cultural change and that is only possible when a lot of people are unhappy with the current system. If you read all the comments, maybe this Is the time. ‘I have a dream’ by NC?

    PS Like Don said there are good recruiters out there. They are easy to recognize, because they know what they are talking about. Honesty is the keyword here.

  33. The next-to-last question the 46-year old woman asked was, “Are recruiters truly incapable of providing real feedback?”

    Well, while some would like to, corporate policy has instructed them to not do so. You can thank a litigious climate for that.

    Incidentally, that’s also why some recruiters decide to strike out on their own. Although it is easy for anyone to set up shop as described here, some actually want to bring back the “human” part of HR. This differentiates them from the rest of the field.

  34. Nick amazing stuff here. Something I have wanted to see for some time now. There are so few people giving us the real truth when it comes to the hiring process. So my thoughts: ATS = Automation = laziness = I don’t want to be held responsible so I will let the machine do my job for me = no risk. Loved the summary of failed attempts on internet recruiting. BUT, now we have a bunch of internet thieves perfecting the best way to get you hooked with their systems that really don’t do anything of value for you. The new business of big data is to part you from your personal information with the promise that you will be helped somehow. Don’t buy it folks. They find ways to make money off you in amazingly small pieces. And if you think that is bad wait for your “social relevance” score to be mentioned in your next interview.

  35. Nick, thanks for another excellent article and advice.

    I think the problem is systemic, and the whole hiring process itself is broken. It is so screwed up that focusing on one part of it (headhunters and recruiters), while truly useful as a matter of shining a light on it so we don’t get sucked into it (or worse, blame ourselves), won’t fix it. The system needs to be fixed, and unfortunately I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon. Employers complain, but I think they secretly like it this way; if they really didn’t like it, they’d do something about it, and I don’t mean jumping on the ATS bandwagon. It is easier to let a computer (which does not think) do your hiring, and if that doesn’t work, then you howl indignantly about the “talent shortage”. There are still too many unemployed and underemployed people with experience, and it is still the employers’ market, so there is no incentive to change.

    One of my alma maters had posted a job that I thought I could do, but they’ve completely outsourced the hiring process to a firm in Texas. I don’t know who they are (I suspect recruiters/headhunters), but I had heard grumbling that they were not happy with the candidates. I asked why the college isn’t doing the hiring themselves–does a firm so far away really know what you/the college, your mission, your goals, the staff and faculty, the students, the alumnae, and will they be able to pick candidates who will fit and be able to work with staff already there, who will be a good fit for the campus community? It doesn’t mean the TX firm can’t do it, but I would think that letting the faculty and staff do the hiring would make more sense. This firm will not take calls or emails re the jobs.

    I’m sure that there are times when it makes sense to have a third party do the hiring, but I just don’t get the outsourcing part, nor the secrecy.

    Shady recruiters are a problem, but they wouldn’t exist if employers didn’t abrogate the hiring responsibility. And they’ll continue to muck up the system until employers take back control of the hiring process–kill their ATS, get out and start talking to people, and don’t rely on computers and snake oil salesmen to do the hiring.

    @Nick: I’ve saved this week’s article and the comments and am showing them to my folks. Only last week, during a visit, my folks asked me why I didn’t “just hire a headhunter or a recruiter” since I am such a loser at getting a job. I tried to explain that I, as a job seeker, can’t hire a headhunter or a recruiter because that isn’t the way the system works, that employers hire them to find candidates. They didn’t believe me, so I am showing them this article. They reminded me that my brother used a headhunter, and I reminded them that this means he was contacted by a headhunter (another story about a shady, unethical headhunter that had a bad ending), that it had ended badly for my brother (they forgot that part)–he didn’t hire the headhunter.

  36. One more point–I think the letter writer’s comment re her age and skills just reflects how discouraged she is with the whole system–like me, like many of us. Age discrimination is alive and thriving in this economy. She’s got plenty of experience, but is finding that no one wants an “older” worker, probably because while they want the experience she would bring, they don’t want to pay her for it. They want to hire experienced workers but pay entry-level wages.

    I know, I know, Nick, this is another issue and another column for another day.

  37. Nick,

    I understand where you are coming from. As a recruiter I have seen lazy recruiters and even in the military recruiting is losing the art of recruiting. I would like to think that I am a 1%er recruiter, what advice would you give to someone like me so that we can standout to hiring managers when we are looking for a job as an in-house recruiter?

  38. Hi all, I’m the OP here (sheesh, I skip one week and I miss my own letter?) — 46yo woman, and yes, I am permanently unemployable — the NYT even did an article that confirms it, “Unemployed? You May Never Work Again.” Firstly, I am/was a graphic designer — 20 years ago my first design instructor told the class “when you turn 40 you can forget about working in this field.” So there’s that. I also chose a horrible city, Boston — nothing but cronyism and incompetence around here unless you’re in STEM. I’ve been searching/applying nationwide but because I have now been unemployed for more than 6 months, no one will even look at me. That I am unemployed IS THE REASON I AM UNEMPLOYED makes no sense whatsoever to me, but this is the new reality.

    I knew I had picked a risky field, but I thought certainly I could always fall back on my business degree and early office experience — combined with my recent design career (totaling 27 years of work experience), how could that not translate into a good job??? Well, after hundreds of resumes/applications/rejections, here I am losing my home and preparing to move into my mom’s basement (the only other thing I can think of is whether there’s some sort of secret hiring “blacklist” that I’m on???). Heck, I even sunk low enough to apply for minimum wage shelf stocker at Target — and was rejected! Where do you go when you’ve been rejected by Target?

    To address a few direct comments above:
    “What’s going on is someone convinced you that you have no skills, no talent and nothing to offer anyone else on this planet / As for the 46 year old who’s thinking she’s “unemployable”. There is NO such thing.”

    I really don’t want to get into an argument about whose reality is “real,” if you’re doing fine post-recession I’m glad for you, but you’d better hope you never lose your job because you could find yourselves in the same boat.

    “To that 46 year old… What you’re seeing is the new normal. It isn’t you.”

    Thanks, I figured as much, I’ve met many poor souls like myself both at meet-ups and online, I know what we are going through is very real — the scary thing is, I don’t see it changing.

    “My advice for you is to check with your local and state workforce agencies and see if you qualify for job training programs to get you into a well paying high growth industry. These programs help people up to age 60. So trust me when I think you are not assessing your age “barrier” correctly.”

    I know everyone means wells, but seriously, I’ve tried everything including going to my “state workforce agency” (the one-stop career center). A complete joke. The best they’ll offer you is to find you training (not free) for something crappy like medical billing that pays a salary closer to what I earned in 1992 ($12/hr) — you can only manage on such a low salary if you have a spouse and kids to help pay your bills. I have neither.

    “After 5 years of being unemployed/underemployed – I left America. I was hired within two weeks of arriving in Korea; I have several side line projects to keep me busy, and I have an active and happy social life. NONE of which were evident in America for years. When you fail at home, don’t be afraid to succeed overseas. Get on that Plane, Get out. Life is better here.”

    Thank you for reaffirming what I’ve decided to do. I attempted to find work overseas but was hit with the whole work permit issue (how did you manage to get one?). After sinking seriously low (I had indeed planned to end my life come September) I enrolled in a TEFL certification course. If all goes well, I will be heading overseas to teach English. In other words, to have a career, to have a job, to avoid poverty, I have to emigrate in the opposite direction as my mother 46 years ago (she left former Yugoslavia for a better life). I’d call this whole situation an EPIC FAIL on America, but that’s for another discussion…

    “Good, honest eager to learn and adaptable people who are out of a job (usually through no fault of their own) get shafted out of jobs because someone ALREADY employed gets it over them. Huh? So just because jerk is employed in IT, gets a job over nice IT Bob who is more courteous yet unemployed gets the brush off.”

    ^This^ has been proven a number of times (again, see NYT article), companies automatically reject the unemployed. There was even some guy in NJ who posted “only apply if you’re employed.”

    This whole thing still seems like a crazy Twilight Zone ep, this is certainly not the future I was promised, I was not warned that I would be unemployable at 46, but that’s what the job market is telling me (I believe we’ll sort of be a “lost fragment” of society, too old for a decent job but too young to retire, we’ll just silently disappear). I’ve begun compiling all my crazy job hunting stories in my tumblr blog, and hope to continue writing about this if/when I get that TEFL certification and head overseas. I’ll most likely end up in China — how crazy is that, I have to go to China for a job because America couldn’t offer me one???

    Nick, recall story #3 that I included in my msg? Well, I got contacted by yet another recruiter (that would be a THIRD one) about that same job — this is two full months after the job was posted, and it’s been empty this whole time…I emailed the guy who submitted me, asking rather irately just what the heck is going on, he emailed back not really knowing what to say but he did say “clearly the hiring manager just doesn’t know what he’s looking for.” I think that pretty much sums up what’s going on here.

  39. D Marie,

    I’m the guy that told you: “Welcome to the new normal.”

    I have been out of work for a few years.

    I live in Boston. I’ve inherited a home where the Marathon Bomber was chased from house to house. Since I now own a home in Boston, I finally relented and started looking for work in Boston about a year ago.

    Looking for work in Boston is one of the worst mistakes I’ve made in the past few years.

    You’ll find that people looking for STEM openings in Boston are having the same experience you are.

    Let me give you an example:

    For a moment, suppose I could play TinkerBell and with a little pixie dust, I could turn you into a solid mid-level iPhone (iOS) developer that has graphics skills to develop user interfaces.

    Because you’re only a solid mid-level iOS developer, you’re unqualified for any of the iOS positions available in the Boston area today. Only iOS expert developers need apply.

    I picked iOS because it’s one of the hottest in-demand skills right now & recruiters can’t find candidates. I’m willing to bet at least one recruiter will read this response and will be shocked that you’d be turned down for iOS work.

    This is the reality of the Boston job market. Companies are hiring if you meet their ridiculous list of requirements, then they’ll offer peanuts as pay.

    You are far from alone in having difficulty finding work in Boston.

    If I were you, I start looking for a positions further & further away from Boston. Even if you had to work out some temporary arrangement, just to get your confidence back.

  40. Hi Bob, that’s a good observation about the whole mobile app field. The problem is, that’s a two person job, designer and programmer. Not many programmers can design well, and not all designers can or want to code all day; I fall into the latter group, but I am confident that I could design mobile/iOS interfaces as a member of a team that includes programmers. But of course companies want one person to do both. A few months ago I applied for a design job that included mobile interface design but it explicitly said ‘no programming required,’ they worded it like they really wanted a traditional graphic designer. Well, the recruiter immediately contacted me saying my background looks like a great fit and we chatted on the phone. He had my resume, he saw my portfolio, so he knew my skill set, yet he still asked “do you have any mobile experience?” Now, if I did, why would I leave that off my resume? Or did he even read my resume at all? He ended the call by telling me “sorry, this job isn’t going to be a fit, you’ve got too many gaps in your skills.” I wanted to tell him off — he knew before the call what my skill set was, did he call me just to insult me? Skills gap my foot, this guy has a reality gap.

    I applied for a design job which showed up on Indeed and led me to their online application. The next day the job was posted on one of the design job boards, so I applied there as well, hoping to get noticed. I got an email from the HR jerk saying “thank you for submitting your resume. Please fill out an online application at our website.” And that was it. In other words, “here’s a link, now quit bothering me.” I replied back stating that I look forward to hearing back from them because I had worked on many projects for them while at my old design company (they were a huge client of ours). Did he even respond to that? Nope.

    I wish I had acknowledged that this city was no good years ago, now it’s too late. I’ve applied all over the country but no company will look at me even though I state I don’t require relocation assistance and can start work immediately. Being unemployed for more than 6 months is the kiss of death.

  41. @Travis: “what advice would you give to someone like me so that we can standout to hiring managers when we are looking for a job as an in-house recruiter?”

    In most companies, hiring managers have nothing to say about who is hired to recruit. It doesn’t take much thinking to realize how wrong that is. So your question is actually very important – but it presumes that you’ll have a chance to talk with hiring managers for whom you will be recruiting people.

    I think the single best thing you can do as a recruiter is to embed yourself in the hiring manager’s team. Spend as much time as you can with them. Learn their business, their style, their strengths and weaknesses – or you will never understand how you can help them. I wish you the best.

  42. @Justin W.: “Should candidates invest the time and energy in getting to know the recruiter even when it’s not the right opportunity?”

    Yes, but only if in your judgment the recruiter is worth getting to know. Sometimes that’s quickly apparent. If you really want to score points, recommend some potential candidates for the position you’re not interested in.

  43. @Justin – sorry – I took a couple of days away, and wanted to respond directly to your question. I agree with Nick’s answer to you. I think that it’s important to establish some relationships with good recruiters, provide them with your very specific criteria, be sure they will keep your resume in confidence. If we have your resume in our database and can make notes, then, when a job that may be right appears, we can contact you. In some cases it can be years. I hope that is helpful.
    @Nick – there are many hiring managers that actually want to work with me – but HR doesn’t want to work with any outside recruiters. It’s been a problem for years.

  44. @D Marie: you’re not alone, and what you’ve experienced isn’t limited to your industry nor even to your area/location. My SIL went to school to be a graphic artist. She had steady employment through the late 90’s, then the company she worked for started treating their employees badly, so she quit and started free-lancing. When she and my brother got married, then decided to start their family, she stopped working (except for very small projects that wouldn’t interfere with her childcare and childrearing duties), planning to return to work full time when her youngest started school full time. That was two years ago, and she found, that having been virtually unemployed for 11 years and with the job market being what it was, there were no jobs. My brother was livid because he had been the sole wage earner for a long time and they could use even a part time second income. She started looking for work when kids started school, got discouraged within a month and gave up. The other challenge for her is the kids (I have a 10 year old nephew and 8 year old niece) and their schedules. Both kids take the bus, but the bus will not drop off kids unless mom is home to greet them. After school programs are terribly expensive (multiply that cost times two), so she would have had to find a full time job that allowed her to be out no later than 2 pm so she could be home by 2:30 when the bus dropped off the kids. That doesn’t even take into account curriculum days (half days), school vacations, and more when she would have to scramble to find someone to watch the kids or pay dearly for camps and programs while she is at work. It is a real challenge. The free-lancing jobs she had prior to getting pregnant and before the kids went to school have all dried up. She had one client, a textbook publisher, that hired her to illustrate a couple of their textbooks every year, and now that’s gone. The publisher has decided it doesn’t need new illustrations every year. Other clients have decided, rather than hire her, to turn any jobs over to someone in-house, and others have eliminated illustrations entirely. My SIL is a little younger than you, and the market isn’t kind to her despite her portfolio and references. She is taking some classes (one per year) at UMass/Lowell (where my brother works) because they’re free (perq of having a spouse who works there) in website design, and hopes this will translate into a new career for her. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that at all of job hunting meetings I’ve attended for alumnae of my college, many of the older women have flocked to that field because it is flexible (especially for those who still have children at home, a husband to take care of, and/or elderly parents and in-laws to take care of) and not a single one of them has gotten a job. More than a few expressed frustration and disappointment that the classes they took did not lead to employment. Sure, it is a useful skill, but it seems, at least in this area, that employers aren’t hiring people solely to design their websites or to update/fix their websites. My SIL says the same thing about the Boston job market, although her BIL, a sound engineer, has not had any trouble getting work. But he’s younger than her by more than 10 years, and I really think that age discrimination is a big part of the problem. I don’t know why “young” is preferred to experience.

    To those employers who only want young, hip employees, I am going to remind you that no one escapes getting older, not even Dorian Gray. The question should be “can he do the job?” not “how old is he?”.

    Nick has given us some excellent advice, as have the posters here. A recruiter who doesn’t want to talk to you, to meet with you, who doesn’t want to read your portfolio and who instead relies upon keywords and college graduation dates isn’t a real recruiter.

    The problem with being “older” is that it may be too late to return to school for a degree or training in something else, especially if by the time you finish, you’ll be 50.

    It isn’t just the tech industry either. I was out of work for nearly two years, and now am underemployed (part time). It is better than being unemployed, but still discouraging. I can see how broken the whole system is, and no one seems to want to do anything about it. Hiring managers abrogate their responsibilities to HR, HR is completely disengaged from the process because not only do they not know about the jobs they’re looking to fill, they have turned over the process to computers and ATSes to make the decisions for them, then employers complain that there’s a talent shortage because no one matches their job descriptions. No one seems to be willing to hire the 80% candidate and train him in the other 20%. I’ve seen the job descriptions that state that the unemployed will not be considered. How dumb is that if the unemployed person has only been out of work for a week (can skills really atrophy that fast in a mere week) and he has the skills they need?

    The other part of the problem is pay scales. Many employers are looking for the cheapest workers; I’ve seen job descriptions listing 28+ specs (all requirements, not preferences), 5-8 years experience required, but the pay is $8.00 per hour. Oh, and they want a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as well, plus internship experience.

    If this were just a few employers in a select industry, I’d say they were on Fantasy Island, but it is across many fields/industries and not limited to the Boston area.

    D Marie: chin up, keep looking, reach out to your family, friends, former colleagues, alumni association, etc. and hang in there. I got my part time job through a connection–an acquaintance I’d met years ago at the gym I use. There was a vacancy, and she talked me up to the head of circulation at the library where I now work. Sure, I wish it were full time, that it paid more and came with benefits, but in the meantime, I’m grateful for even a part time job. It could be much worse. My personal connection helped me get through and get a job, and I didn’t fill out an application until after I was hired (and this for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), so the “everyone has to fill out an online application or download their résumé” is bunk. If the manager wants to hire you, you’ll be hired.

  45. If you hadn’t provided a link for I would have thought it was a joke! It’s no wonder the people I work with on a day to day basis have such a hard time getting into jobs.

    Part of my job fits into this whole mess of employers hiring recruiters to hire recruiters. I work for a non-profit organization funded partially by the state and federal governments to assist employers in acquiring a good workforce. How does that work? We have a small network of liaisons that work directly with the businesses (if they allow it) to find out their employment needs. Those liaisons then go to a skeleton crew of career advisers to see if we have found anyone fit for the position. If we feel comfortable with a job seeker, we can present them to the liaison. If the liaison likes our referral, they can refer them to the employer. We provide other educational services too but they inevitably lead to the above process if the job seeker is committed.

    The good part is that it encourages networking in the job seeking community, educates the workforce on how to get face-time with a hiring manager, and it’s completely free to everyone. The bad part is that it still revolves around resumes and cover letters and, frequently, horribly designed online application processes.

    Every state has an organization like this but they go by different names. In Michigan, it is called Michigan Works. They are broadly referred to as “onestops” because they house a large selection of public services under one roof for efficiency and convenience.

    I strongly recommend visiting your local Onestop if you are having a hard time getting employed. I’m not savvy on how they are structured outside of Michigan but it can’t hurt to check yours out and see what free services they have to offer.

  46. @Claudia:

    “there are many hiring managers that actually want to work with me – but HR doesn’t want to work with any outside recruiters. It’s been a problem for years.”

    We’ve all faced that problem. I’m happy to say that I’ve had many managers work with me anyway, and they made HR pay me – because hiring was a top priority and HR was an administrative function that never trumped management. Next time, suggest to the manager that he or she get clearance from THEIR boss to spend the money ANYWAY. It works sometimes :-). HR gets p-o’d, but so what? It’s nice to win one.

  47. Thanks for responding, marybeth. I’ve pretty much accepted that my career is over — that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it or that I don’t cry every single day. I am now putting all my hopes and efforts into making this TEFL thing a success (my life literally depends on it). Everyone has been incredibly supportive of this (except my mother — can’t blame her, she has to watch her only child disappear to the other side of the world), and they mean well when their reaction to my whole sad story is “oh but that sounds really exciting!” but it just irks me, because there’s nothing “exciting” about losing my home and having to leave my family and my 3 cats behind and head off to who-knows-where to start all over with nothing because my only alternative is minimum wage at Walmart. And I have made a Scarlett O’Hara-type vow that I will never apply for minimum wage work again — recall I was rejected by Target…I think I’m going to compile all these crazy stories I’ve amassed into a book, call it “Rejected by Target” or maybe “Rejected by America,” I’m going to continue writing about this, I want the world to know how this system failed me. I want people to read this and just agree that there is something seriously wrong with this picture.

    “I’ve seen job descriptions listing 28+ specs”–

    There’s currently a design job circulating through the job boards for a contract gig at MIT-Lincoln Lab via some recruitment firm. The job description has 54 bullet points:

    This job was first posted over a month ago, and I foolishly applied, because I do indeed meet all 54 bulleted requirements, but I guess that’s not good enough. Which makes me wonder, is this just a joke job? Seriously, what’s their game here? I interviewed there back in March for a similar job (thought the two-hour interview went perfectly, but at the end he let it slip that “we’re also considering an internal candidate,” which means it was a waste of my time). If these people were smart they’d have contacted me about this job and ask me if I’m still available. Instead they keep posting it over and over on StinkedIn, where it says they’ve got 50 applicants — so out of 50 applicants not one was qualified? Gee, they clearly need to add more bullet points to that description, because 54 ain’t enough!

    I had two calls yesterday with two separate recruiters, both offering me the world, the first one sounded half my age (typical) and had the audacity to ask if she can speak to my references (I flat out said NO, you’ll get my references when your client is ready to offer me a job). The second one swears he’ll be the one to find me a job and that he’ll get back to me by tomorrow with feedback from his client. I already know how this is going to go down: he’ll email me saying “my client has decided to pass on your candidacy and focus on others who are more qualified (again, how is that “feedback?”) but I’ll keep looking for positions that better match your background.” Well, gee, I thought this job matched my background…? $10 says I never hear from him again.

    There was the interview I had with some inexperienced inept girl who couldn’t have been more than 22 years old, couldn’t barely hold a sentence together, she didn’t even know that at the end of the interview you’re supposed to shake your hand and thank you for coming in and provide you with follow-up info — she literally just walked away from me without a word! I went after her and held out my hand just to show her how it’s done. I almost felt sorry for her — but these are the idiots in charge these days…

    I could go on and on.

    My mom keeps saying in her better moods “maybe you can go do this ‘teaching overseas’ thing for a few years and when things improve here you can come back and get a real job.” That would be nice, but is there any chance of anything improving here? I’ll be 50 by then, who’s going to hire me when they wouldn’t hire me at 46? That’s what sad about this, if I leave I don’t see ever coming back (I’m certainly not coming back for minimum wage at Walmart!). Don’t even get me started on the tumbling salaries. I signed up with my old temp agency (another act of desperation), the last time I worked for them was back in 1997 for $17.50/hour. They called me last month with an almost identical gig, for $18/hour. !!!!! And they just posted a job that pays even worse: $11.80/hour. That’s even less than what I earned as a secretary back in 1992!!!!!

    Thanks for letting me vent, everyone.

  48. @ D Marie
    I’ve been watching this discussion with interest and would like to make a couple of more points. Some context. I just turned 75. I lost my 1st mainstay job at 56. I DO understand the trauma of losing a job, being a job hunter & to make it more fun..over the age of 55. Since then, I’m on my 6th job, which I picked up when I was 69. Your career is only over if you say it’s over. I never declared it so. In my view your’s is not either.
    And you may be heading into a direction that says it’s moot and apropos. My view is in this day/age people won’t have one career, but multiple careers for a # of reasons. Albeit reluctantly, while you may feel your drafting career is over (perhaps), you are considering hitting the reset button and starting a new one TEFL, or more broadly teaching. Personally I don’t see this as a bad move at all. Here’s why.
    I’m a former expat, who lived/worked overseas in Singapore and traveled extensively in Asia. English is the business language of the world and there’s a huge demand to learn it in non-English speaking areas, via school systems and/or commercial schools.
    Coincidentally,I was 47 when I set out to do this, stayed in Asia 5 years. My best friend’s son went the TEFL route right out of college, in Asia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Cambodia, and never came home. He was good at it and made good $, many many friends and built a great network. And there’s a by-product of learning his students’ languages and becoming multi-lingual. In short, all unknowns aren’t negative, you are heading into something that may signal the end of one career and the development of a new one(s). Take it from me, at 46, you’re life’s not over. It’s just a new beginning.
    Yes. there are trade offs. life is trade offs. For everything you get, you give up something, but for everything you give up, you get something.
    The world is a smaller place now. Yes, you’re far away from “home”, your mom, your cats, and your house. But you/your mom via a lot of ways can remain close, the house can be replaced, your favorite stuff can be stored, your cats taken care of.
    I hate to move. I mean the physical part, and moving overseas was the mother of all relo’s as far as I’m concerned. And we’ve relo’d a # of times. I didn’t grow up that way. I was in my 20’s before I went more than 50 miles from home. But my kid’s luggage traveled more than I did at their age. The 1st time is scary, but it’s an acquired skill.
    Having moved often, disturbing my life and that of my family we learned you can view it as a horrible fearful disruption…or an adventure into new places, new faces, new things. The latter is the way to go.
    So my two cents, based upon experience, is to put your energy forward, forget burning your energy on the past, and make the future work for you. Pasts are like butts, everyone has one, but dwelling on them too much isn’t the healthiest use of one’s time.
    China…and the Chinese people. Great place and people who respect teachers, particularly one who’s bring know how they want.
    You seem to be treating this TEFL option as a last resort scenario to be greeted with defeat and sadness. It’s actually a GREAT opportunity in many ways. Go into it that way, and it will open up a new world and new career(s) for you.
    Good luck

  49. The absolute worst is the “exploding offer,” which I am going through right now unfortunately

  50. In my experience recruiters have just run me ragged for jobs I have only the slimmest of margins of getting. One particular Recruiter/temp agency sends out an inordinate amount of calls/emails/texts every time they try to contact me. On average I get about 12 messages from them every time they need to contact me. This is simply not effective communication.

    More to the point – this “hard sell” mentality seems to be the way the average Joe/Jane recruiter is operating these days. Recruiters have created a lot of work for myself as well as for the hiring staff by cramming candidates down their throat. This is clearly a waste of time and resources for both the candidate and the company.

    It is little wonder why you see so many companies refusing to deal with recruiters these days.

  51. I’m 53 and the last full time job I had I got when I was 46. And the only reason is I could pass for 35 and it predated both the crash and the proliferation of those sites like Intelius and Spokeo that broadcast your age for all to see without having to shell out a dime.

    The only thing that surprises me is that the comments are not filled with idiots who say it is all your fault. I know that everything you say is right on. And I have been interviewed by clueless 20 year olds who literally read the questions off a sheet of paper and did not understand a word I said in response.

    Most interviewers don’t give a crap about my experience. It is clear that they are desperate to bum rush me out of the room by not asking anything.

    It sucks being in America and I do not think it will ever improve either. Stick if fork in us, we are DONE!

    If I could live somewhere else I most certainly would and I would never look back. I have been turned down for minimum wage jobs too after filling out a 45 minute questionnaire that asks things like “Would you steal from us?”

    And yes, it is humiliating and degrading to be rejected for these jobs when places like Time Warner and Verizon can’t seem to get my frigging order right when all I am doing is moving across town. Instead, they send bills to my old address and then turn me over to a collection agent because they can’t find me, a fugitive who absconded with their equipment even though they are sending another bill to my new address five blocks away (and I am listed in the phone book).

    I can guarantee you that I would not F up the order if I were working that job.

    Enough ranting.

  52. @D Marie: good luck with your new career, and it is great that you have found something that you can be trained for and do. I know that it must be hard to have to leave the country, your home, your family, your friends, your cats, everything familiar and dear to you. I think Don is right, and to look at this not as a bad thing but as an opportunity. It doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever, or even for 10 years.

    Two years ago, at one of my college’s alumnae workshops (for those of us who are looking for work, looking to change careers, etc.), there was a very young alumna present. She had graduated the previous spring, could not find a job here in the US, so she had taken a job teaching English in China. She returned because the pay was so little that her parents were helping her pay her (very small) rent on her tiny apartment. I think she was in a rural part of China (I don’t remember her talking about being in a city), and said that her pay was $60.00 per month, which was considered a lot by the locals. She returned to the US because her father (an architect) lost his job and her mother’s hours were reduced, and she didn’t want to burden them. She was in China for a year, and said that when she was in college, that was the only job offer she had, despite having a minor in computer science. And I’ve read stories about others who have taken teaching jobs overseas who earned very good money, more than they would make as teachers here in the US.

    I know how hard it is to have a parent who isn’t understanding; I get that from my parents, who never faced unemployment in their working lives and who, because of their ages, cannot fathom how much the nature of job searching has changed, and not for the better. It is so far removed from the realm of their experience that they simply don’t understand it, don’t want to understand, find it easier to blame those who can’t find work (it must be all their fault) and thus ignore it. I live in Western MA, and things are no better here than what you describe in Boston. Like you, I have expanded my geographical job search, tried different industries (in which I have experience), and still nothing. It isn’t you, it’s the economy and the automated system. I know it is hard, but try not to take your mom’s comments personally; I suspect that she is around the same age as my parents, and like them, she doesn’t truly understand what you are going through and how hard it is.

    Like you, I, too, have applied for work at Target and been rejected. And at Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and other places, just looking for a second part time or even seasonal job. A friend of mine got rejected by Domino’s Pizza (she was desperate and would have delivered pizzas for a second job). It feels demeaning and is discouraging to be rejected even after removing all of your education and some of your experience from your resume. We can start the “I got rejected by Target” club and hopefully laugh about it someday. I suspect that membership will be quite high.

    Please remember that you are not alone; that you’ve done what you could and are doing the best you can, and please don’t give up.

    If you’d like to chat/email, Nick has my permission to give you my email address.

  53. @Dave: re your exploding offer, what did you decide to do?

    I had one years ago and never knew there was a name for it, and it did blow up, not just on me but on the employer. The secretary who was responsible for calling people with the offers was a little dyslexic, and she transposed some of the numbers for my phone number, so I never got the call or the offer. These were the days before cell phones were ubiquitious, although I did have an answering machine. Later, the hiring manager called me to berate me for not responding, and I told him that I was never called with any kind of news, so I assumed that they were either still deciding who to hire or that they had decided NOT to hire me and didn’t bother to let me know. Two days later he called me back, didn’t apologize, but said he was making a “special exception” and offering me the job and that I had an hour to decide. I told him thanks, but no thanks. I have no regrets because that glimpse of how he handled the screw-up gave me better insight into what kind of boss he would be. It worked out for the best because 8 months later the company was bought out by another company and everyone lost their jobs.

    What I am amazed by is the idea of exploding offers. I mean, it takes ages to get through the process, then several interviews, and when the offer comes, it is “hurry up” because we need your decision yesterday.

  54. @marybeth

    (sorry for my late reply)

    I ended up turning down the offer. I can see why someone may want to give an offer with a short time to make a decision.

    Unfortunately, there were too many red flags, IMHO, of which this one was of them. It just compounded the issue(s) I had…

    I basically did not get any job descriptions/ad/”this is what we expect out of the person”/whatever you want to call it in writing in spite of me asking. So, it made it a bit difficult to do research and ask questions about the position. Even if you got this sort of thing, there’s still a chance you could be scrubbing toilets the first day ;-)

    On the front of job descriptions, it did sound like it was a melding of two positions into one. That is fine, but no one could tell me what the normal day looks like, how much time is spent on one set of responsibilities over the other, etc.

    I did not get to talk to the person I would be directly reporting to in the two phone interviews. The two phone interviews lasted maybe an hour in total, and I didn’t really feel challenged in either one.

    When I got the job offer, I basically had to accept the job right then and there in order to give my employer two weeks notice. Oh, and the offer was still contingent on background/reference/drug check. I am 100% confident have a problem with any of those, but I have heard “horror” stories from people, even ones I know, that stuff gets botched. So, I’d end up quitting with only a contingent offer. Say what you will about my current employer, I would rather do things by the book. The one recruiter/HR person blew off this concern and another person I talked to – it was like arm twisting to get the start dates pushed off.

    The reason they wanted someone to start so quick was because someone they had working on-site with a client was quitting. They were hoping to get a new employee to get the brain dump from this person.

    Oh, and my first two days would be going to the client site with the senior person on the project to get said brain dump. It did not seem like I would have any official onboarding beforehand (the brain dump IS your training, welcome aboard!)

    This was for an IT solutions provider, but this wasn’t your typical contract job (i.e. you have an end date of xx/yy/zzzz) and you’d get full benefits. One of my concerns was that what happens when the contract dries up. Of course they try to sell it to you as “we’ll plug you in somewhere else” But they couldn’t give me more details or any feeling of how the contract was going, etc.

    One last thing on the timing of the offer. Found out about the job on a Monday, had 2 phone interviews on Tuesday, offered the job on Wednesday and had until Thursday to decide.

    Lastly, I don’t think the pay offered was what I wanted and the benefits were not that great. I felt like I was just given a boiler plate offer.

    It sucks because it is a field I want to get into. I could have probably dealt with one or two of these issues depending on the context. Like if I didn’t feel like I had to twist arms on start date or the pay was fair. Instead, it felt like I took a trip down to the used car lot.

  55. @marybeth,

    One other comment I had about my manifesto…

    Most other opportunities took at least a week or two to decide whether I would get an offer or not. So, even if I got the “please sleep on this tonight,” I felt like I at least had a week or so beforehand to think about it. It also felt like these places had a better hiring process set up, so it felt like you at least had some idea of what you were getting into.

    For example, one job opportunity I had, I knew the pay range up front and even had the current employee benefits manual, had a detailed job description, met with bosses and employees both in the department I would be working in and both upstream and downstream. So, I felt like I had enough data to make a decision.

  56. @Dave: that sounds absolutely awful. So all the risk was on you, and the risks were just too great for you to take them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with risk, provided that you have enough intel to make a thoughtful decision about it.

    Yes, I understand the hurry up and decide because the guy you will be replacing is leaving and once he’s gone, we don’t even have a written SOP anywhere, so you’d be starting from scratch. But that doesn’t always work out well either….in my last job at a large state university, my first day on the job was the last day for the guy I was replacing. He was leaving early, it was just before the Labor Day weekend, so all he could do was show me how to login to the computer and where some of his files were. There was no SOP, and when I got back to the office after the holiday, then I was starting from scratch, with no guidance and no one to ask. My boss (who had no training herself) was okay with it and didn’t hold it against me, but the office could have functioned more smoothly had I had more time with Ramesh, or if there had been an SOP (there was one but it was inaccurate). I ended up having to teach myself the job and learn as I went along.

    Sometimes brain dumps work, sometimes they don’t, and there’s no guarantee that it would have worked for you. What if the guy giving you his brain had decided NOT to finish out his notice or got hit by a bus?

    That management didn’t have a plan B in your case is another red flag; so if they went to the next candidate, would they only give him an hour to decide? And if they couldn’t reach him immediately? They would be in the same predicament as if no brain dump had occurred, and whoever would come into the job would be at a loss. Some employers (like my old boss) would be understanding and give you time and not write you up negatively for not being able to do the job perfectly, while others…not so much.

    For what it is worth, I think you made the right decision, based on the interview process. You are right–there were too many red flags, too much missing information about the job that was too important for you NOT to have. And if the recruiter was blowing you off and didn’t have the information, with the company not providing it, yes, I’d say run as fast as you can, not walk, away.

    And who knows? Maybe if no one takes their offer under those conditions (exploding offer, lack of critical information), then they’ll have time to re-consider and you may see that job posted again (or they’ll just divide up the duties among the remaining employees), hopefully with more information and a reasonable amount of time to consider the offer.

    Oy. Just when I think I’ve heard and seen all of the weird things companies do during the hiring process, something new comes up.

    Thanks–I learned something new. Sometimes, too, Dave, the jobs that we don’t take because things seem “off” are for the best. If they’re this way during the interview, when there is supposed to be some mutual courting, what happens if you work there? Will they not provide you with all of the relevant information that you need to do the job well and to succeed? Probably…..

  57. @marybeth

    “And who knows? Maybe if no one takes their offer under those conditions (exploding offer, lack of critical information), then they’ll have time to re-consider and you may see that job posted again (or they’ll just divide up the duties among the remaining employees), hopefully with more information and a reasonable amount of time to consider the offer.”

    The job wasn’t posted anywhere that I could tell, hence the lack of job description :-)

    My guess is that they where probably able to get some newly minted grad to do it – happened to luck out that they just graduated and they had no decent work lined up.

    (The reason I say this is that this was a slight career change for me, I have taken a slight detour so far. This was probably a more junior role. This was part of my issue with their salary offer – my work experience is still applicable to what I want to get into, so is that worth a few thousand more than your typical newly minted grad? I have nothing against college grads and think companies should do more to hire them on, but that’s another issue)

  58. @marybeth, fyi I replied to your email, if you didn’t get it be sure to check your spam folder…

  59. I’ve been a recruiter for 25 years, and I don’t know any recruiters who suck. I see instead a trend of people who are discontent and unemployable or unrecruitable saying so, as though they have the expertise required to do the job themselves. Most of the critics happen to be in the software industry (which is an industry where mental illness is 3 to 5 times more common than it is in the general population).

    Recruiters who suck end up finding other jobs in other industries very quickly, since they can’t bill or make a living as recruiters. I’ve seen 300+ people walk into my company over the years and try to become a recruiter, with our best training and help. Only about 5 actually succeeded to any extent.

    Recruiting is a very difficult job and much harder than most ‘candidates’ are aware. It is also much more intricate and involved than outsiders know, and a top recruiter can provide an extremely valuable service to companies and candidates, both.

    I see a disappointing trend of marginalizing recruiters going on, and I think a lot of that had to do with the slow economy in the last several years. Now that job prospects are improving, I predict a shift back to the days when people were less likely to be critical towards the industry.

    The bottom line is, if my client companies are happy with my work, and I’m enjoying myself doing my work, then the tiny minority of odd-balls who say negative things about me or my profession doesn’t matter to me. Nonetheless, I am always professional and courteous to candidates, and I return every phone call or email that comes in. I would never take advantage of a candidate or ignore them… but I do draw a line with crazies that say obnoxious things for no reason. In most cases, there are other underlying causes for negative remarks than something I or another recruiter has done.

    By the way, I have yet to find any recruiting software that works better than my own network of people that I have known for 25 years.

  60. As an afterthought on this topic, which is one I have spent a lot of time thinking about this year, a year which has been my highest-earning year so far in 25 years, I would say that perhaps the best answer to “Why do recruiters suck so bad?” is “They don’t. You’re just dealing with the wrong recruiters.”

  61. @Nicholas Meyler: You’re right – those who aren’t good at recruiting leave the biz quickly. The problem is, there are still too many of those people “working” at any given time. Which is why most people get “recruited” by recruiters who suck.

    But I get your point: A good headhunter is a wonderful thing. I wish more people were exposed to the good ones so they could see what that’s like. Sadly, the interlopers have virtually destroyed the business for most employers and job seekers. The trouble is really on the employer side – lousy recruiters would not exist if employers demonstrated higher standards. But most employers have no idea how to hire (or contract with) recruiters. Thus the problem.

    Thanks for posting – nice to see the positive side of the biz.

  62. Two out of the last three dentists I went to lied to me about having cavities and wanted to drill on my perfectly clean and healthy teeth. The second one I went to was so brash that he told me I actually had seven cavities, and when I asked him to point them out, he glibly lied that they were “the white spots on the x-rays”.

    The third dentist was a referral from a friend, who turned out to be very good, and not super-expensive and also told me I definitely had no cavities and that I took great care of my teeth, and also have great gums. I will add, also, that I brush my teeth at least three or four times a day and always floss.

    Based on the logic of being critical towards recruiters based on shady characters, I think it would be equivalently appropriate to say that “dentists suck”. However, it is the good dentist who actually redeems the whole bunch… not that I would ever go back to either of the two others.

    Still, I never say “dentists suck”. It’s simply not true. We need dentists, and companies need recruiters. Candidates don’t need recruiters as much, but when the recruiter offers them a great job at the right time, then the recruiter is golden.

    So, I’m probably preaching to the choir, but ‘bad apples’ don’t really ruin the whole bunch, unless of course they really are bad apples and not a metaphor for something else.

  63. Scientific Experiment: Using Google Chrome, I did a search for “Recruiters are great”, vs. “Recruiters suck”. The first won out with 47,500 results, while the second (also entered in quotes) had only 2,580 results. I am pretty encouraged by that!

  64. I’m coming at this from the flip side — I have in-demand skills (it took under 2 hours from the time I posted my resume on a major board to the first phone call) and was able to land multiple interviews and offers within a week of starting my search.

    Still, I am appalled at the average quality of the recruiters who contacted me. Less than half the positions I was solicited for matched my skills. People who didn’t understand US time zones called me at 6 in the morning. Someone called me from someplace so noisy it might have been a train station. Someone who sent me a job posting for a chemical engineer (I’m in IT) had the gall to suggest that I’d gotten the post because I had three common keywords in my resume (process, control, and engineer, not all in the same paragraph) and offering to sell me a resume rewrite service. People with no knowledge of local geography told me that a city 7 hours away was in my neighborhood, or that I was being a prima donna for not wanting a 90 minute commute. I got spammed repeatedly with solicitations (7 before I lost count) for the same position that didn’t fit my locality, skill set, or desired terms (contract vs. full time). I’m still trying to get myself removed from the databases of two recruiting firms that are spamming me with unsuitable positions.

    When I was on the other side of the fence, I nearly asked management to stop using recruiters because the candidates they referred were not worth the time it took to interview them, and often not even worth the time it took to review and reject their resumes.

    I’m sure that there are good recruiters out there, ones who actually read resumes and match candidates based on job duties and skills, rather than just pattern-matching keywords. Unfortunately, the field has such low barriers to entry that I can’t imagine they will ever be more than a tiny fraction of who you encounter.

  65. I’d love to meet a fantastic recruiter able to match best fit candidates with companies searching for them; because I’m open for a new opportunity in Northern VA, DC, MD, or OCONUS. And I have a current TS/SCI security clearance and Full Scope Polygraph.

    Since I was downsized, I get contacted weekly by recruiters. Most are brand new, fresh out of college, with zero experience or knowledge in my industry.

    Its actually quite easy to improve the quality of recruiting:

    Learn more about the industries you recruit for. No one is perfect; or all-knowing; but it sure is easier to recruit when you know and understand what the heck you’re talking about.

    State upfront what a position’s salary range is. Either a candidate will accept this amount; or not.

    Follow-up with individuals. You sought them out; so now finish the job, and tell them when they’ve been hired or not.

    Here’s to everyone in recruiting successfully matching best fit candidates with companies searching for them.

  66. Addendum:

    One firm I contacted told me that not one but *two* recruiters had already submitted my resume to them without my knowledge or consent.

    I was tempted to say something about it on my blog but was told it might damage my future employability.

    The next time I am looking for work if I post my resume anywhere public I’ll categorically state up front “no recruiters”.

  67. How about
    Recruiters suck because employers’ recruitment practice sucks.

    The business is driven much more by the demand side than the supply side – but the flood of cheap but average services in supply is leading the demand side to drop standards.

    If the demand side was nickel-and-dime-ing service providers they would get a good service.

    If enterprises did not hire external (failed) recruiters into internal recruitment teams – thereby insourcing mediocrity – just to reduce costs then maybe people would recognise the skill and value of a good recruiter

    Good recruiters are valuable and worth 20-30% commission.

    btw – i am not a recruiter – i am an employer and I strongly believe that it is our corporate acceptance of average that is driving the quality of recruitment into the gutter

  68. @Richard F: You’ve nailed it:
    “If enterprises did not hire external (failed) recruiters into internal recruitment teams – thereby insourcing mediocrity – just to reduce costs then maybe people would recognise the skill and value of a good recruiter”

    Saving money does not translate into raising profits when you’re hiring people. I think this is the biggest problem employers create for themselves.

  69. Hi,
    I had been through all you comments.
    I respect all your views, however I just wana ask if you ever got chance to speak with some one who got employed due to a recruiter (to whom you say SUCKS).
    Its just the matter of time and luck.
    Nothing personal but would like to state that recruiters are not fake, its just that if they get some bad feed back about the consultants they don’t want consultants to know that directly.
    Trust me it will kill your moral and confidence.
    I think every coin has its two faces, recruiters are for helping us. They work to get us placed.
    We can help them by let them know the mistakes they are making so that they can be aware of that.

  70. @Nicholas Meyler: i’m going to call massive Bullshit on your comment “I don’t know any recruiters that suck” and your observation that all the trash washes magically out leaving the cream to rise to the top. I have consulted two decades on Recruitment process improvement and training with some of the biggest players in the industry as well as F100-500 client corporations. The average recruiter in this business is clueless, saddled by useless methodologies,utilizing problematic systems and driven by ridiculous metrics that were established by oblivious management that doesn’t understand the shallowest waters of this business.

    But I’ll like to have some of whatever you have been smoking mate!


  71. @Nicholas Meyler: And that is not counting that useless Indian offshore lot. That would open a whole other can-o-worms.


  72. Questions from a candidate. How are you supposed to apply for a job when you
    1. neither know the name of the company nor the industry?
    2. can’t get anyone on the phone to learn the context of the role beyond a job posting with a list of vague “skill requirements”?

    The above seems to fit most jobs I come across via recruiters.

    All my previous jobs I got after graduate school or university, but with those roles, I used alumni networks to cold call people at the companies and actually engage the personnel (not HR or recruiters) in Q&A about the roles. Those networks don’t seem available for an experienced hire in the same way.

    I’m simply looking to engage in a conversation about job opportunities – hell, some of them, I probably don’t fit and its a waste of mine and the company’s time for me to actually submit an application.

  73. That reminds me of this recruiter who called me about a month ago. The guy did not know the location of the job and the rate per hour. He told me he only had a zip code. I suggested that he should google the zip code and find the location before calling candidates, dah!. This guy was a genius I am sure, lol. Another recruiter told me I was the perfect fit for a position and that the company was using AutoCAD. I was so excited! He got me an interview. I did really well at the interview but the company owner told me they were not using AutoCAD but a different software. Right on! The recruiter was apparently not able to figure out what software their client was using. This recruiter was also a genius. What a waste of time for the client and me! See, apparently I could do well as a recruiter because these are mistakes that I would not make.

    Anyway, I wonder how genius HR recruiting science works, can someone explain me why when I go to the bank I have to help my banker count the money. When I deal with administration workers they take forever to get things done and always make mistakes so you must go see them 10 times until they get it right! When I go see a medical specialist for something, they never find what’s wrong with you but charge you hundreds of dollars for a bunch of useless tests, then you must do your own research and tell your doctor what you got.

    I am unemployed these days, I have a Bachelor in Engineering, and it is very frustrating to have to do the job of those who have a job.

  74. Ok, here goes, back to the basic point, which is why do recruiters suck so bad? I think it gets back to one main point: companies, whether they search using internal mechanisms or external have a view that since there are so many people out of work they should be able to find someone that matches each of the 10, 12, or 25 criterion they are seeking. “Someone out there has to have these skills!” Maybe, just maybe the companies are going to begin to get more motivated in helping us to alleviate our hypersuckedness.
    The first pressure point to that end is about to take place. As the economy begins righting the ship so to speak, companies are going to have to respond. Here is a case in point, there is a company down the road from me that will not let me offer a single candidate whatsoever. They use their internal staffing team which is approximately 12 people. I estimate including benefits and tools per seat that the team actually cost the company about $60k per head and so the gross cost for the team is roughly $720k per year. (it actually could be much higher depending on what the Managers, Dir, Senior VP of Recruiting are knocking down) However, and this is the point, they have over 30 openings not filled at one location. I attribute this to the fact that they are seeking the perfect fit on all criteria. The pressure point comes when the demands of their customers dictates they come off of the less important criteria and focus again on the important skills in order to keep up with business.
    In this day and age there is a concentration of being really-really good at something but not everything. I was emailed a job order the other day that contained 44 specific criterion to which an individual developer had to have varying degrees of knowledge. Having been a developer I can tell you it is nearly impossible to find someone that fits that specific matrix of experience unless they used to work there. Oh, I might add, they would be very senior with lots of experience and drag down a serious 6 figure income which was not in the mix as well.
    Sorry for the length here but it boils down to this: we are ambassadors of the client and unfortunately the client can be extremely demanding. Their expectations should be high. After all, they can post a job on Monster and get 200 applications in the first hour, according to recent statistics. But all in all I believe in keeping in touch with my candidates even after an examination has resulted in not meeting the clients’ requirements. I always tell people this, I am in the business of finding candidates for positions and not in the business of finding positions for candidates.

  75. @Guillaume. I’m an inside Corporate Recruiter these days…the bottom line the quality of service you are experiencing…and the people who underwhelm you doing it…are not hired by HR, but by the hiring manager. No matter how good, or bad the HR filter is in front of a role..ultimately it’s the hiring manager’s call as to who is hired, and how well they are trained.

    I’m in the Houston area, working for a small engineering company, who is hiring. Where are you unemployed at? don dot hark@gmail

  76. I have been an IT consultant for 15 years.What I see now in the consulting game is a deluge of Indian recruiters whose English is incomprehensible and, when it is, they usually don’t know anything about the skills for which they are recruiting. Many is the time that I’ve told them what they should be looking for. I think they’re trawling for keywords, for example, z/OS, but they don’t the difference between a z/OS applications programmer, systems programmer, and operations analyst. They also do ‘bait and switch’ vis–à–vis the rate. One that I recently worked with kept lowering it until I finally said, “Listen! Whenever I talk to you, my rate goes down. So, why am I talking to you now?”. He also kept intoducing more middle-men into the process until finally I concluded that his grandmother in Mumbai was getting a cut. It was known that the top agency in this game was awarded an exclusive contract to work this project in return for Air India buying aircraft from the client. The client didn’t retain the agency; New Delhi did.

  77. Ok…heres my comment… are all missing the point. The problem is the arrogance and sense of entitlement of employers. Somewhere along the line employers forgot they are extending the invitation to apply and the onus is on them to do the hard yards to read boring resumes (which they invited) and listen to silly interview answers. And recruiters pander to this. And thats how they make their money. And yes, you are unemployable OP because at 46 you are no longer a sure thing to make money off. Because the money is in the average, not the different. And no-one, and I mean no-one will hear you scream or care.

  78. Glad to see my opinions are the same as others so I as to know I wasn’t being too critical. I too have experienced the off-shore poor speaking Indians with poor English who ask brilliant questions like “Am I looking for a job” and “Do they have the most current version of my resume on file” when I just sent it to them two hours before my phone call. I also have seen HR, presumably for their own job security, drag out the hiring process to no end and was turned down to interview for a job because I had 4.5 years experience in something and not 5…that was 4 months ago and the job is still posted. I am also amazed by all the contract positions–is it really cheaper to find and train a new person every six months rather than just a hire an employee? The whole process has become a joke.

  79. It has become a total nightmare with indian recruiters and H1B visas. I have been in the IT industry for 17 years… it started to get bad 15 years ago, now it is a disaster. I live in the Washington DC metropolitan area and the entire area has been overrun with these indian recruiters AND H1B visas workers from india. I have no respect for them. I believe many of these companies hold disadvantaged minority vehicles like 8a etc…. They use someone here as a shell while the company is actually based out of india. What on earth gives these people (over 1 billion) the right to operate in the United States this way? It is disgusting. On top of this they have decimated the American workforce through the H1B visa program AND continue to do so. Rubio recently cosponsored a bill to bring in MORE H1B visas because according to them we don’t have enough high tech workers. I am beyond disgusted and upset at what they have done. Until we somehow figure out how to put a stop to this it will continue.

  80. Hi,

    Mr. Bill Gates said “If we don’t hire engineers from India there would be another Microsoft in India”.
    Its called globalization.
    I have been in IT field for last 7 years. I am in SFO, CA and trust me the guys from India are really working hard.
    Lets open the world to humanity and accept people those are working hard for our country.
    There’s nothing in recruiters hand as they are doing what has been asked by the IT companies.
    If they share the proper feedback after interview and provide the appropriate details what the project is all about then they could explain us the same.

    At the end I would like to say that let us work together and let us open our hearts for humanity…

  81. I have been in IT for 25 years. I have not been able to crack the door in getting hired using recruiters. Mondo, Robert Half are hack job companies. It’s about numbers, their commissions are based on the number of resumes they pull in, Snake Oil salesmen. Be weary of the I saw your resume and thought you’d be a good fit…..Please send me an updated resume. If you are like me, I keep my resume updates so you have the most recent. Next question where is the job? Between the two organizations, I have been contacted approximately 15 times, not 1 interview! Not one. So I pose this question, where is a firm that operates differently? I can’t find one that I want to represent me with honesty and integrity.

  82. @Terry: These guys are wasting your time because you misunderstand one key point: no headhunter “represents” you. They represent the employer, always. The good ones treat candidates very well, because that’s how they get more good candidates – via referrals. But most headhunters, agencies, recruiters are dialing for dollars. It’s up to you to judge them up front. It’s so hairy that I wrote a whole book about it.


    We were conned by Recruit Alliance into thinking we had a six month ownership window both ways with Wells Fargo and everyone on their site during our initial orientation call. After submitting 85 candidates last year to Wells Fargo we come to find out we had a six month window and they have an unlimited window, meaning if anyone has ever applied to Wells Fargo we lose ownership. I had to uncover their contract by clicking a link at the very bottom of one of their job descriptions, after I had already paid multiple $75 monthly fees of course. I wonder what Wells Fargo’s retainer amount is with Recruit Alliance? Are you starting to see the picture? Wait it gets worse. After pretty much being left in the dark most of the year receiving little to no feedback and only one onsite since they don’t sponsor and everyone and their mother had already applied. We finally uncovered a placement! A candidate whom we received ownership of was hired two months after we submitted her. I notified Recruit Alliance and we were told sorry, it wasn’t for the position you submitted her to. A few months prior I had a conversation with the owner, ironically enough, his last name means Fox in Italian. At the time I told him how unbelievably unethical it was that Wells Fargo had an unlimited ownership window and asked why he would sign such a contract? He of course gave me the runaround. I then mentioned the other part of the contract where it seemed to say they had to hire the candidate for that specific role within six months. Lou assured me no don’t worry about that Wells Fargo is good about letting you know when they are interested in your candidate for another role don’t worry. Yeah right! Recruit Alliance is a complete scam and Wells Fargo’s contract is the most unethical contract I have ever seen in the recruiting industry.

    Online Recruiting Agreement
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    2. Candidate Submissions and your use of the RecruitAlliance Site.
    2.1 Candidate Submissions.
    (i) You guarantee to us that if we hire the Candidate for the Posted Position, he or she will remain in our employ for a continuous period of at least ninety calendar (90) days, from the Candidate’s first day of employment. In the event we terminate the employment of the hired Candidate within ninety calendar (90) days of that Candidate’s first day of employment for any reason or no reason at all, or in the event that the hired Candidate resigns his/her employment within ninety calendar (90) days of the Candidate’s first day of employment, you will refund to us all of the Placement Fee we paid to you with respect to the hired Candidate or at Wells Fargo’s request, replace the Candidate at no cost to Wells Fargo. You will pay the refund to us within thirty (30) days after delivery of our written notice to you that a refund is due. You shall not be required to refund the Placement Fee in the event the Candidate is terminated as a result of downsizing, layoff or position elimination due to a business decision by us.
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    (iii) You represent and warrant that in no event will you submit any Candidate who has acknowledged to have been convicted of any criminal offense involving dishonesty, a breach of trust or money laundering, who has participated in pre-trial diversion with regard to such crimes or has been convicted of a felony within the past ten (10) years.
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    7.  Dispute resolution program: Arbitration agreement; waiver of class action rights. This Section 7 constitutes the arbitration agreement between you and us and includes a mutual waiver of class action rights regarding Disputes (as defined below).

    7.1 Definition of Disputes. A “Dispute” is any unresolved disagreement between or among you and us. It includes claims based on broken promises or contracts, torts (injuries caused by negligent or intentional conduct) or other wrongful actions. It also includes statutory and common Laws, and equitable claims. A Dispute also includes: (i) any disagreement about the meaning of this Section 7, and whether a disagreement is a “Dispute” subject to binding arbitration as provided for in this Section 7; and (ii) the RecruitAlliance Site.

    7.2 Non-judicial resolution of Disputes. You and we agree that any Disputes between or among you and us, regardless of when it arose, will, upon demand by either you or us, be resolved by the following arbitration process. You understand and agree that you and we are each waiving the right to a jury trial or a trial before a judge in a public court. As an exception to this Section 7, both you and we retain the right to pursue in small claims court in the jurisdiction where you reside any Dispute that is within that court’s jurisdiction.

    7.3 Binding arbitration; waiver of class action rights; severability. Binding arbitration is a means of having an independent third party resolve a Dispute without using the court system, judges or juries. Either you or we may require the submission of a Dispute to binding arbitration at any reasonable time notwithstanding that a lawsuit or other proceeding has been commenced. If either you or we fail to submit to binding arbitration following a lawful demand, the one who fails to so submit bears all costs and expenses (including attorney’s fees and expenses) incurred by the other compelling arbitration.

    7.4 Neither you nor we will be entitled to join or consolidate Disputes by or against others in any arbitration, or to include in any arbitration any Dispute as a representative or member of a class, or to act in any arbitration in the interest of the general public or in a private attorney general capacity.
    7.5 AAA Rules. Each arbitration, including the selection of the arbitrator will be administered by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”), according to the Commercial Arbitration Rules and the Supplemental Procedures for Consumer Related Disputes (“AAA Rules”). To the extent that there is any variance between the AAA Rules and this Section 7, this Section 7 will control. Arbitrator(s) must be a member of the state bar where the arbitration is held, with expertise in the substantive Laws applicable to the subject matter of the Dispute.
    7.6 You and we each agree that in this relationship: (i) You and we are participating in transactions involving interstate commerce; and (ii) each arbitration is governed by the provisions of the Federal Arbitration Act (Title 9 of the United States Code), and, to the extent any provision of that Act is inapplicable, unenforceable or invalid, the Laws governing the relationship between you and us about which the Dispute arose. To find out how to initiate an arbitration, please call any office of the AAA or visit the AAA website at
    7.7 Rights preserved. This Section 7 and the exercise of any of the rights you and we have under this Section 7 do not stop you or us from exercising any lawful rights to use other remedies available to preserve, foreclose, or obtain possession of real or personal property; exercise self-help remedies, including setoff and repossession rights; or obtain provisional or ancillary remedies such as injunctive relief, attachment, garnishment, or court appointment of a receiver by a court having jurisdiction.
    7.8 Miscellaneous. You and we each agree to take all steps and execute all documents necessary for the implementation of arbitration proceedings. The arbitrator may hear and rule on appropriate dispositive motions as part of the arbitration proceeding, such as motions for judgments on the pleadings, summary judgment, or partial summary judgment. The AAA, the arbitrators, you and we, must, to the extent feasible, take any necessary action to ensure that an arbitration proceeding, as described in this Section 7, is completed within 180 days of filing the Dispute with the AAA. These parties must not disclose the existence, content, or results of the arbitration, except for disclosures of information required in the ordinary course of business or permitted by applicable Law or regulation. This provision will be liberally construed in order to ensure the enforcement of this Section 7. Arbitration proceedings are conducted in the state where you reside or at a location determined by the AAA. All statutes of limitations applicable to any Dispute apply to any arbitration between you and us. The provisions of this Section 7 will survive termination, amendment, or expiration this Agreement or any other relationship between you and us. This Section 7 constitutes the entire agreement between you and us and supersedes all prior arrangements and other communications concerning the resolution of Disputes.
    7.9 Fees and expenses of arbitration. You must pay the applicable AAA filing fee when you submit a written request for arbitration to the AAA. The AAA’s filing fee and administrative expenses for an arbitration on documents alone without oral hearing, will be allocated according to the AAA’s Rules, except that for claims of less than US$1,000.00, you will only be obligated to pay a filing fee of US$15.00 and we will pay all of the AAA’s other costs and fees. At your written request, we will temporarily advance up to US$500.00 towards the filing, administrative, and/or hearing fees for any Dispute in excess of US$1,000.00 which you may have filed against us, after you have paid an amount equivalent to the fee, if any, for filing a claim for such a Dispute in state or federal court (whichever is less) in the judicial district in which you reside. However, if you elect an in-person arbitration process, you must pay your share of the higher administrative fee and the additional costs for this process. At the conclusion of the arbitration, the arbitrator will decide who will ultimately be responsible for paying the filing, administrative, and/or hearing fees in connection with the arbitration including, but not limited to, those costs and fees paid by us on your behalf. Unless inconsistent with applicable Law, you and we will each bear the expense of our own attorneys’, experts’, and witness fees, regardless of who prevails in the arbitration.
    7.10 California residents. In the event that you are a California resident, this Section 7 applies only to Disputes in which you seek for himself or herself individually amounts in excess of the jurisdictional limit of Small Claims Court, excluding attorneys’ fees and costs.
    If any of the provisions of this Section 7 dealing with class action, class arbitration, private attorney general action, other representative action, joinder, or consolidation is found to be unlawful or unenforceable, that invalid provision shall not be severable and this entire Section 7 shall be unenforceable.

    8. Privacy All information provided by you in connection with submitting the Candidate for the Posted Position will be governed by the provisions of the following Wells Fargo policies:
    Wells Fargo Privacy Policy:
    Online Privacy Policy:
    You agree to comply with all additional privacy and data and other security requirements of Wells Fargo as communicated by us to you from time to time.
    9. Notices and communication.
    9.1 Generally. Except as expressly provided otherwise in this Agreement, we will provide you notices through mail, electronically, or by other means available. This information will be sent to your postal or electronic address (“E-Address”) as reflected in our records, unless a different postal or electronic address has been specified in accordance with procedures we may establish from time to time. The E-Address may be an e-mail address, other Internet address, text messaging number, or other electronic access address provided to us in accordance with this Agreement. Any notices will be deemed to have been sent on the first business day following the date on it. We reserve the right at all times to communicate all notices to you through the U.S. Postal Service or overnight courier, at our sole option.
    9.2 Electronic delivery and communication. Unless otherwise required by applicable Law, if we are required to provide you with information in writing, we may, at our option, send it electronically either: (i) to your E-Address, or (ii) to the extent permitted by Law, by posting the information to our own website located the following URL: You agree that we may satisfy any obligation we may have to provide you with an annual copy of our Privacy Policy by keeping it available for review on our website.
    9.3 Address changes. You agree that you will notify us immediately in the event of a change to your address or E-Address.
    9.4 Implementation of notices. Any notice you send us will not be effective until we actually receive it and have a reasonable opportunity to act on it.
    10.  Export control; international use. The United States controls the export (including the download) of products and information containing encryption (“Controlled Technology”) under the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”). Use of the RecruitAlliance Site may contain Controlled Technology subject to the EAR. You agree to access and/or download Controlled Technology related to your use of the RecruitAlliance Site only in the United States. You further agree in your use of the RecruitAlliance Site not to access or download Controlled Technology from any country where such access or download is prohibited (currently North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Sudan, or Syria), and agree that you are not a person or entity to whom such access or download is prohibited. Those choosing to access the RecruitAlliance Site from locations outside the United States do so at their own risk and are responsible for compliance with local Laws.
    11. Recordkeeping. As a Federal Contractor in the United States, Wells Fargo is required to meet regulations (“Federal Regulations”) set forth by the U.S. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs relating to employment candidate tracking. In the case of a federal audit regarding hiring practices in the United States, you must produce your search strategy and complete Candidate outreach information related to each search executed on behalf of Wells Fargo. This will include the gender and race/ethnicity of every Candidate considered for a Posted Position per the Federal Regulations. For Posted Positions relating to employment outside of the United States, you agree to cooperate with Wells Fargo to satisfy any similar audit requirements under applicable Laws. Additionally, you must maintain for three (3) years from the last activity relating to the Posted Positions, and produce in case of audit, a record of the Posted Positions for which each Internet search was conducted, the substantive search criteria used for each Internet search, the date of the search, and the résumés/profiles of any individuals who met the basic qualifications for the particular Posted Position. You will retain any and all records and procedures, whether stored in electronic or hard copy, as they pertain to the provision of the Recruitment Services under this Agreement, including all information obtained or created in the course of performance hereunder (“Records”) in accordance with the longer of Wells Fargo’s records retention guidelines (as communicated by us to you and as modified from time to time), including provisions regarding the timely destruction of such Records, or as is required by Laws (including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act or non-United States Laws equivalent), unless Wells Fargo has requested in writing that you hold any such records for a longer period of time. You and we agree that such Records will be maintained in English. Wells Fargo, as well as its examiners and representatives of Wells Fargo’s regulatory agencies in any jurisdiction, and their respective auditors (“Auditors”), will have the right to audit, examine and inspect any and all Records, and facilities and procedures as they pertain to your performance hereunder and compliance with the terms hereof. Wells Fargo’s regulators, or designated representatives, will have the right to ask for and to receive directly from you any Records.

    12.  General.
    12.1 Amendments to this Agreement. Except as otherwise required by Law, we may in our sole discretion change the terms of this Agreement from time to time and at any time. This may include adding new or different terms to, or removing terms from, this Agreement. When changes are made we will update this Agreement on the RecruitAlliance Site. The RecruitAlliance Site will be updated on or before the effective date, unless a Law, rule or regulation requires that it be updated an earlier time. By continuing to use the RecruitAlliance Site after we have updated this Agreement on the RecruitAlliance Site, you agree to the change.
    12.2 Termination of this Agreement. Unless otherwise required by applicable Law, either you or we may terminate this Agreement and/or your access to the RecruitAlliance Site, in whole or in part, at any time without notice. The termination of this Agreement will not terminate your obligations or our rights arising under this Agreement before such termination. Should this Agreement be terminated for any reason prior to you submitting a Candidate for a Posted Position, Wells Fargo will not be obligated to pay the Placement Fee or any other fee.
    12.3 Surviving Obligations. All applicable provisions of this Agreement will survive termination by either you or us, including, without limitation, provisions related to intellectual property, warranty disclaimers, limitations of liability, indemnification, and the miscellaneous provisions.
    12.4 Governing Law. This Agreement, on the other hand, will be read and interpreted according to the Laws of the State of South Dakota, without regard to conflict-of-law rules. In any legal action or claim regarding this Agreement, the prevailing party will be entitled to recover costs and reasonable attorney fees.
    12.5 Assignment. We may assign our interest in this Agreement to Wells Fargo & Company, its successors, or to any now-existing or future direct or indirect subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Company; however, you may not assign or transfer this Agreement. We may also assign or delegate certain of our rights and responsibilities under this Agreement to independent contractors or other third parties.
    12.6 Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action. Vendor, for itself and all Vendor Personnel, represents and warrants to Wells Fargo that (i) it abides by all non-discrimination, anti-harassment and other equal employment opportunity Law with respect to its business activities, and (ii) with respect to business activities in the United States, it is an equal opportunity employer and agrees, as applicable, it will abide by the terms of: (a) the Civil Rights (Equal Employment Opportunity) Act of 1964, (b) Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and its associated legislation, Public Law 93-112, (c) the regulations at 41 C.F.R. Part 60-741 (including 41 CRF 60-741.5(a), which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of disability, and requires affirmative action by covered prime contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities), (d) Executive Order 11246, and (e) the regulations at 41 C.F.R. Parts 60-1 through 60-60, (f) Public Law 93-508, and (g) the regulations at 41 C.F.R. Part 60-300.5 (this regulation prohibits discrimination against qualified protected veterans, and requiring affirmative action by covered prime contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment qualified protected veterans).  Vendor acknowledges that Wells Fargo is an affirmative action employer pursuant to Executive Order 11246, and agrees to cooperate with Wells Fargo in its affirmative action efforts.
    12.7 Proprietary rights. All content included or available on the RecruitAlliance Site, such as advertisements, text graphics, logos, button icons, images, audio clips, and software, is the property of RecruitAlliance, Inc. or Wells Fargo, and/or other third parties and is protected by copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual and proprietary rights. The compilation (meaning the collection, arrangement, and assembly) of all content on the RecruitAlliance Site is the exclusive property of RecruitAlliance, Inc. or Wells Fargo and/or its licensors and is protected by copyright or other intellectual property rights. The trademarks, logos, and service marks displayed on the RecruitAlliance Site (collectively the “Trademarks”) are the registered and unregistered trademarks of RecruitAlliance, Inc., or Wells Fargo, or other third parties. Under no circumstances may you use copy, alter, modify, or change these Trademarks. Nothing contained on the RecruitAlliance Site should be construed as granting by implication or otherwise any license or right to use any Trademark without the express written permission of Wells Fargo, or the third party which has rights to such Trademarks, as appropriate.
    12.8 Entire agreement. This Agreement represents the agreement between you and Wells Fargo regarding the RecruitAlliance Site and the Candidate you submitted, and merges and supersedes all previous and contemporaneous written or oral agreements and understandings. This Agreement shall not be modified or amended by any terms or conditions of the applicable PO except to the extent provided in Section 4 above. This Agreement shall govern in the event of any conflicting terms or conditions in the applicable PO. Each of the rules, terms, and conditions set forth in this Agreement stand alone. Any term or condition contained in this Agreement which is inconsistent with the Laws governing the RecruitAlliance Site or your submission of the Candidate will be deemed to have been modified by us and applied in a manner consistent with such Laws. Except as otherwise expressly provided in this Agreement, if any provision of this Agreement is held to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable, the remainder of the provisions will remain in full force and effect and will in no way be invalidated or otherwise affected.
    12.9 Waiver. We may agree in writing (or otherwise) to waive a provision of this Agreement, including a fee (a “waiver”). We may revoke any waiver. Our failure to act with respect to a breach by you or others does not waive our right to act with respect to subsequent or similar breaches.
    12.10 Headings. Headings are for reference only and in no way define, limit, construe, or describe the scope or extent of such section.
    12.11 Language. You and we each hereby confirm our express wish that this Agreement and all documents, agreements or notices directly or indirectly related thereto be written in the English language. In the event this Agreement is also executed, or has been translated to, a local-language version, you and we each agree that the English-language version maintained by Wells Fargo shall control in the event of any discrepancies.

  84. Holy cow do recruiters stink.
    I’ll give you a few examples. I live about 2 hours from Detroit and looking for new position in Agriculture.
    Recruiter 1.(that’s what we’ll refer to as) lined up 3 interviews(3 different firms) in Nebraska option 1. I drove 1.5 day never welcomed me and the dept manager was very rude to me. I declined on top of that the amount of money was the same as I was making locally. Lastly the office I’d work out of was HORRIBLE. it was from the 1800’s.
    option 2. I arrive there. No more than I arrive there the lady states to complete this test. I told her my recruiter had me complete this test approx. 1-2 weeks before leaving for these interviews. She said “DO IT ANYWAY.” That kind of ticked me off. The test had nothing to do with Agriculture. so I did it. The person I was suppose to interview with “forgot about it. and had a meeting” his assistant Interviewed me. No offer was made. I will say nice office and facility.
    Last and final interview of that trip was at a co-op. Nice guy. GREAT PAY. everything I felt went great. He asked why I’m looking to leave Northwest Ohio? I said “due to the downturn in the economy Detroit has suffered heavily in this recession. I believe to further my options I will have to move out of state.” He said I was “too negative” no job offer made.
    Fast forward a year.
    I drive out to western Iowa for a interview.
    This is with recruiter #2.
    The interview went okay until we started talking about fiscal stability of the company. I asked for a fiscal report of the company(it was a co-op so any member or possible member can look at it) THEY LOST 10 MILLION LAST YEAR. I asked him about competition in the area. He stated yeah all 5 competitors are looking to buy us out. His reasoning for not hiring me. He didn’t know Ohio was so far to Iowa. wasted probably 1000 bucks and 3 days of my time for that bull stuff.
    Last recruiter. we’ll call her recruiter #3.
    I apply view interview with my resume. My resume tells my Education, experience and basically all my certifications and work related details. I was checking my Iphone e-mail it said “please call me I want to talk about your resume and setting up an interview.” I call her set up the interview. I take a full day off work to interview with the recruiter. I go in fill out the paperwork. keep in mind it’s 1.5 hour and 80 miles to this recruiter. 10 bucks to park. We talk for 10-15 mins. Talking about my “background”, education and experience. So I drive home (1.5 hour). I give her a week to call people and send my resume to people. I send her an e-mail asking if she had heard anything. She sends me an e-mail saying “I’m sorry I won’t be able to help you due to lack of experience.” I sent her an e-mail back saying “Why did you have me drive 1.5 hour there, take a day off from work, fill out 5 pages of paperwork, pay 10 bucks to park. talk with you for 15 minutes, drive 1.5 hour home. COULDN’T YOU LOOKED AT MY DARN RESUME!” She never e-mailed me back.

  85. The majority of recruiters are simply matchmakers. They hear what a company needs and try to match it. If people think that recruitera are calling.companies.and trying to sell your skills and get a job than think again. There are only two effective ways to get a job. One is looking for it and the 2nd is networking.

  86. Being a job searcher, in 2004 – 2009 the internet made job recruiters glamerous, glorious. They set facebook pages and did public speaking, got 1000’s of interviews, never called back. Why? becuase they wanted to be popular. The only problem is people spent money to be in College, preying on College students is unmoral, the worst of the worst people. They are all going to jail.

  87. It means that you get total discounts at the time of subscription. Dream – Host is an online hosting company that
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  88. Found this site by accident. Typed in, “Why do Recruiters Suck” after having a conversation with my partner. He wanted to know if there was a website online where job seekers can actually rate recruiters and recruiting agencies based off their experiences so everyone can see how job candidates feel about the so called recruiters and the agencies they have tried to utilize in their job search. Kind of like an Angie’s List.

    I still don’t know if there is an actual website. If anyone knows of one, let me know as I have a few select recruiters and agencies that I would like to rate and let the world know how poorly I think these people and companies are. He is suggesting I start a website if one does not already exist.

    I relate to many of the bloggers frustrations in their job searches, with recruiters, employers, the lack of communication from both to the job seeker, etc. I have experienced many of the same issues mentioned.

    As I search for a new job position, I do not look forward to todays job searching process. I also do not look forward to utilizing recruiters. I have had many bad experience the past 4-5 years with recruiters. I now do my best on job searches, not to use them at all. These days my motto has become, ‘save the hiring company some money and leave the middleman out’.

    I came to the conclusion it is very difficult to find a good recruiter, just like it is very difficult to find a good masseuse . Just like finding a needle in a haystack, extremely difficult. Where do you search, and whom do you trust?

    I wish employers would wake up! They may actually find qualified candidates for positions if they actually had qualified humans looking at resumes, and not a computer program that tries to match up key words of a job description and a resume, where if there are not enough matches, you are ruled out. Or if recruiters would actually send qualified candidates out to the companies for interviews vs. sending the candidate out who has less experience/skills but they can make the most profit off. Go back to the days before the internet, where resumes were actually mailed in, with a human looking at them, and you might actually find a qualified candidate to fill the position.

    And somewhere in the 2000’s with the internet, everyone got the idea that they could be a recruiter, regardless if they were qualified to do the job well or not. Now over the past year, I find myself bombarded once a week with emails and phone calls from Indian recruiters 3 or 4 times in the same day for the same contract job. Who are these Indian recruiters? Supposedly they are calling me from Chicago or New Jersey (and from a recruiting agency in those locations that I have never heard of and of course can never reach. Are they even legit?). I feel Chicago and New Jersey are routing location and all the calls and emails are really coming from offshore in India. Seriously has recruiting been offshored to India or are these people just trying to scam you out of personal identifiable information?

    Not counting the Indian recruiters that I never respond too, I actually have a list of local bad recruiters and recruiting agencies in my area that I would never use due to issues I have had with them in the past. I think it would be beneficial for job seekers as well as the recruiters for recruiter rating information to be posted out in the public domain for anyone whom wants to look to see how another job seeker feels about a particular recruiter, the recruiters actual placement abilities for them, if the recruiter was honest with the job seeker about the job position, if the recruiter was responsive, etc., etc. Maybe then we would see a change in the bad recruiter behaviors that we are seeing and experiencing these days.

  89. To: Lori,
    First and foremost, recruiters are not in the business of finding positions for job seekers. In nearly every case they have no advantage over the person seeking to find a position that matches their skills and salary goals. My suggestion would be to make sure your credentials are stated clearly and are in demand.

  90. I hadn’t realized just how easy I had it in my previous two job searches – I was primarily limiting myself to jobs requiring a security clearance, a space which is rather difficult for fly-by-night types to break into. Now that I’m considering leaving that world and have been looking more at non-cleared work, I’m running into more of the types Nick talked about here.

    Terry – thanks for confirming my suspicions about Mondo. Didn’t know Robert Half fit into that category too, but I’d been ignoring them anyway because of low salary ranges.

    Lori – I find it interesting that most of the emails I get from Indian recruiters at firms I didn’t know existed, seem to originate from the same handful of IP addresses – IPs that are also the source of some of my other SPAM (found that out when I ran an analysis of my email database files to help me set up an IP blocklist).

  91. @Mike S.: I’m working with someone to research those IPs that seem to serve enormous numbers of overseas “recruiters.” We’re peeling back the IPs and additional data, and what we’re finding is scary. If you’ve done much work on this, please drop me an e-mail.

  92. I had a recruiter from Randstad get all excited when I told him I was looking for an embedded software development job. He showed me the job description. It was a software development job, but it had nothing to do with embedded programming. Because it had the word embedded in the job description, this knucklehead thought I would be a good fit.

    I had a recruiter today contact me regarding get this – a customer service position. So, I guess my technical degrees in physics and computer science are no longer good enough for programming, but for customer service.

  93. I’m a Primary Care Doctor. WE have recruiting firms pestering us by email (and sometimes-phone) All the Time. Usually it’s for stuff in small towns, or doing things outside our comfort zone. I actually Prefer being emailed-it’s less intrusive.

  94. It has been my unfortunate experience that temp agency headhunters don’t seem to know what they are doing even within their own office.

    On the spur of the moment an agency called me for an interview, which I scheduled for the next day.

    The headhunter told me to dress in full business attire. Boy was I overdressed! I could feel the interviewer giving me the full once-over. The entire interview lasted less than five minutes.

    I heard nothing from the temp agency for a week.

    From the same office another headhunter called to tell me the company was indeed interested in me and they would contact me with more details.

    I heard nothing for another two weeks. I called, but was told someone would get back to me.

    Another week went by, and nothing.

    I checked my email one morning to find an notice informing me that an appointment had been made in my name at a local hospital for a drug test. It wasn’t till I arrived at the hospital did I discover who the drug test was for which was even more confusing as the appointment was made by yet another headhunter from the same temp office.

    Meanwhile, the second headhunter contacted me to make an appointment for a drug test at an office that is a forty five minute drive. I informed her that I had already taken a drug test at the hospital. She said she wanted me to take her test because it is more conclusive than the urine test. Ummm no. Sooooo… the one who scheduled the hospital drug test calls to discuss the results which were all good. I inform him about the other drug test which he says to just ignore that.

    So after all that BS I show up for the job and the boss says: “We were expecting two other people not you. What happened to them? You might as well go home. You’re overqualified.”

    I then get another call asking: “Why did I blow off that job?” I never returned the call.

    Three different headhunters from the same office and each doesn’t know what the other is doing.

  95. Recruiters are absolutely awful, both from a hiring and job-seeking role. 95% are completely sleazy and it is the same as trying to meet a serious girlfriend at a strip club.

    Oh, and I am very impressed when a recruiter tells me something I inform them about is “interesting,” meaning, “wow, that went way over my head.”

    Advice to most recruiters, quit and go sell timeshares or makeup.

  96. Recruiters are the SCUM of the EARTH!!!! Maybe I didn’t make that clear enough. They are lower than pondscum. They are not even Human Beings!!!! They’ll lie to you, play games with you, jerk you around, manipulate you and then leave you twisting in the wind to hang out to dry.

    Last one I dealt with actually told me they had no jobs available. Had my girlfriend call and all of a sudden they had jobs available. I took the phone from there and asked why they had told me something different. Then they whined that I was being rude to them and their staff.

    Another one said I was on the short list for the job but they needed to know if I took an offer if they made one? Hmmmm, details, like salary, benefits, vacation? No, Yes or No, would you take an offer, whatever it is, if they make one. The next day she called and said they were definitely going to make an offer, would I take it. Never heard from them again.

    Actually ‘butt-dialed’ one recruiter and he called me by name. When I responded he said I had the wrong number.

    I could go on.

    Lower than Human. Lower than the lowest form of amphibian unorganized crap. We should bring back bathroom attendants and make these recruiters apprentices so that they could do something useful for society.

  97. I have been looking (casually) to change employers after spending 8 years there. I work in IT, have has an Associates in computer science for 20 years, and am almost done with my BS in IT, and have 8 certifications to my name.

    I KEEP GETTING calls from headhunters who babble in broken english, as fast as possible, who will not slow down. I have had headhunters tell me that a “long term contract” is not REALLY a contract. I even have had recruiters try to hire me as a contractor for the job I already possess (at the same company, where I am full time for 8 years.) I have had headhunters offer to pay me less than the pizza delivery boy makes (13 an hour.)

    Half the emails and phone calls are just spam, including one a few days ago offering me a position as a Pharmacist.

    One genius decided I needed to take the contract (3 months) because “this position is in your home town, it is closer than your current full time position!”

  98. I just got through dealing with an idiot recruiter today. This clown said my resume was great and I would be a perfect fit for this client (the same B.S. everyone hears from recruiters), but he wouldn’t reveal the name of the client, claiming his firm had an “exclusive contract” with the client. However, he wanted to know what companies I had applied to during my job search. I told him we would be on the phone for about an hour since I had been looking for awhile and had submitted many applications. I told him I wouldn’t waste my time with such nonsense, at which point he became extremely rude, demanding what I was doing since I hadn’t found a job yet and why it’s taking me so long to find a job. He sounded like he was a snot-nosed brat right out of college. He didn’t know what CPA meant, even though he was supposedly recruiting for an internal audit position! After I finally told him a few companies that had received my resume, he said his client was one of those companies and he couldn’t do anything for me. As usual, the phone call ended with the same B.S. of “we’ll keep your resume on file in case other opportunities come along.”

    Afterwards, I googled some key words from their ebay classified ad (another warning sign) and found the actual company advertising for the position. It was the same position that two other recruiters had contacted me about a few weeks earlier! I knew this jerk was full of it with his “exclusive contract.” The idiot just cut-and-paste the company’s advertisement, trying to pass it off as his own to snag a commission! When I looked up this “executive search” firm, I found out they’re just a consulting firm that does NOTHING in the recruiting arena! It sounds like another fly-by-night, thinking there’s a quick buck to be made by calling themselves “executive recruiters” (another ridiculously overused name)!

    It’s no surprise recruiters are despised, especially this slime from Professional Management Advisors Associates Inc. — PMMA (Yes, I’m calling out you unethical SCUMS!!!)

  99. I’m 48 and told I look young for my age a lot. But while I’m ok in looks, I’m hardly a raving beauty. I’m overweight and dress like a fedora wearing gamer as a lady. I’m working on that and I actually have had the experience of my boyfriend asking women to help me find better clothes and my job hunting. I made a new friend that way and in my closet I have some more appropriate clothes. Plus I’m getting my nails and my hair done more often. Unfortunately especially for women and sales looks matter. Even inside sales.

    My resume only goes back to the late 90s. I also read up the latest on Reddit. I try to stay hip to what’s happening in the industry.

    I am in sales. An inside sales rep in Silicon Valley. I am stealthily interviewing off and on for a new job as I’m underpaid in my job with a company that I have some concerns about. I’ve been at my current job for over 5 years. I’m always afraid that they’re going to lay me off as they have out of the blue laid off some people that I’ve been there almost 20 years so I know I’m expendable.

    In the past 2 months, I have experienced this:

    – being told that there was concerned about my age as I might get bored in the job of a sales development rep as most of the people doing that are straight out of college

    – having the company I’m at now insulted by someone in a panel interview “why did you want to work there but why I don’t understand why”

    – of course I couldn’t make eye contact after being treated so bad so that was brought up as feedback to my recruiter that I didn’t make enough eye contact

    – “I have all this great experience great great experience. But again wouldn’t I get bored in a sales development role since I have this lofty title in inside sales?”

    When I go to the interviews sometimes people ask me questions like they’re trying to gather information and I’m very cautious. I don’t give away any secrets about my customers nor the company I’m with now as I’m protective of them.

    I am thoroughly disgusted with how people act. The recruiters seem to not really care if the person says or does things that I could report to their HR. I choose not to as I’ve learned in life to pick my battles and I do not feel like picking a battle over that. The comment about my age was actually made by someone who looked to be about a decade older than me and seem to have a drinking problem bringing up alcohol quite a lot. that person was hired for decades by the same people that they followed from company to company.

    In Silicon Valley once you get over 35 in sales people seem to think that you don’t really have a lot of strong skills. It’s pretty sad that a lot of companies want someone just to read a marketing brochure and they don’t want anybody who has a lot of strategy and experience.

    I bring up my accomplishments and I talk about how I do things and I’ve noticed there are people who get impressed but I have the bad habit of being very direct and very blunt and if I don’t like you you can see it in my eyes.

    But fortunately for me I have the luxury of time. I can take my time and find a good job. I’ve saved up a little money in case I get fired. I also look at each interview as an opportunity to learn a lot about the industry and I have. My boyfriend works in HR and actually goes through every interview with me so I can learn what I did wrong and what I can improve next time.

    I’m kind of taking a break although if a recruiter calls me I do pick up and look at the opportunity, to try to work on myself as looks matter so much and a lot. I wish you weren’t so but it is. If I lost some weight I probably would have a much easier time getting a new job. I’m a hard worker and I gain trust, since I’m very honest.

    I might say one of my siblings saved a company quite a bit of money writing the script. He worked on this script in his free time as his boss kept telling him not to work on it and work on something else. Then out of nowhere the management of this company wanted to use his script since they found out that it would save them a ton of money and they were panicking. He’s over 50.

    The age discrimination really is getting tiresome and people need to grow up.

  100. Well, here is my view. I am 67 seven years old and have been working since I was 13 (54 years). I have had a few separate “careers during my lifetime including Electronics Field Engineer (Avionics; X-Ray and Bio-medical; Computer Systems), Computer Help Desk supervisor, Wholesale PC and LAN sales and marketing (District Manager), Corporate Trainer, Event Videography / Video Editing small business and , for the last 25 years, contract Technical Writing / Instructional Design. You can also throw in a few multi-year stints as a Technical Recruiter, as well as positions as a Database Manager and a Aviation Supply-chain Specialist, both for Boeing as a contractor. Okay, so I’m flexible. Its a good survival trait

    As a contractor, I have had to deal with recruiters constantly for over 2 1/2 decades. One thing I have not seen mentioned here is that a candidate has two people he is dealing with outside of the client company’s own HR department… the Recruiter, who faces, finds and recruits the candidate and the Account Rep, who faces, finds and sells to the client company. From the recruiter company’s point of view, the problem is matching up the relatively narrow job availability window with the equally narrow “good” candidate availability window.

    There is a certain pressure on the recruiter to massage and submit a not-quite-perfect (but available) candidate to His/Her Account Rep. for approval (necessary before the candidate can be submitted to the Account Rep’s actual client). Sometimes the Account Rep disagrees with the recruiter’s choice and the recruiter is back at square one in his/her candidate search. The disagreement does not have to be rational and may be based on a hypersensitivity to a perceived risk of losing the account because of an unsatisfactory placement (there’s that risk avoidance thing again!).

    What I’m saying is that many times the candidate is rejected internally, by the recruiting company’s Account Rep., before they are ever presented to the company with the actual job. And this is not always revealed to the candidate as a matter of “company policy”. Therefore the recruiter gets all the blame from the candidate. What the recruiter does NOT get is his / her fee / commission for the placement, even though he / she wasted valuable time finding and prepping the, ultimately, unacceptable candidate.

    There are many ‘risk-adverse’ barriers between a potential candidate and the job and not all of them are at the client site.

    • @Larry: That’s a well-written, valuable insight. It can help job applicants understand what goes on in the process. It’s important to point out, though, that in small headhunting firms the headhunter handles both the candidate recruiting and the client management (and hunting). It’s all one person. And I think that’s the best business model in headhunting.

      Larger search firms do tend to break up the roles, and I think that’s where the trouble starts. But that’s another discussion. I think your point is that the candidate needs to find out how the search firm works.

      The model you describe is prevalent in the “job shop/contracting” business, which is where most “recruiting” goes on today. It’s a hamster-wheel kind of business, and I don’t think it’s smart. Any time there’s a lot of “play” between the relationship with the client (the employer) and the candidate, more mistakes get made. False positives, false negatives. Everyone gets screwed.

      But your description of how this works — assuming that’s the model a candidate faces — is important to understand. Thanks a lot for posting this.

  101. This explains why recruiters have bothered me so much. Nine times out of ten, which is practically the same symbolic statistic as 999 out of 1000, I got presented a job posting I was not even qualified for, because they clearly didn’t read my resume. Sure, I had keywords that matched my experience, but I don’t think keywords tell the whole story! My “customer service” experience was unambitious retail cashier, which was probably not transferable experience for a insurance sales job. I *tested* robots as a quality assurance tester, but was presented postings for jobs that required an engineering degree I don’t have and more years engineering experience than I had. Both experiences were just stop-gap jobs. I’m actually a museum professional working on a public history degree. That one time a recruiter did land me an interview in late 2015 still showed signs of laziness and incompetence. While I *could have* done the job, they wanted someone that required little to know on the job training, which I would have needed, so I did not get the job. How good could a recruiter be if they are unaware of what their client actually wants in an applicant? At the same time, museum or general heritage organizations are rarely looking to recruiters to fill positions. They prefer to spend their limited funds elsewhere.

    Those recruiter frustrations are why I took my resume down from monster and indeed. I never found anything better than borderline incompetent recruiters. The museum job I have now, though not as lucrative as the stop-gap QA job I came to hate, was attained through knowledge of regional museums (museum websites, museum-centric job boards). Though, my 2015 resume is still circulating amongst the lazily incompetent recruiters, I recently learned. I got a voicemail from one that is clearly the cellphone/internet kind. Clearly did not read my resume or confused me with another resume, because I never worked at the company she referenced. No longer seemed aware of where my resume came from, and gave no indication of the kind of job she wanted to present. My interest cannot be peaked without details. I know she was *probably* not a scammer — I found her profile on LinkedIn, but at the same time most recruiters now might as well provide a form of scam.

  102. I am in my mid 40s and I have been dealing with recruiters for 2 decades now. Once in a while I’ll find a diamond in the rough….a recruiter who does his or her homework and is willing to get to know both the candidate and the hiring manager (and in some cases some of the team members) to see if there is a cultural fit. That recruiter will actually meet with you in person and follow up with you during your search, and he or she is well worth getting to know. I saw many more of those in the 1990s.

    Unfortunately today those recruiters are few and far between. The vast majority are working at large companies (or overseas) and make absolutely no effort to get to know what your goals as well as what value you might be able to bring to their clients, and they usually don’t care. Instead they are just going off keywords that helped my resume get past the ATS. They usually have no knowledge of the client manager or company culture. Many of these recruiters are recent college graduates and have little or no understanding of the industry they are recruiting for, and they work in boiler rooms where they are dialing for dollars.

    I usually fare better when dealing with older, more seasoned recruiters closer to my age who started out before the recruiting industry became a mess, and they usually work for smaller local firms. Those can be worth their weight in gold. The best thing to do though is network through LinkedIn as well as personal contacts. A great recruiter can help but unfortunately he or she may not be able to place you so you should focus on your network which means getting out there and meeting people instead of flooding the internet with your resume.

    • @Dan: We used to say the problem with headhunting is the price of entry. Anyone with a pencil and a pocket full of dimes could play. You could operate out of a phone booth and write on the wall. Today, the price of entry is far less — hence all the clowns.

      There are some good recruiters out there. They have no competition. They’re worth your investment of time. Refer good people to them when you can. Ask if you can help them with a search. They’ll love you and remember you.

      All you really need to know about the rest is to ignore them.

  103. Recruiters are total assholes that should all do something else. All they do is keyword match and then say they vetted the candidate and hope for a match with the hiring manager. Computers can do a better job and do it faster. Total assholes that think they add value to society. They are all delusional and should find a way to contribute something to society. Sure, they’ll say they will search for a match for you, but that is always a lie. Everytime they say they are not like other recruiters, then send you the jobs they have. Guess what assholes. I can go to a job search site too!


  104. Just pages and pages of cry babies. Wahhh recruiters suck. Well maybe if your job history and skills or resume format didn’t suck so bad, you could actually land a job. You’re old as fuck, that’s why you can’t get a job. Don’t blame the recruiter for that. Let’s see, should I hire this old fart with archaic technology experience or this young buck who I can invest in to stay with my company and is willing and able to keep up with the tech trends. Hmmm…

    • Don’t worry, I’m certain that nobody here would want to work for a dumb little dweeb like you (also pretty certain that nobody here gives a shit what you think).

    • Well, Dane:

      1) You’ll be an “old fart” too, if you happen to live long enough.

      2) Karma’s a b**** – and with your attitude, you’ve got it coming in spades.

    • So Dane, who’s at fault in this story?

      A local recruiting firm contacts me about a job in my city. Unlike the previous 99 recruiting calls I’ve gotten, this one actually matches my skills as a 3D graphics “technical artist.” Which means they’re after someone who can bridge the gap between game artists and programmers, optimize art pipelines, check submitted work, etc. What’s more, it’s for an educational game startup. The position is perfect for me, as I have 20 years of experience in both game production and teaching. In fact, living in a certain midwest city, and knowing all of the other local professionals in this field, I know that I’m almost certainly the most qualified candidate within 200 miles.

      The pay is six figures, with awesome benefits. I go in for an interview with the recruiter. The recruiter really has no clue about the game business, but says this company is very picky, and wants to see portfolio pieces that fit a certain style. I’m sent a link to an ArtStation portfolio, and told that I need to be capable of similar work.

      Ok. So I skip a family vacation and a major local gaming convention that I’d already paid for. In two weeks, I produce a portfolio piece that matches the required style, convert some previous demo work to the company’s preferred game engine, etc. As requested, I send the recruiter a zip file of the portfolio I want to submit, while also creating my own ArtStation page, and giving the recruiter a link to it as well.

      The recruiter thanks me, and says they’ll send it right over.


      I attempt to follow up for 2 weeks, and get nothing but voicemail. The clients’ under-construction website has no contact info, so I can’t do an end-run. Two other recruiters contact me about the same position, but I tell them recruiter #1 has already submitted me.

      I finally get recruiter #1 on the phone a month later. Turns out, the zip file was “corrupted” and he wasn’t able to open it. But he never contacted me to get a new one (or follow the link I’d given him). I send him a new zip file.

      Surprised voice: “Wow! This looks great! They’ll love it!” Says he’ll submit it. Calls back a day later to tell me the client was very impressed, but that they had already paid to move someone out from California 2 weeks prior to fill the position when nothing turned up locally.

      So here we have a company in search of qualified people that they’re willing to pay top-dollar, and relocation costs, in order to get. We also have a perfect job candidate living in the same midwestern edge city as the company. A candidate who was willing to make personal sacrifices in order to show this company examples of the kind of work it wanted to see.

      There is only one point of failure here, and that’s the idiot recruiter. Who either didn’t look at my work for reasons unknown (and lied to cover that up), or who couldn’t be bothered to contact me in order to resolve a simple technical issue. Even with 30-40% of a six-figure salary on the line.

      And this is only the most spectacular of the recruiter failures I could mention. My wife works in IT and has just as many horror stories. No recruiter has ever gotten either of us a job. We’ve both only been successful when either cold-calling potential employers, or making connections through our personal networks.

  105. garbage in garbage out. automation is the gud way to go, but the users must also know how to use the applicants tracking systems to get maximum returns. it begins with a well written job description, and the recruiter understanding the type of applicant being sought after.

  106. @ D Marie:

    I realise I’m responding to a thread that’s over four years old, but if you’re still monitoring replies, would you please provide us with an update on your situation? I’m 43 and facing a similar struggle, albeit in the IT field.

  107. Yes, recruiters are a total waste of time, black hole, never reply. I don’t see how they stay in business. For every job out there you have to have every single qualification. If one of the tiniest things are missing you don’t stand a chance. How can anyone make a career change with these requirements. No one stops to actually talk to anyone anymore. so it all about using your own net work. Forget those useless maggot recruiters.

  108. I am a potential candidate & an interviewer of potential candidates – Both sides of the equation. I find that recruiters in the last 2 / 3 years at least have become stats and graph driven, they type in word searches to find a word that matches your CV or a tiny part of it at least and then your bombarded with jobs you quite clearly are not suited to or you could never do in a month of Sunday’s.

    As an example, I have the word data on my CV, with ref to looking at data to improve processing, so yes you guessed it I get top end high spec I.T A.I (Artificial Intelligence)jobs filtered my way, really, I work in industry / manufacturing as in real things like machines that people have to operate manually and such.

    So, my annoyance with these recruiter types is that they are not actually reading your CV, they don’t know you from Adam and attempt to know you instantly.

    The recruitment game is an odd one, I have regularly been either end of the spectrum as a candidate and an interviewer looking for candidates and I know a lot about this system of recruiters not actually looking at the job spec req’s and also never having worked anywhere in industry at all or any job of any worth, but yet they are offering you advice on what they think you need – Come on, get real, go and work in an industry first for some years then move into recruitment because you’ve been recruited yourself and you get to know the ropes a bit and when to throw the right moves or punches at the right time and actually look for the right person and not by just a single word search – That’s not recruiting that’s word search that any person of any maturity could do including a child.

    Im sorry to be offensive to you guys that do a good job, but it’s time you took yourselves seriously and actually look at the right person for a job.

    Am I naffed off, yes I am, I am and lots more of us have some worth and work experience of 40 years and still you get treated like nothing – You get the young gun go getters talk to you like you’ve never worked and don’t know the score.

    Try harder to recruit specific people for roles, don’t lie about a job, please also stop phishing for ideas from experienced workers, do your homework and work hard and you will get the right people, stop worrying about your social media profile as well recruiters are full of this rubbish – Just do your job!

    • No apologies necessary. Your frank critique of recruiters today is spot-on. The behavior of most recruiters is a disservice to those who actually do recruiting work.

      I can’t tell you how many ludicrous examples of “recruting e-mails” readers send me — they are nothing but phishing. These are desk jockeys running keyword searches, blasting out mails, and telling their victims to “send me your resume.”

      Send me your resume??? WHY DID YOU CONTACT THE PERSON?? If you don’t know who they are, and you haven’t determined they are a viable candidate, why do you need to make the victim do your work of recruiting?

      It’s a sham and it’s prevalent and HR pays for it and encourages it. The one upside: These cranks reduce competition for real recruiters, who startle people when they call and demonstrate they know exactly what they’re doing.

  109. I’ve not read all the comments sufficiently? here, it would be interesting to hear from the recruiters and their side of the story as to why they are sound bite and not meeting recruitment criteria as in getting the candidate based on actually studying the candidates they so say feel are okay to contact.

    Stop looking at KPI related stats and fight for your job like it is in the real world .

    I am actively looking currently for the first time in 2 years and it’s so far it’s been a depressing time and I’ve had so many calls , emails, interviews arranged but guess what no job spec being forwarded and then calling you to say hey you’ve been successful in getting an interview – This is the latest thing, arranging an interview for you but not sending a job spec, eventually having asked more directly where is the job spec, ah, hmm, yes well there isn’t one , lmao off so I’m expected to go to an interview based on what the lazy recruiters have tried to sell what I think is more than probably a duff position they can’t fill…

    Come on guys, give me your commission I’ll do your job and my day job as well, why not as your not!

  110. I thought I should put up a 2019 update.

    It would seem that this issue has improved a bit, for me at least, in so much as it is now very rare for me to be contacted by a recruiter. For some context, since 2017 (last post) I have received a MA public history, which might be a keyword that sticks out for those “customer service job” recruiters. My field rarely uses recruiters anyway, and the results can be debatable when they do. I’ve seen it take the better part of a year for someone to be found, and he was courted by someone outside the recruiter’s office. This was a great guy, but was fired a year later for reasons unknown. My own employment situation has fluctuated, but seems to be on the upward swing again. That means I have went back to Indeed, which once practically just gave away contact info to mindless recruiters and scammers. However, Indeed no longer allows your contact info to be seen, even if the profile is set to “public.” My linkedin is set up similarly. I like to think this reduction in noise has helped dramatically, as I do get interviews when applying via Indeed. Of course, the recommendation algorithms and recruiters on those sites are still as terrible as ever. Indeed constantly asks if I have skills in “Swedish massage” and “tax prep,” as I often see recommended jobs that have nothing to do with anything but “customer service.” The one recruiter that did reach out to me recently via Indeed internal messaging was forwarding a part time customer service job in “health care.” Even if the job was not well over an hour away (without traffic), the recruiter failed to realize that discussing history or fielding questions with people is not the same kind of customer service as the one suggested in the mailing! Worse, I was generically asked if I was available, even though my profile is set to public. “Customer service” is a good element in my field, but it always attracts the worst recruiters. I literally reported that message as possible scam, because it made no sense. I genuinely wonder if Indeed and other sites track how often a recommended job is declined. If nearly everyone is declining or not responding, then the site should just kick them out for wasting everyone’s time!

    So, things have improved only because I am almost never contacted now.

    • As a quick addendum, the biggest question I have is why do recruiters feel it unnecessary to provide all the standard job posting info? It seems like odd behavior to dangle half a job posting. I recently had a presumably legit recruiter via Indeed not provide info like if it is part or full time, where the job actually is, or even a start date that makes any sense (literally had dates that past). Then they ask for my resume! Already have a schedule with my job; literally can’t leave it for a month starting tomorrow! Its as if they are keeping themselves willfully ignorant under the assumption that will get them more candidates. I basically replied with “I’ll send my resume when you provide more info.” We’ll see if I get a response … Its really bizarre to me, the common behavior of recruiters.

  111. Bad recruiters feed candidate resumes into such departments as if they were meat grinders, and lose professional respect when the new hire is gone within a few weeks, off to a less dysfunctional position elsewhere.

  112. @Nick Corcodilos, thank you for occasionally injecting a breath of sanity into this joint.

    For my part, I’m a senior technical writer with some interesting history to go along with that. I’ve liven in Austin TX for a few decades, and its one of the hottest paces in America to get a tech job. Maybe that’s part of why so many recruiters hit me up.

    As far as I’m concerned, today’s recruitment game is no different from the singles-bar scene of the 1970s — everybody is looking for something. One thing I’ve found that helps reduce the email noise level is — I’ve developed my own questionnaire that I spam-forward to all recruiters who email me. It has 10 questions and I request that all recruiters address all 10 questions. There’s a specific “you cannot submit me to these companies” buried rather far down, and about 10% of recruiters see that and say “we’ll call you later.” The other 90% stop bothering me.

    Now, here’s another thing — I’m still subject to State of Texas unemployment filings until I get a real job, so I track all the recruiter emails I get. Besides the onerous record-keeping burden this puts on me, I find that many recruitment houses have multiple email-senders who annoy me for the same job. Since I’m required to record these contacts to keep getting unemployment when I’m not working, it’s easy to see who’s good and who’s bad.

    Kinda like Santa Claus, except I don’t get the plate of cookies on Christmas Eve.

    The Texas employment agency, Texas Workforce Commission, requires that I make 5 separate employment search contacts every week. Yay me, in a normal week I get between 15 and 50 individual pings a week. However, of those, there’s only two or three that are legitimate requests.

    That questionnaire I mentioned? It includes a note “I require a minimum of $50/hr W-2” at the top. Texas Workforce Commission is about to tell me that I have to reduce my “ask” rate by 99.3/4% (or something) to keep getting unemployment, even though my questionnaire-suggested ask rate is kinda exactly what I get now.

    Unless I mow lawns, in which case my pay rate goes up past a dollar a minute.

    Think about that — I can make more money as a lawn boy than as a technical writer. I have mad skills for both, of course. However, when I get offered pittance rates as a tech writer and I can make much more money as a maintenance handyman or as a truck driver?

    What’s my motivation to work for $20 an hour?

    If I want to do volunteer work, I don’t need somebody on a VoIP line in Bengaluru selling me into a crap job. I’ll work for free on my own terms.

    • Yes, I’ve seen this bizarre aversion to answering simple questions! A recruiter sends half the job posting, and expects me to send my resume without further questions. What? I would never formally apply to a job without having all the relevant details, because as mentioned in an earlier comment, any skill you don’t have could disqualify you. I once had a recruiter get me an interview for a job I could do, but during the interview, I quickly realized that recruiter did not know who the manager was looking for. I could have learned their methodologies, but that company wanted someone to start day one sans-training. Makes me wonder if the manager complained at how much that recruiter wasted their time.

      RE: Unemployment. Texas sounds utterly nuts! In Mass, we have to do and report at least three job search tasks a week. That can be networking, job apps, or even just looking at job boards (most report that online). Tedious at times, but not over the top. Now, they will sometimes force you to go to a “career center.” For what I was looking for and my skillset, that was an overall waste of time, but even that counted for the weekly job search report. On salary requirements, its kind of reversed here. If we are forced to go to a career center, we need to look up salaries, among other things we probably already know. Again, a real waste of time. The only true salary reporting comes when they (re)calculate what they’ll give you every week based on your most recent employment. It is interesting to see how other states do unemployment

  113. I had a terrible interview experience with Paul Jones at MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas. He’s a nasty recruiter who literally intimidated me and bullied me in the interview. I wrote an article about it on LinkedIn:

    • Years back, I got a sense of that kind of experience. I was contacted by a recruiter for National Income Life, if I remember the company he worked with correctly. He fast talked me into an interview for a job I did not really want. Worse, did not even give me enough info about the interview. Yes, he actually did not confirm the location! Subsequent email provided no usable info. It was an easy decision to not go forward with that interview. The worst part was after when that company called me daily for a week or so, never leaving a message. Thank the gods they stopped calling. It was a ridiculous experience …

  114. If a recruiter calls me and lies about any question I ask ( who , where , salary $$ ) , or has an Indian accent – I hang up .