Recruiter Incompetency

I'm finding it very amusing how incompetent some recruiters are. I mean, I know they're doing the whole search engine scattergun thing to find people, and there's so many hours in the day... but please... at least try to pretend that you actually read the resumes you look at before contacting the author of them.

Recent examples of laziness include:

Not Reading the Not Willing To Relocate or Full Time Employment Only flags on Monster

I mark my resume as not willing to relocate. I just bought a house, unless you're willing to throw money at me - and my wife who is quite happy where she lives now - it ain't going to happen. Also, there are only a very few places I'll consider relocating to - SoCal is one of them. NYC is another. Chicago - maybe. Anywhere else? Fuggedaboutit. At least right now anyway. So if you've got a position in Oregon, that's nice - my location is Redmond, Washington.

Similarly, I'm not interested in contract positions unless I'm a really damn good fit, and you have cash oozing out of your pores. My contract rate is probably too high for you to consider (if you're interested, it has been $150/hr for the past 6 years. It drops if you have your head screwed on, I like you, and you can't afford me). I like full time positions for a reason - I work better in a stable environment (ADHD - membership has its coping strategies). If I don't have that, I charge a lot more for my work.

The upshot of all of this? Unless I'm going to be a multimillionaire at the end of it, I really don't think I'll be taking a three month contract in Eugene, Oregon.

Not Reading My Address Info

My resume clearly states my location - Redmond, WA. If you want to give me a job in the Seattle area, please don't ask me if I'm willing to relocate. I'm already here. If you want me to move all of my belongings into your office space to "improve productivity", frankly, it just ain't going to happen. I'd slit my wrists first and write my resignation letter in my own blood. That, and you'd probably get sick of my cats throwing up hairballs on your tile carpet floors.

By the way, if you as a recruiter can't keep track of simple details like this (you know, top of 1st page of resume stuff), why would I trust you with my career?

Wanting me to phone you when I tell you I prefer email

You email me to ask me to talk to you on the phone.

Great! You've shown that you have the initiative and the knowledge to use email.

However, you didn't read my resume. I clearly state that I prefer email contacts - not phone contacts. I ignore recruiters who break this rule. Unless I'm doing a phone screen, I do email pretty much exclusively - I don't need the distraction, and I don't like to hand out my cellphone number to random strangers, which is the only way to get a hold of me during the day.

If you really need to talk to me on the phone, we can arrange that. At least get the ball rolling by email first. It won't hurt you - and it allows me to organize my thoughts better than I can on the fly on the phone.

Incorrectly Searched Resumes

I'm not interested in being a salesperson for Farmers Insurance, thanks. If you'd read the resume, you'd see that it's probably not a good career move for me. Or a good fit at all. I'm a software engineer. Through a strange twist of fate I have people skills (at least I do offline - online I'm a bit rough around the edges). Probably not good enough people skills to become an insurance agent without becoming a raving maniac or an alcoholic.


Look at my resume. The top line says I'm interested in GUI work mainly. Win32 stuff. Maybe games. Sure, I can do embedded - but I really want to work on consumer apps or games. I'm looking for a new job for a reason - I've spent the last three years working on one specific thing. I don't really feel like continuing down that path. So stop sending me job offers to work on similar things - particularly when I spell out exactly what I want in that whole "Goals" part that people want you to put on the top. I want something new to do.


No, I will not work for your company if you spam me. There is one recruitment firm at the moment who is spamming me with electronic engineering positions (not a good fit - they must have applied a search engine to my resume, and those keywords fell out) as well as software ones. I have no prior relationship with these guys (they're just after the $10k/person finders fee that applies to most recruited positions). The guys in question are nsi as far as I can tell (I'll update with the next one). I unsubbed from their list over a week ago - no dice. I still get their spammage. I hate these bastards.

Their offices are near me. If they insist on carrying on, pretty soon they will probably find out what it's like to try to get into offices when the door locks have been superglued. Not that I'm saying I'll be the one doing it, mind you. I have friends who will do such things for me, so I don't have to mess with cyanoacrylic gels.

Exact Skill Set Matches

Some software guys who interview are bad at this too.

My skills don't need to exactly match your problem domain. If I can understand your problem, I can solve it, or pick up the skills so fast you won't notice it took me any time at all.

So no, I don't have recent 3d games programming experience. But I can get it. Just point me in the direction - I'll go.

Salary Negotiations

This is the most bullshit part. Yes. I do want to be paid. Yes I do have a lower limit. Will I work for less? Only if it's as a favor to a very good friend, or there is the potential for HUGE upsides.

I don't want to barter over salary, but that's how it works. But please - at least tell me the ballpark you're thinking of. It costs me a day's salary (potentially) to come interview with you - don't make me waste that money if you're only going to pay half of what I ask for. Tell me up front, and wecan work on it.

Inconsiderate Demands on a Person's Time

Requiring that someone fill out a 5 page essay that requires 4 or 5 hours of their time to do an appropriately considerate job filling it out is an inconsiderate demand.

This is doubly inconsiderate if you're requiring this before you talk to the person for a phone screen.

It's triply inconsiderate if you're leading a person on into thinking that it's a really cool position in a really cool team, only to then reveal (after all this work has been done) that it's for a position that most people wouldn't touch with a bargepole. (I have nothing against my brethren in QA - but I've seen how people are treated if they're SDETs - some groups view them as "not good enough to be real SDE's"... which is somewhere above contractors, who themselves are higher than 3rd party vendors).

On a related note, I don't mind doing programming tests. They're fun. They're puzzles. But for God's sake, please, tell me my score at the end. And tell me the questions I screwed up so that I can make sure I don't make those mistakes again. The only way to learn is through your mistakes, and after you leave college, you don't get tested on it much any more. So it's a rare and important learning opportunity.

What's more, verification of answers allows for:

1. The possibility of typos (I'm human, and I have ADHD... there's a reason I got into computers - they tell you when you make mistakes in your code by not working. If you're doing math (for example) instead, you need to get another mathematician to prove you wrong before you can see the easy mistakes). I might have got the wrong column or something transposed. It happens a lot.

2. The possibility that there was an error made during marking of the test. It does happen.

3. The possibility that the test itself was wrong.

(This really does happen. I once did one of the home Mensa tests - multiple choice answers - and found several questions where there was more than one correct answer for each question. Problem: the test was asking for the correct answer. Mensa insisted that their test was correct - because the 3rd party that produces it for them insisted that it was ... well... correct. This is the kind of problem you run into when there is no oversight or verification on tests - you get badly written, plainly wrong, invalid tests).

In my last programming test, I got 100% in one section, and 96% in another... it was multiple choice, so I can conclude from this that I got one question wrong. One single question. Damnit! I need to know why! Do I need to hit the books on one topic again? Or did I just screw up and put down an A where there should have been a B? For my own sanity, peace of mind, and ability to sleep at night... I need to know! ;-)

The programming test took three hours by the way. The same place also did phone screens. While I can see the point in doing them, I think that if these guys were paying me at my contract rate for the time spent doing them, they might not have so many hoops to jump through - especially as the programming test didn't seem to have any bearing on the interview process at all. In short, recruiters, please make sure that your hiring process respects the fact that potential candidates have limited time they can take from their day job. So either be flexible and schedule long interviews for Saturdays, or cut down on the amount of red tape and "home work" that candidates need to go through. Optimize the process. It's good for you, and good for the people who will work for you.


Simon is a pissy boy. No... erm... wait... well, okay. I am. But please guys - I'm doing my job. You do yours. And together we'll have a beautiful relationship.

About the author

Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.

The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).

facebook comments