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25 August 2011

Contact from Recruitment Agencies

I typically get a lot of calls from Recruitment Agencies. Usually it's about 20-25 a week. At 5-10 mins a call plus the inevitable telephone tag that goes on when I phone back and they are busy, this could take up 3-4 hours of my week. This is a necessary use of my time when I am job hunting, but I don't have spare time during the day for that at all when I am working and neither do many other candidates that are in demand. It's also rather obviously a sign of leaving when someone gets calls in the office several times a day and very quickly has to leave the room to speak somewhere private, not a good signal to send your employer or other employees. When I'm not working the default use of the phone is a fairly inefficient waste of time, please see the tips below on how we can use this time more efficiently.

I do think speaking to someone is important when the call is relevant and specific and to get to know the candidate. I'm not against phone calls at all, but with the volume of them, the length of them and the random calling at random times of day it's a bad way to manage time. If agencies want to talk for more than 5 mins and email simply won't do, like many popular candidates I'm either working, busy or can't talk - if you schedule some time to speak and we both have the time set aside we will both be a lot better prepared.

Some further tips:

1. My initial preferred form of contact is email. I can read email in busy places such as on the bus or train where it's too noisy to speak. I can also read email in patchy communication areas (also the train) where a phone conversation isn't practical or the quiet coach when it isn't permitted. I'm also on Skype: Craig.Cockburn for online chat - please send me a message which I will pick up and reply to the next time I log in.

2. Please don't call for a general chat about my job seeking status and recent career when this information is freely available online. This is available on LinkedIn, please look there first. If LinkedIn says I am currently in a job, then I'm currently in a job. If LinkedIn says I have finished my contract then I have finished my contract. If you have a template list of questions, please send me the template list of questions and I can fill it in quickly and you'll probably get an email reply giving you the information you need a lot quicker than if you leave a voicemail. You know, the stuff about salary/rate, location, contract/perm, career aspirations, etc. It's all fairly standard stuff. Once we get that out the way then we can schedule a proper talk for the relevant opportunities. Neither of us likes playing telephone tag and an introductory email is a much better use of my time, and yours, than random calls about permanent jobs in the wrong location or contract jobs at half my acceptable rate. Generally I only look for work within 90 mins of Central London, however I make exceptions for outstanding opportunities.

3. I am always happy for agencies to have my current CV (Resume) so we can stay in touch and you can follow my career and goals. Please send me an email at

4. I have two phones, one for incoming and one for outgoing. This allows me to browse the web, read relevant emails, etc whilst talking. The incoming one is usually on silent unless I am expecting a call as I don't want the phone ringing at work 20 times a week. It usually goes to voicemail. If it does go to voicemail, you are nearly always guaranteed a quicker response if you use the email address above. This is because I won't have to pick up the voicemail, write down the phone number and find a time to call back and hope you are there. Instead, I can just click reply and not worry if I've misheard the message, got a digit wrong or need to find somewhere quiet. I've had several calls from agents calling from bad reception areas and it took several attempts to get the phone number from the message, this is a waste of time. At least twice I have worked in a bad reception area. It is incredibly frustrating trying to deal with agencies who insist on using the phone in these circumstances and it is ultimately their loss if they can't put forward the best candidates because they insist on being able to talk to them to confirm basic details even when this isn't possible.

5. I've read James Caan's book on how he started in recruitment and made millions. In the beginning it was partly due to having a prestigious address in Pall Mall. I know that the address means a lot to many agencies for image purposes and so many agencies rent serviced offices. For this reason, and others, they often call from withheld or shared phone numbers. Please do not do this, it is exceptionally unprofessional. I have no idea when the call rings from a withheld number if it's a reputable agency I really want to talk to, a cold call agency I can put off, or a dodgy scammer. If you don't want to get mixed up with the dodgy scammer, don't call from a withheld number. It should be a simple switch on the office exchange, it isn't a big deal to change it and if it is then why not use Skype out instead? Not only does revealing your number let me know who is calling it means it's much much easier for me to call you back. Surely you want this? Please also call from a normal geographic landline rather than a non geographic number.

6. When you send me an email, please include a link to your LinkedIn profile so we can connect there and preferably also your mobile phone number. I classify all my contacts and email the recruitment related ones when my contract is coming to an end. I am able to do this effectively, despite LinkedIn's best attempts at making this selective mailing impossible. If we are connected on LinkedIn, you will know immediately when I am looking for work. Please forward your LinkedIn email account mail to your work address if you use a personal email address for this.

7. Don't ever send me a text from a number I can't reply to. This is exceptionally irritating and also quite rude. The equivalent of requiring someone to write a letter to stop anonymous sales phone calls. If you communicate with my by text, it is only courtesy to allow me to reply the same way.

8. If I call you from a different number, don't store it in your database. The number I put on my CV is the number you should use. If I wanted you to use a different number, I would put it on my CV.

9. Despite the insistence of many agencies in using the phone, none appear to use Skype. This strikes me as odd as we have both the benefit of talking by phone as well as the benefits of video calling.

10. I get a ton of mail about completely irrelevant vacancies that have no relevance whatsoever to my skills, largely because some agencies don't have very effective email campaign software and instead prefer the blanket email approach as it's cheaper than advertising. Please send these to a startup I have an interest in at . If you email them to they will go to a pre-moderated list that goes onto the web at the Move Jobs Board and auto tweets the updates to the associated  twitter account at peak times of day when people are most likely to be looking for work. If your standard signature says the email is confidential and can't be redistributed then this will be ignored; you are sending it to a group for publication, that's what it's for. There are a lot of innovative ideas coming with, based largely on my 20 years of jobseeking and having thought up probably the world's first on-line recruitment agency in 1989 and winning an award for it through Shell Livewire and appearing in the local paper at the time.

Thanks for your time, if any candidates or agencies have any further thoughts, please add them in the comments.


Craig said...

This article recruiter junk mail is worth adding here.

Maureen Sharib said...

Thanks for the helpful advice, Craig.

Here are a couple pieces back.

Change the @ out of your email to "at" because now you're prey to all the spiders and bots crawling the Internet 24/7 that have already picked it up and subscribed you to spam lists from which you'll never escape (maybe this will help anyone else reading this about to implement your advice) and do yourselves ALL a favor and just put your email and phone on your profile - thinking telling recruiters to "contact me through LinkedIn" won't get the job done because not many PAY the HIGHWAY ROBBERY RATES to use LinkedIn's InMail and those that do are mostly limited in their usage and by the time they get around to discovering you chances are their monthly allowances are used up (this may account for some of the extraneous and extraordinary contact methods you all are experiencing!) so put your civilian emails on your profiles - there's a place for them - usually at the bottom of the profile in the "contact me" section it used to be called. Once again, don' forget to put your phone numbers in. Consider getting used to signing your social media "droppings" like this:

MaureenSharib <- Twitter Phone Sourcer maureen at 513 646 7306

By the way something's wrong on your post on LI - this comment won't post

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