One of the reasons I’m pleased to be starting a new job this year is that I will not have to deal with the morons employed by recruitment agencies again for the foreseeable future. Doing short-term contract work is fine but having to negotiate with the leotards in agencies to get to promote yourself to a potential employer is a painful waste of time.

I’m sick of their irrelevant and annoying assumptions about me. First, that I am confused or doing something wrong by applying for jobs that are beneath my potential. Being told I am not a suitable candidate because I am over-qualified is infuriating and discriminatory. While they think this means I would not stay long in a role, this is irrelevant for a short-term contract.

Even for an ongoing role, it is for me, not them, to determine whether a role offers me a suitable income for the labour required, and the complexity of the role has little to do with how long I choose to stay in it. I don’t require, or allow, other people to make this calculation for me.

I’ve stayed longer in lower paid roles, where I was treated well and appreciated for my efforts, than in better paid roles where my initiatives have been dismissed or dishonestly appropriated by incompetent managers.

My potential is senior management, which normally requires working long hours to earn lots of money, but this does not suit my lifestyle. I don’t need the money and have better things to do than waste too much time at work. I’ll take a specialist hands-on or middle management role, do my 38 hours, collect my $60-80,000 and walk out the door at 5.30pm every day, thank you. This is my employment plateau and I can’t see myself wanting or needing to exceed it.

I only accept jobs that are compatible with my lifestyle. That means no more than a 30 minute public transport or cycle commute from Fitzroy, and no expectation of ongoing unpaid overtime. Commuting is a waste of my time. I appreciate flexibility and willingly work overtime on specific finite projects, and benefit from flexible time when I need to undertake personal business during office hours, such as going to a doctor’s appointment. This is a fair and balanced arrangement.

Increasing responsibility and complexity in professional roles should not be equated with longer hours and exploitative conditions to the extent that it is. If you want my skills, you must pay for them by the hour, all of them, not pay for 38 and expect to receive 50. I’m not offering 50, not at any price. I don’t want to work 50-60 hours for $100,000 plus. I don’t need that much money and the cost to me is a loss of free time and mental energy. This is unacceptable.

I simply have no need, or desire, to work any harder. Given the substantial difference between my abilities (significantly above average) and my needs (relatively modest), I simply don’t have to work to my potential. It is corporate capitalism’s problem if it is not flexible enough to find ways to make efficient use of my knowledge and skills, not mine.

When recruiters deny me roles based on their faulty logic they discriminate against me and fail their clients by not promoting a suitably qualified applicant.

Second, the demands of some agencies are ridiculous and further waste my time. I’ve had agency staff demand my CV in .pdf version because the .doc version I sent them was supposedly corrupt (despite the same file being sent to multiple recruiters without a problem), then another demands a .doc version because the .pdf version I sent them can’t be saved in their database. Their IT incompetence is not my problem.

When I arrive at an agency’s office for the initial screening interview that determines whether I get shortlisted to the client, I refuse to fill in their clipboard forms. I tell them that I have already given them the information they are trying to collect in my CV and covering letter, which I sent by email.

There is no benefit for me, or them, for me to handwrite this again. They can enter the data into their electronic records from the content in my email and electronic documents if they want to. This is not my problem and I refuse to allow them to make it my problem.

Some have expected to take my photo to store in their files. They don’t even ask, just demand it, then get surprised, confused and offended when I refuse. They have no need of my photo. If they want to confirm my identity should I visit them again they can ask to see my driver’s license. There is no benefit for me in them holding my photo on file. It can only be used for discriminatory, and therefore illegal, purposes.

One sent me some advice on how to dress for an interview. The problem was that I am a man and they sent me instructions for women. Apparently I’m supposed to always wear pantyhose in corporate offices. I’ll keep that in mind. Perhaps my new employer would appreciate an Eddie Izzard impersonation…

recruitment agencies and their moronic behaviour

8 thoughts on “recruitment agencies and their moronic behaviour

  • 9 January 2012 at 8:52 am

    “I’m supposed to always wear pantyhose in corporate offices. I’ll keep that in mind.” Maybe you should. Fishnets worked well for Alexander Downer.

    On a more serious note, you touched on a very relevant issue regarding employers expecting employees to contribute extra hours by way of unpaid overtime.

    I think that since the early to mid 90’s we have been experiencing a reversal of some of the the progress and gains (relating to conditions) made for employees in the workplace. Generally speaking (and depending on the industry) I think that the workplace is reverting back to the more exploitative place it once used to be.

  • 9 January 2012 at 8:57 am

    Totally agree! You in corporate pantyhose? Priceless :)

  • 11 January 2012 at 10:43 am

    Well written Brian. Cost of living increases, including mortgage stress levels unheard of in the past, have the ability to make people vunerable and almost desperate to succumb to corporate demands.

    Only a few brave soles with the guts and the strength to tell the corporate oligarchy to shove it.

    Asking for a photo to be taken at a recruiting agency is something i have not come across, and I’d certainly be very suspicious of such a request, well at my age, 52, I’d have every reason to be incomfortable.


  • 13 January 2012 at 8:40 am

    congratulations on your new job!

    I think thats why I keep staying at my job.. no reason to leave.. I get paid a lot of money AND I maintain a 38 hour work week with RDOs and they give me time off to study.

    There’s a special place in hell for recruiters and real estate agents.

  • 25 January 2012 at 8:24 am

    “I simply have no need, or desire, to work any harder. Given the substantial difference between my abilities (significantly above average) and my needs (relatively modest), I simply don’t have to work to my potential. It is corporate capitalism’s problem if it is not flexible enough to find ways to make efficient use of my knowledge and skills, not mine.”

    You speak my language. How often have I heard that rubbish ‘you’re underselling yourself’ when all I want to do is earn a few quid to cover basic living expenses and follow my personal interests the rest of the time.

  • 25 January 2012 at 12:20 pm

    It’s uncanny how similar this is to experiences I have faced.

    On returning from an extended trip overseas and with dwindling savings I had to bite the bullet and apply for Centrelink – and deflate what ego I might have had up until that point. They required me to register with one of their employment service providers. This I resented – I am quite capable of finding a job myself, and had been applying for a dozen-plus per week, it was just taking time due to the time of year. Anyways, I did as they said and arranged an appointment.

    From my experience registering with employment service providers – this was my 5th registration in as many days – you fill in some paperwork and they then perform an interview.

    On this occasion they required me to suffer the clipboard treatment – which I did respectfully. The interview: answering a series of questions asked by the receptionist, punctuated by her taking calls and greeting clients. Nice. From what I told her she realised my qualifications outranked hers. She was very enthusiastic about having me on the books. She even said she would refer me to the service provider’s subsidiary who is a specialist firm in my area of competency.

    I left after the awkward over-the-counter interview and that was the last I heard from them. Thankfully, I had a job two days later, thanks to one of the more competent agencies I had dealt with, off my own back.

    It’s great to see these agencies earning their funding.

  • 30 January 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Reading this made me feel strangely empowered.

    I’m only signed up with two recruiters and I’ve no had much to do with them.

    I was told in one interview that if I took any more corporate admin jobs (especially reception) I would need a suit jacket (fair enough) and that I would ‘have to wear heels.’ I must have looked exasperated at this sexist request, as I got a kind of ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ look from the girl I was being interviewed by. What alod of crap. Apart from anything else i can barely walk in heels and I look ridiculous in them – I’m way too tall.

  • 24 February 2012 at 10:40 am

    I am a job-seeker myself and have recently had numerous interactions with some seriously in-competent recruitment agents! The clipboard is one thing and an absolute waste of time, but its the questions that make you feel inferior, inadequate and unemployable.

    Being a sales professional I was always taught of “follow up”… Not one out of the 5 agents of whom I met with have bothered to call, job offering or not. I am another number to them, another run on the board.

    Don’t even bother trying to swap industries, these recruitment agents seem to think they know everything about everything. Every industry, every role, its expectations. I had one of them tell me that I need to accept the fact that I will need to drop at least $40K to even consider changing industries as I’d need to start in an entry-level role! Whilst that has its merits, little does he know I have made it through to final stages of interview off my own back, in a different industry, and of equal money.

    Their questions are all the same, nothing to do with me as a person, my ability, my knowledge, my skills…all they ever want to know is $ values, how much business, how much money, how much value, targets etc.

    I refuse to deal with them now and I will refuse to deal with them in the future.


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