About Christian Grobmeier

Christian is a passionated software developer, architect and trainer. He is a member and VP of the Apache Software Foundation, working on projects like Struts, log4j and others. He founded Time & Bill and constantly tries out new ideas.

5 ways how a recruiter can **** me off

I get called from recruiters on a regular basis. It just happened right now which motivated me to collect my thoughts on IT recruiting – something on my to-do list for a while. To be honest, like many of my colleagues I’m not very fond of the “scene”. At some points of time it felt more like trading with camels or cars rather than speaking about a new job opportunity, the camel being me. Am I a coding machine? Even when they laugh or make jokes, I can feel much often that they are really not interested in making the perfect match for their customers, but just want to convince me to apply for the job. It seems it does not matter if I actually match the technical requirements.

This is my list of the biggest mistakes one can do when he tries to hire me. It is not complete though.

1. Phone calls are the 2nd step and not the 1st

Some recruiters seem to think I am just waiting for their opportunity and call me instantly. Sometimes I have no clue where they got my phone number. Sometimes it feels all recruiters are somehow connected and share my private data. Maybe some kind of candidate-poker similar to programmers scrum-poker? Don’t know.

My mobile ONLY rings when I’m concentrated. I have many customers and it is hard to differ a customer from a recruiter. I find it rather annoying to interrupt my work just to tell a complete stranger that I am not available for a new project. Many projects I do are happening because somebody recommended me. So far it worked out so well that I never accepted a Recruiter job until now. The likeliness that I join a recruiter project is pretty low. I know many others who are in the same situation. An e-mail could clarify that within 10 seconds, a phone call takes much more time.

Currently I get five unwanted phone calls a week. I can identify a few recruiters on their numbers and leave them to my mailbox. Unfortunately they know so well that I would love their offer and so they ring multiple times a day, until I sacrifice lunch or another break to speak with them. Oh or even my evening hours because one of the recruiters once called me at 10pm.

Meanwhile I refuse all projects which are offered to me by an unwanted phone call. I expect serious recruiters to write me an e-mail. I read all of my e-mails and respond in time when I am interested and if I feel the recruiter writes to me directly and does not use a mailing list.

2. Read my CV

Some recruiters got in touch with me before a good while. They have my e-mail address and they have my CV. I expect a good recruiter to read it and decide if it does match. BEFORE I get any e-mails. It is not my job to filter out the matching projects, it is the recruiter’s job to be a filter. Actually some recruiters send me every project they have, ignoring my CV completely. In one case I get three e-mails a day asking me to join a project in the .NET world. It is pretty clear from my CV that I have no clue on Windows development. I do not own a Windows machine and I do not intend to buy one. And, no I am not an expert on C++ also and I have no MQ Series administration skills. Good, there are filters on GMail.
I have not subscribed to a mailing list. I just sent my CV to recruiter to find a matching job. It is like using a dating site to meet a new partner and the system propose you simply everybody in the database.

I can accept if somebody asks if I would join a Java Swing project because I have a lot of Java experience. Some Jobs make sense, even when I have not worked in the field before. But asking me to do hack MQ Series is so far from my CV that I categorize that e-mail as Spam. I never cooperate with Spammers.

When the recruiter has read my CV he should also know at which experience level I operate. I code PHP since 1998, Java since 2001. I am not interested in Junior roles as “PHP Programmer”. In my CV is also a reference to the Open Source projects I participate, it should prove what I wrote.

3. Know what you are doing

I don’t expect recruiters to be programmers. But they should know a little bit about todays technologies. Recently a recruiter rang me unwanted. I instantly told him that I’m not interested in a new job and that I dislike calls before e-mails. He was a bit confused about my reaction and he wanted to improve the situation. So he started to speak about the Microsoft cloud and mentioned that he did not understand what it actually does. Azure is an important part of the project he was recruiting for. I’m sorry, but I’m not giving free training lessons to recruiters. I expect people to learn themselves. We all need to do that.

In another case somebody said: if you can code in Java, you can code in .NET too. He was the opinion it is the same, somehow. Well, somehow yes. But actually not really. It is dead simple to find out that Java is a whole ecosystem and .NET is another one. Either this guy is ignorant or never read Wikipedia.

The same guy wanted me to join a Java Swing project later. He said, I have the Spring framework on my CV and it sounds pretty similar to Java Swing, so it should be no problem to join the project. I do not remember what I answered, but I needed to laugh.

When I am attending a meeting with a new customer together with the recruiter, I’m expecting that the recruiter at least has some basic knowledge about what we are speaking off. And, if not he should better remain silent while we speak. I have had several weird situations caused by recruiters who suddenly discussed the service bus of an application this the customer’s architect. To the defense of the recruiters, this last story was happening with a Sales person of the company I was employed, not a real recruiter. But hey, the outcome is the same: Shut up if you have nothing to say.

4. Don’t ask me to fool my customer

When I have a customer I work hard for him. He can expect me to give my 110%. My customers are usually very thankful for that and they recommend me to others. I have a good relationship with all my customers. It happened to me one day a recruiter called me and asked for my availability. I told him I have a project already and that I am not available until the end of the year. What followed surprised me very much. He suggested telling my customer that I’m sick. While my sick leave I could work for the recruiter’s project. Once I am sick for the 4th week my customer will surely look for a replacement and I could join officially.

I know it’s recruiting war. But this guy has lost it. I told him to delete my data and to never call me again.

5. Respect my requirements

When I was younger I did not care where I worked. But now I do. Furthermore, I know exactly which projects I like and which not. When I told a recruiting company that I am only working in a specific area and for a specific amount of money, I don’t want offers which are not fulfilling these requirements. I don’t want to discuss them except stated otherwise. My requirements for a job should be taken as a filter when looking for the right candidates.

But for a while and recruiter wanted to explain to me the benefits of a city that I really dislike. He could not be stopped. I told him I was there and I simply didn’t like the city. I told him it was too far away from my family. I told him I have some offers with better locations for me. But he kept arguing and explained how good everything was there. He even explained how my family could move there too. Well, it was such a big waste of time and I was finally forced to interrupt him.

Positions I really consider

There were some good recruiters crossing my path. They did not want to “sell” me a project. They looked at my web page or at my public social profiles and learned about my skills. They wrote me an e-mail that I would make a good match for the new project. No “act quick” or “impressive chance” and thanks heaven not another “exciting opportunity” (it seems even maintenance projects are exciting for some).

If I was lacking a skill we could clarify easily if I’m interested in learning it or not. They had some good knowledge on the environment that they knew if I could do it or not.

They wrote me a personalized e-mail and did not use a template. When I called them I have had the feeling that they were actually thinking if I would make a good match or not. They didn’t want to disappoint their customers. They didn’t want to waste my time.

They worked somehow like good software developers: they learned the background they need, evaluate potential candidates and estimate if it would be a good match. It is just as easy as that. These recruiters do not need mass emails. But unfortunately they are rare.

Conclusion

Don’t treat me like a camel. Nothing else.

Reference: 5 ways how a recruiter can **** me off from our JCG partner Christian Grobmeier at the PHP und Java Entwickler blog.

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