Sunday, 28 September 2008

Headhunters and a dearth of trust

What is it with some headhunters?
I had a phonecall from a headhunter the other day that really rubbed my fur up the wrong way.

First, they wanted my CV in Word format. I hate that. Quite apart from having to explain that I use Linux - which frequently leads in to the "what is an OS" discussion that I find so annoying coming from an IT recruiter. Yes I can use OpenOffice to create a Word doc, but it's a preference thing. I prefer to write my CV in PDF so I have more control over the formatting - because I've found that .doc format "helps" too much, and suffers from bit-rot.

But it's not like they can't read/print-out a copy of my CV if it's in PDF. What really gets me is that there are only two reasons for wanting my CV in Word. First is so they can copy/paste my skills/experience into their mammoth database - reducing me to a set of numbers... which I really don't like.

I recognise that might be a knock to their usual system, but I really don't like being just a number in an uncharted sea of applicants. It doesn't work for me to be recruited by a company that would view me as only so important as the number (and not the quality) of the years of experience I have.

Second is that they want to remove my contact information so that they are the only point of contact between me and the employer. This view is especially reinforced by headhunters that refuse to give you the prospective employer's name, industry, size or any other potentially-identifying details (or politely change subject when I ask, as this one did). How the hell am I supposed to decide if I'm interested in working for a company I know nothing about?

I should point out - I get a phonecall a week from various recruiters. I don't have time to go to an interview a week - so I have to decide, based on what you tell me, if you are worth a morning of my time.

Word to the wise: recruiters perform a valuable service - both to employers and employees. If you are good at what you do, then nobody will be unhappy about paying you for your services! The only recruiters that need to resort to cheap tactics like hiding names are the ones that cannot build a reputation for excellence on their own... thus if you flat-out refuse, then it instantly gets my suspicions up.

Yes, I'm sure you will get ocasionally burnt by employees and employers that are unscrupulous and try to screw you out of your fee. But are those the kind of clients you want to keep anyway?

Recruiting is a people business - it is outsourced HR and builds upon long-term relationships. Trust is important, and screwing around like this ruffles that layer of trust and just feels tacky.

Please don't do it.


Anonymous said...

Very well put Taryn, you're not the only one who gets bugged by this.

Anonymous said...

Someone I know once specified resumes in only PDF or HTML format in the job listing, allowing them to immediately bin the 90% of applicants that submitted a Word resume.

Someone else I once worked for liked to randomly discard half of the applications he received ony the grounds that they were unlucky to be discarded in such a manner and "we don't hire unlucky people".

Taryn East said...

Craig: thanks :)

I like the PDF/HTML-only idea :)

The "unlucky candidates need not apply" option would certainly chop the search-space in half, which I suppose is a saving grace ;)

Anonymous said...

My head hunter hate list- they think they are invincible. They call you with a private number, hide the client details and If you have to get in touch with them they do it at their mercy.

Taryn East said...

Hi anonymous. Yeah, I can agree with that. The sad thing is that they probably won't learn from this sort of behaviour. Candidates will either leave quietly without telling them why, or will be forced to use them anyway due to little choice. :(