What’s wrong with IT Recruitment and IT Recruiters? Part One

When you’ve worked in a market for a certain amount of time you begin to learn the trends of that market place and the things you love and hate about that market. This is blog post is a rant all about the things I hate about the market place I work in. The IT recruitment market.

As a fresh grad, graduating in Computing and Economics with a 2:1, whom hated coding but was good with people, had good communication skills and a strong sales background, IT recruitment seemed like a no brainer for me especially when I heard about the lucrative on target earnings (OTE).

However to say I had my eyes opened when I took this career path is an understatement, let’s be honest here, Recruiters are like Estate Agents I don’t really believe anybody actually likes us which is one of the first things I figured out.

Then there’s the  candidates especially contractors who think we don’t really do much except act as a gatekeeper to job opportunities and then take a chunk of their daily rate for simply introducing them to a client. Lastly we have the clients who sometimes see us as no more than a CV forwarding service who are trying to extort large amounts of cash from their yearly budget.

So the perception of what recruiters do is seen as more of an necessary evil rather than a valued service which actually helps put candidates and clients together. So of course it’s now our job to sell our service and educate our candidates and clients alike about what it is that we actually do in our job.

However even taken the above into account I had to learn even more again because out of all the recruitment sectors there are, the sector with the worst reputation is definitely the IT recruitment sector with maybe construction market a close second.

The IT recruitment sector is seen as the worst in terms of level of service, professionalism, knowledge of ones vertical specialism and with little to no business practices.

Can I shoot that consultant through the PC? He Knows Nothing!!!

The worst thing of all is having worked and seen how companies operate inother recruitment sectors such as Financial Services and Accountancy and Professional Services I think it’s probably fair to say the IT recruitment agencies deserve the reputation they have. The general consensus is IT Recruiters are just a bunch of wild cow boys chasing a cheque with a range of blagging techniques talking about technologies that we don’t really understand with business implications we couldn’t really give a toss about.

So how has it got this bad? And is it really as bad as I’m making out.

Well first why do I think that IT recruiters are seen to offer less value than say Accountancy or Legal recruiters?

My opinion comes from the fact that one of my previous companies I worked for was a multi-sector recruitment organisation which offered the same level of service across all their sectors. All the consultants who joined this organisation went through the same training and had similar targets. However, when we were on a PSL for a certain well known banking client our Legal team charged a margin of 30% for roles over 50K while the IT team worked at a margin across the board of 7%. So as an IT recruiter I was expected to deliver the same service for a quarter of the reward.

So how did this happen?

Well to put it simply IT recruiters got lazy, we started offering a shoddy service, cut out all the consultancy from our roles and replaced consultants with lemons. The multi-sector recruitment company I talk about above developed their recruitment practices in the legal sector so they had a committed training programme engineered to not only train consultants on entry but focus on continual development on weak areas to make sure consultants learnt the job properly and also practiced and got involved in their markets they recruited in. This enabled their consultants to be  talk to clients and have educated business discussions and make valued recommendations and also advise candidates and give them an insight into the market so they can better position themselves for a job. Far cry from the average IT recruiters call of have you got any jobs or have you been on any interviews.

Compare the above training with the IT recruitment company who bled me into recruitment and you wouldn’t believe it was the same industry. There was no training!!! They gave me 1 generic pitch for candidates, another generic pitch for clients and on my first day they told me to get on the phones and find out where the candidates are interviewing and then find someone better then the candidate who gave me the lead and present them to the client. The training in this IT recruitment firm was non-existent; poor at best needless to say I didn’t stay with them for long.

To make matters worst, they didn’t even give me a market to work in, they just said go on to Jobserve see what people are advertising for then place an advert in the same sector as there’s obviously someone recruiting in that sector. Is it any wonder that with such a reduction in service our margins are getting hammered?

The short sightedness of this company and I’m afraid a lot of IT recruitment companies has led to this.

So what’s wrong with IT Recruiters?

1)      IT recruiters cut corners, why research your market when you can lead generate? Why meet a candidate even if he’s around the corner? Why phone a candidate and see if  they’re interested in a job, just send their CV first and if the clients interested then speak to the candidate. Why prepare a candidate for an interview, they’ve got a job spec it’s not like it’s their first interview. Why write an advert for this new clients job just cut and paste the one I wrote last week. Why Look through the database the advert will bring some flesh blood in. IT Recruiters are lazy.

2)      IT Recruiters don’t actually learn a market, one phone call they’re a database specialist, the next call they’re a network specialist and after that they’re a support specialist. So if they don’t specialise you can’t offer any value.

3)      IT Recruiters don’t last – As IT recruiters don’t specialise they have no knowledge to consult in. This has created a hard core sales environment in IT recruitment companies and as with all hard core sales environments the turnover of staff is high so clients get no continuity and therefore a reduced service.

4)      IT Recruiters don’t deliver – IT Recruiters do not know how to deliver once they have won a client their training is all about winning business not keeping business. This means they lose clients just as quickly as they win clients  and then they have to sell hardcore again to get another client which in turn they’ll fail to deliver to again.

5)      IT Recruiters can only sell on price – If you have no value in your service the only negotiating tool you have is price. Is it any wonder we have market leading companies in our sector delivering resources at 7%? I’ve also heard lower than 7% but I don’t even want to think about it.

6)      IT Recruiters don’t want references – They’re too busy to research their market they’d rather speak to a candidates manager and see if he’s looking for anything new. Most of them will chuck the reference they took for you in the bin. Thats why they’ll probably ask for your references everytime you speak to them.

I’ll think I’ll leave it here; I could go on all night about what is wrong with IT Recruitment companies. It’s impossible to be an IT recruitment specialist there are just too many markets in IT to just specialise in IT. This is by no means a reflection of the whole industry but there are a large amount of companies who I believe fall into this category. Hopefully this recession will whittle away these IT recruitment companies I talk of and only leave the ones who actually truly deliver a valued service.

3 Responses to “What’s wrong with IT Recruitment and IT Recruiters? Part One”

  1. 1 игры в рулетку December 16, 2009 at 00:05

    Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself/earlier, though.

  2. 2 Jonny December 26, 2009 at 16:15

    A very nice Topic. Thanks alot hope you go for the detail next time!

  3. 3 Richard Lam May 5, 2011 at 07:53

    I totally have such a feel.

    I’m a skilled ICT migrant from Hong Kong. I’ve been here for a month and just learnt that the IT Job market here is not as promising as propagandized in the so-called short-term and long-term skills shortage lists.

    Assume those published on the http://www.trademe.co.nz website are genuine recruitments, over the past four weeks, I have sent over 50 applications, and most replies from the IT recruiters are unfortunately, rejections with very standardized and automatic manner, except one that I have an interview as the ad is placed by a client company direct.

    I just realized that all these “agents” exhibit two interesting yet frustrating characteristics. First, they just don’t care what your resume details are but screen out you if you don’t have local experiences. Second, even you are willing to bend over and enter the local market with entry level or junior positions, they reject you simply due to over-qualification. When I point out the “stuck in the middle” dilemma, they just don’t know or be apathy enough to bother with that.

    Problems are they just not think about many IT skills are transferable and universal, irrespective of geographical location differences. To my surprise, they just don’t know how to market an “affordable luxury” to their clients for highly experienced workers at attractive prices!

    The problem is not only about motivation, but they are just know apple is apple, orange is orange, rather than understand their clients are just seeking for an affordable quality fruits. Lack of even basic understanding on the technical stuff and the industry dynamics are the fatal causes that crap the IT ecology in New Zealand.

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