Surfing with recruiters, catching a good wave…

I’ve always had this fear of recruiters, not from a “oh they are scary” type way, but from a “are they really working hard to find me my next role?” type of way.

I was until recently happy in my current job and heading towards an impending promotion and subsequent (hopeful) pay-rise when to my surprise I was one of the few senior team members to feel the uncomfortable mix of poor sales and a brexit panic based cocktail…that one definitely left a sour taste.

Once I’d recovered from the initial shock, anger and having to trudge home to tell my wife that not only had I lost her cat a fortnight earlier (long story, it wasn’t really my fault..) but I’d now lost my “rock solid” job…My first instinct was to get a few minor tweaks to my old portfolio done and then hit the recruiters for my new job — easy right? I mean after all, Im a senior/head UX guy with a lot of experience and a lot of kind references and after a quick scan at the jobs out there I was confident these recruiters will lap me up……

Boy oh boy was I wrong, Id seen some fantastic roles that I knew I could do — I was practically doing them at my current (soon to be old) job so I knew what I could bring…however, getting through to the recruiters was proving slightly more troublesome that getting into a Trump rally with a Hillary T-shirt on —If I had my sceptical hat on I would say it was if they just post these roles on LinkedIN, Twitter etc to get numbers through the door?

Before I continue I must add that not all the recruiters I’ve worked with in the last 3–4 weeks were like this, just a few….you know who you are if you are reading this!! So pay attention I shall offload some advice to you and to job hunters.

For recruitment agents
1. If you post a job role and ask for people to get in touch — please firstly have a really good understanding of the role you are advertising, too many times it was easy to tell you were reading from a list and when I asked questions relevant some were perplexed. It also helps to really understand the complexities of the role…When asked if I focus on Mobile UX I replied “I design for all platforms of UX” — to which they replied, “Oh not mobile then!”

2. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE — try to acknowledge someone who’s messaged you, applied, tweeted, sent a smoke signal or ordered a small plane to drag a look at me banner behind— you have to bare in mind some job hunters are desperate or panicking, we have families to support and need to get THAT job so when someone applies or replies to you please take a moment to at least acknowledge them so they know you’ve seen them. I know you guys are being sent loads of emails but you gotta take the time to get back to people. Its our livelihoods we’re talking about here.

3. This is more of a question I guess, but when you say “I’ll put you forward for this role” then after talking and then going radio silent WHY WHY WHY do this? I’m not talking hours or even a day or so…I mean 3 weeks kinda silent, even if the client wasn’t keen let us know so we’re not dangling on a fine wire.

4. Follow ups! I talked to and applied for roles via recruitment agents weeks and weeks back and then they get back in contact with you and ask “hey, how’s things going? What’s new?” How’s the hunt job hunt going?… What’s new? How’s it going??…Oh I dunno, maybe you can tell me how it’s going with the application you put me forward for a few weeks back or how’s the “loads of other roles suitable” shaping up? Just be honest with us, I had numerous good conversations with lovely recruiters however one was honest enough to suggest I need to adjust my portfolio to really showcase my skills — You know who you are if you are reading this, I thank you for your honesty.

For job hunters

I can’t begin to sympathise enough with the stresses and headaches you’ll inevitably find yourself on during your job hunt…however below are a few things I’ve learned in the process.

  1. Chase, chase, chase! As you may have picked up from my ramblings above, recruitment agents have a tendency to go quieter than an Arsenal fan at the Emirates. Don’t be afraid to hassle them, email them, call them…regularly, some are very busy or some will ignore…just be tough and keep going.
  2. Contacts, use em! For my previous role and my new one I got through contacts and not recruitment agents…make sure you reach out to everyone you’ve worked with as they may know someone or somewhere looking for YOU! I’ve been fortunate that a buddy of mine recommended me to my new employers and to say I’m excited about my new role is an understatement….Make friends in similar circles, give them a nudge on LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
  3. Don’t get too down, it’s hard for you to not feel rubbish as you’re overlooked, picked apart or ignored..just remind yourself of your values and skills and make sure people know about it.
  4. Bypass recruitment agents, one tip I have is make a list of the appropriate places you’d like to work in and a location you’d like to work in and then get their websites up and check to see if they are recruiting or if not, if not drop them an intro email…you never know.

I’ve wanted to write something for a while about the process of just getting to the interview stage as that can be almost as difficult to deal with as the actual interviews. It shouldn’t be as difficult as this, I know some recruiters are taking positive steps to make sure you are lined up for the right role or make a concerted effort to get back to you…this should be widely adopted as it’s not easy job hunting and people dangling potential game changing roles in front of you for no better reason than “candidates in” is a bad approach to take.

On the flip side, as mentioned, there are good ones out there…who take their job seriously and it’s not just about commission.

If you have read this and it resonates or even helps make you feel better than before than that’s great.

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