Recruiters: It’s Time To Get Better

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Matthew Thogerson is a recruiter at 52 Limited – lucky for us. Earlier this month he conducted a little experiment to find out exactly what kind of experience skilled candidates were having with staffing agencies in general. What he discovered is that our profession maybe needs to do a little soul searching. We’ve always half-jokingly referred to ourselves as the anti-staffing staffing agency but the truth is we’re a creative and tech staffing firm and there are too many businesses needlessly making our job – meeting people, building trust, connecting players – that much harder. Follow Matthew on Medium and read on…

by Matthew Thogerson

Matthew Thogerson

At the beginning of October, I went undercover. Not particularly deep but not kiddie pool depth either. I became a software engineer with an interesting name, an excellent education, and all the right skills.

And, to no one’s surprise, the recruiters came a’callin’.

Immediately I was beset by hundreds of emails daily – emails with catch lines such as “Java Developer — Dayton Ohio — Act Now” or “Urgent Need: Devops Engineers” or simply full job titles, requisition number and all. The emails were too long and too generic and many of them misspelled my fictional name — which was about as simple as it comes (think John Smith). Many of them assumed a colloquial connection, starting with warm language that ensured me that my best interests were being sought after by the recruiter and wishes for my overall well being.

All in all — the emails were dry, inauthentic, and riddled with inaccuracies. And this led me to realize:

Recruiters are infuriating. For the most part, they don’t pay attention to your background, they don’t understand your skill set, and they disregard your preferences. At the top of my resume I stated that I’m only interested in full time opportunities in Portland, Oregon. I’m certain that Sunnyvale, San Francisco, Dayton, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Wichita and many more are not.

Furthermore my alter ego is a Javascript developer fully focused on front-end web development. Not a Java developer, not a Test Engineer, not a DevOps provisioner — a web developer only. Out of the hundreds of emails I receive, less than 10% were even close to the skill set I set forth for consideration.

Which ultimately led me to this conclusion: Recruiters need to be better.

Not a by a little but by a large margin. And ultimately, this is only going to happen if you actually give a shit about what you’re doing and the people with which you’re working.

So how do you give a shit?

I don’t have all the answers but I know what’s working for me.

The truth here is that your attention to detail can’t be faked, your “hope you’re doing well” can’t be en masse, and you truly need to leave your KPIs at the door. Blasted email templates, partial keyword matches, and fake courtesy are getting you nowhere. Furthermore, for every misaligned email — you lose a potential contact, a potential referral, and maybe even a friend (it happens!).

So please get it together folks. It’s embarrassing and it’s giving all fellow recruiters a bad reputation.