Lazy Agents

Warning: this is not a travel post and some of you might want to skip it, geeks will want to read on. This might be one of those posts I might eventually regret writing but I did promise I would be honest with myself and the world around me. Please feel free to forward this to your buddies you can use the social media tools above or otherwise, I would love to hear any feedback.

Having worked in the I.T industry for about 15 or so years I have seen things change in a massive way but there is one thing that I find difficult to believe. Why do I still find it necessary to use agencies to get a job in I.T? Why as geeks have we not collaborated together to work around them and if we have more importantly why don’t I know about it?

We have services such as LinkedIn and Stack Overflow Careers both of which have the ability for employers to find people they might be looking for and employees looking for new positions. This may be the wrong thing to do but since opening a LinkedIn account I have actively denied any agency that want’s to add me to their network and I do this for a few reasons. To me LinkedIn is a way to keep in touch with people I have worked with so I can keep in touch with them and since I have not worked with these agents they instantly get refused. The second main reason is that agencies generally offer a (not very generous) £500 if you supply one of your friends for a position and if you allow them access to your network they get potential access to all your friends which means you miss out on the £500. If that’s not enough reason I also dislike the way that they assume that just because they contacted you then they get access to your network.

Upon many occasions I have had an e-mail from an agency asking me about my current situation to which I normally update them with. For example let’s say I am in a position and perfectly happy with it for the time being I tell them to contact me in about 6 months to see how things are. Sometimes the day after or a week after I get the same mail, sometimes from the same person but more often than not from a different person asking me the same question. This normally unearths Sarcastic Chris who will suggest that the mail he wrote to the other person should be enough to ‘unflag’ me from receiving such mails for the designated period of time. Of course that means we live in a perfect world where I am assuming agents have the tools to do such things and if they do assumes that they do so, both of which I realise are massively flawed assumptions. This is not the end of the frustrations though, I often feel when I talk to an agent they have not actually read my CV (I can say this happens a lot) and ask me if I can do X, Y and Z. All of which is either on or not on my CV and it would take just a little work from them to figure out if they are wasting both their and my time.

The above tweet by a friend of mine is a great example of another frustration I have faced with these people. I too have been offered jobs in a totally different part of the country from where I am currently living, jobs for a position and a salary I would of jumped at 15 years ago, jobs that are completely irrelevant to my skill set, and jobs I have turned down only to be offered the same position by a different person in the agency to name a few. After a while dealing with their scattergun approach to me (and maybe others like me) is quite tiresome.

I remember a certain underhanded tactic of one agent in particular. They called my current place of work looking for a male employee that had left a few months beforehand, they claimed at time of the conversation that they were a delivery service and had a parcel for him. Now when I spoke to the person on the phone and told them we have no contact detail for the employee (data protection act) and they could return the parcel to sender they insisted they needed someone to take responsibility for it. Smells really fishy right? I tell them to go ahead and send whatever fake package they have to the office. They ask me what my position is and my name and I force an end to the call as I didn’t have rime to play this game. A few days pass, no parcel turns up and again the same company calls asking for the same employee, again claiming they have a parcel for him, again I take the call. It took them just a few seconds to confirm who I was and what position I was in before actually telling me who they were. I can’t remember the exact conversation but I don’t think I was pleasant with them. I remember calling them desperate and when they tried to explain themselves I ended the call by telling them that the conversation was over and hanging up on them. This underhanded tactic is no doubt just one of many that the agencies use to get people and if any agency calls me at work not on my mobile and then try to poach me I warn you now all you can expect is me asking to speak to your superior and lodging an official complaint (not that I expect that to do anything).

I have been on the other end of the stick too, I have been that person who has needed someone and posted job adverts on Gumtree and LinkedIn and I understand why company use agencies because it does cut down on the time you need to spend sifting through CV’s (to a point) so I know how time consuming it can be to find the person that you want. However I why can’t a site like Stack Overflow Careers can make the need for agencies totally redundant?

So fellow geeks I think it’s time we speak out. If your in a company looking for people use alternatives to Agencies is what I am saying. How about we build a website that shows just how totally incompetent some of these people are at doing their job?

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