The bottom line? Recruiters seem to pass the blame for some of the industry's most egregious errors on "junior recruiters and agencies," while insisting that their goal in life is to get you a job. How does that align with your experience?
Yes, their goal in life is to get me a job. The problem is that in the eyes of any recruiter I've spoken to in the last 5 years, "a job is a job," and if they get me any "job" then they feel entitled to some cut either from me or from the company they've attempted to place me with. Most recruiters would be satisfied if they got me hired on as a cashier at Walgreens, as long as they got a commission out of it.
I have a long background in IT dealing with everything from Apple IIs through multi-thousand desktop deployments; a development history that encompasses nearly 15 years of PHP (laugh if you like) with a prior foundation in C and C++; 10+ years MySQL, 9 years SQL Server/TSQL/DTS/SSIS; 7+ years at a multi-billion dollar enterprise with accompanying domain-specific knowledge in that industry. My resume spells out what I'm best at with no puffery or bullshit or buzzwords about things I don't do. I'm always open to a new opportunity that's somewhat commensurate to my experience and ability.
But what do recruiters call me about? Such promising opportunities as...
- Desktop Support Tech at $7.40 an hour (really?)
- Meter reading job for the local utility company (really?)
- Visual C# and .NET jobs where SQL is a nice-to-have mentioned in passing (one MS technology is not all MS technologies)
- Wireless Technician 100% travel ("the way they explained it to me is, you go around to airports and test the wifi")
- SAP Developer with 5 years in each of ABC, DE, and FGH modules (I wouldn't know SAP if it shit in my cornflakes)
I've recently fielded a phone call about a senior GIS position for a trucking company. There is zero on my resume or any of my job site profiles to indicate that I'm at all familiar with GIS, mapping, or over the road logistics. Recruiter's end of the conversation was, paraphrased, "GIS is just like Google Maps, you've heard of Google Maps, right? You have data experience. I think they need someone who can put all their truck data on a map like Google Maps. I can get you an interview tomorrow! Are you available about 10?"
I don't do any of those things. I don't claim to do any of those things. I still get the phone calls, though, because hey, this guy is an IT person and that company is hiring for their IT department. Must be a perfect fit! Does it work this way for other industries as well? I mean, really, are there podiatrists out there who get recruiting calls about pediatrics? Are there recruiters calling up bartenders trying to place them as USDA inspectors? Do folks working in Accounts Payable get cold calls about calculus professor vacancies, because, y'know, it's all numbers 'n shit?
When I do get the occasional poke about something I'm qualified for and might be interested in, there's no depth to anything the recruiter knows. What's their setup like, lots of iron or are they heavy into virtualization? Are they doing a lot of ETL from incoming feeds or is it mostly OLTP from their own internal applications? Even simple questions like how big is their team? What might their salary offer be? Where is their office located? I might as well be asking the moon, I can go find the job posted on DICE.COM* or Monster or Indeed and get more details than what the recruiter can tell me. But by golly, they can get me an interview tomorrow! Am I available at 10 AM?
Recruiters used to provide a valuable service, or at least I believe that they did. There was a time when you could find a guy who would spend a few hours getting to know you, maybe take you out to lunch a couple of times, get a real feel for who you are and what you're qualified to do. And he had contacts at a lot of local companies, and he spent time taking their HR people out to lunch and taking inventory of who they needed. It's always been a middleman type of gig, but they used to spend time acting as an advocate for both sides.
These days, anyone with a Skype account and a paid LinkedIn profile is a "Virtual Recruiter." They don't give a flying fuck about you or me, or about the companies who are looking to hire. More likely than not, they aren't local to my city or to the hiring company's city; often they aren't even in the same country. Their only concern is that their skin stays in the game; for each opening they can find, they'll call up 50 candidates, most of whom aren't qualified, and then set up interviews for a dozen of those hoping that one of them sticks long enough that they can earn a commission.
At this point my general opinion about recruiters is fuck recruiters, especially virtual recruiters. I suppose that just as is the case with politicians and police, there must be some really good ones out there. I just haven't encountered any of them yet.
* Might as well mention Slashdot's mothership in the same breath as the competing services