Incompetence in IT-recruitment: a Top 5


Helping people finding new jobs on a regular basis, hiring loads of people over time as a manager and looking into interesting opportunities myself, I've build up a rather bad picture around how internal and external recruiters handle the selection process of candidates for IT- and IT-management jobs. Here are the top annoyances that are encountered by a lot of people in IT.

My observations are of all times: during economic downfall or at the height of the hype, attitude and non-capabilities keep remarkably consistent. Of course in scarce resource situations recruiters are more pro-active but sadly not better or more polite.

The top 5:

  1. No response
    The absolute number one: just an electronically generated receipt or no response at all to job applications, inquiries and call back appointments.
  2. No knowledge about requirements
    It hardly makes sense to make an inquiry call to a mentioned recruiter. Most of the time they have no real clue what a job is really about apart from what is stated in the job description.
  3. Inconclusive or overstated job descriptions
    Either the descriptions are so vague that anybody could be eligible or they are so full of requirements, skills, additional skills and absolute requirements that no human would fit.
  4. Title inflation
    Probably in order to make a job attractive, the most weird job titles are invented. Manager is the most misused word of all. Watch out for mistakes both sides: e.g. the word or level “executive” is used for both true C-level roles and junior sales roles.
  5. Desk jockeys
    Recruiters hardly ever have face to face encounters with candidates. CV's, phone calls and emails, the medium most dangerous and confusion prone of all, are often the only sources they use and do not help in learning them interpersonal skills.

Just beyond the top 5 are: lengthy duration, stupid application forms and systems, disinterest and feeling just a number.

Some interesting comments and observations that I got:

  • The differences between internal recruiters and agency recruiters are surprisingly minimal.
  • In general the larger the company, the worse the opinion about the recruiters.
  • Smaller companies suffer from the fact that “HR-do-it-all” or “HR-as-a-side-job” are involved with recruiting.
  • The most appreciated situations, regardless of outcome, are those where the hiring manager is handling the inquiries and selection process themselves.
  • The (ERP-based) hiring systems used by the larger companies are very user unfriendly and stop IT-specialists from applying.
  • For senior jobs (team manager and above) recruiters are seen as hurdles. Since they select mainly based on paper info, they seem to select the more mediocre candidates who show all tick marks but neglect the high-potentials or natural talents who show non-standard histories.
  • Job agents on data bases are limited in presenting highly relevant vacancies. They often show very different level jobs based on keywords or just miss out the interesting ones because of weird categorization or naming.
  • Recruiters seem to be hired in the same way as call agents: rewarded on throughput rather than on consistent business contribution.

Is it all that black? No, organizations putting their money where their mouth is when stating that “people are the main asset of the company” should invest in good recruiting capability. The aforementioned involvement of the hiring manager is one option. Another one is to appoint people with content and business knowledge as (temp) recruiters. I tried it before in the past and you would be surprised about the improvement in results, both on quality and speed.

As always let me know your thoughts.

Back to top