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back to article Wait, don't ditch that IT career just yet: UK vacancies hit 5-year high

Britain's tech jobs market is showing signs of recovery with the number of available positions growing across the nation. The number of tech jobs available in inner London has doubled since 2009, from 5,736 to 9,886 in 2013, according to new independent figures. IT recruiters CWJobs handed El Reg data that suggests the number …

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How are we going to compete in the world

when the cost of a desk in London is nearly as much as the employee.

I've worked in a couple of places where the desk has cost more than me. There was no need for me to be in the office let alone London. Travel to the office was more wearing than a long day in the office and made the latter so much harder.

And now we have that internet thingy...

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Unhappy

Re: How are we going to compete in the world

"And now we have that internet thingy..."

"I've heard of that but I don't know what it is*"

*As a senior manager might say.

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Pint

"Wait, don't ditch that IT career just yet"

Too late.

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Re: "Wait, don't ditch that IT career just yet"

"Too late."

Quite. In any case, there may be more IT jobs being advertised but they still aren't paying enough (in the UK).

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Anonymous Coward

Impossible conditions

Wanted developer with 5 years Windows 8 experience(mandatory)

Recruitment drones get a bit annoyed when you point out that there is no one on the planet with that experience. "It's what the customer wants" they wail.

Numpties the lot of them.

Anon because you never know when I am going be looking for a new job...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Impossible conditions

I invented a new word for them - Recruitards.

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Re: Impossible conditions

Yes it happens, clients do ask for stupid things, I like to think I can spot the worst of them and respin them but there are >500 distinct technical skills out there, do you know the current version of all of them ?

I don't.

You missed the real problem which is that "5 years" is not a meaningful measure of expertise, I interview hardcore techies and the correlation between time and understanding is quite poor.

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Re: Impossible conditions

Wanted developer with 5 years Windows 8 experience(mandatory)

Recruitment drones get a bit annoyed when you point out that there is no one on the planet with that experience. "It's what the customer wants" they wail.

*****

Actually a developer working on the OS from inside Microsoft might do. Although obviously thats not what the company actually wants.

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PJI
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Stop

Re: Impossible conditions

This is not just IT. I recall, as a young biologist, seeing demands from employers for PhD, 7 years experience, etc.., oh, and under 25 (and the pay was unbelievably low).

Actually, one of the agents with whom I am dealing recognises this problem, having just had a would-be employer demand four years in-depth experience with product xyz, version n.m. She checked with the firm producing xyz, that confirmed that version n.m had been out less than a year.

So, though agents can rarely be experts in a particular area (or they would be doing the job I suppose), many are reasonably savvy and work hard as they need their commission as much as you need the job. My gripe is only when they try too hard to sell round pegs to square holes or fail to let one know that the job is dead.

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Thumb Down

Re: Impossible conditions

*****

Actually a developer working on the OS from inside Microsoft might do. Although obviously thats not what the company actually wants.

You know he was being sarcastic. Why make some stupid anal-retentive comment like that?

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Re: Impossible conditions

It's that is what they want, then give it to them.

I've been doing .NET since I got my first Sinclair, I started Windows 8 when Microsoft was founded some days later and I trained Ada Lovelace in SQL.

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Joke

Re: Impossible conditions

We're developers. Being a stupid anal-retentive is what we do best!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Impossible conditions

"Wanted developer with 5 years Windows 8 experience(mandatory)"

The thing is, some employers and recruitment consultants may have seen this on some Indian CVs.

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Re: Impossible conditions

"Actually a developer working on the OS from inside Microsoft might do. "

Sweet! If you know one, ask them if they want the £12k/year job being advertised will you?

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Lots of IT jobs in London...

...that pay £50k or less. That's why there are a lot of jobs advertised - no one half decent is prepared to take a pay cut.

More gems from recruitment sites:

"C#/C++ desireable" OMG, either make your mind up or stop advertising as this clearly isn't a real job opportunity.

"Minimum 5 years C#....£50,000". Good luck. Maybe you'll find some retirees who are looking for a hobby.

"Top tier Investment Bank is looking for a strong VBA/C++ developer". What a combo! Bzzzzzzzt. Next!

All told, I'd say you could discount those job number figures by at least 25% to filter out the 'CV fishing' expeditions.

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Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

Shagbag, if you are registered with my firm, could could you drop me a line with your real name so that I may have you deleted from our database as you are clearly too aggressively stupid for me to recommend you to a client.

Actually Shagbag VBA/C++ is in demand at banks, most analytics at banks are written in C++ and a lot are interfaced to Excel, often tactical developers and traders use them as a base for risk and trading using VBA as glue.

This isn't trivial and I am paid to teach it to people who want to do the more mathy parts of programming at investment banks. For your information, some of the very best paid IT people in the City do VBA&C++, some of whom are my students.

Also you are wrong about "C#/C++ desirable" meaning it is not a real job, many firms have both and for instance a job that is mainly in Perl,SQL or Matlab may require you to meddle with some C++ or C# or at least interface to or read. Also there is a prejudice that if you can do one of the "harder" languages then it means you are a better VB (or whatever) programmer, I follow their logic but it is questionable.

50K is a bit cheap for 5 years C#, well here's some news for you, some jobs are crap, I've written articles on the Reg explaining this, did you not read them ?

CV fishing is indeed an issue, I don't imagine it will ever go away, the best I can say is that if a pimp pays money to say "I want GPU developers with strong CUDA and decent maths" then that is probably true even if they don't have the job the claim. You got any idea how to stop this ?

No, nor do I.

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Happy

Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

Well, CV fishing is real, but that's not the point of the article. I find it unlikely that the increase in job ads is down to agencies doing more fishing. They were probably doing more fishing, when there were fewer real jobs around. There is a solution, which is to be wise to the fact that it exists.

Don't give references until you've had an interview.

Don't tell the agencies the name of your boss when they phone up and ask "Ahhh, you work for Fred don't you?"

But I'm sure agents will find creative and original ways of getting hold of the right people, there's serious money involved and gaining new clients and a hard uphill struggle. I've worked at a desk where someone phoned up all the numbers in the office sequentially, pretending to be students doing a survey from UCL and gradually gaining more information about the structure of the organisation.

Read all of Dominic's articles, there's some real honest gems that you won't find in many other places.

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FAIL

Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

I've 12 year C# and know quite a few devs with similar years.

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Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

Well thank you Steve, glad to see my efforts are appreciated.

You are right that you should never give out referee names to agents on spec, they are looking for people to sell to and it is not unknown for you name to come up in the conversation which is not good at all.

I'll check if I've ut this in an article and will put it in if not.

The "UCL researcher" is a new one to me, thanks, it may get used in an article.

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Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

He probably doesn't have a clue if he's "registered" or not as most of you lot just grab CV's from the job sites.

It'd be easier the other way around. What is your company called so we can avoid it?

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Meh

Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

I have to echo Dominic's comments here... I work in an investment bank and a lot of what I do is porting poorly written VB / VBA code to Java and C++. We have traders that fancy themselves as programmers downloading Microsoft's free version of Visual Studio and trying to write algo trading apps... And there are an unbelievable number of VBA macros floating around. I've been in some places where entire trading systems are written in Excel macros. I once saw a Repo / Sec Finance trading system entirely done in Excel / VBA....

I actually just finished porting a server side transaction processing system from VB6 to Java... I'm not sure how it ended up being written in VB to begin with... This is an application for taking trade data from multiple sources, determining settlement details and enriching the messages and then routing them to the appropriate back-office system. It should have been written as a Unix daemon or a Windows service... but it was an actual GUI application that had to be started up on the server - even though all it had was an empty window.

In reference to the article.. I've noticed an up-tick in the number of headhunters calling me. A couple of years ago I was getting 2-3 calls a week... Over the past year it's dropped to less than one a month... But in the last few months I've had a handful of calls averaging maybe 2 a month. They're all offering low contract rates though... We recently went through a 10% rate cut for all contractors here, but the new jobs tend be offering lower rates than what I'm currently on even after the rate cut.

Cheers,

Troy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

...that pay £50k or less. That's why there are a lot of jobs advertised - no one half decent is prepared to take a pay cut.

A big thing as well is the pay scale across the country. In the southwest, 30k per year would be considered a high wage, I don't think I know anybody on 50k. But at the same time, living costs down here aren't nearly as high as london, (although where I live isn't far off) so 30k per year could probably get you as much here as 50k in london.

So those jobs placed at 50k are probably an attempt to lure people from the westcountry etc into london, since to me that's an insanely high wage (and many people I know) meanwhile in the westcountry we're getting a lot of people coming down here from london for our much lower wages, on the basis that it's cheaper to live down here (and a better place to raise brats)

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Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

>I've 12 year C# and know quite a few devs with similar years.

You were using it live before the first spec was out? Not sure that's something to be proud of....

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Flame

Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...

'Cos even though the number of vacancies is increasing, the amount of spam appearing in my inbox is increasing too - you'd be amazed how many 'once in a lifetime, never to be repeated opportunities' I hear about which require C#/<insert MS technology here> despite the fact that a) I've been using Linux for nearly 20 years and b) Microsoft appears precisely nowhere on my CV.

Anything from the city spivs banking sector gets shitcanned straight away - I have a moral compass, y'see.

In an ideal world I'd be doing Real Science[tm] instead of software development but sadly, it's not an ideal world.

Flames, 'cos theres hopefully a circle of hell set aside especially for clueless slave-traders.

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Re: Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...

It's worse. I have no .NET skills whatever and yet have been interviewed for a job which, it turned out, required .NET skills.

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Re: Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...

This really gets on my nerves. Just because their system matched c# or java they are intent on wasting 15 minutes of my time to find out 'where I am at', when all I want to know is location, key skills and salary.

C# and Java could just be listed as exposure, but because they are either incapable of reading, or too idle to they think they can waste my time.

My stock response when asked question is "its all detailed in my CV"

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Re: Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...

I was rather amused when a recruiter phoned to tell me about a job I would be perfect for; it was the same job at the same company I was working for at the time. The recruiter in question did have my CV, which clearly stated where I was working. I was really quite amused by this ridiculous turn of events as it was quite early on in my career.

As time has gone by the amusement has turned to disdain for many of these people who consider recruitment to be an activity which is a numbers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...

I can't stand those recruiters. I got my current job (and my first IT job) just under 2 years ago. After getting this job I removed my 'looking for work' stuff from all the job hunting sites. Sadly many recruitment agencies still have my CV on file. So I'm randomly getting emails and texts saying. "Hey, we have a great junior c# role in bounemouth which we think you'd be perfect for, call us back with job ref XXXXXX"

Which normally results in my sending back. "I have a job, I got one almost 2 years ago, could you please remove me from your system" nobody ever removes me from their system.

Additionally a lot of companies have no clue what they require. One place I had an interview with was a startup company. They had some newly patented tech they'd made, and they'd written an application in VB6.0 to run it. The people who made the application were not softies, they were technies.

Anyway, the job would require, re-writing their entire codebase in C#, then maintaining it and updating it as needed. They were looking for a graduate engineer and were offering 16k. As desperate as I was for a job, I wasn't that desperate. Told the recruitment agency when they called me back, "no interested in the job, they have no idea what they need. If anything for what they're doing they want to hire in at least a software engineer, maybe even fork out for a contracter to rewrite it correctly and then pass it on to a software engineer to maintain. They definately did not want a graduate, and they probably want to up their wage offer if they want somebody decent."

About 6 months later I got a call from a different recruitment agency offering me a job in bournmouth paying 20k in X field. I asked if it was with 'Company name' when they said yes, I told them the exact same thing I told the last recruiter, 20k isn't enough, and they don't need a junior engineer, they need a senior if they want it done right.

I imagine they changed recruiters because the last one couldn't find anyone dumb enough who fit the criteria.

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Re: Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...

I'm sorry, what in all that was the fault of the agent ?

You do know that agents don't set pay rates don't you ?

Sometimes people do take crap money because their careers have gone a bit titsup and they need refocusing. I recall in one job, I was running a team and a guy came in with a complete bullshit CV but it quickly transpired that not was his CV true, he could not only do the job, he probably could do mine better than I did.

I explained the pretty mediocre money on offer was beyond my power to increase, but he was really just so chuffed that I'd offered him a job.

He was missing a couple of critical buzzwords from his CV and found it hard to even get an interview in his specialty, he wanted to do 6 months with me to get the buzzwords. Even though I paid him disgracefully he regarded me has having done him a major favour.

The point of that is they a pimp has to try, you have complete discretion to say no, but even though you have obviously never found yourself in his position, the life of an ITpro means it might well fall on you and taking shit money for a CV upgrade can be a very good deal.

Obviously I'd tell a client that 16 or 20 or whatever is inadequate but they are free to ignore me, imagine that I was that agent, please tell me frankly and realistically what I could have done to make things better ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...

Nothing, because if you read I didn't state that part was to do with agencys, I said, right there in the third paragraph 'Additionally a lot of companies have no clue what they require.' not agencies, companies. The majority of that post was shifting the blame from agencies to the companies they represent, so perhaps read before you go on the defensive.

The only part of my above post complaining about agencies was the fact that they refuse to update their records since I'm still recieving offers despite saying I'm not looking, several times.

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Facepalm

Re: Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...

That's nothing, I once had a recruiter ring me up about a role that *I* had advertised!

I did consider applying for the role to see how far I could take it. Interview myself? Offer the job to myself?

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Anonymous Coward

job ads <> vacancies

Apart from the already discussed salary level which is in many cases incompatible with getting someone *competent* on board there is also the fact that a key sales argument of agencies is how many CVs they have on their database.

In my experience, that is not a good argument. In our business we have such specialist demands that the way agencies work (tick box automation and no real regards for what hides between the lines) has increasingly led to discarding agencies as a viable source of recruits. It takes one to know one, and they don't..

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FAIL

Re: job ads <> vacancies

Well you have been dealing with the wrong agencies then. A large proportion of them are really clueless unfortunately, but there are some good ones too. Actually, it's more the Agent not the Agency. Once you find a good one, it's worth investing a little time to convince them to represent you.

It's about building relationships, and these guys speak to dozens of different techies with different skill sets every day of the week.

I don't think having millions of CVs on your database is a good selling point, and most clients just want you to provide a candidate who is right for the job, and who actually cares about the job. This is NOT a "fact" and it's not a "key sales argument". Sorry, you are wrong about that.

I can't see how you can "discard agencies as a viable source of recruits". That's where most of the work can be found, so you are immediately limiting your horizons.

I regularly get emails from agents saying "I came across your CV, and we're looking for a junior Windows ..." takes me about 1/2 second to press K to move up to the next email and make a mental note to downvote that particular company. Having said that, if it's someone massive like Hays then it could have been coming from anyone and next week they might have That Dream Job I've Always Been Looking For.

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Meh

Re: Steve Button Re: job ads <> vacancies

"....I don't think having millions of CVs on your database is a good selling point....." Unfortunately, it is when dealing with HR departments, who usually make agencies look like the Einsteins of recruitment. Most HR drones have zero technical knowledge so they reduce every requirement to a list of key words or phrases, like "5 years experience", "C##/C++", regardless of what the person that actually wrote the job spec actually put down. They then send the list of key words to the agencies with the biggest database of CVs which then pull out the CVs with the most hits. Depressingly, this is simply the people that have realized squeezing enough buzzwords onto the CV gets you to the top of the list. I even had one very smart cookie that had some C experience, but had also included a list if all the programming languages he did not have experience in, which, with the laughable agencies' systems, meant he automatically got put forward for all those jobs he had said he did not have experience in!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Steve Button job ads <> vacancies

Depressingly, this is simply the people that have realized squeezing enough buzzwords onto the CV gets you to the top of the list.

Hah, I've done that via the file properties. Hint for anyone wanting to snow databases: as all those numpties insist on using Word files (IMHO the worst possible standard ever), you can hide whatever trigger you want in the file properties and the search engine will comply, mainly because such search systems have been created by the same sort of incompetents they try to sell me. Was an interesting experience..

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Meh

Lies, damned lies and recruitment agencies.

As a person who works in the South West, I cannot remotely believe that there's that many thousand "vacancies" around because:

- I'm in Cornwall. We've only got one computer in the entire county. There is no such thing as an I.T. industry down here.

- Vacancies != jobs.

I commute a reasonable distance for my job and have pretty much exhausted the major employers in the area. I'd love to be proved wrong, but it seems that most agency advertised jobs are purely ethereal.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and recruitment agencies.

Only ONE computer in the whole of Cornwall? That's simply ridiculous.

You mean they've fixed it now? Or did you not actually mean "one *working* computer" and you are still talking about the broken one in the basement of Truro library?

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Re: Lies, damned lies and recruitment agencies.

The only reason I mention it, is because many people I speak to would LOVE to live/work in Cornwall, but it always comes down to the simple fact... No jobs in IT.

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Bronze badge

Re: Lies, damned lies and recruitment agencies.

You are presumably referring to Thomas J Watson's 1943 statement, ""I think there is a world market for maybe five computers"?

If so, it seems quite unlikely that one of them would be in Cornwall!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lies, damned lies and recruitment agencies.

And that one's probably an RM Nimbus.

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Silver badge

Re: Lies, damned lies and recruitment agencies.

Your best bet in Cornwall is probably local government IT or their suppliers - I know of 2 such suppliers in the county but at least one of those has a really bad reputation for employee relations.

Otherwise, live in Cornwall but commute to Plymouth - it's what I used to do, but I'm not sure there are many opportunities there any more.

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Unhappy

Re: Lies, damned lies and recruitment agencies.

Bristol = South West and skews the figures.

Cornwall job wise is screwed as the connectivity is crap (might change with the EU projects), The road system is ok at best for commutes and the trains are an absolute joke (i think they are limited to 30mph or something similar). Even as someone who works from home most of the time it would be impossible to work for any large company as the travel would be ridiculous (you would probably have to drive to Bristol/Swindon and get the train to London)

Its a shame because it is an area that could use the investment into non tourist dependent economy but between the stuff above and the cost of living (buying a place) it ain't going to happen. Cornwall and some of the northern regions could benefit from the governments tech city bollocks but as usual the money goes to London.

The Olympics is a prime example, we have x billions to regenerate an area lets see:

Birmingham (slap bank in the middle of england with major transport links)

Manchester (further up but still good links etc)

Bristol (transport links, "artsy"place, think Austin TX)

etc

Nah stuff that do it in London because no one wants to buy land there to build on or anything.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and recruitment agencies.

"...would LOVE to live/work in Cornwall, but it always comes down to the simple fact... No jobs in IT."

There must be a few jobs at Bude/Morwenstow at that GCHQ site http://goo.gl/maps/Nk56x - especially if the yanks have coughed up 15 million towards it.

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Unhappy

Re: Lies, damned lies and recruitment agencies.

There may be a few jobs at the GCHQ place, or in local government, but the pay will be shite (average 20-40% below market rates in my field)

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Anonymous Coward

Recruitment Idiots

They never read the CV. I am a back office sys admin sort of person, no where on my CV does it say I know how to code, have ever been on a course to code, or have any aspiration to code in the future. And I live 80 miles from london. Yet they still phone me in the middle of the day saying that they saw my CV online and asked if I am interested in a php web dev role based in central london.

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Shotguns and time

Looking for a job can be tricky. I work mid-upper range support/installs and tend to use the shotgun approach, applying for as many jobs as I can.

There is a lot of competition out there and pinning your hopes on one or two is a sure path to disappointment. The person on the other end has a lot to read so get to the damn point!

One thing that does irritate me is recruitment firms asking me to fill in their standardized form.

Is it worth the time doing the form when you just get lumped onto their database anyway until the right keywords match (months later sometimes)? Very rarely for the paygrade I'm in. When the rate goes up to £35/hr and more, then its totally worth it.

And unless its a job I really really want (like The World Food Program and/or another UN agency) I also think a covering letter has a very poor ROI. I will not send one to an agency. Its 20 minutes (and to do a personal covering letter rather than the garden variety standard one it should be taking this long to research and revise) that you will never see again.

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Stop

Dodgy stats

I wouldn't be too convinced by numbers from CWJobs, jobserve or whatever.

Companies looking to hire seem to push the job out to seven or eight agencies who then all pimp the same job (with slightly different rates) this makes it look like there are a lot more roles than really exist.

A good example was a role in Middlesex i got in my job search email today. Identical job description, identical location, seven different adverts with six different rates (£84 per day difference between highest and lowest). Two of the adverts were from the same agency (Hays in this instance).

All in all, I wouldn't trust any report which counts afvertised jobs on online sites as an indicator of anything - good or bad.

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Devil

To paraphrase an old joke...

How do you know if an agent is lying?

His lips are moving.

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Headmaster

Grammar pedant alert

Oh joy it's my favourite howler again - one of the easiest to avoid in my opinion.

The egregious tract is as follows:-

<<Meanwhile, Scotland has been making it’s name as a technology start-up capital>>

IT'S is a contraction of "IT IS". When you substitute "IT IS" in the above sentence it makes no sense whatsoever. Therefore the correct word must be ITS, which is the posessive - ie something that belongs to an 'IT'.

I wonder who committed it - the "spokeswoman from CWJobs" or the author of this article. The latter I assume. See me afterwards.

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No of adverts =/= no of vacancies

I do hope they aren't doing the usual assumption that the number of adverts is any indication of the number of jobs out there.

Apart from the points above about fishing expeditions to get CVs in, most jobs seem to be advertised multiple times e.g. I've seen at least 6 adverts in the last few days for one specific job, some from different agencies and some repeats. It seems that most jobs are now advertised by at least 4-5 agencies, and most of those advertise it 2-4 times so potentially 8 - 20 adverts for the one job.

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