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Last week's article by Dominic Connor on how some techies really, really need some help with their CVs hit a number of nerves. flame_thrower Image via Shutterstock It's quite possible that this single piece will earn Dominic The Reg's annual most flamed writer award for 2011. Now, we know you're busy people, so here are …
Shame I missed the original article.
As for spelling, grammar etc. recruiters and HR people are equally poor even with the spell checker in use. Confusing they're / their, or your / you're - and don't get me started on the misuse of apostrophes. 10 items from recruiters lately; not one of them 100% correct (hint; make sure that you set your spell checker to the correct language; UK English - and no, US English is NOT an acceptable alternative to me.)
Remember, as a manager, I may also be an employer, and one day you might want to sell a candidate to me; and I can be just as much of a dick as you (possibly more so). If you piss me off, then I guarantee that if I get the chance, I will waste your time and bugger you about until I get bored with you. I have a long memory, and I don't forgive arsehamsters that are too self important to be polite.
Most recruiters are just high pressure sales people; as such, they don't care what they are selling, just that they sell. They know sod all about the product, and sometimes revel in the fact that they can sell without knowing anything about it. They are arrogant, because if they weren't, they would not be able to do their jobs (or would crack under the pressure).
Ain't life a bitch. Nice to blow off steam, but it don't pay the bills.
No, not more so than usual. 8-)
If I get 9.5 out of 10, and everyone else only manages 8, do I get the interview? In reality, if you make a mistake of a kind that really hacks off the reader, then the answer is probably 'no'. Others can make far more mistakes, but if they are not of the type that would upset the recruiter, then those others may well get past that first hurdle.
Oh well, back to the job boards. 8-(
...but an e-chum recently got a job spec from a Slave Trader. The employer wanted someone with four years experience of developing apps for the Jobsian Fondleslab. Yes, please DO ask yourself how long said device has been available in the UK. Then ask yourself how clueless a Slave Trader would have to be not to pick up on this.
When my last job went to India I got a copy of "my" CV from the HR Droids. It bore absolutely no resemblance to the document I'd sent to the Slave Traders some seven years previously and, while it didn't say I was fluent in spoken and written Xhosa, the rest of it was so full of outright Lie that I am mildly surprised that I'm not doing porridge for fraud. And this was not the first time that a Slave Trader has re-written my CV to make me appear to have l33t 5k1llz in an area of which I know little. Witness the embarrassing time when some chump sent me to an interview with $BIGCO. I had understood it was for a VMS BOFH position, so all of us were a bit put out when it turned out that they were actually looking for a RSTS system manager.
Get you own bloody house in order, Sarah Connor, before you start bitching at the people who, when all is said and done, pay your fucking salary, er, commission.
I had a "recruiter rewriting CV" experience as well. While coming to the end of a contract, I was contacted by a recruiter over a role. The details were scanty - data analysis, database design for Oracle, coding an interoperability layer in C/C++ on Unix - but as they were the key skills on my CV it sounded like I was an ideal candidate.
When I got to the interview, I was bombarded with SQL Server, Visual Basic and Windows NT related questions. One of the two interviewers became increasingly irate as I told him I knew little to nothing about those three technologies. He eventually shoved "my" CV at me, and asked me why I had those technologies listed under the skills summary.
Turns out that the recruiter knew enough that SQL Server and Oracle are database engines, VB and C/C++ are programming languages, Windows NT and Unix are operating systems. Desperate to earn his commission, he'd simply substituted them on my CV before forwarding it to the client.
Needless to say, I turned the air absolutely blue when I subsequently phoned the recruiter. Now, while that's an extreme case, I have to admit that the overwhelming majority of recruiters I deal with as prospective employer or employee are bloody useless. This week alone I've had in excess of twenty "cold call" emails of CVs for people with skills we don't use for posts we don't have open.
Personally, I thought the article hit on some really good points. It seems that people have just slated him because he's a recruiter. I can't say because I've never had to deal with any. If someone gave me some homebuying advice, would I instantly discard it if I found out the advisor was an estate agent? Certainly not.
I've recently advertised for a techie, not the greatest of salaries, but double the minimum wage and a fairly cushy job. The standard of application forms and CVs has been frankly dire. Just one guy stood out from 30, because he'd tailored his CV for this job - which is now the accepted norm - than just firing out some standard CV which features way too much information about everything in the applicant's life.
Okay, lets just iron out once and for all - how by all that's holy am I supposed to produce a CV that "stands out" but that also follows all of the (unwritten) rules of the recipient?
Use of colour: twat or individual?
Business-speak (twat) or tech-speak (anti-social) ?
Full CV (too long) or brief Resume (where's the detail) ?
Sadly, refusing to give them a number doesn't stop the irritating pests calling at awkward times.
My 1st encounter with a recruiter was a 'stealth' head hunting call to the office I'd just started work in. Who told him where to call (or why they did it) I never pinned down. A call already suspicious enough, my manager actually recognised the voice, the recruiter having forgotten he'd got him the job! Great way to fsck up a new job ;(
Cue 15 years of occasional calls and email pushing their services, not one of them at a time I was free. Quite a trick given I choose to work only 50% of the time. When I finally did need to talk to them, no response at all.
That company at least don't have a rep for physical violence toward people that dispense with their services...
You really didn't get what the article was trying tell you, did you? The point of the article is, a none techie will read your CV and approve it for the interview. The reviewer's job is to weed out the ones that might turn out to be a waste of time for the interviewer (that their job). The reviewer is so disconnected from what the job require that they are limited to the few bullet points provided to them. Match those points and write in good EngRish, and you _might_ make it to the interview.
"You really didn't get what the article was trying tell you, did you?"
You really didn't understand the flame, did you?
You don't specifically need a recruiter to tell you how to improve your CV - it's all common knowledge, and someone managed to condense it to a readable form in these forums already - but it is galling to have a recruiter lecture a bunch of people who already know all this stuff when that same recruiter is probably slicing and dicing someone's CV in order to "place" someone as we read their self-indulgent rant.
"The reviewer is so disconnected from what the job require that they are limited to the few bullet points provided to them."
So you're saying that instead of people who know their own expertise applying directly to an organisation who knows what expertise it needs, you need a middleman to do a job that a simple piece of software or a Web form could probably achieve without all the bullshit.
And simple pieces of software and Web forms don't cold-call people at work with "interesting positions", either.
Whilst some of the tone of the original article was a bit shit, many salient points were raised.
Over the past ten years alone, I have recruited in the region of 120 people - Tech/Solution Architects, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Developers of all varieties, Graphic and Web Designers and bucket loads of other IT related bods. Reckon that gives me a sense of perspective on this.
During that time I`ve seen CV`s that shouldn`t have got passed the agency sent to me. Some of them simply terribly written/structured or full of mistakes. I`ve had direct emails and CV´s from technies that would astonish you. I`ve had a candidate arrested for fighting outside the office prior to his interview. Another turned up dressed like the Queen Mother - I shit you not. He was a taller bugger n all!
On the other hand, I`ve had the pleasure to view many excellent CV`s and interview and subsequently hire, a lot of outstanding people.
It is the same in any trade - there are some people that are excellent at what they do, communicate well, work well with their peers and progress steadily through their respective careers. There are also many who simply aren`t as good as some of their contemporaries and will flounder or flop about through their careers.
Why should IT be different from any other job sector?
Personally, I`ve always found myself to be lucky to work in a industry that pays far more than many other sectors, with work that can be exciting, challenging, sometimes downright fun! Obviously, there can be a lot of tedium, wank-word consultancy speak, stress, shitty politics etc. But sometimes the large salary compensates for that.
I don't know Dom but i can see both sides of the coin, however i can't say the majority of recruiters have impressed me at all. Ex-Estate agents. LOL. Most have very poor specialist knowledge of a particular field, and no doubt due to pressure to put candidates up seem to use a shotgun keyword trawl of the databases to compile mailing shots to those "trawled".
The few good recruiters, know the employers expectation or can provide a job spec, are aware of the industries they operate in and know who the main players are and where they are based, who they supply etc. The don't contact candidates unless they fit the profile
The bad ones in my experience, don't know what their customer wants, in some cases did not even where they were. They obviously have never read my CV in some cases as the role was not even within my experience window as long as they can say to their boss they have submitted regardless after in some cases phoning 15 20 times in a day to get me to agree to be submitted. I work mostly in a mobile free environment folks, it says so on my CV 3/4 of the way down page 1. My #1 bugbear.... you never hear back from them if nothing happened, not even an email. Must be too busy doing keyword searches.
CV's can be over long and gild the lily and there's never an excuse for poor spelling, but.... i think the real issue on length is it saves the recruiter reshaping a CV to a particular opening. I've been shown "my" CV as sent by a few agencies over the years when I've started contracts and I've had a few laughs.
In short i think most recruiters are commodities now, if you don't submit to your targets then your history even if it means putting marginal candidates in who really won't make it past stage 1.
I can also get recruiters by the bucket-full!
I keep them locked safely up in my Linked-In-Bin.
Shame I missed the orignal article as well although it does make me wonder, if they are making so much commission on the back of placing me why have I never recieved a signing on bonus for allowing them to represent me?!?!
Maybe that will change next time I sort through the old Linked-In-Bin looking for who to represent me :-P
..... it is the middleman that is an idiot. After posting my well written CV to a popular tech jobsite a number of years ago this is how 95% of calls went
Recruiter - I have just downloaded your CV and read it and have the ideal position for you
Me - What position?
Recruiter - It's a business analyst with.....
Me (interrupting) - I'm a techie, why the hell would I want a BA position? 'click'
The only task a recruiter should be allowed to do is put all the CV's in a nice little pile to send to the interviewer. 10% of my salary to forward an email is not working, it is parasitical.
Bad recruiters just seem to do keyword matching, which can be fun. Hence being called to start an urgent contract wiring submarines because my CV has submarine cable systems experience on it. Or another recruiter who'd seen that, had a position that was somewhat more relevant. But when interviewing me, told me transatlantic cables attached to submarines offshore. That would be one way of doing slack management. Why are they allowed to screen interview candidates?
Actually I couldn't see the point of the original article other than to get a rise. Which it did with much aplomb. Also I can see both sides. However with only a little research you can see where the "recruitment" industry could do better in getting it's own business in order.
Random examples for a specific skill set:-
1st lack of geographical knowledge of the country
Delphi Developer (Delphi/SQL/Manchester/£35,000)
West Sussex - ARUNDEL UK
Delphi Developer (Delphi, SQL, Manchester, £35,000) My client is a firmly established company who are looking to grow their expanding team. They have an exciting new opportunity for a permanent Delphi developer in the Manchester area. Key skills include...
Location:South Yorkshire - BARNSLEY UK
Software Developer (Data - Delphi / Pascal)REF: 32162/RBSalary: Negotiable Greater LondonAn innovative leader in data software is looking for a Software Developer (Data - Delphi / Pascal) on a permanent basis to join their team in the Greater London... area.The Software Developer (Data - Delphi / Pascal) will join a small team and be working on software development for the marketing arena. The company...
2nd - Positions which have been spam listed for at least the last year, and in the case of the second example since 2008.
Location: cambridge cambridge | cambridgeshire
Salary/Rate: £50000 - £75000
Tags: delphi | delphi developer | developer | windows | software engineer | vcl | risk | progress | engineering | insurance | software engineering | delphi cambridge | delphi cambridgeshire
Start Date: ASAP
Recruiter: Client Server
Delphi Developer / Software Engineer (Windows API, Win32, Maths, Delphi VCL / Delphi RTL). Hugely successful financial software house is seeking a bright technologist with a passion for software engineering. As a Delphi Developer you will design and develop one of their key product offerings used by all major banks, financial institutions and insurance firms to model risk.
The role presents a technical challenge and a stimulating environment in which to progress your career.
*Strong knowledge of Delphi (VCL and RTL)
*Experience with Windows API (UI and file I/ O)
*Must be degree educated, minimum 2.1 ideally from a Red Brick University
*Desirable: Delphi 2010 / Delphi XE Mathematics / Computer Science background, knowledge of algorithms & efficiency, GUI / graphical diagram experience
As a Delphi Developer / Software Engineer you can expect to earn a competitive salary (from £50k to £75k depending on skills and ability).
Send your CV now.
Experienced Delphi Developer - Music Industry - London
Recruiter Parham Consulting Limited
Location London, South East England
Salary £30,000 - £35,000 per annum
Sector IT & Telecoms - Software Developer
Job Type Permanent
Date 09 Nov
Job ref no 20793873
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Experienced Delphi Developer - Music & Entertainment Industry - London
Location is London, near Euston and King’s Cross
Salary: Max £35,000 plus Bonus and good benefits package
Due to an increased demand for their market-leading product, the world leader in the provision of software solutions to the Music and Entertainment industry needs an experienced Delphi Developer. Additionally, this is a very pleasant working environment - casual dress code, laid back and friendly atmosphere and a genuine prospect of cross-training to C# in the future.
The experience required to be eligible for this role is as follows:
A minimum of 5 years commercial experience in Delphi development
Excellent standard of written English
Adaptable, flexible, team player
And that’s it! We just want good Delphi people (although if you happen to have any C# experience too, that would be an advantage).
3rd - Listing jobs which were never put through an agency but are still listing them two years after they were filled anyway:-
Our client is looking to recruit a junior developer for their modern offices based on the outskirts of Lincoln.
The successful candidate will be required to maintain a Delphi/Paradox product, and also maybe work on their MS SQL applications.
The role is largely fault fixing when issues arise in support, some minor integration work with manufacturer systems, along with conversion and distribution of data files.
Any experience with the Sage Line 50 SDO com objects is beneficial, along with any experience of the Retail Motor Industry.
Delphi experience is Essential for this position.
Reminds me of the shark-jumping monster.com which managed to be consistently worse than the worst employment sites by having a bunch of fucking technical support "vacancies" physically located in Dublin, Ireland spammed to every country's job market.
Morons! If we're looking for something in Ireland, we'll look at jobs in Ireland, not think "I'm in Spain, what jobs are there in Ireland? SEARCH SPAIN!" Sheesh!
...to get your point across.
Done the right way, that is: constructively and with humility, the point can be made and the information can find its way to where it needs to go.
Done the wrong way, that is: arrogantly and narcissistically, the point is lost because people are riled up and they aren't going to listen.
For a grown man who claims to be a "professional" to go the latter route. Well, it doesn't matter if he's right or wrong. He still comes across as a bit of a cnut.
A trick I`ve come across quite a few times recently is for UK recruiters to contact me (I`m in Spain) about an excellent role they have. Love my CV, experience, colour of my eyes etc. Can I fill in their "summary sheet", highlighting key achievements etc as a well as the references (name, position, email & phone) which "legally" they must take up prior to representing me. Eh?
Pity the "Summary" doc was a spreadsheet called LEAD GENERATION - yes in capitals and the sheet within was called Lead Gen. More info required about the referee than in the other sections of this doc.
Now if I were a suspicious bugger...
I did not read the article in question because I KNEW it was going to be a load of -irritating- bovine droppings. Turns out I was right. Not reading it spared me the hassle of typing my very own incandescent comment.
Oh, and yes, if you ask me recruiters are in line together with the "management for dummies" types, right behind the patent lawyers.
I missed the article itself, but the comments reflected some personal hot-buttons so went back and read it.
Given this article was really just a rant, it would have been nice if somewhere, just somewhere in that article Our Dominic had said something along the lines of "I provide a stylesheet for CV submissions at (URL) and expect people to use it when submitting them to me".
That way, since Dominic clearly doesn't know that people are taught to write long CVs in other places, he could add some obviously much-needed advice on How To Do It Right as opposed to simply whining that Everyone Is Doing It Wrong.
I shouldn't have to tell him this. I'd think it was self-evident that increasing the pool of CV-literates (at least, to his standards) would increase the pool of potential commission earners.
Word to the wise, Dominic, many of the stylistic CV things you complain of are things I've either been told to do by recruiters or things the recruiters have done to my CV and which have had to be undone in the interview by me in real time. I could never pad my CV like my first agent could.
And I wish your relative good luck should she ever look me up on Google. I have what turns out to be the most common christian name/surname in the universe. Google me and I guarantee you'll find not-me.
Only last week my lawyer was explaining to another who followed your relative's idea of research that a Google search does not constitute due diligence when issuing summonses, and that perhaps the small matter of a differing middle initial was more important that would seem when it came to empowering process servers.
But by all means look. Most of the me-alikes are way more impressive, CV-wise, than I. There's one bloke invented a new kind of aqualung in his time off from being a noted bio-chemist with a list of patents as long as my arm. I'll be him if you like. He's dead impressive.
And if you use a credit rating service, well, good luck. When I bought my house I got to see the query results that the best-of-the-best gave my mortgage banker, and was appalled. Rarely, outside of an Amazon search, have I seen a worse set of matches for my name and social security number than was shown on that roll of paper.
More than half the information was casually discarded by the banker as "irrelevant", lines that matched only my surname, only some digits of my social security number, that sort of thing. Why the programmer responsible thought that would be helpful I don't know. Whatever he or she was paid it was too much.
The article was fun, but hardly written by someone "trying to help". That would require positive advice. Word documents are bad? Okay, I'll take your word for it, but I don't Use The Force so could you at least hint as to the format that has the Dominic Seal of Approval?
And as a man talking about placing staff internationally, why are you referring to "A4"? A word count would be more helpful in places where A4 is a mystery that probably has something to do with English roads as much as a sheet of paper (whatever that is - it *is* the 21st century after all and if a prospective employer isn't reading my CV on better kit than I have myself he isn't impressing me at all).
I hope you won the pool on how many comments you'd generate with the article, Dominic.
1) Great candidates whose CV is so s**t by the time *someone* has read their CV carefully enough to realise they are the *perfect* candidate for the job they've been passed over for 20 others they could have done *perfectly* well. You don't like to communicate in written form. We get it. How are the telepathy lessons going?
2)Rubbish candidates whose world class BS skills and ability to *claim* they can do the current skill de jour and sound *convincing* at it, which means they stay around just long enough to f**k up some project before it is discovered by some (possibly only slightly *less* clueless) manager that all they *really* know they got by speed reading the relevant "for dummies" title.
I'll suggest all managers implement *practical* tests.
Set up test environment, manuals and task description.
Stick candidate(s) in room(s).
Come back in X hours. They've sorted it, they're in. Failures leave.
Test definition *may* be tricky but if you can generate a job description you must have some past examples of what the job *is*. Do you want someone who can *tell* you how good they are or actually do it?
It'll save a shed load of cash in the long run (and probably in the short run).
BTW There are large firms that *do* operate this way already.
Just a thought.
Most of the agencies I've come across are not keen on having "their" candidates tested unless they do it (for a larger fee).
Some agencies get upset if you don't supply a verbatim copy of the test.
I've also had two agencies refuse to play ball without the test and the answers.
Of the last 40 agency supplied candidates I saw for a development role, 37 failed to get the basics right, 2 didn't have work permits and one broke down saying he didn't think he'd actually be tested.
Pre-testing has saved me time and money. It also allows you to pay new recruits "up to" (insert commission fee) more than if you were using an agency.
What a lot of knicker-wetting fuss about nothing.
I vaguely recall being mildly irritated by something Dominic wrote on some previous occasion, but I cannot recall what, and he is clearly not a tithe as bad as 99% of the gormless oxygen bandits who make up the recruitment industry. He can spell, he can make a point, he has a sense of humour.
The only response I would wish to make to his original article is the one point that applies to me -- I don't put a mobile phone number on my CV because, as you correctly surmise, I don't have a mobile phone.
All the best,
I've only had one good experience with recruiters. The rest of the time it just a waste of my time.
The last time, just a month or so ago, the agency paid for me to fly into London (the end client was picking up the tab, of course) and attend an interview. In fairness to the recruiter, he had prepared a half-inch thick binder on me (goodness knows what was in it) for the end client.
It was clear to me that the end client had never read my CV, had never read the info-pack that the recruiter had prepared, and frankly didn't know who the f**k I was, or why I was there.
They put me in a room and gave me a PI certification exam to wade through. I've never seen, touched, studied or used PI. PI was never ever mentioned in my conversations with the recruiter.
A total and complete waste of time and money.
Does anyone ever get the feeling that when reading the job boards, some/most of the positions simply do not exist. They're just fishing for CV's?
I remember getting a call off a recruiter - he couldn't really tell me much about the role, but recommended that I read the role description on the clients website. He had just read the role description out over the phone to me, word for word, EXCEPT for the last part, which read "direct applicants only. No agencies".
It's not meant to happen but it does, most recruiters do this when they haven't got a lot of work so they can go to any potential clients and say we have x amount of people looking for a job in your industry. A good recruiter won't have any need or time to do this so I stay away from a role that looks too generic or is lacking information.
There are two kinds of recruitment consultants in my experience: those who don't care about their reputation in the industry, either from employers or employees, and those who do. The former you can very quickly recognise by the fact that they don't "interview" you when you call them, or they call you. They simply want to find you a job, and not necessarily the right job for you, or you the right employee for the employer. The latter will usually ask you questions about your CV, to try and find out what kind of a person you are, what kind of an employer would suit, and what your chances of successfully interviewing would be.
I am going through this process at the moment. I've had one god awful recruiter send my CV in for a job with a company without my knowledge (I received a rejection letter direction from the company for this specific job that I would NEVER have applied for as I don't have the skills). That recruiter went straight into the bin. The other two are energetically trying to find me a job. Yes, if I screw up interviews it wouldn't surprise me if they ditch me as a prospect. But why shouldn't they? There's an opportunity cost for them putting time into promoting *you*. If you're not very good at promoting yourself, then that's your problem not theirs.
The actual message of the article was fine, there was a very harsh undertone though that was very insulting. I spend a lot of time making sure my CV is right and have good success because of it; however I always find dealing with recruiters to be a pain. They either have no understanding of your profession at all, or don't call you to let you know you didn't get the job after going to an interview! It would also be polite to respond to someone after they have gone to the effort of writing a cover letter to apply for a job to give them a straight answer even if it is "Sorry, we are not taking your application any further."
I've also had recruiters and companies that don't filter the CV's they receive nearly enough, there is nothing worse than going for a interview to find your competing against 100 people for 1 position; it's just a waste of time.
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