Technology Recruiters Face Major Perception Problems

Based on a poll in a September report on jobs and technology job hunting, a good number of job seekers discount the value of recruiters in getting a new job. A closer look at the daily frustrations of managing recruiters for IT workers reveals what is and is not working for them.

Maybe all it takes is one or two bad experiences with an inexperienced recruiter with very little technology knowledge to get under the skin of tech job seekers. Maybe it's all those unsolicited e-mails and phone calls. Maybe they just feel like a flock of mosquitoes, trying to pinch a little bit of your blood and soul while you are simply trying to manage the day to day of your job. Perhaps it's as simple as you haven't found a recruiter you can honestly trust.
What else would explain nearly 40 percent of respondents to a recent Dice poll saying that recruiters were a waste of time? Dice is a technology job board that is widely used by companies, recruiting agencies and independent recruiters looking to find the right match for open positions.
"While 39 percent is certainly a large proportion, it means 61 percent see at least some of the value recruiters bring to a job search: Twenty-eight percent said they got a job through a recruiter, 23 percent have gone to interviews set up by a recruiter, and 10 percent have gotten a contract position through one," writes Dice Senior Vice President and CMO Tom Silver.
It's no doubt that it's in Dice's best interest to talk about the value of recruiting, as it clearly does in The Dice Report for September. It certainly begs the question: Are recruiters really a bad use of your time?
Ok, yes, the majority still sees some value in recruiters. However, what Silver and Dice do not examine in any detail in the report is why that 39 percent want nothing or little to do with them. Dice would not need to look that far to see the headaches technology job seekers go through with recruiters.
In a Dice forum thread with the subject "Anyone else sick of recruiters?" you find a plethora of bitching, of course, but also of real experiences that burned people and also some more measured reactions.
Here are a few with a more measured tone:
From the contributor "vmunix":

"It's gotten so bad, I honestly don't return 90% of the emails I get about jobs. Or calls. I have a very wide range of skills, combined with some very unique skills that are depressingly high in demand.

I say depressingly high because they result in a lot of garbage resume farmers from India pestering me about jobs it should be blatantly clear I have no interest in. See my name? Now, why on earth would I want to talk to somebody about a Windows NT 4 PDC to Active Directory migration?

Or my location preferences. It's pretty clear; there are three places in the country I am interested in. Or straight telecommute. So of course, I get tons of recruiters asking if I'd be interested in a job in a completely different locale, which is so junior to me as to be nearly an insult.
That said so far, I do have to admit, I've had the pleasure of working with some EXCELLENT recruiters and agencies. NOTHING pisses me off more than a brainless recruiter who has NO idea what it is that I do trying to tell me what it is that I do. But I've had a few from firms both large and small that were decent enough to come right out and say "look, I'm NOT a technical person," or "look, I don't understand your field." I've got no problem explaining what it is that I do to recruiters willing to listen.

Have they always gotten me the job or the contract? Nope. Why? Because they were the good ones, and they listened, and actually treated me like a person. If a job isn't a match or I don't think it's a good opportunity, then that's just how it is. I'd rather skip an obvious bad idea than make myself miserable trying to do a job I hate."

From the contributor "notso" (edited):

"The Worst:4.) Why do recruiters not want to tell me the rate they are billing for my services? I realize that these agencies have a business to run, but if I knew the rate being billed for my services, I'd feel more comfortable upfront. I'd know that I'm being compensated appropriately for the position. I now tell all recruiters when they ask my bill rate, "That depends. What will you be billing Company X for my services?" Some are shocked, some say that it is not possible to disclose the information and others get me the rate. For those that tell me it is "not possible to disclose," I tell them that it is not possible for me to work for them since I am the billable service being provided.The Best:Now that I've rambled about the not so good side, I have to confess that I've been fortunate to deal with some really great recruiters as well. Mostly, this is because I have an established relationship with three companies in my area. I keep in touch with these companies throughout the year, whether I'm working for them or not, and keep them up-to-date on my work situation. I also refer candidates to these companies for any openings.In addition, I do not let recruiters that I have not met face-to-face submit my resume. I want to look the person in the eye who is sending out my information. I want them to know who I am so they know who they are representing. This makes it tough for recruiters that contact me from out of my area, but in the long run, it has served me well.Also, when a recruiter asks to send out my resume to a client, I ask them to copy me. Some do not like this, but I explain to the recruiter that I want to make sure that my resume has not been changed and I'm being represented appropriately.In the end, it is all about relationships. Unfortunately, some agencies do not seem to understand this. For those that do, they should be very successful because there seem to be a number of companies looking for contractors/consultants."

These are only two of hundreds of posts about the challenges and triumphs of dealing with recruiters. In as challenging an economy as the one we are currently in, recruiters-whatever your past experiences and opinion-may be something you will have to manage, and finding the best ones may take some work.

Remember, recruiters are only one aspect of a job search strategy that increasingly requires more individual participation in personal branding, use of professional social networks, and networking with peers and hiring managers. As this thread clearly shows, reliance on a recruiter alone may not be enough and could frustrate you from finding a good one that will be on your side.