On my desk, my mobile phone rings, it's an unknown number...
Singsong female, East/South London voice: “Hello Lara, this is Shania from “Put yourself out there” recruitment agency. You’ve just applied for a role as “EA to The Best Boss in the World Evah”. I’d really like to chat with you about what sort of role you’re looking for.”
I say:“Well, I’m looking for a PA/EA role for more than £x per annum and with decent holiday and a pension. In fact, the benefits are quite important, I would consider £X salary if the extra benefits were better”
I think: ‘Well, Shania, one pretty much like the one I just applied for, actually, that would be WHY I applied for it’
Sing song Shania: “Okaaaay. Before I can put you forward for this role I need you to come in and have a chat with me and get you to register”
Me: “Ok, where are you based, I can only come in my lunch hour or after work”
SSS: “We’re based in *insert some address which takes two tubes and a bus ride to get to* but I only work Tooosday and Fursdays, ten til for-war"
Me: “Can you put me forward for the role and I’ll register if they’re interested?”
SSS: “No, sorraaay, can you come in tomorrow at 10am?”
I say “No it will need to be in my lunch hour.”
I think‘I JUST SAID MY LUNCH HOUR, because funnily enough my boss won’t appreciate me taking time off to come to a recruitment agency’
Over the past few months I have met with several recruitment agents. These days, or in London certainly (this is a blog about life in London, deal with it), it seems that the majority of companies use recruitment agencies for their staffing needs. And why not? Not all companies can have a dedicated “people and talent” team (catchy new HR title for recruitment) in their HR dept.
My CV is registered online with Reeds (still one of the biggest agencies) who in turn advertise jobs which are being searched for by other agencies (still with me?) and Secs In the City* – not an agency but also a site to get your CV out to agencies and search for jobs. Approximately 99% of the jobs on both sites are advertised via recruitment agencies. So each time you put your CV forward for a role it goes to that agent, not the company the role is with. If that agency think you would be a good fit they will then put you forward to that company. If they don’t they won’t.
Anyway, back to SingSong Shania. We arrange a time and date, I risk life and limb to get to the agency for the arranged time AND get back to work in an hour. Invariably I am greeted by some young graduate and have the same conversation as I had with all the previous ones – what are you looking for (EA/PA on £x), why (current job not stimulating enough, doesn’t pay enough etc), which sector would you like to work in (not bothered).
Then they say “I’m definitely going to put you forward for the role. I’ll be in touch in a couple of days”
3 days later you email them to find out what’s going on. If you’re lucky they’ll still be trying to work with their client to get you an interview. If you’re unlucky they’ll tell you that “sadly the client has chosen to go with another candidate but we will keep in touch and let you know as soon as something similar comes in”.
And this is where the all-important registration comes in. From here on in they will contact you about anything and everything. By email and in some cases, by text. They don’t call and say “this job would be great for you, I’m putting you forward” they send a text or email and ask you to contact them if you’re interested. Yes, a text.
One agency I registered with in the summer consistently send me texts like the following:
“I am looking for a PA to MD with experience in marketing for a 5 week temporary contract. Please email your CV to…”
Two things are wrong with this – firstly I have categorically told them I don’t want temporary work and secondly THEY ALREADY HAVE MY CV!
The same recruitment agency emailed me this week:
“We are looking for a Team Secretary to assist a team of 34 people (thirty four?!)
Interview - TOMORROW
Start – Monday 12 October
Duration – 6 moth (sic) contract
Salary - £Xk
Location – West End of London
Email your CV if interested”
So this is a temporary contract, paying LESS than I’m on now, I’m on a month’s notice period and their own email has typos. Oh yes, and they want my CV AGAIN.
This time I saw red and replied. I don’t think I’ll hear from them again.
I think recruitment consultants follow a similar handbook to estate agents.
They look like they’re listening.
They pretend they’re listening.
They say they have the perfect thing for you …
… then they proceed to send you everything no one else wants, that is well out of your price range and in the wrong location.
You ask for a 5 bed house in South London they send you details of a 2 bed apartment in St John’s Wood. You ask for an EA role in central London paying £40k and they ask you if you’re interested in a maternity cover admin role that pays £28k in East Finchley. I’m sure East Finchley is lovely (actually I’m not sure as I’ve never been) but in terms of commuting from SE London it’s the arse end of nowhere on *whisper it* the NORTHERN LINE.
Imagine if you got in a taxi and asked to go somewhere and they took you to a completely different location of their choosing and charged you more for it. Imagine if you ordered your
favourite dish off the menu but the chef couldn't be bothered to cook it, so sent something else out of the kitchen instead.
These are people who are supposed to be people people. Why don’t they listen?