An open letter to IT recruiters (based on the true story of James)
I have completed the hard yards, sat through four years of classes and a number of specialised dev training courses. My student loans are hanging over my head like a blanket of clouds covering Table Mountain on a rainy day in Cape Town, yet the nervous anticipation is undeniable. It is time, time to enter the workforce.
Armed with a library of IT knowledge, I know it is only a matter of time before I land my dream job and make an impact at one of SA's most prestigious organisations. The only challenge, I need to find that job. What do I do, where do I go? I take charge, upload my CV to numerous portals, and circulate it to every IT recruitment agency on pages one through 12 of Google's search results. I have this, or do I?
Before I know it, my phone is ringing off the hook, interrupting me just as I am about to get cracking on the next episode of 'Game of Thrones', yet I welcome the interruption; this is my future, after all. The conversation starts: "Hi James, I saw your CV on so-and-so portal and I think I have just the position for you." I am ecstatic, my dreams are about to come true; I immediately envision my dream car in my parents' driveway, I do not have my own place yet, but that will be the next step. The recruiter cannot stop using adjectives to describe my potential position, and I can feel the comfort of the leather seats caressing my back as I gently put pressure on the accelerator. Suddenly, with the uttering of a simple "C hash" (C#), I realise that this recruiter is ill-informed, instantly smashing my dreams, leaving me to wonder whether the time and money invested in my future will ever pay off.*
Sadly, this is the reality for many candidates in the job market today. Recruiters are inundated with CVs, and to a large extent, don't pay the necessary attention to ensure not only that they present only qualified candidates to their clients, but also that they have the highest regard for the fact that they are dealing with someone's future and dreams. In many instances, recruiters do not take the time to fully understand the terminology related to the industry, necessary skills and requirements pertaining to a specific position, immediately bringing about an air of unprofessionalism.
We recognise the pressure and urgency as clients need positions filled at a rapid rate; however, that is no excuse for recruiters not to be diligent throughout the entire screening and interview process. It is time for recruiters to realise they hold their candidates' lives in their hands and it is time to act responsibly. Time must be invested in gaining a full understanding of what their candidates want and what their future aspirations are. See it as being a travel agent booking a holiday for a client; you will not book a one-star hotel when the client requested a five-star resort. The same applies to your candidates. Listen to them, consider their ambitions and focus on that. It is equally important to analyse the job requirement and to ask your client those challenging questions to ensure you you fully understand what they are looking for.
CV "pushing" has become prominent throughout the industry, as it is quite easy to get your hands on hundreds of CVs that might be suitable for an available position. The dazzling recruitment platforms available on the market allow for just that, sub-par screening. The consequence: many qualified candidates are falling through the cracks, resulting in key South African resources leaving our shores to seek better opportunities abroad. The effect of this exodus on our economy is vast, as we are losing scarce skills to international markets, proving to be very damaging to economic development.
To our fellow recruiters, keep the following top of mind:
* Qualify candidates properly and be honest if they are not suitable. Do not just push through the process for the sake of fabricating numbers. Your manager was not born yesterday.
* Understand the job spec and the terminology; ensure that you can talk the talk.
* Negotiate on behalf of your candidate and get them the best package you possibly can. Think of yourself as a potter shaping your candidate's future.
* Check, cross-check and check again; the degree of which depends on the nature of the hiring institution. Nobody likes an after-the-fact bomb drop revealing hidden secrets of a candidate's past extramural activities.
Lastly, communication is the golden ticket to successful recruitment and accounts for both the candidate and the recruiter. Be punctual, both parties have shuffled around activities to accommodate the meeting, be respectful and communicate (a plethora of platforms to choose from) well in advance if you are unable to attend an interview as agreed. Life happens and unexpected events sometimes pop up at the most inopportune times; however, communicate with each other as soon as possible to set the record straight.
In recruitment, as in all things in life, the small things leave a lasting impression. After all, you want your successful candidate to contact you when they are in the market again. These days, we all have a person: a plumbing person, a pool person, an electrical person, the person you always contact when something within their area of expertise goes awry. Wouldn't you want to be someone's recruitment person? Sounds good from where we are sitting.
* James eventually landed his dream job and is currently in the process of buying a new car.