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Use agencies or not? I'd rather not.

Jan de Boer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 10, 2010
Posts: 504
I am 47. I live in the Netherlands. When I started looking for a job in the early nineties, job agencies were a rarity. You just applied directly to the company. I still try to do that. I do not like a sort of screen of secrecy around the job I am applying to. I mean the vague 'our customer'. Also you have to answer all kind of typical, non technical, amateur psychologist questions, probably because they have no knowledge of the technical content of the job. I cannot see the use of them, for me as a candidate. I always try to bypass them. Nevertheless, less and less companies put their vacancy public it seems. Why do companies like the job agencies so much? And should I just give in and use them anyway, since it is getting harder to find jobs bypassing them each year. Maybe I am just old fashioned?
chris webster

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 2293

I think you've led a charmed life, Jan! Agencies seem to have been the main way to find IT work here in the UK for many years now, especially in the freelance market. Employers still recruit directly e.g. advertising via their own websites, and you can always send in a speculative application or contact people informally, and the common wisdom is that many jobs are never advertised, so this kind of approach may be the only way to access those jobs. It's often hard even to find out who you would contact at a particular company if you wanted to send a speculative application. Some companies allow you to do this via their websites, but I don't think anybody ever reads these. But many companies have now outsourced a lot of their recruitment to agencies, so you may just be told to contact the agency anyway. Almost nobody advertises IT jobs in the printed press any more, and agencies usually advertise on the big job sites online, so it's often easier for employers to reach a larger market of potential applicants this way.

I guess the employers' view is that they can save themselves a lot of hassle this way, especially when many ads attract hundreds of applications from that large market of candidates. But as you say, agencies don't usually understand much about the technical aspects of the role, so they tend to use a "buzzword bingo" approach to filter out applications, which doesn't really help to identify good candidates, just those with the right keywords on their CVs. This means that it gets harder for experienced IT workers to find a job if they don't have exactly the right mix of skills and software versions, even if they could pick up the "required" skills in a couple of weeks on the job, while employers complain they can't find the skilled IT staff they claim to need.

Personally, I think poor recruitment practices by both agencies and employers have contributed to this so-called "IT skills shortage" in the UK, because recruiters try to filter the flood of applications by adding more and more "required" skills, until they overshoot and discover that nobody has 10 years of Java 7, fluent Sanskrit and degrees in nuclear physics and fine art. Then everybody throws their hands up in horror and complains about the "skills shortage", before handing over the keys to the their annual IT budget to a fat consultancy that claims it can find all those "required" skills offshore. But that's another rant...

Meanwhile, in the freelance market, almost all jobs are advertised via agencies in the UK (including many freelance jobs in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe as well), partly because it's often easier for both parties to let the agency act as an intermediary for the contract, especially when the job might only be for a couple of months. You can find contract work directly as well, but it's usually via former colleagues/clients, and as a freelancer you have to feel confident that the client will pay you, so the agency may be a necessary evil.

Either way, if you're looking for a job, you have to look where the jobs are, not where you'd like them to be. You may prefer shopping in a colourful local market, but if Aldi or Walmart is the only option, it's better to shop there than starve!

No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
vijay jamadade
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 12, 2008
Posts: 241
same is here in india. HR people from big comanies don't want to waste time or don't want to work on these things. I was searching for a job and noticed that only conultancies in betweeen can give you an interview call early. HR people have became very lazy. Even i have explained to consultancy guys difference between framework and technology. This is really frustrating when they actually take technical interviews waste our time.

Regards, Vijay Jamadade.
( Nothing is Impossible.)
Jayesh A Lalwani
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2746

Yeah "buzzword bingo" is a big problem among agencies. However, there are some agencies out there who have recruiters with enough technical knowledge to screen applicants personally. At my previous job, we did a lot of onshore recruiting, and we found one agency that got our requirements spot on, even on the few times we ourselves weren't clear about our own requirements. Next time I'm looking for a job, I'm going with them.
Jan de Boer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 10, 2010
Posts: 504
vijay jamadade wrote: HR people have became very lazy..

HR people do not do anything. So they are not involved in job search. The administration they have to do, is mostly sloppy too. The salary and tax things, I had words about that over and over again. Nevertheless they want to pose themselves in a sort of semi management role, and rub their asses to the CEO laps, and think they should have a sort of executive role, since they have people's knowledge. I think they all should be send to the fields to work as manual laborers in the farm, I mean like Mao did in the seventies. A sort of Human Resource Cultural Revolution.... Okay just kidding.
Jan de Boer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 10, 2010
Posts: 504
Anyway, I have had 9 different employers, temporary works & extra jobs also, and only in one I worked with an agency, and in another one the company send me to the agency but I first was in contact with the company. All others I found myself through networking, browsing, informing their business websites, and some were offered to me by acquaintances. I mean why should some agency get 3 months salary worth of bonus for forwarding my curriculum?
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