How NOT to Fill a Position

Last week while at work I received a phone call from a recruiter. It was pretty standard until they decided to turn into a jerk. I sent the following letter to the recruiter's agency. I doubt I'll get a reply, but if I do I will be sure to share it here. Identifying info has been removed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Dear <redacted>,

I received a phone call at work last week from <redacted>, one of your recruiters. Getting phone calls from recruiters during the work day is a fairly common occurrence, but I'm sure you will agree that the rest of this call was very uncommon.

<redacted> said their records showed I've been working for Northwestern University for nearly two years, and they were curious if I was interested in pursuing any new opportunities. I told them I was not interested at this time, but if they would be willing to send me a job description with a salary range I would be happy to forward it to others I know. I am fortunate to have lots of contacts in the SQL Server world, and I know a few who are currently seeking out new positions.

Most recruiters are happy to take me up on offers like this, and I have generated some interviews through this manner in the past. <redacted> was clearly not as enthusiastic about this, as they snapped back with a "Well why aren't you interested? How do you even know you're not interested if I haven't even told you about the position yet?" They proceeded to explain the position – a production DBA for a respected local company that's been in the <X> industry for over <Y> years. I was happy to hear this was at least a position relevant to my experience – I've received calls in the past for things like "an exciting position staffing the overnight help desk at a company in [some other state]. And if you play your cards right, you'll have the chance to move into a junior developer role after a few years!"

Still I told them I wasn't interested, and this is where things got really strange. (I will paraphrase as best I can.) "Let me give you a piece of advice", they said. "I've been an IT recruiter for <Z> years, and as long as you work for a University, I know for a fact that your career is going nowhere. I'm sure it's comfortable there, but you're not doing anything interesting, you're not growing your skills, and you will find yourself with a whole lot less respect the next time you are looking to change employers."

Wow. I told them I'm very sorry they feel that way, and that in fact I'm doing some incredibly interesting projects right now. "So what is it that you're doing? I want to hear this" they said, their voice dripping with sarcasm. "Well you already told me what I'm doing is not interesting, so why should I waste my time explaining it?" I said. I thanked them for taking the time to call me, and said I needed to get back to not growing my skills. <redacted> hung up before I had the opportunity to end our conversation. How professional of them.

Is this really the way you do business? I am no expert in the field of recruiting, but I'm pretty sure that insulting your product (yes, I do realize that I am the product, not the client) is not going to result in any placements or productive relationships in the future. If <redacted> has managed to stay in the business for <Z> years while acting like that, that's pretty pathetic.

Despite what <redacted> told me, I happen to be furthering my career right now in ways that weren't even possible in my previous positions. While I enjoy my current role and have no plans to leave it in the short term, I don't plan to stay there forever either. There will come a time where I'll find myself in need of new challenges. I sincerely hope that my next career move is to the type of position that's not posted anywhere and hence I won't be needing the services of a recruiter. But if that doesn't happen, I am absolutely sure that I will never, ever, do business with <redacted> or your agency again. Please remove me from all of your directories and lists immediately.


Bob Pusateri
SQL Server DBA with a career that's "going nowhere"

Moral of the Story

First of all, the vast majority of recruiters are not like this. It is by far in a recruiter's best interest to build a positive relationship with you, because even if the job they're contacting you about isn't something you're interested in, chances are good that in the future they'll find something that does interest you.

Second, there are lots of recruiters and job placement agencies out there. If you get a cold call from someone who's being a jerk, I wouldn't hesitate to tell them to remove you from their records and take your business elsewhere. Others will be more than happy to assist you in your job search.