Fast Track Recruitment

Fuck the recruitment industry

Posted by Mitch on 19th October 2015


This is the sentiment that pretty much sums up the current state of my industry, if my recent LinkedIn feed is anything to go by.

People, it seems, are not happy with recruitment agencies.

People (who sometimes also go by the name of “candidates”) are complaining that they don’t get phone calls returned.

Companies are moaning about being sent speculative anonymous CVs.

And Software Developers are doing what they always do – crying like babies every time they get an email telling them about a job they’re not interested in.

Maybe it’s just a blip. Corporate UK having a temporary hormonal crisis. Or maybe me seeing a lot of these negative posts right now is just a coincidence. I don’t know.

I have to say though, I’m a little surprised.

I thought the Internet had been around long enough for everyone to have read enough about other people’s experiences with recruitment suppliers to have worked it all out by now. That recruitment is a shitty business. But it seems they haven’t.

Today, the dynamic between agencies and hiring companies (sometimes also known as “clients”) seems even more Sisyphean than it’s ever been.

Despite the fact that candidate data is widely available to anyone who can be bothered to go look for it, agencies are still trying to do business on contingency and wondering why they keep getting shafted – either by the hiring company, the candidate or another agency.

And that probably just makes many of them behave even worse. Like fat kids who keep hearing the word ‘no’.

The more well-meaning agency recruiters will respond to these criticisms of their industry by saying “we’re not all like that” and other similarly bimbo-esque bullshit.

Often they’re active members of a recruitment trade body like the REC; an organisation seemingly intent on preserving its Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy relationship with a recruitment industry that, if it were a person, would have been certified as brain damaged by now.

I know there’s a minority of you trying to do things differently – and that is encouraging. But in the big scheme of things, as an industry we’re still frogs that haven’t worked out we’re in a saucepan, let alone realising that the water’s gradually getting hotter.

I’ve even had some of my peers tell me that because I have a large network/following of recruiters, I should be more responsible in what I say about my sector. That I shouldn’t agree with these complaints from, what are in essence, our customers. That I should defend the industry.

Really? If you care that much, build your own network of recruiters and preach your apologist bullshit to them yourself.

So before you start kicking me in the nuts by accusing me of just being a cynical has-been, as an external supplier I’m still filling jobs at a 90% success rate – so I’m comfortable with my minuscule contribution to the recruitment gene pool. I’m not pissing off any candidates or pebble-dashing hiring manager’s inbox with anonymous CVs.

Hell, I even offer to train recruiters for less money than falls out of James Caan’s pockets in loose change every month.

So fuck it. I’m trying, OK?

If I sometimes take the piss out of the industry, it’s because it’s begging to have the piss taken out of it. Just like all those silly fuckers that have ever appeared on The Apprentice.

I wish I had all the answers to this malaise, but I don’t. But what I do know is that companies get the agency representation they deserve – because if that company is too lazy to do some basic due-diligence on a recruitment agency before engaging with them, they deserve everything they get.

It takes about 10 minutes to get a snapshot of an agency’s DNA just by looking at the amount of clichés they use on their website, the background/average length of stay of their staff and the quality of their jobs ads. And then another 10 minutes to instruct them on precisely how they want them to behave. Just like they presumably do with any other external supplier?

But instead, they dish out jobs like confetti to anyone with less than 3 years total work experience who are now branding themselves as a “Talent Acquisition Consultant” and who 6 months ago were working as a fucking Sales Assistant at River Island.

Talent Acquisition Consultants whose only way of determining talent is by counting the amount of matching keywords on the job specification and the CV.

And these companies get away with it because they’ve got names like Barclays or Vodaphone. And because the agencies don’t tell the target candidates who they’re trying to fill these jobs for. That is, until the more desperate of those candidates have responded positively to their typo-strewn emails. So much for talent acquisition.

The agencies keep doing it because they do enough numbers to sometimes draw out responses from those people who need another job/contract. In short, it works. The collateral damage is high, but when it comes to making money, who gives a shit?

Then, eventually everyone forgets the names of the agencies that pissed them off and so the whole cyclical clusterfuck starts-up all over again a few weeks later.

So, if you’re a hiring company and aren’t smart enough to see this and to do something about it, fuck you.

And if you’re an agency recruiter who thinks it’s best to blindly defend the industry, fuck you too.

I’m sorry this blog is so long. I had neither the time nor the inclination to write a shorter one.


By Azmat Mohammed on Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Interesting read. Just wanted to point out, you have spelt ‘Vodafone’ wrong in your paragraph that talks about ‘typo-strewn emails’. And I am not buying any ‘deliberate mistake’ excuse :) Take it like a man.

By Mitch on Thursday, 29 October 2015

Thanks Azmat.

In my defence, an excusable mistake to make given that ‘phone’ isn’t usually spelt with an ‘f’ and with me not being a brand junkie.

I’ll preserve the integrity of your comment by not editing the blog.

Thanks for contributing.

By Travis on Thursday, 29 October 2015


Great read. It is refreshing to see someone provide such a scathing and honest assessment of recruiters and companies.

Whilst I can not, and will not, defend the industry, I would say I don’t think it is entirely fair to have a dig at people “branding themselves as a Talent Acquisition Specialists”. I have not read all you blogs, so forgive me if you have cut them some slack at some point. You know yourself that people are plucked from anywhere and given these titles by their employer. I’m one of them.

For me, the problem is these people are given the title and then do nothing to earn the title. I was a specialist in my market from day 1. DAY 1!!! It is absurd and frankly insulting to clients and truly specialist recruiters who have earned their stripes.

I am now at the stage in my career where I know now what kind of recruiter I am. I am fortunate to be in the position where I can decide what kind of recruiter I want to be, and not have to succumb to certain pressures.

I would encourage any young/inexperienced recruiter to have a think about what kind of recruiter they want to be. Do you want to stay in the rat race and adopt a scatter gun, one size fits all approach? Or do you want to stand out by becoming a knowledgeable partner to your clients who recognises that the self serving culture we exist in is detrimental to our candidates careers and our clients successes.

I look forward to reading more of your blogs.



By Mitch on Thursday, 29 October 2015

Travis, that is quite possibly the best comment I’ve ever received on this site.

Thank you.

By Steve Ward on Wednesday, 04 November 2015

Always a good read Mitch.
I think we have to remember that the rise in public vitriol on recruitment agencies, is equally proportionate to the rise of the citizen journalist. And when we write, we (despite all best intentions) tend have a bit of a whinge.

So what effect do they actually have, and should recruiters really be dancing to the pop-gun-shots aimed at their toes?
I think the reality is, most recruiters couldn’t give a crap. Most recruitment agency owners and leaders, choose to defend their cause, their methodology and behaviours; and their response to the candidates and your blog will also be “fuck you”, and carry on regardless. If it makes money, what’s the worry?

So this noise of vitriol towards recruiters is often wasted breathe, other than the courage it gives to other ‘wronged’ candidates, to do the same, and get their grief of their chest.

It’s not to say that recruiters should ignore it. They just usually do. And most the targets in any case, don’t read blogs on LinkedIn - they’re too busy spamming people with inMails.

By Richard on Wednesday, 04 November 2015

As a experienced account manager with 20+ years of successful achievement, I would thrive on the challenge of the recruitment industry sector.  It irritates myself that my background which has no recruitment sector experience is an obstacle to breaking the barrier down to enable myself to gain an opening into the industry. I have dealt with some truly horrific consultants who lack the clarity & professionalism to even be moderately successful, the lack of courtesy & civility from consultants is a big bug bear for myself. I believe wholeheartedly in myself & do not doubt for a second that I could do a far more productive job & provide a far better service than some of the people I have had the misfortune to deal with.

By Megan Pluister on Wednesday, 04 November 2015

Thanks for posting this Mitch! LOVE IT!

Travis… how do I connect with you!!!???

By Greg Webster on Thursday, 05 November 2015

I wholeheartedly agree with Travis.

The only problem is when recruiters make their first tentative steps into the ( external ) recruitment industry then they are instantly brain washed into the ideology of the company. It’s impossible for them to work out what recruiter they want to be - certainly for the first couple of years.

I suspect there is a decent blog post to be written about what red flags you should look for when starting your first recruitment job.

By John Hailstone on Thursday, 05 November 2015

Hi Mitch,
Interesting article and choice of words. I’ve been in the industry for the best part of 29 years so I can confidently say I have seen some changes during this time and equally have earned the stripes to pass judgement. The issue with the industry isn’t the agency link in the chain, granted there are some poor quality recruiters as exist in all professions, but in the contingency contract itself- this is where we agree. However, I don’t understand why you are being so angry towards recruiters as you well know that control of this really sits with the employers as this is how they wish to engage (wrongly in my opinion) with the agency market - this is the same now as it was in the 1980’s. Granted agencies can walk away from contingent contracts as you do yourself but when 90% of most agencies business is probably contingent in nature then that is easier said than done when they have workforces large or small that they are committed to paying – the transition to take a firm from contingent to retained would put many out of business.
(continued on next reply)

By John Nash on Thursday, 05 November 2015

It’s true, most recruiters couldn’t give a crap because the sad fact is that most are too thick to recognise that this article is directed at them!

Loved this post Mitch!

By Bob Berriman on Thursday, 05 November 2015

I read this post both with a smile, nodding in agreement, and disbelief that so many so called professionals have managed to mess up the rec industry through greed, bad management, KPIs and not understanding the human aspect of peoples careers.

By john hailstone on Friday, 06 November 2015

(continued from previous post).
You appear to work on your own so it’s a bit easier to make the decision to only work retained. All we can do is to continue to educate the industry that the way towards overcoming the disjointed relationship between client, agency and candidate is for the client and agency to co exist under a legally bound contract where payment is made/received for provision/receipt of service and not for an introduction. Until then I think you should reign in your vitriolic towards agencies in general as they are working under extremely difficult contractual restrictions. I’d sooner you focus on the main issue that I believe is the main agitator in our industry right now and that are the clients that engage suppliers knowing full well they have an in-house team set up to compete against them with all the cards stacked in their favour. This is what is contributing significantly to the low standards of service and engagement that is ruining the candidates job hunting experience. I’d like to see the industry focus on this dynamic and its impact on the candidate experience rather than blame the agencies which seems to be all the rage just now.”

By AJB on Friday, 06 November 2015

This article is not what I expected it to be. I really liked it, more please

By Gary Woodfine on Sunday, 08 November 2015

A bit strongly worded, but I think in this case it actually suits the subject, and the levels of frustration that has been bubbling for years in the recruitment industry. It has been in a downward spiral because lets face it it’s probably one of the easiest industries for anyone to enter. The barrier for entry is really low, all you need is a phone, an email account and a phone book, the time to phone the phone book, and the determination to smooth out your pitch till someone listens to you, from that point on it’s keyword bingo.

In my time of dealing with recruitment agents, in total it’s been about 15+ years, as a freelance developer, I can honestly say I have dealt with about 3, who actually have some integrity, the rest have been, fresh out of uni types, who’s only job they could get, was trying to find other people work.

I just found it funny, that the article itself mentions only Software Developers, it does seem that the relationships in this specific market sector is frayed, but is it the same in other sectors? Or are Software Developers prima donna’s ?

I am not trolling, but I am genuinely interested to find out what the issues are, and what we all can do collectively to improve things?

By Mitch on Sunday, 08 November 2015

Gary, the IT sector of recruitment is defintely the worst.

There are plenty of other recruitment sectors that, whilst not enjoying great levels of respect, don’t have to endure anything like the dislike that the IT agencies seem capable of generating.

It seems to me that the only part of the market that’s doing anything about it are the digital tech start-ups.  The big traditional employers of IT people (banks, large corporates, etc..) don’t seem to care what agencies they use, or how many.

By Nuno Abrantes on Sunday, 08 November 2015

Well, that was refreshing. From a person that recently was a candidate in his first true experience for a role in the UK I can say I relate to many of the things you wrote. Thank you for writing so honestly about the industry you work in. I was lucky enough to meet some decent recruiters in the process, but I must say expectation will be low next time I’m on the market looking for a new contract. However, it gives hope to know there are still a “good guys” out there.

By Gary Woodfine on Sunday, 08 November 2015

It does seem that the recruitment sector is due for a bit of a disruption.  The big traditional employers will also face disruption from the nimbler, snappier business start ups.  I do think the world of work is definitely going to change over the next 5 years. 

Hopefully, we can all work to improve the industry as a whole

By Alex on Monday, 09 November 2015

Yup, the old school recruitment model is, it appears, coming to an end. I hated the ‘Glengarry’ approach to recruitment when I first got into it. Now it seems like there are a number of different skill sets one has to master, consistently, in order to build a successful and trustworthy profile/brand. I now work for myself so have the luxury of partnering with companies I can work with effectively. Very interesting article, Mitch.

By Tasneem on Tuesday, 10 November 2015

For someone who claims to fill 90% of his jobs, he’s a pretty angry recruiter! There are plenty of points in there that I would happily agree with, however any article that goes on and on about what is wrong about the industry and uses a lot of swear words without actually giving some constructive feedback or shedding the light on what needs to be done, is nothing but a pointless rant to me, and therefore renders the entire argument.

By Mitch on Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Tasneem, renders the entire argument what exactly?

There are plenty of clues as to what can be done in this blog.  There’s also plenty of light being shed on what needs to be done in most of my other blogs too.

Have another read, but this time try to suppress your indignation about the swear words.

By Mitch on Thursday, 12 November 2015

Hi John, apologies for the delay in responding to you.

This blog was prompted by this:

As for this being a rant, OK maybe. But in my defence I have written plenty about what needs to be done and as you refer to, what needs to be done is to work far less on contingency. And that applies to all jobs across all salary levels.

You seem to think that selling a retained option is difficult.  It isn’t.  It’s actually far easier then you’d imagine. But doing it requires some effort and a desire for change - something many agency recruiters don’t have an appetite for.

The options are there, but if the sector isn’t going to do anything about it, then I am not going to blindly defend something I know is no longer working.

And if your version of contingency is working, then you have nothing to worry about when others shed light on the poor practices of other suppliers.

By Gordon MacWilliams on Thursday, 19 November 2015

What about those emails offering a role as a Civil Design Engineer when your CV clearly states an E&I biased Project Manager?

By Andrew on Thursday, 19 November 2015

A great article with a refreshing punch on an age old debate. Refreshing not just for the tone but as a signal that rigorous and direct conversations need to be had rather than the more typical pathetic slapping contests this subject usually turn into.

My takeaway is the deeper question of where it starts, who is the chicken and who is the egg. Sure it appears easy and commonplace to castigate the recruiters but there are 2 other key participants who require consideration.

Candidates often play the downtrodden, honest Joe who never hear back but few ever question whether their application actually merited an automated email never mind a phone call. Consider perhaps that the recruiter actually does know more about he job requirement than the candidate does.

Then of course some clients who might as well state at the door; ‘We’ll use recruiters, we’d rather not, but we are yet to be any good whatsoever at doing it ourselves so needs must’ So here take this job brief along with several other rabid dogs and let’s see what happens.

You see for me if a client has a clear vision, a strategy and a purpose to it’s recruitment it will quickly close down the door to ‘the idiots’ and thus allow the ‘good’ recruiter to do their job so as to keep that door closed. Bad recruiters rarely start out that way, they need clients who think a job brief is best served up by volume to the lowest bidders to truly galvanise that badness.

By Raymond Cragg on Saturday, 21 November 2015

That is probably the most honest article I have read in a long time. Loved it and find it refreshing to know there is some honesty still out there.
One thing I hate about recruitment agencies is their insistance to register on their web site. They never look at their database so why bother having one?
There are some good recruiters out there but it appears as time goes on they are diminishing in numbers.
As the author says they are calling themselves consultants when their last job was in a local McDonalds.
The recruitment industry is in the worst state ever and it needs to get its act together.

By Nic on Saturday, 21 November 2015

The state the recruitment industry can’t be blamed on the agencies/consultants alone.

If clients (the company) partnered with consultants rather then using the contingent/scattergun approach, they will have a better experience. The contingent model turns recruitment into a sloppy candidate race. As a recruiter with 10 years experience, I hate this model but usually I have no choice. My clients and candidates force me to work like this.

Why do clients engage multiple agencies when there are so many negatives??

1. They receive the same CV multiple times
2. They have to provide briefs to multiple consultants which wasting time and money.
3. Consultants flick multiple CVs to increase probability
4. The basic recruitment methodology goes out the window. 
5. Contingent fees are higher
6. There is risk of damaging the brand as they lose control on how their organisation is represented. 

Clients need to understand that engaging a retained consultant results in higher quality shortlists, better customer service at a better price. It’s about time clients found the best recruiter in the market and partnered with them. If they don’t provide the service you expect, fire them and find someone better! I believe that it’s the clients and candidates that have created this monster.

By Ashley Cooper on Tuesday, 01 December 2015

I enjoyed the direct and candid nature of this article. Blogs are a great way to vent some frustration and the ensuing comments are usually comedy gold.

The recruitment industry has basically eaten itself alive in the last 10 years. It reminds me of Walking Dead.. It’s like everyone knows its shit, but you just need to get your little bit of the shit and try and clean it up.

By Mitch on Wednesday, 02 December 2015

Nic, feel free to give me a call.  I’d like to dissuade you from the belief that clients and candidates only want recruiters to work on contingency.

By Mike on Friday, 19 February 2016

So, if you’re a hiring company and aren’t smart enough to see this and to do something about it, fuck you.

And if you’re an agency recruiter who thinks it’s best to blindly defend the industry, fuck you too.


By Ian MacEgan on Monday, 14 November 2016

They are not recruitment consultants, HR coordinators or whatever bullshit buzzwords they dream up to promote their own deluded self importance, they are sales people, nothing more.  No one knows my career requirements better than me. I’ve managed, quite easily, to sell myself to employers, and guess what, I do it for free. All you need to do if you’re looking for you’re next move is hone your CV, hit the phones,and keep at it. It’s only what these prosecco swigging coke snorting chimps will do while charging a commission.

By James on Thursday, 15 December 2016

The “recruitment industry” is a a disgusting pit full of leeches who have positioned themselves to totally destroy the recruitment process.

All roles now can only be found via agencies and almost without exception the “consultants” do not know the first damn thing about the roles for which they recruit.  Hiring companies end up with weaker candidates, employees end up with much lower salaries than they deserve and in the middle a snot-nosed arrogant and otherwise unemployable sales monkey sponging off both parties gets paid for doing nothing of value whatsoever.

You all disgust me.

By Mitch on Thursday, 15 December 2016

Hi James, thanks for stopping by.

I take it the job hunting’s not going too well?

By Die Recruitard on Saturday, 20 May 2017

“And software developers are doing what they always do – crying like babies every time they get an email telling them about a job they’re not interested in.”

Entitled spammer blames victim shocker.

Something tells me you’re the one who cries each time they get fired for not meeting their target.

By You're a disgrace on Sunday, 22 October 2017

Spammer whinges about people who complain about their spamming shocker. Next you’ll be telling me Harvey Weinstein was led on by all those whinging women.

By Daniel Smith on Wednesday, 16 January 2019

I find your gratuitous swearing unnecessary - bit gimmicky frankly.

By Firstname on Monday, 31 August 2020

I especially hate those young perky enthusiastic recruiters that companies hire mostly for their personality and looks (nice looking females naturally) even though they have hardly any experience or even understand the technical specifications of the roles or product the company does. They are merely cheerleaders. And yet, these same companies and/or CEO’s don’t understand why they cannot find the right talent. There is such ageism in the recruitment world, particularly corporate. I’m sick of this frat like (gen xyz) hiring. What happened to hiring people who actually knew recruitment and the technologies?  Companies and startups are all about lip service and banality. If you’re not willing to drink the koolaid or sign everything with an exclamation point (rock star!) then forget it.

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