“Dear $firstname”: Tell Us Your Recruiter Stories

SQL Server

There are two kinds of recruiters. The first kind is the Relationship Recruiter. These are the great ones. These recruiters take time to listen, not just to you but to their clients. They try their best to match you and your skills with a client and their needs. If the two sides don’t match well, they don’t try to force it to work. People-based recruiters stay up-to-date on your career. They ask what kind of work you want to be doing — not what you have been doing — and try to place you somewhere that will help you get there.

Then there’s the second kind of recruiter. The Shotgun Recruiter. These are the people whose email you reflexively trash because you already know how bad it’s going to be. The ones who will send you an opening for a Visual Studio Forms Designer when you’ve been an operations DBA for twelve years and only listed Visual Studio on your LinkedIn profile because you had to emergency repair an SSIS package late one night. I feel for these people; recruiting is hard work. But it’s still work (or at least it should be):

Where can I get a copy of Database?
“Hello, I’m calling on the behalf of Database.”

We want to hear your Shotgun Recruiter stories. We know you have them. We know they’re amazing. Send us your worst/funniest/strangest recruiter stories and we’ll share the cream of the crop.

But that’s not all.

We don’t want to destroy your faith in humanity without building it back up again. Therefore, we also want your stories of surprisingly spectacular recruiters — those who went out of their way to make people (or at least the two of you) happy. Like we said, there are two kinds of recruiters. We want to hear about them both.

If you’ve got a great recruiter story and want to share it on Dear $firstname, please send it to doug@brentozar.com. Thanks!

Brent says: I get so many of these emails that I had to come up with an email template for recruiter replies.

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18 Comments. Leave new

  • I once had a recruiter reach out to me to explain to them what Vertica was and then asked me if I was interested in a development role in the technology which I just explained to them.

  • I think the worst that I received was from a recruiter looking for a DB2 person. I had some experience with DB2, and the UI was very similar to SQL Server 2000 (at that time). When the recruiter started reading the detailed description, he started throwing some words around that I didn’t recognize. Turned out that it was for a mainframe DB2 installation: the recruiter didn’t know what they were hiring for. Sorry, but though there’s lots of skill transfer between mainframes and micros, not so much when it comes to operations.

    I used to get offerings for Oracle positions all the time, which was clearly not my background. The ones that I especially loved where offers of positions not in my area when I’m extremely specific that I will not relocate.

  • The ones I used to get frequently were the ones where they had some ridiculously low rate. What I found was that by inquiring how long it took to get paid, I could find out reasonably well just how many times I was subcontracted out. For those of you who haven’t had that pleasure, basically a “recruiter” working from his living room, kitchen or bedroom would basically collect resumes, send them out to a bunch of his buddies and each one with a claim in the eventual hire would want a chunk of the rate. This has the effect of making it a gauntlet of hands which have to be paid first before you get what’s left of the money. I’ve actually had someone tell me it could take up to 4 months before I saw a cent. I didn’t ask if this was time and expenses or a flat rate as I stopped before asking the rate. Of course this also means that the client is paying top dollar for talent that is normally desperate for any work for a lot of reasons and few of them good. I’ve heard a few clients complain about paying 200 an hour for trainees and feel really bad about that too. This has the effect of making it tougher on other consultants and contractors too.

  • I think the best one that I received was from a recruiter telling me how nice it was speaking with me on a specific date. Unfortunately for him, I was having surgery on that date – no way he spoke with me. Rather than admitting he either had the wrong date, or (actually) never spoke with me. He was trolling the social network sites. I finally got rid of him by filing him in spam.

  • I just went through the recruiter gauntlet (as a result of posting my profile on Dice), and I think the most obvious mistake was the recruiter who sent me a listing *for the position I had just left* (which was prominently listed at the top of my resume).

  • Had a recruiter with very poor English push a job on me and set up a phone interview with the hiring company. I didn’t want that company to think I was the one ditching the interview, so I called in told them I wasn’t who they were looking for. They asked why. I asked if they were looking for a remote worker and they said no and I was clear about this to the recruiter. I told them they should not use that recruiter anymore.

  • Sometimes a Relationship Recruiter will have a “Failure to Communicate” moment. I have had a few long contracts with a recruiter that does her best to match people with a proper job. She matched my son with a great job that starts with a 5 week contract. The paperwork between recruiters company and the jobs HR was not done before starting work. After one week of work, HR would not allow work until their paper work was finished. Middle of the third week HR was done and restarted work. For a long contract this would be an irritation, in a five week contract it is 30% of the contract. Paperwork is always a pain, but has to be done or no money for someone.

  • I had left my last job with no ‘next’ job, so I was actively looking. A recruiter posted a job opening to my local PASS group, so I emailed him about it. He read my resume, and called me within an hour, saying he was setting up interviews for another position. I had my first interview that day, a second phone interview the next day, then two days later I was asked to interview at the main office. I walked in to the CIO’s office, and he told me they would be extending an offer at the end of the meeting; this was just my chance to meet the rest of the team, so I would know if I wanted the job or not (I did). That recruiter worked hard to get me in to the interview process even though I had missed the initial screening, and it worked out for both of us. We keep in touch, and it’s a good relationship for both of us.

  • BradC: Thanks for reminding me. I used to get deluged by people who wanted my resume and one day I was screening and vetting some of the resumes and the client asked me to look at one that had a person who worked a lot of places I had and he figured I knew. I was surprised to see someone applying to a client with the same skill sets, the same sites and even the same wording as my resume. In fairness, the dates were changed around. Needless to say he never got to the phone screen stage.

    Even worse was one recruiting company who would ask me to “tailor” every submission to each client. This is complicated since I never saw what finally made it to the client but based on phone screens it became obvious that there was a bit of post editing work going on.

  • I went through a recruiter for my current position. A few days after I started, someone else from the same recruiting company messaged me from LinkedIn saying they could find me a better job.

  • One of my favorites was an out of the blue call one day that went like this…

    “Hello, Mr. Salsbury, I am Bob Smith and I’m the President of “Impressive Sounding Name Consulting Company”. My client, (some large company) would be interested in your skill set.” (He begins eating a food…loudly)

    “Which skill set?” (I have Mainframe and Windows experience)

    ” programming in a environment.”

    In the background I hear, “Bob, the Marketing VP needs that report he asked for yesterday ASAP. He’s really annoyed since you said you’d have it done in an hour. Also, it’s against policy to eat at your desk and conduct personal business on (some large company, same as his ‘client’) time. All the other consultants from (other consulting company, not the one he mentioned) don’t have any problem with this.”

  • Thomas Franz
    August 5, 2015 2:52 am

    I looked for a developer job that involed good SQL knowledge (I had several years experience). In the interview the only question to SQL was how I would combine the result of two tables (a simple inner join)…

  • I’m an Oracle/SQL Server DBA, and have been for years. I had a recruiter email me last year to say that she had read my CV and believed that my skills, qualifications and background made me the perfect candidate for the position she was hoping to fill: as a Class 1 heavy goods vehicle driver.

  • Pushy agents are the worst, one guy a few years back kept asking for my manager’s details, I refused and he wouldn’t let go so I put the phone down. I knew the next thing he would do would be to ring my boss trying to tout for a role I hadn’t left!

    There are some good ones out there so not all bad 🙂

  • My good recruiter story is one that was just a nice person. He helped me get the job, explained all the payments clearly, checked in every month with a personal call to see I was doing okay and the occasional visit at the office (with donuts!) He helped me get a raise when I asked for one, invited me and my partner to their firm Xmas party, and took me out for drinks on another night too.

    I mean for a $90kpa position they were probably making $90kpa in profit (or more) on top. How hard is it to justify a few hundred dollars to make you feel like you’re more than just a number? He earned a big tick in my book and I still keep in touch with him years later.

    As for the worst recruiter…

    He “helped me get the job” though it was extremely different from what was advertised. When he checked in I told him what a disaster it was and he passed it onto my manager, who ignored it. I told my manager personally how horrible things were going and they ignored it also. At the one month mark I was being verbally abused and insulted by the manager, was in tears, and decided this was the last straw and walked out on the spot.

    The company withheld pay for leaving, which made me so broke I couldn’t make rent, and I felt becoming homeless would still be the lesser of two evils. Meanwhile, the recruiter was calling me screaming about how unprofessional I was… he was only interested in retaining his bonus against all logic and human decency. Worst recruiter ever.

    That’s when I met the first recruiter I talked about. That job was twice the pay with better career prospects and personal integrity to boot.

  • Oh my, first forgive my bad english.

    I have 2 really horrible ones.

    1) On this the first 1 I got a call from a recruiter looking for a DBA, she start listening the qualiifications needed, at one point she mention “storage”, I ask her if she mean “Store procedures”, she say I didn’t read the information she send me and that I was not qualified for the job because of this, she drop the call, I open check the email on in no part of it, it mention storage but surely I can see store procudes.

    2) A big consulting firm contact me, I ask them to send me the information and that please to get in touch with me before hand as I was busy to schedule a meeting, well 3 times they call me without any regards of the time and place, i just could work with them on 1 call and it didn’t last more than 10 minutes, 3 weeks later I got a callback informing me that I was the perfect candidate for the position, They never me this position information, or a email, or anything at all.

  • Once I had a recruiter call me for an entry-level Java position. I was flattered, but felt the need to point out that I was still in college. They responded “You should probably put that on your resume,” to which I responded that it’s there. In bold.

  • This just happened a few weeks ago:

    * Got a call to my desk phone IN THE OFFICE from a headhunter
    * Said person asks me to do an IKM online test, which I pass with flying colors
    * I am then sent an email with a ‘job spec’ which comprises a copy and paste from an old Brent Ozar post(https://www.brentozar.com/archive/2013/06/sample-sql-server-dba-job-descriptions/). The job title: “DBA”
    * Long story short I do a phone interview which goes fine.
    * Then the recruiter spends a few days haggling my rate down by £5k, when she knew from the start the minimum salary expectations. I say “no thanks, so long” and say my goodbyes. Then she calls me at 8am the next day to say “good news the client has increased their budget” – only after calling my bluff.
    * Then the recruiter tries to get me to attend an interview with the client within 24 hours. I refuse citing prep time as insufficient. We schedule an interview for a few weeks away.
    * At this point I thought I was mostly done with the recruiter – the phonecalls, phone interview, online IKM test and actual interview set up and ready to go. Then I get this email from the recruiter asking me to come see them (in a different city) for ‘interview prep’. And here’s the fun part:

    job title – ‘Senior DBA’

    So the actual job spec is spurious, the budget for the role shifts like the tides of the ocean, the job title changes email-to-email, and even though the interview is scheduled, the recruiter “needs to meet me first” because apparently, even though they headhunted me, they need me to jump through a few hoops before I actually meet the client, bearing in mind interviews are a two-way process.

    I’d LOVE to hear what people think about this. I’ve never seen anything so bizarre, specially for the UK recruitment market.


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