I'm trying to contact you

Recruitment can be a cutthroat industry. So many jobsites and individuals are fighting for candidates and placements that things can often become genericised and impersonal.

Over the past few months I've been putting myself out there – I'm looking to take on some contract work. I've done all of the usual things: Creating accounts and profiles across multiple job websites, including uploading an updated CV.

You'd think this would make life simple, but you'd be wrong. Job websites are all slightly different and in my opinion none of them are particularly good. This is because they're more aimed at recruiters attracting candidates to jobs, rather than the jobs attracting the candidates themselves. There's also the issue of advertising and premium placements – all of these sites will serve you a list of 'best match' by default. If you've been looking for a few days then you probably only want things ordered by most recent, but that's not necessarily cost efficient for the job site.

In my line of work there's a lot of highly technical and very specific skills. There's such a vast array of skills that someone could have, especially when you consider the hundreds of frameworks available for each of the languages you use, but there is NO way to distinguish between essential and desirable skills in listings. This problem results in an arduous job search, but also results in the next problem.


Recruiters are an interesting bunch. The best ones have been the ones that know the industry I work in well, and have been able to determine from my CV right away whether or not I'd be suitable for a job, before communicating with me. The best ones can see that I haven't listed a phone number and that there must be a reason for it – so they send me a comprehensive email about the role including rates, locations, skills, etc. Those recruiters get my attention.

On the bottom end of the pile are the ones that waste my time, probably because they're desperate to meet targets, or because they have been unsuccessful in narrowing their pool of candidates. They'll email me things like "I'm trying to contact you" – congratulations, you succeeded. But they won't include any information, just a request for a phone number or suggestion that I call them.

Almost every time I respond to one of these emails, by email, the reply is either ignored or it's pressed again that I should call. Every one of those calls has resulted in disappointment. It wasn't a contract, it doesn't have the right skill set, the rate was too low or too high (which can happen especially if the skills are incorrect). Consider that this phone call has distracted me from whatever I was doing, and can take several minutes to ascertain that it wasn't suitable – if I'm working on freelance client projects do you think they'd be happy by that wasted time? No.

The second biggest reason I don't give out my mobile number is because I live in a new build area with practically no signal. One recruiter managed to get hold of my mobile number somehow and one morning I woke up to 5 texts – all of them voicemails. But those voicemails had been left over the course of the previous week. No signal, no texts. Not only this, but the recruiter hadn't bothered to communicate with me in any other way – no emails, no LinkedIn. This can mean I miss out on opportunities, and looks unprofessional.

I don't give out my landline to recruiters unless they have a job that appeals to me, so sending me no information in an email is unlikely to generate a return call. And of course, I'm not always at home so I won't be able to take that call either. Email is by far the best way to get hold of me. It's fast, free, non-disruptive, can be dealt with in seconds rather than minutes, and most importantly – it's self documenting.

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