Beating Recruitment Agencies at their own game

Beating Recruitment Agencies
Beating Recruitment Agencies at their own game

Beating Recruitment Agencies


Contractors beating recruitment agencies at their own game is unusual. Handling agencies can be difficult.

Many have tried to bypass the need for IT recruitment agencies, without great success.

They seem to be a necessary evil, much like wasps in summer.

However, I do have a couple of suggestions for how to make the best of a bad lot and beat agencies at their own game.

Hitting Agents for Six
Hitting Agents for Six – how to do it

Finding the Ideal Contract Job

I stumbled over the following excellent way of at least ensuring a more even playing field. I designed and built a SQL Server Database that trawled the Internet job-sites on a daily basis. It scraped off all the job adverts, and storing them all in a searchable form.

It proved an entirely useless way of finding the ideal job. However it was an unexpectedly good way of freaking out agents and beating them at their own game.

I got better at doing complex aggregate reporting on the agencies, contact names at a given agency, job descriptions, locations and salaries etc.

I was able to tell agents, when they phoned up, exactly who their staff were, where they were recruiting, what their spoof adverts were, when they published them, and so on.

One could give them the names of the people at their agencies. One could even make a guess when they joined and left the company. Beating recruitment agencies at their own game is fun.

Beating Them Frightens Them

This technique offers a delightful way of frightening IT agents into being reasonable and amenable. That’s particularly if you are the manager who is doing the recruiting.

Agencies conning contractors is more usual.

On several occasions, I managed to negotiate their rate downwards before they regained their emotional balance.

Agency Tricks on contractors
Agency Tricks played on contractors

Beating Recruitment Agencies – Another Trick

My second “getting even” technique is unlikely to change the behaviour or attitude of agencies in any appreciable way, but has brought much joy to many a bored IT department.

The opportunity arises when you detect that an agent is phoning you up merely to determine who the IT manager was at your previous company, so he can phone him and tout for custom.

A trick, to beat agencies at their own game, I have successfully worked in the past is to offer an invented character called Leonard Fuchs, or Harvey Fertz.

Tease The Agency

It helps if one leads up to this with some convincing corroborative material, and to tantalise the caller with the extent of recruiting going on in the company.

The effectiveness of this trick depends on warning the agent that Leonard (or Harvey) is sensitive to the way his name is pronounced.

You must get the agent to pronounce it properly.

Then, you simply wait for the agent to phone the company.

Dodgy Agencies
Dodgy Agencies that trick contractors

The trick is always funniest when one can tip off the receptionist at the company concerned.

The resulting recorded phone conversations, though probably illegal, can be highly entertaining.

Beating recruitment agencies at their own game is fun.

By Phil Factor.



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