Recruiters are now like the “Traffic wardens” of the digital world and we need to change that. (The only other profession I could think of that seems to really grind everyone’s gears! Sorry!)

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Let’s face it, no matter how hard a recruiter tries to justify they are different to the rest, anyone outside their immediate network will pretty much tarnish them with the same brush as everyone else due to their previous experiences. I’ve seen recruiters get blamed for job titles, salaries, job specs and anything else that usually has nothing to do with them other than them simply delivering on what their client has asked (majority of the time).

I would have gone as far as comparing this to a war between candidate and recruiters nowadays, but the truth is, it’s more one sided than that. Most recruiters need the relationships and credibility, so they would never air that dirty laundry on social media with anyone they have had bad experiences with. We simply add a name to our book of who to avoid, and get on with the job.

Don’t get me wrong…not all recruiters are angels and innocent, believe me I know!! A few can make it harder for everyone else than it should be from their lazy tactics. I must say, before I continue this, it’s very important to know that this is purely for some perspective and some home truths behind closed doors you could all find interesting. I am all too aware of the estate agent type cowboy salesman recruiters, and how frustrating they can be in the field of digital. I have heard some absolute horror stories, and I have experienced some myself before.

Rec2Rec is a recruiter, who recruits recruiters. Yeah…some of you didn’t even know that! So yes, even recruiters can understand the spam, cold calls and irrelevant positions offered, but they’re not all bad!

To the recruiters; it’s very easy for us to throw each other under the bus with these articles and give it the Barry McGuigan (Biggun’), so please understand that this is not my intentions as I do find it quite unprofessional to do this, and a little cringe. We all know what works best individually for us, with our given markets. This is from my recruitment perspective within UX and although the principles should be the same, I am aware the candidate pools are very different depending on your industry you recruit for. Candidates, please try not to take anything negative to heart in what I write. Sometimes discussions about change, will always ruffle feathers for everyone. 

So, let’s see why you could have a problem with recruiters:

- You are constantly stung with irrelevant spam (On a very regular basis)

- Lack of feedback given after interviewing

- Stripped of information with no positive outcome (Where you are interviewing, manager names etc)

- Bombardments of cold calls, before, during, and after work hours

- No follow ups after “sending you across” to the client

- No knowledge or consideration to what you are even about or what you want

- Constant bad experiences time after time

- Generally extremely annoying and pushy

…And that’s just the beginning, right?! Who wouldn’t have their patience tested when this is your experience with them over the years?

So, let’s see why you could have problems with candidates:

- The change of job titles from graphic designer, or Developer in 1998 to “UX Designer” or “Information architect”... more so “Service” or “Product” recently to pursue more money. If we question it though, “well what do you know? You’re just a recruiter.” We know what clients look for and see more portfolios than you can imagine, so this is not a very good argument, considering.

- Adding £50 a day on their day rate after every 3 month gig…(How much did you learn in that space to justify that much more?)

- Never hearing back from them after you have been working tirelessly all day and night teeing up interviews, more jobs and market advice. (Remember this is free for you, and we only make the money once you are placed!)

- Talking down to the recruiter rather than appreciating their knowledge and networks

- Asking who the client is, ignoring us afterwards and applying directly to said client (One of the worst ones for me! I know you're reading this!)

- Highest paid job wins / Money talks when accepting - (Doomed from the start essentially if the client doesn't have the budget to compete)

- UX Rockstars

Does that sound harsh or slightly inaccurate if I accused you with that? Good, because it definitely is! I can assure you that although this does exist, it is certainly not how I see everyone in the industry. It’s not nice or accurate to judge everyone the same way purely from your personal experiences that went bad. Same principle applies to recruiters. We are all human, and in a parallel type world, we both want to make great experiences.

So it’s out in the open, but what can we do about this? We both have huge benefits to each other if done properly.

The Dark truth behind closed doors:

Why are recruiters like this? Welcome to someone working under the principles of old-school recruitment my friends. It’s the high KPI’s and targets that turn recruitment into a numbers game for some, losing that personal touch. I once overheard “for every 500 people you offend, all it takes is one person to be right, and they’ll make you the money.” This is what damages the industry with this mind set.

Where is the long term game? I understand business is business, and this is a cut throat industry with lots of money to be made, but surely common sense would say that this cannot be a good long term plan for those getting into it just now?

Now, most of the time the recruiters will get the blame directly as they are the main point of contact it’s all coming from, but seeing candidates/clients tag these recruiters in statuses, calling them out in blogs and any other way of damaging their career is really not that productive or nice. It’s the people in the shadows pushing them to do this, because it used to work for them once upon a time. Recruiters are not bad people, they just sometimes get pushed in the wrong way. Try to remember that.) If you are a senior, and still behave like this…well more fool you.

How can candidates restore their faith and make working with us more bearable?

- UXers, avoid using the main job boards unless it’s specialist ones like, etc. You work in an extremely subjective industry that even the most notorious of leader’s debate about, so make sure you have someone representing you who understands that. Commercial job boards are usually where your details are stripped, information is pulled from you and will usually receive cold calls from people who don’t have a strong enough network just looking for that quick win in some way or another. These job boards can work for other industries, but not UX as much. Recruiters may get the win, but most candidates have a worst experience ultimately from being on there.

- “It takes 2 to tango” - Build relationships with your select recruiters. Chase them up if you need anything, or let them know about some events you are going to, you can both benefit greatly from this. This works both ways - We are all human, it doesn’t have to be strictly business and makes the whole process a lot more stress free. I’m here to help the burdens and pressure of these big life changing decisions.

- Ask your friends what recruiters they use and who knows their UX from their UI

- Test their knowledge and character – This person is representing you, make sure they communicate you well and are believable. Imagine you are a client paying fees… Would you buy from them? Can you trust them?

How can we begin to make changes as recruiters?

- Socialise in your industry. It really does help when you become friends with your clients, and the people you represent. Gain the knowledge, build rapport, and become known! Getting out the office can also help clear the brain for a bit. “Pick up the phone!!” is out of fashion.

- Pick up a book! Understand what you recruit for and become that “Specialist” you claim to be.

- Get candidates from referrals of people who trust you, and give them the greatest experience you can – This chain will continue. This should be standard practice anyways, but UX is a different kettle of fish - it's extremely incestuous, so behave yourself and you will reap the rewards.

- Long term game – Someone looking to get into it? A candidate who is not right for your roles? Remember, they could be your client one day. Help them! Don’t just go for that quick win, as solid relationships are the key to success.

MOST IMPORTANTLY - Work for a company that treat you like an adult and allow you to be creative. KPI’s and targets are a great way of monitoring your outputs to an extent and will always exist, but let it be the right type that is encouraging rather than soul crushing. The truth is that the client doesn’t want 10 CV’s sent per role and an email can be more productive than 200 cold dial outs a day. Quality over Quantity works every time for us all.

So, has this just gone a little too far for you, or can the love be restored? Recruiters, are you doing everything you can to be that SME “go to guy/gal” and breaking that predictable recruiter accusation? People buy from people, not the company you work for. You are the one they want to work with!! If you cannot be yourself, then you will not get far in a subjective industry like this. You have to think of yourself, because if you don’t you will not be doing yourself any favors in the future.

Trust in Soda is always on the lookout for digital recruiters who want to change the way we are all seen. They wouldn’t let me post this content if they genuinely didn’t support what I said. So, please send your details over to and come meet the team if our approach sounds appealing. Candidates, as usual, please do get in touch if you are looking for something new within UX/UI/Product/Service design, or would like advice on anything else.

Now let’s all play nice!