amusing bitching games industry recruiting

Open Letter to Recruitment Agencies (video games industry)


My name is “Adam” (first name) “Martin” (surname); you might need to check the spelling. You might want to check which is the first name, which the surname – funny how many recruiters get it wrong!

You’ve probably cold-emailed me because you got my email address somewhere – maybe as much as 10 years ago – and yet, bizarrely, I haven’t been coming to you looking for jobs. You’re probably really hoping I’ll write back with a CV/Resume that you can send out.

Instead, I suggest you save us both some time: have a look at my LinkedIn profile, and see what I’ve done – – it’s shorter and clearer than a CV/Resume, too.

Hey, if you’ve got a few minutes, why not have a look right now? Take your time – I’ll wait! You can learn a bit about me, find out what I might be interested in (hint: it’s there, in several paragraphs of text, right at the top of the page).

Now, maybe you think you’ve got a perfect job for me. But hold on, my friend! Don’t hit that “Send” button yet! There’s some things you should know before you email me a second time…

You see, each time you email me, blind, cold-calling, un-solicited … it’s not just you. All your competitors are doing it. Even some of your colleagues (it’s funny how many agencies accidentally compete with themselves). And a whole bunch of your clients, the companies you recruit for, are doing it too. And each one of those emails takes me time to read.

My time is precious, I’ve got a lot to give, and I usually go well beyond what’s asked; if it weren’t, there’d be fewer companies that wanted to hire me, and willing to pay the salaries I’ve been paid. And hence willing to give YOU that big, fat, commission you’re hoping for…

“What’s there to lose?”, you may be thinking to yourself, “if you don’t like it, we’re cool, I’m friendly, we’ve got a bit of a relationship going here – I emailed you, you emailed me, it could be the start of a great partnership, propelling your future career gradually up the corporate ladder!”

Well, here’s the thing: I’m a technology guy. I have a degree in Computer Science from one of the world’s top Universities. I’ve been trained and employed as a SysAdmin. I’ve been an entrepreneur, and built my company’s computers myself, to save money. Although I don’t program for money any more, I’m still fluent in many programming languages. And, you know what, I’m a bit of an expert at all that “mailserver stuff”.

So … if you piss me off; if you waste my time with meaningless, unsolicited drivel; if you nag me with “this is an amazing opportunity you will love” when we both know it isn’t vaguely true … I’m going to nuke your ass (figuratively speaking): I will never see an email from you again, they’ll die before they reach me.

And when I say “you”, I don’t just mean “you, at the company you currently work for”. Nope. You really piss me off, and I won’t be seeing an email from you no matter which agency you move on to. I hope you grok the seriousness of that? (this may suprise you, but those of us in the industry DO actually notice when you guys change roles, change agencies, etc)

I simply do not have time for time-wasting muppets who are too damn lazy to bother even doing a simple LinkedIn/Google/Gamasutra/etc search on their “targets” to find out who and what these people are.

Oh, and by the way – I’ve done recruitment, many times, myself. I’ve had to get creative with reaching people, trying to tempt them out of their jobs and into working for my own employers. So I know how hard the hard stuff can be. But I also know how little – how VERY little – time it takes to do the easy stuff. And when you DON’T do even that, it tells me a lot about you. It tells me a lot about the crap you’re sending to your clients. It tells me a lot about how (un)impressed they’re going to be with the drivel you send them. Above all, it tells me that if I *do*, somehow, find the role interesting, then it’s worth my time using my own contacts to get a direct invitation from the company, and bilking you out of your commission.

Actually, I could bilk you anyway, whoever it is. The industry is *that* incestuous that everyone above Junior level “knows someone” (who knows someone, who knows someone else … until you hit the Hiring Manager). So, your whole business is based on the assumption that you make it so much easier for me to work with you that I don’t bother to test my extended network. You’re living on borrowed time from the moment your email hits my inbox. Humour me.

But on the other hand, if you take a genuine interest, and make the effort to find stuff that would actually interest me, you could save me a lot of time and hassle. And then I’d love to work with you on finding and evaluating roles. And (modulo all the above) I’m a pretty forgiving guy, if you give me just a little bit of mutual respect. So you CAN send me random crap that you think might tickle my interest, and I won’t hate you for screwing up. You can even get it wrong every time – so long as it’s clear you are, in fact, *trying*.

So, you know … take the time. It’s for your own good. Really.


10 replies on “Open Letter to Recruitment Agencies (video games industry)”

The last few years, I’ve seen something that I think is a relatively new phenomenon, the “call center” recruiter. I’ve gotten a call from someone with an Indian accent and you can hear literally dozens of phones and conversations in the background. Cold calling and spamming recruitment emails have unfortunately become a mass business where they now employ economies of scale.

The other problem is that with many large companies (I can’t speak for video game companies, but draw upon my experience for working for US Fortune 500 companies) is that hiring technical talent has been put into a RFP-like bidding process, where they specifically try to limit an agency’s contact / influence with a potential hiring manager. Even if a recruiter has a relationship with a hiring manager (the most valuable asset possessed by the recruiter), large companies try to neuter it citing a variety of reasons (standardization of costs, equal opportunity for minority businesses, etc.) Some people may not think this is a problem and like the filtering effect that screens a manager from a recruiter, but the process also discourages a recruiter to get to know an organization and understand specific needs. Hence, the propagation of generic job specs and non-specific recruitment calls.

Hi Adam.

While I am agreeing with 80% of what you have said. I must add my thoughts also.
I very recently started in recruitment.
I have spent many years on the other end having to listen to agents pitch & granted it drove me quite mad. Mostly due to the fact that I had nothing to do with recruitment at all. However after the company I worked for went bust & in the current climate I found myself training as a recruitment consultant. I do not send unsolicitated CV’s however I do cold call. How else are we supposed to let companies know we are out there. I only ask how we go about getting on their PSL. I do not hold their day up, nor do I call a candidate more than once. I leave a message & wait for a return call.
When I first started part of the learning curve is to match a spec with a CV. This does take learning. Maybe unwittingly I could have mismatched a candidate in the beginning. This surely is not a hanging offence. After reading the word Java in the subject field, the C# fella merely has to delete it. If I do not hear back I assume the fella is not looking or does not have the correct skill set. Why bug him from that point on.

This new role I found myself in is very difficult. No one is interested, companies often want in on your commision even on the off chance you get a job spec. For every 100 calls to companies I do, I may get a “Call back in 2 months”. Maybe I am not pushy enough. Or maybe they are sick of the pushy ones & assume I am just like them.

It is hard going these days to get a job so while I am fortunate that I currently have one, this may not be for long. If you do not get a certain percentage you are fired. I have so far just scraped in. I do however expect to be joining the job queue soon.

So while it is terrible for you to have to delete emails that you have not asked for, please do spare a thought for the person who sent it. It could be that they are learning or it could even be that they are desperate to keep a roof over their families heads.


NB: “Sarah Jay” left a real-looking, but fake, email address; I tried to contact her privately, to no avali.

I read your post as far as this: “I have a degree in Computer Science from one of the world’s top Universities.”

Excellent. In that case, you’re highly qualified to be a Recruitment Agent – and you got as far as seeing that you shouldn’t contact me, so … I count that a success! :)

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