You are searching for a new job. It doesn’t really matter why.
You review and polish your CV. It’s been a while and you’ve moved up the ladder a bit, so you research the do’s and don’ts before carefully constructing a document that highlights your key strengths in a succinct and engaging manner. You’re optimistic as you are truly excellent in your field.
You reach out to your network, but there’s nothing suitable at the moment. A couple pass your details on but it yields nothing significant.
You scan the papers and register with some agencies, but perhaps more realistically in 2018, you configure searches on a range of job boards and LinkedIn, and start to receive a daily flood of available roles by email.
These roles will surprise you. Having configured a search for “Finance Director” within 30 miles of Swindon at £100k+, you will wonder at the technical competence (or outright ignorance) involved in excitedly presenting you with a “Graduate Materials Science Engineer” in Derby for £24-26k, or a “Real Estate Sales Executive” in Dubai for £16k “(with six-figure OTE!!!!!)”.
You will continue to receive a daily set of “new” roles by emails, 99% of which you’ve seen before, but that remaining 1% does yield the occasional suitable option so you’ve got to keep reading regardless. Occasionally, the job title, description, package and location is appealing, and you apply in good faith knowing you are an outstanding candidate that ticks all the boxes.
You receive no response, though on occasion you might receive an automated email pre-emptively telling you that your application is unsuccessful if you don’t hear back within ten days.
Being a diligent professional, you call to follow-up your application. After a shout across the office and being told you’re being “put through”, you’re then told the relevant person is currently not in the office after all. You’re surprised given you heard them respond to the shout, but you nevertheless leave a message… to which you receive no response.
You email in follow-up to your call, writing a brief cover note and attaching your CV in case it got lost somewhere. You receive no response.
After some time – of being cheery and banging your head into a wall in equal measure – your repeated efforts to communicate are rewarded. The recruiter claims to have never received your application, but regardless bestows upon you the blessing of a conversation. After much shuffling of virtual paper, it turns out they do have your CV and make some comments about its quality being the reason they missed it. There is no middle ground: it is either outstanding (though apparently not good enough to notice), or awful (though with no specific or actionable recommendations forthcoming).
Within minutes of talking you both agree you are an outstanding candidate for that role, but alas it’s already been shortlisted. Furthermore, the quoted location is the recruiter’s office: the role is actually based in Gateshead. Don’t worry though – they promise to keep your details on their system and share your profile with the rest of their team as they have a large number of suitable roles both presently and in the pipeline.
You never hear from them again.
Eventually, by some mixture of good timing, fortune and (presumably?) magic, an application to a role yields a timely response, or your LinkedIn profile resonates with an agent, and you are invited to interview. With the recruiter.
They patronise and treat you with near contempt as they convey upon you the phenomenally complex and niche characteristics of their client’s organization. They’re “under NDA”, but there are only so many large financial organizations rhyming with “Marclays”, so filling in the gaps isn’t difficult. Being the expert in this field and conversation, you know that in reality they and their challenges are exactly like every other organization.
They will discuss a package that sounds attractive, but is probably 25-50% above their client’s actual budget. You know that they know that you know they know this. Regardless, pretence is made that it is achievable.
Eventually, some number of these recruiter interviews will yield a real interview. With the actual hiring company.
As before, the interviewer will treat you with near contempt as they convey upon you the phenomenally complex and niche characteristics of their organization. You will explain your key skills and achievements in direct response to their stated requirements, and perhaps wonder at precisely which result they clicked when Googling “interview questions” given the generic themes more applicable to a graduate intake.
You might receive some feedback. If you do it will not be useful or constructive. It will be a generic statement about others being a better match (despite your literal 100% hit rate against the stated requirements), or perhaps cite something about missing “Dynamics 365”, “Polycarbonate mouldings”, or “eye contact” – none of which were stated on the job description. It is moot as you subsequently learn from the recruiter that the hiring manager is looking for somebody with 20+ years of blockchain experience and a clone of themselves. You’ve only got 5 years, and blonde hair.
Many months have passed and you’re becoming an Olympic-level expert in describing where you want to be in 5 years; but eventually a small proportion of interviews turn out to be sensible, adult and realistic. Being excellent at what you do, and having applied for every opportunity already knowing you are more than capable, they predictably become offers.
Relieved and excited at finally locating the one sensible employer from an ocean of insanity, you negotiate and accept one and prepare to start your new job.
Within hours, you will receive numerous excited responses from jobs you applied to months earlier, urgently inviting you to interview as soon as possible. Quickly reviewing your inbox you find the original emails, all with their statements that you are unsuccessful if you don’t hear back within ten days. You wonder what took 4 months.
You will wonder how on earth it’s got to this sorry state, and moreover why nobody has disrupted such a dysfunctional industry. Yet.