Recruiters suck

As a freelancer for a long time, I have had periodic contact with recruiters from one-man “headhunters” to large, multinational agencies. I have to say my opinion can’t be lower.

As a freelancer for a long time, I have had periodic contact with recruiters from one-man “headhunters” to large, multinational agencies. I have to say my opinion can’t be lower. This is a collection of my postings to LinkedIn expressing my frustration with the market and an expansion of this blog from 2018.

I believe in the EU soon, jobs will have to show salary bands. This cartoon expresses my opinion on negotiating rates:

Or a variant on the rate discussion:

Mind you, I could go for this salary range:

Or this one:

Not sure I fancy this one:

I love job ads:

“Full-time ¬∑ Entry level”

“…is looking for an experienced Python Developer…”

This is also a classic:

I also hate job ads that ask you to fill in your job history as a web form. It’s on my CV you twats! Also, forms that ask for cover letters. I conducted a poll on various social media platforms. As it turns out, 0% of recruiters I polled admitted to reading cover letters. I admit, I have sent the odd cover letter that ChatGPT has helped me with. Still no result.

Another good two things that get my goat. Firstly, recruitment seems to have been invaded by our friends from the Indian subcontinent; many of them have strong accents and I often have difficulty understanding them. “Send me an email”. Secondly, where the recruiter has a terrible phone connection. I’m in a city. I know my reception is great. If I’m in my flat then my phone is bonded to my WiFi. But SO many recruiters sound like they’re talking white noise, and again are hard to hear.

Please don’t ask me to submit a video with my application.

Please use a grammar checker. I use Grammarly. The free version is fine. Don’t do this:

“Due to large scale growth my client are currently recruiting multiple Platform Engineers to be based in there central London office .”

Or this:

“Do you agree to us holding and using your personal information for the purpose of recruitment for this roles”

Or especially this:

“Strong communication skills, with eexcellent spoken and written English.”

This is a classic. I’ve had a fair few agents with contracts half a country away, demanding two days a week in the office. That’s a no from me.

This phone introduction is a classic:

“Hi, this is David Hodgkinson.”

“Is that David?”


Me: Hi, it’s David Hodgkinson

Recruiter: Hi, this is Anand Prasad from xxx. How are you.

Me: I’m good.

Recruiter: I’m good thanks.

I didn’t ask you.

Don’t get me started on Applicant Tracking Systems. They’re up there with throwing half the CVs into the bin because they’re the unlucky ones. I can actually do the thing you think I can’t do.

Please don’t send me a link to book an interview slot and then there are no slots available.

Please don’t advertise a job that’s then filled internally.

Please have a direct dial number to your desk, with caller ID so when you hang up after a couple of seconds of static I can call you back.

Please don’t ask for references before the offer stage. Giving you new business opportunities is not my job.

Please don’t change the job requirements between advertising and the interview.

When you call me, tell me where the job is, whether it’s hybrid/remote and how much it is offering. I don’t want to know if you’re married, how many children you have and how little sleep you’re getting.

Please don’t send me rejections for jobs I’ve not applied for.

Please, if you say you’re going to send me the job spec, actually send it.

Please keep your own website up to date. That saves you even sending me the job spec.

My name is not Gordon.

So that’s a lot of what I’ve culled from my LinkedIn. Please feel free to comment below or on the social medias. The best comments will be included here.

Please employ the bear to do something interesting!

So yet again, I spent time battling a legacy perl code base with no tests, no Jenkins/Bamboo, no deployment pipeline and half an agile process.

Now I get to do battle with recruiters again, something that fills my life with joy and purpose.

I thought I’d put my thoughts down as to what I’m looking for in a job.

First up, contract or permanent? That’s easy. I’ve been contracting for 18 years and I don’t see that changing UNLESS you have a really juicy CTO role on offer. More of that later. I think it’s just largely temperament. I like to have an independent, outside view, trying not to get absorbed in the local cargo cult. So there are two things I do.

Senior Perl developer.

My career can be best described as “careering from one thing to another”. If I’d had any sense, or career direction, or a mentor, I’d have stayed much more firmly in the CTO field. I’ve flirted with many startups over the years, but none have actually stuck. So what am I looking for in a perl gig? Here goes:

  • A modern framework. Give me Catalyst preferably, a framework standing on the shoulders of giants. Dancer or Mojolicious would work as well. Template Toolkit is the ideal templater.
  • Tests. It should be obvious, but often isn’t. If you write code without tests your code is immediately legacy.
  • A sane database schema. One that MySQL Workbench can reverse engineer into a pretty diagram. An ORM. There’s little point these days hard-coding SQL. That’s so pass√©. Give me DBIx::Class.
  • A well-run Agile process. I got my Scrum master certification and now “doing agile” as opposed to “being agile” brings me out in a rash. One purpose of agile is to get better and unless you do that, you’re not agile. Just standups and sprint planning don’t cut it.
  • Javascript I can take or leave, but it’s a given these days. I can do it but I’ll hate myself afterwards.
  • Don’t talk to me about web servers. Not my problem any more.
  • I want support infrastructure that’ been there since the beginning. That means Perl::Critic and perltidy. Pretty, clean code please.
  • Please let me please talk to REST APIs, none of that SOAP rubbish.


I’ve been a CTO. And interim a few times. Obviously I’d do it all completely differently this time, knowing what I know now.

  • Let me grow the team. I’ve had amazing luck in the past picking great teams. Indeed, a team that largely didn’t know perl and then became experts. I’ve also been involved in a firing. We’re still friends.
  • Let’s have all the tools we need: Atlassian (or equivalent) stack or integrated equivalent.
  • I want to buy in a good Agile coach for a few months to get us on the right track.
  • I want to manage upwards well. Demo the important stuff to the other directors and management at the end of every sprint. Respond to the business.
  • If you’re good, you can work from home. This is the 21st Century. Being forced to turn up to an office is one of my bugbears. You don’t need my physical presence. Skype and Slack will do the job.
  • Give me something exciting to lead. Not sure I could cope with another publisher web site.
  • Let me speak at conferences. Yes, I know I’m a straight, white male. It’s a burden. But I AM left handed! I’m a minority! It’s good for the company visibility.

And probably stacks more.

As an aside, any good personal projects worth chipping in to right now?