You down with FPP?

April 30, 2007

Steven is wondering why IT recruitment agents are not well respected:

Here is a story from my time in London, as told to me by a flatmate, which might have some of the answers. I’ve changed the names to protect the fictional.

Scene: Jim is a recruitment agent. Bob is an IT professional looking for work.

[Jim’s phone rings]

Jim: Hello
Bob: Hi, my name is Bob. I’m calling about the ASP job you have advertised on Jobserve

[An uncomfortable pause]

Jim: Oh, the ASP job. Well, actually, that position has just been filled.

Which is a recruitment agents way of saying that the job never existed in the first place. Actually he was just using the advert to try and build up a database of candidates that he could then pimp to his clients.

Anyhow, the conversation continues …

Bob: Okay, what else do you have at the moment that might suit?
Jim: Actually I have another client who might be looking for somebody with ASP experience. How many years’ ASP do you have?
Bob: [sigh]

How has tenure come to be so important in recruitment? Why do agents talk in terms of “having” a technology? Surely there are 1,000 shades of grey when it comes to technical experience? I never answered those questions satisfactorily during my time overseas.

Bob: I have been using ASP for about 3 years.
Jim: Really, is that all?
Bob: Yeah, but I’ve used a lot of different technologies prior to that. I think I know ASP pretty well after 3 years.
Jim: I’ve spoken to a lot of candidates this morning who have 5 years’ ASP experience, so they would probably be preferred.
Bob: 5 years eh? Is that really 5 years’ experience, or is it 1 year repeated 5 times?
Jim: What?
Bob: Never mind.

Bob decides that he’s probably wasting his time, so an experiment is in order…

Bob: What other web development positions do you have open at the moment?
Jim: We have loads. What technologies do you have? HTML? CSS? SQL?
Bob: Yeah all of those.
Jim: Okay, great.
Bob: I also have about 5 years’ MMP experience. And a little bit of FPP experience.
Jim: A ha. Okay, great.

At this point Bob has confirmed that he is wasting his time with this agent. To a New Zealander MMP and FPP are two alternative electoral systems. To a dumb London recruitment agent they are two more TLAs to enter into their database – independent of their relevance to an actual web development position.

Bob: Yeah, do you get many web development jobs requiring MMP or FPP experience?
Jim: Yeah, all the time. You know what gov, just doing a quick search, we don’t have any open positions at the moment, but I’ll add you to our database and call you as soon as something comes in. Actually I’m going to see a client this afternoon who is probably quite interested in …

[Bob hangs up]