Contractors’ Questions: Should I name and shame recruiters who don’t come back to me?

Contractor’s Question: I’m getting fed up with applying for opportunities and not hearing back, even when I can clearly do what the contract spec is asking. I’m thinking of ‘naming and shaming’ those recruitment agencies that can’t be bothered to even reply. Am I wrong to think this way?

Expert’s Answer: Having worked as a recruiter (both contract and permanent), and having run a business that helps contractors navigate the contract market, I see this from both sides of the table!

I may not be able to offer any stunning advice to eradicate all your frustrations, but I can at least give you some peace of mind and explain why this situation manifests itself.

Strategy, suicide and ruthlessness

The first thing to realise is that currently, as covid-19 still hangs over the professional services labour market, there are hundreds of applicants for every opening. It’s an incredibly competitive market with lots of people seeking work and fewer opportunities to go round.

The lack of recruitment activity means that recruiters need to be strategic with their time (they've always had to be, to be fair), and it would be commercial suicide if they spent several hours contacting every unsuccessful applicant to explain why their experience or CV didn’t quite hit the mark.

It really is just a question of where the recruiter focuses their energies to make a living. When I worked in recruitment, it was drummed into me to be ruthless -- I was repeatedly told that “if it doesn’t make you money, don’t do it”. That doesn’t mean I didn’t care, it was simply a necessity in order to make enough fees for my then-employer, and to pay my own mortgage!

You must tick every box, and…

What would help everyone’s cause is for those seeking work to stop sending their CV to every position or opportunity that looks vaguely appropriate. In the current covid jobs market, if you don’t tick every box, there really is no point applying. It doesn’t matter if you can do the job; it’s more about who else applied or went forward for the opportunity.

For sanity’s sake, I would also recommend you focus on opportunities that are less than a week old . Why? Well, in the contract market, if the recruiter hasn’t sent their shortlist to the client within a few days, then something’s up. So you’ll have a lot more success with roles that are new to the market.

Four CV must-dos

The final point to consider is that age-old advice of tailoring your CV to the opportunity or role. This means:

  • making sure your ‘go-to-market’ description aligns with the job title or contract/brief.
  • conjuring a value proposition that gives confidence that you can solve the client’s inherent need.
  • providing evidence through your ‘achievements’ or a similar section in your CV or company portfolio that you have a track-record of driving success / business benefits aligned with the client’s objectives.
  • making sure your ‘key skills’ and ‘work history’ sections totally match the items listed on the description/ requirements.

Hassle and heartache? I can help

If you take a modular approach to writing your CV, where you have pre-prepared elevator pitches and case studies aimed at different types of opportunity, you can quickly copy and paste the suitable details and examples into your CV, so the tailoring exercise takes some productive minutes, rather than stressful hours.

To learn more about how to reduce the potential heartache and hassle of putting yourself forward for work,  I’d like to invite both you and other ContractorUK readers to my webinar on Monday December 14th at 7.15pm – among other things, it’s going to be a live critique of real-life contractor CVs! You can find out more here:

The expert was Matt Craven, winning-work expert and founder at The CV & Interview Advisors.

Wednesday 2nd Dec 2020
Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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