Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tales of a Bottom Feeder Recruiting Agency

I'm a moron. At least according to the well formed opinion of one Kevin Higgins of H.T. Associates. He formed this opinion after I repeatedly asked for his "Executive Search" firm to stop contacting me. Now, I've checked with a few authoritative sources, like my Mom and my Wife, and it turns out; I'm not a moron (my Wife did appear to be on the fence).

Last week sometime I was sitting at my desk sipping coffee (or beer I don't remember what time of day it was),and coding my way through my current iPhone project. I mention the iPhone project because it matters. I've been doing Java work my whole career, it got a bit mundane so I decided to switch things up. I'm currently doing Ruby and iPhone development at Interactive Mediums (plug! haha). I'm very happy where I'm at, and really excited about what I'm doing. Which is to say, I don't need recruiters contacting me about "Sr. Java this" and "Architect that". Most folks shoot an email, and I don't mind that, I file them away just in case.

I got just one such email from one Ryan Olson at H.T. Associates titled "Sr Architect Opportunity (Java)". I, of course, ignored it; not interested. So, as I said before, now I'm coding along happy and content when my phone rings. Most people don't have my cell number so I answer it without looking. I glance at the number as I'm raising the already accepted call to my ear and realizing I don't recognized the number think to myself "Shit, please don't be a recruiter".

Little did I know that I was going right into a high-speed-high-pressure-used-car-salesman-with-the-slick-hair trap. Ryan tells me who he is and asks me if this is a good time. You'd think this conversation would end here right? Of course not, where's the blog post in that? I tell Ryan, "No, I'm at work, now is not a good time". He simply responds that he understand and continues on like it never happened. What sort of caught me off-guard was not his high pressure pitch, or his disregard for my time; it was the immediate use of offshore fear mongering. Ryan started spewing all this stuff about how India and China were going to take my job, and how my very livelihood was in jeopardy if I didn't send him my resume. Sure, I'm exaggerating the wording here, but the intent was no less serious.

Once his initial pitch was complete he asked, again, if now was a good time to talk about all the wonderful opportunities available through H.T. Associates. I, once again, told him no, "Now is not a good time". It bounced off him like bullets off Superman. Again he declared that he understood, and again he went right into the high pressure pitch with more India and China are going to steal my Eggos stuff. Amazing. Left with no other recourse, I hung up on him.

Now, I'm brash, and I know this, but I can be a politician when I need to. I normally don't burn bridges with recruiters as you never know when you might need one. Believe it or not there are some good ones out there. I worked with one woman in the past who was absolutely awesome. I felt like a ball player with an agent. She gave up recruiting and went to go work for a Church. I'm not sure what that says about me. Anyway...

I was sort of upset after speaking with Ryan. I don't like being bothered on the phone, and I damn well don't like being forced to hang up on people. So I opened Ryan's prior email and replied...

Thanks for the call Ryan,
In the future; when someone says now isn't a good time, and they say it more than once, you should stop talking. Please remove my information from your system.

-Ray


I don't know what I hoped to achieve by this really, maybe a contrite apology? This was the response I got...

Ray,

I heard you once and understand. I was NOT asking you if you are willing on investigating a new position for you and your family. I did think you would be intelligent enough to at least hear about what is going on in the market at a time where the market has been crushed.

I was asking you if you would be kind enough to lead me into the right direction of those business professionals that would appreciate a call.

In the future when your job get’s offshored or outsourced and there are to many people for jobs feel free to leverage me a resource. You have a family to support and never know what may surface in the market so it’s good to know someone like myself in the event you have nay questions.

I wish you best with your career

Ryan Olson
Executive Recruiter


Baffling. You see the tone there right? You see I wasn't kidding about the call now right? But wait, there's more!

The very next day I get an email from my new fan, Kevin Higgins. The subject is "JAVA SW Engs & Architect Openings". Great another guy from the same company is now emailing me. I figure I better put the brakes on this guy before he calls my cellphone too. I replied...

I have already asked to be removed from your system once; just yesterday actually.
Please comply with my request. I am not interested inworking with your company.

-Ray
(blame the iPhone for typos)


I noted that Kevin's title seemed a bit loftier than Ryan's, so I figure maybe this guy will listen. At first he seemed to be considerate of my plight. He replied with the following...

Ray,

Thank you for your response although I am unhappy to hear you feel this way. As the managing partner for this 30 year Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award winning firm, I personally would like to reach out to you and understand what your concerns are. If my team has done something wrong, I would like to hear about it so I can address that and apologize to you as well. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks Ray and best wishes to you.

Kevin Higgins
Managing Partner – Executive Search


I explained the high pressure pitch and the ridiculous offshore threats to Kevin and he again replies, somewhat sympathetically...

That is exactly the opposite of what I teach my team on how to comport themselves. I do not tolerate that type of behavior as I despise it. I think you can tell by how I have crafted my emails how serious I take treating people with respect. I sincerely apologize and I will address this issue immediately. I appreciate your thoughts and insight but again, I deeply apologize for this regrettable behavior. Thank you and please feel free to reach out to me personally if there is anything I can do. I do believe that I am good resource for you but and hope that we can overcome this situation. Thanks Ray and best wishes to you and I do look forward to hopefully engaging with you at some point.

Kevin Higgins
Managing Partner – Executive Search


I thought to myself, "Good that's all taken care of". A happy ending and these guys probably won't contact me any more. Of course, I was wrong...

Eleven days later I get an email from Rose, who appears from her signature, Kevin's assistant...

Good Afternoon Ray,

Thank you for send our company your resume. Would you be kind as to send me a copy of your resume in Word format?

Regards,

Rose Ramos
Executive Assistant to Kevin Higgins


Now I'm getting a bit perturbed. Obviously there's no reason to take this out on poor Rose, so I forward it directly to Kevin cause he probably remembers me right? The entirety of my email was this...

Seriously?
-Ray


Apparently Kevin doesn't remember me...

Ray—we need all resumes to be in a word format per our clients. Send it to me directly. Thanks Ray and I hope all is well. I may have something for you.

Kevin Higgins
Managing Partner – Executive Search


The point of my "Seriously?" comment was misinterpreted. I wasn't questioning the Word format, though I should, I was just shocked that they were still contacting me.

Now, I've already dealt with pushy, unprofessional tactics from these guys, so the nonsensical English was just fuel on the fire. I realize that English may be poor Rose's second language. But her email doesn't read that way, her email reads as if she were just rushed and not paying attention to what she was typing. If she works for Kevin, she's probably under a lot of pressure I'm betting. Anyway, here's my reply...


My point is that I am the angry engineer who didn't want to be contacted by your company. That's why I forwarded your assistants email, in all its broken English glory, along.

This is the last time I am going to say this. Remove all traces of me from your system.

-Ray


Kevin's previous emails were sympathetic and worded well. He chose a different style for his final email...


Ray—you’re a moron.

Kevin Higgins
Managing Partner – Executive Search


I simply replied "Nice" and went for a walk.

Let this be a lesson to all my engineer friends out there. We all know that old phrase, "You only get one chance to make a first impression". Do you want guys like this making that first impression for you at a prospective employer?

41 comments:

Raghu Kashyap said...

Wow that's a story to share :-)

Matt said...

Nice, classy, establishment. You should turn them in for harassment.

Jeff Judge said...

Wow, I cannot believe the way these guys treated you. Ryan needs to learn when to use "too" vs "to". I've never heard of using fear of offshoring as a recruitment tactic - and then he asks for referrals!

I am not going to offshore or outsource your job.

nitin said...

Well played!

Rnast said...

"Thank you for send our company your resume." ? Seriously? Maybe they should offshore their assistants.

Tim O'Brien said...

Ray, you are a moron.

Sharad Jain said...

Poor HTA, messed with a wrong guy :-)

Christian said...

"Decline and Fall of the American Programmer" was published in 1992. Offshoring was big at least as far back as 2002. Anybody who hasn't considered how offshoring affects their career by now maybe deserves to be snowed by fearmongering recruiters. The rest of us should be spared this kind of bullshit.

Ray Krueger said...

As it turns out I'm pretty good at my job. As such, I don't worry much about offshoring.

Rob said...

@Rnast: maybe they have off-shored their assistants.

I really think the resume email was a ploy, though. It's their way of soliciting resumes from people for whom they only have an email address.

I should try that:
Thanks so much for sending the check for $1000. Unfortunately, we can only accept money orders or cashier checks. Would you be so kind as to send us one of those instead?

bhaai said...

I actually used them once long time ago... Looks like thy have gone bad ! Thank God, my old email @usa.net is dead and my mobile number has changed a couple of times since...

tonystubblebine said...

Ray,

Great story, but also a huge waste of your time. I used to get these and realized that merely hanging up on them left me in a bad mood so I started acting out a polite no thank you so that the only thing I would remember is how polite I was being. "I'm not interested. [pause] Thank you [pause] Goodebye [pause][hangup]." I went into too much detail on my theory behind this method here:
http://www.stubbleblog.com/index.php/2009/03/productivity-hack-hangup-politely/

Anonymous said...

In the future when your job get’s offshored

Apostrophe fail.

Anonymous said...

One way to have fun with overly persistent recruiters is to tell the person to hold and then on another line dial the main phone number of the recruiter's office. Transfer them and listen in. The confusion is amusing as it often takes 5 minutes before the recruiter realizes that they are talking to a person down the hall from them.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Thanks for outlining the douchebaggery at work with that firm

Niren said...

Ray,

I actually agree - you are a moron ;-) .

In all seriousness, Booosh!!!.

--Niren.

Anonymous said...

did you think of saying "sorry but i already have a job"? because, you know, that may have been relevant to your pointless conversation with some no-name recruiting agency

Venkatesh Sellappa said...

This is not uncommon , i am in fact surprised that you got away so easily. It could have been worse and it generally is.

Anonymous said...

To me the best part is that they claim to have received a Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award - a very big deal indeed, as only 4-5 companies per year receive that award. See http://htassociates.com/about/malcolm-baldrige-vendor-quality-award.

When in fact it was Motorola who won the award in 2002, and they apparently placed some people at Motorola, so they take credit for the award (since the award includes HR in the criteria)?

Slimy, slimy, slimy.

Anonymous said...

This seems to be your fault. They didn't steal your time... you gave it to them.

I don't know what your deal is, but next time, hang up and DON'T respond to their email. Don't try to fix it. Don't worry about it. Don't even give it a moment's thought after you've hung up. Why did you even still have the email? You should have already deleted it.

Let go!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the other anonymous poster.

Ignore these folks. Usually you can spot the worthless headhunters in a few seconds: lack of specificity in their job descriptions, probing questions that have more to do with the company you work for than with you, and a generally bullying attitude.

The minute you spot it, it's time to break contact.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been sharing his job with offshore workers (but not losing it) - anything that takes a long time to learn is hard to offshore. Particularly if it takes longer than a typical team member stays in the team. I've repeatedly had to start again with new people who, once they're mostly trained and worth stealing, disappear to somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. As soon as he ignored your "it's not a good time" you should have hung up. Such spammers aren't worth the effort you're giving them!

It's like other unsolicited phone calls. "Why are you calling me?": bullshit or sales spiel, or any hint of lies = immediate hangup.

Piyush said...

Dude this why we have email filters for! why bother ?

aniseed said...

Wow! Just wow...

Kapil Mokhat said...

This is classic! I say you continue this just to entertain us..send it to other partners? You're a moron, you don't know any better..

Anonymous said...

I was in a similar situation - unwanted phone calls, emails and SMS "alerts" - and no matter how I asked to be removed from their list they kept coming.

So I wrote them an email offering my services as a "communications consultant", detailing (modest:) hourly rates and other fees. I advised that each item of correspondence sent to me by them would be interpreted as their desire to engage my professional services. I promised to produce a small report commenting on their correspondence and would include an invoice with each report.

Never received anything from them since. :)

Anonymous said...

Ray, I have a funny Ryan Ohlson story to share offline with you.

-George Foster

Anonymous said...

not sure you're a moron :) but they are morans - no doubt there.

Marty said...

Well Ray,

While I can clearly see that you are not a moron, I do have a suggestion for you. I use this all the time.

When someone you don't want calling you refuses to stop calling, simply answer by screaming "oh my God there's blood everywhere, start crying and hang up."

The scream gets out the frustration, and the rest is just for fun.

good luck,

Marty

toxonix said...

I was surprised to find that the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award actually exists:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Baldrige_National_Quality_Award

Although I'm not sure why they would mention that.
I believe that recruiters like this are working to support serious drug and/or gambling habit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. 'Ryan Olson' and HT Associates are the real morons. I even hung up multiple times with 'Ryan', but he calls me up again and again. I even added him to my contact list as 'dont pick up 1', 'dont pickup 2', etc...and somehow everytime, his phone number is different and I ended up picking. 'Ryan Olson' doesn't shut up, he keeps talking BS and doesn't care for your thoughts or feelings. It is just one sided talk and bunch of crap.

It is a total waste of time in talking to them.

Anonymous said...

lol, thanks for sharing. I found your post while googling the phone number of a recruiter that left a request for resumes on a linkedin discussion. I found it odd that his email address was @hotmail.com. Now it makes sense. :) Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I had a displeasure of talking to Ryan Olson from HT Associates yesterday. The douche-nozzle was not only had racist undertones but he also told me to go back to my country.

I could have used all the language I learned from "The Wire" on him, but I tried to be a better person and ended the call by thanking him for the call. It took me a while to get over the anger I felt. Hope he doesn't call me again as I won't be able to restrain myself.

Anonymous said...

Last time Ryan called..I said.."NO English..." (with an accent) and never heard back from him since :)

Anonymous said...

As a person looking for a job and
running into "bottom feeding recuiters" I thought I would do a Google search on that term. I laughed so hard at the end of your story. Thanks for the laugh, it has been the only high point of my fruitless 2 year job search.

Ray Krueger said...

I'm glad I could provide a little humor for you then. Best of luck to you.
-Ray

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the warning from a fellow software engineer!

Recruiter said...

Extremely entertaining!

I want to throw my two cents in here. I work for a recruiting firm (thus how I came upon this). I think firms that do this are disgusting.
With today's technology we can have systems that input who we've reached out to and when. Multiple calls and bullying are hilarious childish tactics. I made a fake resume and put it out there to see how I was approached by others. SO many emails from the same firms and they were all completely impersonal.
Best approach is that on most bad recruiters emails is an "unsubscribe" button. Or just write back "unsubscribe" and see what happens. Tell them you'll pass along their information and leave it alone.
If you aren't active about it most recruiters move on.

Like a bear- Play dead.

H.T. Associates sucks and Bob is worse than Kevin.

Word on the street it they smell like a goat's scrotum.

Ray Krueger said...

lol Thanks for the comment :)

Anonymous said...

So glad I found this post, it makes me think I'm not the crazy one.

Back in 2006 I worked with these guys, I was contracting at the time and was looking for a full time job. They set me up with an interview and it went well. I also was looking on my own and had other interviews.

I got an offer from a company and the interview HT Associates sent me on had nothing so I was like I'm not waiting around. I proceeded to get phone call after phone call saying I was making the wrong decision for my career and family. It was horrible and left a stain on recruiters for me forever.
In the end I took the offer cause i'm not an idiot, a pay check over something that could be wins out all the time.