Why IT clients are not complete idiots

Complete Idiots

This was on the Comments section in answer to our article Ten reasons why clients are complete idiots.

Having read the 10 points detailing stupidity among clients, I wish to make the following contribution.

Taking each point in turn:-

Contractors Direct

Clients aren’t complete idiots. With regard to taking on IT contractors direct (point 1), many companies prefer to use the services of an agency for two reasons.

It cuts out a lot of the administration work that would be necessary if the client were to advertise the positions, collect in and administer hundreds of CVs, draw up contracts and then administer individual payments.

The agents already have a well-oiled machine that deals with this and most clients see this as a cost-effective way of hiring contractors.

Secondly, resources on most projects are charged out to end-user or stakeholders that are putting up the money. The initial quotation would have included a price per developer way higher than the price actually being paid to the agency.

If a contractor went direct, then they would be charged out at a lesser rate, and the overall mark-up would be less as well.

Taking Contractors’ Advice

Point 2 about not taking contractors advice when things go wrong. All sites have various procedures in place for dealing with problems, such as an issue log, risk log and a Change Management system.

If a contractor sees a problem with a system, then they should use the official channels for dealing with it, not merely offer advice in the hope that a change will be made to the system that has not been assessed for impact. Clients are not complete idiots. They would value IT Contractors advice.

Motivating Contractors

The third point deals with motivation and suggests that a client feels that it is only money that motivates a contractor. If money isn’t the motivation then perhaps a person should not have become a contractor in the first place.

One is hired to provide a service, and the motivation should be that the client recognises at the end of the project that the contractor has given good value for money. Anything else that one may get out of a contract should be seen as a bonus.

Following Strict Methodologies

Taking points 4 and 5 together as they contradict each other. The writer bemoans clients that follow a methodology too strictly never opting to cut corners, then complains when a client cuts corners in testing. Both these things come down to an assessment of risk against cost.

Often projects work to a deadline which if not met will incur substantial financial penalties, or will incur lost revenue. Far better to put something live by the required date than nothing at all. Where one has all the time in the world, and the budget to support it, there is nothing wrong in following a methodology to the letter.

Most methodologies have proved that they produce very robust solutions. Clients are not complete idiots.

Making Same Mistakes

Point 6 makes the generalisation that the same mistakes are being made up and down the land. Yes, this has been a problem for a long time, and it is down to many clients not adopting a proven project management methodology.

There have been significant improvements in this area, with Prince 2 leading the way. It would be of great benefit if this became the industry standard. Part of the methodology is to learn by mistakes.

It’s also fair to say that contractors see more bad projects than your average person does. It underlines why a client feels the need for contractors in the first place.

Don’t Ask Contractors for Recommendations

The reason why clients seldom ask contractors for recommendations (point 7) is because of the virtual certainty that they will try to recruit friends of theirs. Clients are not complete idiots.

Often these friends turn out to be not as competent as they were made out to be. It’s unfortunate, but the damage was done years ago.

Paying Too Much for Consultants

Contractors are hired to do a specifically prescribed piece of work. Consultants (point 8) are brought in for an entirely different reason. Very few contractors market themselves as consultants.

If a client feels a need for the involvement of consultants (who generally operate at a managerial level) then it is a lot easier for them to approach an established firm of consultants.

Again, cost comes in to this. It is unlikely that consultants would be hired if the company didn’t recognise that some tangible (financial) benefit would ensue in the long term.

Letting Contractors go en masse, and then re-hiring others

Contractors are often released en masse due to budgetary constraints. If a manager hasn’t got the money, then the contractor isn’t going to get paid. There’s no contractor that wants to work for nothing.

It is unlikely that this would happen on a critical must-have project. Money would be found. However, if a project is not time critical the company can afford to let the contractors go knowing that although the project has been set back, it is no cause for alarm.

They don’t let a whole load of contractors leave just for the sheer devilment of it. Clients are not complete idiots.

Unfortunately, people are often promoted to their level of incompetence (point 10).

This doesn’t just happen in IT, it happens the world over. One only has to look at Presidents and Prime Ministers.

Well, contractors – what do you think of this guys reply? Is he right?

You can add comments below.

Why Agents Dump You. From an Agent

Why Agents Dump You

This article was written by Philip Dixon of Silicon Valley Consultants and gives an insight into why agents drop IT contractors.

The Questions

When Gerry contacted me for my input to this series of articles he listed a number of headings that included; why agents dump contractors, why agents don’t get back in touch, why agents drop contractors when they fail an interview and why agents lose interest after a couple of weeks looking.

These headings are all very provocative and I can’t answer for my colleagues in the industry but I will give you my opinion based on my experiences.

Like most agents in the knowledge based industry we deal with a wide range of requirements from clients and, in this respect, we deal with a wide range of candidates from junior level techies to senior project managers.

Most of them are professional and no problem to deal with. However, as in most walks of life, there is a number who, as I mentioned in my last article on ITContractor.com, would leave the agent and client in the lurch for an hourly rate increase of 50p.

Whom Agents Dump

So here we go – what type of contractor do agents not like and agents dump.

That’s an easy one really – contractors who are unreliable, unprofessional or unethical.

Here are two recent instances within my agency.

The first involved an engineer who was desperate for a contract as he had not worked for some time and wanted to start ASAP.

We arranged the start date he required. On Friday of the first week he went sick without informing either the client or us.

The following week he explained that his phone had not been working therefore he could not contact us.

Four weeks pass before he goes missing again, this time for 10 days and again without informing his agents or the client.

You will not be surprised to know the contract was terminated.

Let Us Down

The other recent incident involved an engineer who was second choice after the client’s first choice took another job.

The client wasn’t 100% about this guy so we took up references only to find there was a question mark over his punctuality and attendance at one previous client.

Again the engineer in question had not worked for some time and promised faithfully that it would not happen again.

We persuaded the client to give him a chance.

On the Friday of his first week he left the client site early without permission and was sick the following Monday and Tuesday without informing either the client or agent.

Again no surprises when the contract was terminated.

Both individuals will remain on our database only for the record to show DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE. Agents dump IT Contractors for reasons like this.

Other Agents Dump Factors

Other instances where agents dump contractor and it is wholly justified is when contractors approach clients directly in order to cut out agents, actions that this site has encouraged in the past!

Why would the agent want to bust a gut getting a contractor a job only to be cut out at a later date?

Again that would warrant a DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE on our database.

Too Many CVs to Reply

Why do agents not get back in touch?

I assume this refers to when contractors have expressed an interest in a job, sent their details and hear nothing again.

My guess here is that, certainly at present, agents are inundated with candidate details.

Also the majority of details that agents receive probably do not suit the requirements of the job.

To highlight this, SVC has kept statistics from advertising response since the start of this year.

From the overall total of CVs received 57.5% were unsuitable for that particular job and 24.3% weren’t suitable at all.

It is a highly competitive market and agents will only be interested in contacting the candidates who are suitable before their competitors do.

I can hear you say that it doesn’t take a moment to acknowledge receipt of the CV and I agree but even I cannot guarantee a personal response every time from us but our administrator does send an acknowledgement out of courtesy.

Arm Chancers

Why do agents dump contractors when they fail at interview?

Do they?

I don’t think that is the case at all.

Remember agents want to find suitable candidates for the client jobs that they have at any given time.

No two jobs are ever the same and if a candidate is called to interview and fails, the chances are there won’t be another suitable job available immediately.

Of course if the candidate goes into the interview chancing their arm and asks for £10 an hour more than the agent might have quoted the client, that’ll be another DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE on the old database and, no, they will not be contacted by us again. Agents dump IT contractors for this.

We Don’t Drop You

Why do agents lose interest in contractors after a couple of weeks?

I can’t really answer that one quite frankly! At SVC all candidates go onto our database.

If the candidate is suitable for the job they will be put forward.

The system SVC use is a sophisticated relational database that, put simply, will automatically marry up the skills of candidates on the database with the jobs that are registered on it.

It will then automatically produce a shortlist of candidates who will be contacted to access their suitability.

Now, that job might come in two days after the candidate is put on the system or it might be 6 months after.

Time Put into Best Candidates

What contractors must realise is that agencies really want to place you – that’s their job.

Consultants are on a basic salary and only make bonuses/commission when they place candidates.

The more they place, the more they earn.

So the consultant is naturally going to concentrate on candidates where they are likely to get a return on their hard fought efforts.

So how do you become attractive to agencies?

Firstly if your skills are not what the client (and, therefore the agent) is looking for it is unlikely you are going to get agents falling over themselves to talk to you no matter what you do.

That’s a fact of life, and if you want proof of that, read the archived article on ITContractor from an employer who explains how he sorts through CVs.

So, if you have the skills, how do you put yourself in front of the queue?

OK, here are a few things to bear in mind.

Flexibility is the key. Be as flexible as you can be with regard to rates, location, contract requirements.


If you say you’re going to do it, do it.


To both the client and agent remember during the duration of the agreed contract term you are a representative of the agent, in the client’s eyes.

Think ahead. When an agent contacts you, even when you are working, give them the time of day. Remember you might need them when you’re not working.

Return their calls and tell them when you are next available.

That way your record on their database will be up-to-date and relevant.

Your CV.

Make sure it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for.

A good idea is to list your skills and grade them from the strongest to the weakest, listing length of exposure to a skill and when last used.

I hope that the above helps to explain why agents dump IT Contractors and that you will not get a DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE on any agency database.

Good luck in your job search.

Philip Dixon MREC
Silicon Valley Consultants Ltd
Philip Dixon MREC
Silicon Valley Consultants

Which Contractor Umbrella Company should I pick

Which Contractor Umbrella Company

We received this from a reader who wants to know which contractor umbrella company he should pick and wants our advice on his decision.

Help Needed

I’m wondering if you can help me.

I have recently become a contractor (not IT specifically) and for my first assignment I was paid via an agency which the company I worked for paid for.

I know that this isn’t the norm and know that a contractor Umbrella company is probably the best way to go.

I am fairly risk averse at the moment as I’m so new to the game

New Assignment

I’ve just started a new assignment and would like to understand which contractor umbrella company is best for me?

Also, as a contractor, is there anything I can read which tells me what my responsibilities are, what tax breaks etc. there are when joining a contractor umbrella company?

Contractor Umbrella Company Needed Urgently

I have really gone into this blind and would love a little help if anyone can provide it

Hope to hear from you very soon – as I wont get paid otherwise!

Thanks for you help in advance.

(Name supplied)

ITContractor Reply

I’m sure readers can give you some advice but also look at our review of Umbrella Companies in Which Contractor Umbrella Company. You can find some good advice there.

Check out also our Umbrella Company Service Directory at Umbrella Company Service Directory which contains a list of umbrella companies which may suit your needs.

Also, look at our Umbrella Company sub-section which has articles about Umbrella Companies here:-
Umbrella Company News

You can find out lots of useful information pertaining to UK Umbrella Companies there.

The choice is between operating through a Limited Company (or Personal Service Company), an onshore umbrella company or an offshore umbrella company.

Choose which is right for you.

Ten killer reasons to use to get a Rate Increase at renewal time

Rate Increase

Preparation is everything. Don’t just go into any renewal negotiations with your client, whether directly, or through your agent (it is best direct with the client) without making sure that you have better arguments for why you should get a rate increase than he or she has for why you shouldn’t.

Here’s a few reasons to give t get a rate increase.

1. You are more experienced in their technical environment

than when you started and so are now more valuable to them. You can say that the technical working environment at every company is different and it takes a little while to get up to speed and that if they replaced you with another contractor that learning process would have to start all over again

2. You have a greater knowledge of their systems.

The same applies here.

3. You have greater knowledge of their business.

The same applies here again.

4. You have a good working relationship with their Business Users.

It is important for the IT department that their Business Users have a good working relationship with those working in the IT department.

This is a great asset to them and especially to the person running the IT department as the Business Users are his or her main customers.

Those running the IT Department don’t want some loose cannon (and there are plenty of those in IT) coming in and wrecking the relationship and reflecting badly on their department.

5. You have a good working relationship with other project members

including permanent members of staff.

If that is true then that all helps to gel a team. It is an asset to a team and bringing in someone new to replace you is a bit of an unknown quantity.

6. Because you are up to speed your productivity will be even greater from now on.

Anyone else coming in now is likely to be much less productive than you until they get up to speed (which could take months) and therefore you are more valuable to the company than a newcomer, who would presumably come in at a similar rate to that which you’re on now. So, you deserve a rate increase.

7. A survey of companies showed that the best Return On Investment

that companies can get is to spend money on IT.

The survey showed that for every £1 spent on IT there is an ROI of £4. Therefore you are well worth it.

Although you are paid more than their employees, you are more experienced and more productive. So you deserve a rate increase.

8. Because of the squeeze on the market

due to the equilibrium between the number of IT Contractors available and the number of IT Contracts on offer, you can say that most of the best IT Contractors are now working and they would be taking a chance replacing you with someone who has not been able to find a contract yet.

It stands to reason that the average ability of those who are currently working would be higher than the average of those who are not working.

I’m only talking about averages here and not individuals. Use this to get a rate increase.

9. Inflation

If you are earning 2 grand a week and inflation is only 2%, that is still worth 20 quid extra after a six month contract (or 40 quid after a year-long one).

If you are not compensated for that then you are, in effect working for 20 quid less a week than you were when you started the previous six month contract, even though you are now more valuable to the company.

Is that fair?

10. Increasing Market Rates

The rate for doing your jobs, in most times, will almost certainly be higher than it was 3 or 6 months back.

Try to get some figures on the difference in rates between now and then, e.g. by looking at Jobstats.

Again calculate what rate increase you need to get just to keep apace with market rates.

You are effectively taking a pay cut of that amount if you get no rate increase at renewal time.

Be Prepared

So, to sum up, go prepared next time you are negotiating your renewal and are looking for a rate increase.

When they ask you why you want more don’t just say “because I think I’m worth it”.

Come armed with a few arguments that would be difficult to refute, e.g. that you are now far more valuable to them than you were three or six months ago and that market rates have risen.

It’s always easier to get what you want when you win the argument.

Value of Your Skills

Most people have some sense of fair play and they would have to concede that you are more valuable to them now, and that someone of your skills now costs more than they would have done 3 or 6 months ago.

It still may not get you a rise, e.g. when there is no more budget, but it is far more likely to happen than if you go into the discussion without any good arguments.

Good Luck!

Contractors Needed – When IT contractors are needed most

Contractors Needed

When are Contractors Needed Most?

This is the  gospel according to a successful agent.

This was taken from the Comments after an article elsewhere.

The views are his own and are not those of ITContractor.com.

The Use of Contractors – Needed Most

Contractors are used when:-

Contractors Needed When There is a specific timed project

Companies don’t want to take on extra IT staff just because they have got a spike in work due to a new project. What would they do with them afterwards? They wouldn’t need all the people who work on a new project to maintain.

Therefore, it is in their interests to hire IT Contractors on a short-term basis to get the project completed. It is a lot easier to get rid of IT Contractors than it is permanent employees.

Contractors Needed When There is a specific niche skill

Sometimes companies use a specific niche IT skill which is hard to find in the marketplace. Permanent employees with that skill may be few and far between. Those that with skill may not work in your area. So, companies will hire IT contractors with that skill. even if teh contractor doesn’t have that skill, he, or she, may be happy to travel or even live away form home for a few months.

Contractors Needed When There is a headcount freeze

When there is a headcount hiring freeze at a company often this doesn’t apply to IT Contractors. So, if some extra work needs done, companies can hire contractors to do it.

Often it happens soon after a downturn is over. Companies have laid off permanent staff and are legally not allowed to take on direct replacements for them so soon. So, when they have work to do, they hire IT Contractors instead.

Contractors Needed When companies get lazy

It sometimes happens that companies have contractors that the like and who do a good job. It would be hard to replace them. Indeed, the longer they stay on the more knowledge of the company they get the harder it is t replace them.

Advice to IT Contractors

Do you want to more successful as an IT Contractor?


• realistic rates,

• not asking for increases in the middle of a contract or at every renewal

• loyalty and flexibility;

• and treating the service you give as a professional service.

When You are Offered One IT Contract After Agreeing Another

Offered Two Contracts

What do you do when you have signed one IT contract, and then you are offered another contract? The agency will expect you to take the job and bring up such subjects as morals and honesty.

I would suggest that if there is a notice period in the contract, that you utilise it straight away.

The company may want you to come and work for a month, but I very much doubt it.

Notice Period

In many contracts there is a one week notice period for the first month.

Is it dishonest or immoral to utilise this when offered a better contract?

The Agency wants the right to be able to make hard-nosed business decisions, and the employing company wants the right to be able to make hard-nosed business decisions, but they expect the contractor to make one out of loyalty and ‘not letting them down’.

There is a double standard here.

Double Standard

Even in the situation where the contractor has signed the contract with the agency and the agency with the employer, if the project got canned, or word came from on high that project staff cuts were to be made, there would be no argument about ‘not letting the contractor down’.

The employer would cut him and try to get away with paying the legal minimum, and would try it on first of all to try to get away with not paying him a penny.

Is there anyone who doubts this?

Now, what would the agency do?

Signed Contract

It has a signed contract with the contractor but no job. What do you think that the agency would do?

Would they first of all think of their business obligations to the contractor and ‘not letting HIM down’, or would they go for with the legal minimum, and try to get away with paying nothing?

I don’t think we would have to hold a poll on those questions, so why is it thought to be dishonourable and dishonest for a contractor to change his mind and take a higher paid job BEFORE he has even signed a contract, unlike the case with the other two.

Using Business Judgments when Offered New Contract

Even if he has signed a contract, and it is no longer in his best interests, and there is a notice clause in his contract, then he is quite entitled legally to use it when offered another contract.

As far as the morals of the situation are concerned, one can argue the case, but if he decides to sign the contract for a job that he no longer wants, he’ll find that he is the only one using morals as a criteria rather than just straight business judgment, and business interests.

Why is the contractor ‘not allowed’ to act in his best interests whilst the agency and the hiring company always will?


It’s because the contractor is seen as an individual rather than a small company, and people expect different moral standards from individuals than they do from a business.

Why that moral ‘pass out’ should be given to people acting on behalf of companies and not for people acting on behalf of themselves (even with limited companies), is a whole different subject for debate.

Suffice to say that IT contractors should remember that they work for their own company and that it is their duty to act in the best interests of that company, as agents do for their agencies and employers do for their companies, and they’ll know what to do.

When offered a second, better, contract the contractor should choose the best one offered.

Stress – Ten factors in an IT department that will cause it

Stress in an IT Department

Ten things that cause IT Contractors stress.


These always cause stress – especially when they have been artificially cut, which they usually are.

The closer to the deadline you are the more stress there is. After the deadline it becomes almost unbearable.

Production Problems

These are especially stressful if either you caused the problem or you can’t solve it. If it is both, then add double points to your stress calculator.


That is at knowing that things are not being done right. It is soul-destroying to come into work each day knowing that the project is going to fail.

You want to tell them how to put it right – but you know that they would not care to hear your contractor thoughts (again).


Overtime can cause stress but it is especially so on a project that you know is going down the pan.

If it is dark when you come in and dark when you leave again it just adds to the stress levels.

It’s even worse if you are not being paid for it.


Constant interruptions when you are trying to concentrate is very stressful, e.g. if you work in one of those stupid places with an intercom that continually breaks the silence with “Paging Richard Robson”.

Talking Bar

Being in one of those places where you can’t talk at all, can’t have mental breaks, and have to look as if you are working all the time is especially stressful. Sadly there are too many places like this.

Working with an Idiot

Working with a complete idiot who cannot get anything right is highly stressful. He or she will make you look like an idiot too.

Being an Idiot

Being a complete idiot is going to make your stress levels go up – in so many ways.

Layoff Rumours

Being in a place where 30% of the workers, permie or contract, are going to be laid off shortly is highly stressful.

Who is to be got rid of becomes the main topic of conversation.

Being Terminated

Having your contract terminated is highly stressful, especially if you have financial commitments, very little money, and you know that the current contracting market is simply awful.

Pay on Time – What to do when your IT agency doesn’t

Pay on Time

It happens to many IT contractors, i.e. the IT agency does not pay on time. They always have an excuse. Here are the telltale signs and what to do.

Too many IT contractors leave it too late. They listen to IT agency excuses for non-payment and they just hope against hope that they are true and that they will soon be paid.

Even when the agency has broken their IT contract as regards payment, IT contractors don’t want to suddenly dump them because it could mean that they lose a month or two’s money and they could potentially lose their contract with the client who may not want the hassle.

Therefore they tend to do nothing except worry and to phone up the IT agency to hear the latest excuse for why they didn’t pay on time..

Take Action

However, action should be taken immediately otherwise there could be a lot of pain afterwards.

When Chamberlain Scott International went bust they owed IT contractors as much as 48K and quite a few were owed between 20K and 30K.

Here again a series of excuses were given as to why the IT contractors weren’t being paid and the more the contractors were owed the less likely they were to dump their agency and jump ship.

They just hoped against hope that everything was OK.

It wasn’t. The agency went into administration leaving the contractors’ debts with the administrator, set up a new company called CSI (UK) and bought the contract rights (the ones they wanted) from the administrator that they had appointed, for a tiny amount compared to the annual sales.

What to Do

So what should you do when your agencu doesn’t pay on time?

You should take action immediately if the agency have broken their promises and contract about payment.

Many IT contractors don’t want to upset their agencies especially if they are owed money by them, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the agency would be swiftly onto you if you broke your contract with them in any way.

Therefore you must be ruthless when they don’t pay on time. After all, they have let you down.


We put the question to David Greene of accountancy company Nasa Consulting, who have a legal division, as to what IT contractors should do when agencies don’t pay on time. Here is what they advise:-

1) Call the agency and ask why they didn’t pay on time. Advise that further delay will
lead you to discuss this with your client, and / or take legal action.

2) Advise your client that you have not been paid, and let them know you
cannot carry on working if this continues

3) Discuss the position with other agencies and see how they pay and if
they can take over your contract.

4) Engage a lawyer to pursue your agency

5) Pursue your agency through the www.courtservice.gov.uk/ . This
is a court service which is now electronic, simple to follow and

ITContractor Comment

If your IT agency are letting you down you are entitled to act when they don’t pay on time. They understand this as they are a business as well and they have to chase clients for payment.

Even if an agency is facing financial trouble they would still have some cash as they are still invoicing clients, and those that push the hardest and are first in the queue will be the ones to get paid out.

Those that don’t want to annoy those guys at the agency, or who are afraid of upsetting them, will be the ones who will have to deal with the administrator (who offered 3p in the pound to Chamberlain Scott International’s contractor debtors).


A solicitor won’t cost too much in the beginning and will be well worth it.

There is a lot that they can do to get you to the front of the queue. For example they can take out an order to get the agency shut down if they don’t pay up.

Even in the dying days of an agency they are still fighting like hell to survive and there is a very good chance that they will pay out to the person who is causing the most trouble and trying to shut them down.

After all, the plan would be for them to go into voluntary administration with a friendly administrator, rather than a forced one, so that they can buy the contract assets cheaply in order to rise again like a phoenix from the ashes with a slightly altered name telling clients and contractors alike (at least those they want to keep) that nothing has changed.

Their Problem

Of course, most agency late payments are not caused by IT agencies about to go bust but often have good reasons.

However, that is their problem and, if they have broken their IT contract with you as regards payment, be ruthless with them. They would do the same with you if the boot was on the other foot.

The excuse not to fall for is the one where they say that despite what the IT contract says you will basically get paid when the agency get paid by the client.

Don’t fall for that one – especially as the law as changed to say that the agency must pay on time even if they haven’t been paid by the client.

Alarm Bell

With CSI one contractor told us that the excuse that they kept using was that they hadn’t been paid yet by the client.

The IT contractors then asked the client who said that they had paid up ages ago.

That is a real alarm bell ringing there. If that ever happens to you, you need to go in guns blazing with all the legal help you can get.

The agency is having serious problems if that is the case and only those who are the most forceful will get paid

Make sure that you are one of those!

What makes an IT contractor unsuitable for a job

Unsuitable for a Job

Following our story on How the government decides if there’s any skills shortages, I thought I would offer some helpful advice to agencies and employers on what makes an IT worker unsuitable for a job. According to the survey on the DEWR site, only about 17.5% of applicants who apply for any position are suitable for it.

With so many unsuitable people selfishly going around applying for jobs, it seems only fair that employers complain to the government about skills shortages.

Thus, IT immigration can be hiked up and “unsuitable” local candidates put in their place, i.e. unemployed or in an industry more in line with their skills such as food preparation.

The only danger is that the government may one day come around to ask why the other 82.5% of candidates were unsuitable. This is extremely unlikely, but you never know. So here’s a cheat-list of possible reasons to sticky-tape to your desk.

They were too old, or too young, or the wrong sex

Strictly speaking, giving this as a reason is illegal, but if you wink at the government inspector, he’ll know what you mean. Nobody wants an old fogey hanging around boring them with COBOL stories, and kids fresh out of uni are just dopes.

They were too ugly

We’re sick of having unattractive people around the place and were hoping for some eye-candy when filling this role.

They only knew how to program C++, VB, C, Perl, and PHP, we needed a Java person

It can take weeks for an experienced programmer to learn a new language. Do you think we have that sort of time? Besides everyone knows that every programming language is completely different. A C++ person knows no more about Java than the average person in the street.

They’ve only worked in insurance and we wanted someone with banking experience

Banking systems are completely different from insurance company systems. It’s a whole different universe. We were worried that their little heads may explode with the complexity of having to learn about a whole new industry.

They had the cheek to ask for more than we were willing to pay

Why should we pay anything more than peanuts? Asia’s full of people who’ll work for next to nothing All we have to do is get the government to rubber-stamp a work visa. Why on Earth would we ever pay our employees first-world wages?

There was some obscure part of the job that they had no experience in

We occasionally use the Bulgarian software application known as BorisNet. It’s not very complex, but we may need the person to operate it for an hour or so every year. While they had loads of experience in everything else we needed, no BorisNet experience is a deal-breaker I’m afraid.

They appeared to have too much self-respect

We’re looking for subservience and lots of it. UK workers are generally missing this key “people-skill” in our experience.

We’d have to train them

They were obviously experts in a large range of systems, but we’d have to send them on a two-week training course to learn our platform. Why should we fork out for something like “people investment”?

We want a person that’s been educated at someone else’s expense, preferably the Indian government’s.

They were only mortal, and we wanted a God

The list of skills we wanted for this job ran to over 400. The best we could find was someone with 15. Of course, there’s only 5 skills any person will actually need for the job, but why should we put up with something as sub-standard as a mere mortal?

These are some of the reasons why local UK candidates were ‘unsuitable’ for jobs. I’m sure that there are other reasons why they are unsuitable too.

Maybe they are unsuitable because they cost more?

What I want to say to IT agencies

What I Want to Say to IT Agencies came from our Comments section.

Want to Say to Them

Whilst not tarring ALL IT recruiters with the same brush my experiences this year show them up in a very poor light. This is what I want to say to them.

I have been IT contracting for 18 years now, but was out of work recently for a few months – I only got my current IT contract through an old colleague who called me when my vacancy became available or I would probably still be out of work.


Things I want to say to Agencies:

Just because you get over 100 CVs fired off in reply to a job advert does not give the agent the right to ignore phone calls.

Sometimes the IT agency is straight up, that the agent just is not taking calls.

More often someone fields the calls and promises they will call back – 99% didn’t bother

Not Best Interests

I proved to one IT agent that they were not working in their client’s best interests by sending off CVs before reading those they had.

On this particular occasion a role was advertised on the Thursday being an exact match for role and industry – even if I was not THE best person for the role, I should certainly have been on the short list.

I fired off my CV and then followed up with a phone call – on this occasion the agent actually spoke to me and I spent 10 minutes explaining exactly why I should be considered for the role – she seemed to agree but claimed my CV had not come through, so I mailed it again.


The following day (Friday) I called again to check on progress and she was “unavailable” – needless to say the promised return of call didn’t happen.

On the Monday I called again, managed to talk to her only to be told she still hadn’t read my CV and would call me back.

She did do so, agreed that I seemed a good match (just like she had last Thursday) but then told me that CVs had been forwarded to the client on Friday!

Strung Along

I got strung along for a week or two before her senior consultant finally spoke to me – he told me they couldn’t possibly read all the CVs sent through as many were irrelevant.

They had to draw the line somewhere.

He couldn’t see that a candidate who by their own admission seemed to be a good match should at least have the courtesy of being considered, and that they weren’t acting in the client’s best interests.

I Know What I’m Doing

Finally after a heated discussion, in which he told me “I have been in this business for 5 years, I know what I’m doing” (and of course having been a contractor for only 18 years I am not qualified to question this) I emailed an account as to why I believed he hadn’t done his job, a couple of hours later I got an apology by telephone – but too late to help me with this role.

On Scrap Heap

Around April I went two weeks chasing after another similar role with the junior agent protecting her senior counterpart from me – finally she told me sheepishly that I probably didn’t make their shortlist because the client might be worried that I had been out of work for 4 months!

No credit for the full employment over the previous 10 years, or that my last contract in a highly relevant role had been for 3.5 years.

I was on the scrap heap because I hadn’t found a job in 4 months

Total Sum

I want to say it certainly wasn’t down to me not trying.

I only applied for those roles that I truly believed I should be in with a shout of, so as to not waste agents’ time, but still I had a wodge of double-sided paper an inch thick for those jobs.

Total sum was that maybe 10 of those I was put forward for – who the hell were ALL these people allegedly so much more experienced.

Even when put forward, half of the agents still wouldn’t return my calls to ask progress


So maybe IT recruiters aren’t solely to blame but most have been lazy and unprofessional.

When the market turns these are the ones who find they will need to change their ways fast or go out of business themselves just like Porsche GB in the late 90s who treated customers with disdain while so many city types fought over their cars.

Come the stock market crash, they almost went out of business before reinventing themselves.