If the IT jobs market really is picking up, why am I being left out?

IT jcontractor obs market
IT contractor jobs market

IT Jobs Market Question from reader ‘Runner‘

A reader Runner puts an IT jobs market question.

For some time we have known that there are many more ‘resting’ contractors than there are positions available.

Recently, since the end of last year, there does seem to have been a pick-up in the market. This is shown by advertised positions and agent activity. However, my experience has been a case of great reluctance on the part of agents to actually make the connection between me and a prospective client.

There are a couple of things I would dearly love to know:

1) is there such a thing as a ‘black-list’ applying to contractors? I suspect not.

2) I wonder how many apply for a typical developer position? We keep on hearing about the lack of people/skills. However, I wonder just how many responses a job placed in the internet receives (and where they come from as well!).

My recent experience has been to take a permanent position in November last year only to be made redundant in June this year with 5 others.

Since then, my experience with permanent interviews has been most off-putting. They treat you with contempt if your degree is not from a ‘red-brick’ university. They discover too late (when you walk in the door) that you are over 30 (or 40 or 50!!). Or they simply don‘t like your face.

Who knows what drives these people, certainly the ability to do the job is not relevant.

IT Jobs Market Reply from reader RhodeShow

I think they are hyping the market out of all proportion. There may be signs of recovery, but the market hasn’t stabilised in any predictable way at all.

I suppose success at moment depends on how skilled you are, and how much clients require your skills.

In my field though, I’m finding that many jobs are advertised but very few actually materialise into ‘live’ opportunities.

My CV is nearly always singled out for attention though, and I am getting them sent off to hirers on a regular basis. That means something is wrong.

It used to be the case that roles in my field were as rare as hens‘ teeth. However, when they were advertised I was nearly always interviewed and ended up getting the job too.

IT Jobs Market Positions Advertised Don‘t Exist

In my view, a lot of the positions they advertise have vague descriptions and don’t quote a definite rate. This leads me to think that the jobs don’t actually exist. Either that or else they are possibilities, rather than ‘live’ fillable vacancies for contractors.

I also think that agencies are experimenting in order to adjust to the new legislation. So many of them are up to their usual monkey tricks. They squeeze rates down whilst widening their own profits at contractors’ expense.

Plus, they’re raking in the usual CVs for their database, whilst tricking contractors into believing they are offering ‘live’ opportunities.

Just tread carefully.

Contractor Blacklists on IT Jobs Market

In answer to your question on ‘blacklists’

Yes, they do exist.

Two years ago one agency blacklisted me just because I sprung them to the DTI about their lousy service to me. I also reported them for contacting one of their clients directly to demand money back for traveling costs that I incurred for an interview for which I was sure I had been sent along simply to test whether a favoured candidate present that day was the right person for the job).

Before attending the interview the agency told me I had two competitors. However,t I was definitely the stronger candidate for the role. When I got to the client site there were three interviewees, not two. Also, the chief interviewer kept me off my guard by turning up late, walking behind me in a strange manner, staring at me, and looking totally uninterested in anything I had to say.

It was obvious he didn’t take the interview seriously.

After the interview the agency still told me that they had spoken to their client and I was still the favoured candidate. Then, a few days later they told me that I hadn’t got the job after all.

To this day they’ve never forgiven me for contacting their client for reimbursement of my expenses. So, now they won’t hire me out to any more of their clients despite it being their fault.

Re-Contacted Recruitment Agency

I recently contacted this same agency by mistake last week. They’d changed their name a bit, so I thought it was a different outfit.

I applied for a job from Jobserve and spoke to a consultant whose name I didn’t recognise from two years ago. He rang back to confirm that I was the sort of person they were looking for and told me he would forward my CV.

About 10 days later I rang up to get an update on the status of the role, because I’d heard nothing, and left a message (the receptionist told me my contact was unavailable due to being on holiday). I tried again a few days later and again a message but no return call.

I did this twice more.

Again, no reply!

Don’t Contact Agency Again

Eventually, the Director who had caused me so much trouble two years ago e-mailed me and in a hostile tone told me not to contact the agency again. When I rang up to demand why, he said I had been rude to the receptionist and to the consultant and then brought up the business from two years ago.

To say I had been rude was complete rubbish (and it’s how bullies operate – they always turn the victim into the perpetrator, to justify their actions and their lies).

The reality is this: when I first made contact about the role, I got on rather well with the consultant who, I assume at the time, was unaware of the chain of events two years ago. Presumably, that’s why he wanted to put me forward.

However, the Director must have got wind of my application before they forwarded my CV and pressurised the consultant not to contact me about the role again and not to notify me about why.

CV Never Sent to Client

When I spoke with the Director, following his hostile e-mail to me, he then told me that my CV had never been sent to the client after all. In other words, the b*stards had not only ruined a job opportunity for me, they had deprived their hirer of a highly suitable candidate.

To say self-interest lies at the heart of this agency is an understatement.

Further aggressive e-mails followed when I told them I would go to the DTI again for this incident too. I just got threatened and told that I would be ‘contacted by their solicitor’ if I mentioned my complaint to the DTI or IPSE.

Guess what?

That’s exactly what I am going to do.

I’m also going to suggest to IPSE a number of changes I think should be mandatory that will alter the fundamental relationship between client, agency and contractor.

This is mainly to bring about greater accountability of agencies and hirers and to redress the imbalance of power between the three parties, in favour of the contractor.

Do other readers have the same impression of the current IT jobs market?

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