In search of the Golden Goose

The institute provides free one-on-one careers counselling sessions to unemployed members, and I found it very useful. Best of all, I’ve at last got something back for 20 years of membership fees.

I’ve spent a lot of time this month researching job-hunting websites and to be honest, the jury is still out. There’s an awful lot to wade through, and you have to be very careful about how you set your filters.

On one site I ticked ‘Software/Technology Sector’ and now I’m bombarded with adverts for C++ programmers. Then there’s the adverts that keep reappearing.

I was halfway through applying for one job that seemed familiar when I checked my records to find that I’d applied for it twice before.

Of the scores of adverts I’ve responded to, only two have come back to me.

One did result in a shortlist, but the other dragged me all the way to Ascot on false pretences. I was interviewed for around 30 minutes, and it wasn’t until I made it clear that I would only accept a number one position that he said the job on offer was a number two. I’m convinced there never was a job available in the first place and that they were just trawling for candidates to populate their database.

Which brings me on to recruitment consultants. I’ll start by asking what you think of estate agents. Would you let your daughter marry one? I doubt it.

So why exactly are estate agents held in such low regard? Well possibly because the only qualification you need is a brass plaque and you’re in business. It’s therefore perfect for those who aspire to a ‘profession’ but who are unable or unwilling to knuckle down to studying and exams.

The result can be ersatz professionals in Next suits who you’re never quite sure you can trust. When times are good they can be arrogant and condescending, but when times are bad they become obsequious.

Unfortunately, every word I’ve written about estate agents can be equally applied to recruiters. Of course there are good ones, but there are also a lot of bad ones, including one I met last week who carried on eating his takeaway pizza while we talked. A friend once declined a job offer and the consultant told him he’d ‘never work in this town again’.

And now I’ve just remembered this august journal relies in part for its income on advertising from recruiters. Since the editor may not be overjoyed at my biting the hand that feeds him I’d better shut up. But if you have a favourite recruitment consultant story let me know and I’ll try and sneak it in.

  • James Andrews ACA (a pseudonym) is currently unemployed. He is writing occasional dispatches for Accountancy Age. Email:

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