Here’s a question. Do companies advertise jobs that don’t exist? And if so, why?
I’ve thought this for years, but have heard some people tell me it’s an urban myth. During my most recent bout of unemployment, I’ve got what appears to be fuel to add to the fire. And I’m going to name and shame, because… well.. why not? Either I just keep happening upon really shit agencies, I’m massively unlucky, or there is some kind of black mark against my name for some reason.
In July, I wrote a blog post about not liking recruitment companies. I gave some examples, but didn’t name them. I’m going to do it now. Back then, I said:
“I walked into a branch of a recruitment company which has high-street stores, to be met with confused looks. What was I doing PHYSICALLY in this branch on the main road? They couldn’t tell me if they might have any roles that might suit me, and I was advised to go home and register on their website. So what are the people in the shops for, then?
I registered on the website anyway, including filling out more details than you’d need to join a dating website, and uploaded my CV. Several weeks later, when I phoned the same agency, to ask about something else, I was advised to email my CV to them, despite the fact that I had registered on the website. So what’s the point of registering on your website then?”
That was Randstad by the way, and some spectacularly poor customer service right there. Without reading my details nor communicating with me in the shopfronts, how were they to know I wasn’t perfect for this role?
I also said:
“Another agency, phoned me late one afternoon after apparently seeing my CV on Jobsite/Reed/Monster/one-of-those, to tell me all about an admin job in a nice office in Fishponds, that they thought I’d be good for, but insisted that I come in to register and take a skills test. “Now we’re getting somewhere”, I thought.
I arrived the following morning, in a shirt and tie, sat down and started filling a form out – on paper. I overheard the end of a conversation between two members of staff which ended with “well keep pushing that, because that’s the only role we’ve got at the moment”. Bit odd, I thought. Their window is full of jobs. I put it to the side of my mind, and concentrated on this test I’d have to take.
The skills test involved about 40 questions split over 2 tests if I recall, and I think I got 2 wrong. More than enough to ace both. Great. I sat down, very pleased with myself, and she told me more about the role from the phone. Or rather, she didn’t. She started telling me about a job selling charity subscriptions. It wasn’t an admin role, it wasn’t based in Fishponds, and it wasn’t in an office. When she asked what I thought of this, a part of me wanted to stay diplomatic, while a part of me wanted to ask why she was wasting my time with a job that bears no fucking resemblance to what I was here to interview for.”
That was Select. An agency based on Baldwin Street in the centre of Bristol, advertising one job, then inviting me in to discuss a totally different one – the “only role” they had at the time, despite the myriad of positions in the window.
Since then, I’ve had more of the same, really.
I found a role on Jobsite advertised by Spectrum IT, and applied for it. On 25th August, someone from that company phoned me saying they’d been searching Jobsite and “just come across your CV” (I’ve tarted it up, but I had no idea it was THAT exciting). We had a chat, he said he’d put forward my details to the client and send me more details. I received an email asking for proof of ID, so (after Googling to make sure this isn’t a massive identity-theft scam) I scanned my driving licence and emailed it to him. I never received anything more. They didn’t send me details about the job.
I was on Jobsite again on 7th September, when I happened upon this exact job again. Same description, same salary, same location. I sent him my CV, and asked if they were still recruiting for it. My contact there replied saying the client had decided to recruit for a different role first. Why then, does he feel the need to advertise this one again on Jobsite? Surely he had hundreds of applications the first time around, quite a few of which will still be unemployed a few weeks later? Even if I’m not the right candidate, are you telling me that without the client actually completing the recruitment process or interviewing anyone (as they’re apparently doing a different role), you’re dismissing ALL the earlier applicants?
Fast forward to today. I’m on Jobsite (I know – I might as well set it as my fucking homepage), when I happened upon an IT job that sounded familiar. Actually it sounded more than familiar. It sounded identical.
It’s the same job advertised by Henry Nicholas that was advertised on the 10th July. Identical wording, location, salary. It’s even the same member of staff recruiting.
I applied for it on the 10th July, and they called me back on the 14th September, saying “we found your CV” and had a role I’d be interested in. Why are agencies incapable of saying “THANK YOU FOR SENDING ME YOUR CV”? Why must you go through this charade of claiming that they had found my details somewhere? You didn’t. I sent the CV to you. I did the hard bit. I wrote it, rewrote it hundreds of times, got it to a point when I’m (reasonably) happy with it, *I* searched Jobsite, found a job you were advertising, found your details, and *I* sent it to *you*. And if you didn’t think I was capable of doing the job, presumably you wouldn’t be now calling me back.
On the 14th September, after a chat with a member of staff, I was told they’d put me forward to the client, and send me a more detailed job spec. No idea if the former happened, but the latter obviously didn’t, or I wouldn’t be including it here.
Why do you tell me you’ll send me a job spec, unless you’re going to? If you don’t think I’m suitable, tell me. You can put it in an email if you like.
And a special mention for RBS.
Just to show it’s not just agencies, RBS deserve a special mention. RBS are advertising constantly for inbound customer service staff in Bristol. It’s there on their website right now. I applied in July.
It got me to take an online telesales test (which is odd as I wasn’t applying for the telesales position). It didn’t say whether I passed or failed the test, but I later got an email to say I was through to the next stage of the process for the customer service role, and to phone for a telephone interview. I phoned up roughly 4 hours after they sent the email, to be told they didn’t have any interview spaces for the customer service roles. They asked me whether I’d be interested in doing outbound target-driven telesales, instead.
I’m a lot of things, but a salesman, I’m not (which is why I didn’t apply for the sales role in the first bloody place). You’ve passed me through to the interview stage, and asked me to call, but don’t actually have any places? Isn’t that a bit odd? There is apparently a telephone interview before the group interview stage, and they wouldn’t do the telephone interview with me either.
They sent me a text at the end of August asking if I was still interested, and to phone for an interview. I phoned up the same day, to be told they had no interview places, as apparently they had all gone in the couple of hours since they texted me. Maybe I should check my email/phone more often, but for a company that was then (and is still now) constantly advertising for customer service staff, why don’t they either put less people through to interview stage, or employ more people to carry out interviews?
Is their turnover of staff so high they need to constantly advertise, and keep a backlog of people hanging around as they drip-feed interviews through. Or is this just a method they’re using to coax people into working in sales?
To be fair, RBS as a big company and probably gets an extremely high number of applications. But also to be fair, electronics giant Apple emailed me inviting me to a hiring event. They emailed me on the 11th September, I confirmed I’d like to attend on the 12th, and attended an interview on the 13th. Receiving a lot of applications isn’t an excuse for handling them badly.
RBS emailed me a week ago, saying:
It has now been three months since your original application to The Royal Bank of Scotland Group and unfortunately we have been unable to find a role meeting your specific requirements.
If you are still interested in a role with RBS group please contact us via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. We will retain your details on file for 12 months and will be in contact with you when a vacancy arises.
If we have not heard from you within the next 10 days we will assume that you no longer wish to be considered for future vacancies.
To view alternative vacancies or update your personal information please continue to use your existing account details on www.jobs.rbs.com.”
I’m not sure about alternative vacancies, but I can’t help but notice they’re still advertising the one I applied for in the first place, that they are apparently unable to interview anyone for.
So what is the deal with these repeating jobs? Are they multiple jobs? Are they just keeping a stack of future applicants in case all the staff leave? Is it the same job advertised over and over because they’re not happy with the applicants they get? Are they jobs that don’t/have never existed in the first place?