Unprofessionalism Rampant in Staff Aug

I’ve been working with staff augmentation firms and recruiters as both a client (the person using the staff aug firm to get talent) and as talent for about 12 years now. I’ve had some really great experiences and some really not-so-great experiences. But on the whole, I’ve had good experiences.

Lately I’ve noticed a precipitous decline in professionalism from these firms. I keep an updated profile on Dice and Monster and a few other public resume databases because I can typically judge what the business climate is like by how often i get pinged by recruiters. Additionally, I like to know what kind of projects are going on in my local area and I find this is a faster way than reaching out to individuals at companies with whom I have relationships – plus I hate to bother people as we all seem to be so darned busy.

In the past two years 90%+ of the emails I receive from recruiters don’t address me by name. 60% of the emails pertain to positions for which i’m not qualified – you’d not believe the number of emails i get for developer jobs – and about 30% are so poorly formatted or worded that they are unreadable.

Typically when I receive one of these I send a canned response that tells the sender that if they don’t have the professionalism to address me by name, then don’t bother. Normally, I get no response. But sometimes I get a nice apology back and I thank that sender and we both go on with our lives.

Rarely, I get a response like this one from David Herr, Manager of Consulting Services at the Staff Aug firm York Solutions:

I’m going to pull your name from our database James. I’ve received this same goofy email from you 3 times now. We get it…you’re awesome! You’re a professional and deserve ultimate respect. I’m truly sad that the way we bring our services to market do not meet your exceedingly high expectations.

Very sorry to waste your time!

Now, I’m just puzzled by this. First and foremost, since when is common courtesy an “exceedingly high expectation”? I mean, is it really too much to ask to be treated like a human being instead of as a number?

But what’s far worse about this exchange is that David is responding to me not as David Herr a man with a different opinion than me. David is responding as a representative of York Solutions. At the end of the day I couldn’t care less whether David agrees with me or not. My opinion is mine and his is his and it doesn’t matter if they match up.But I think it’s a huge deal that David thinks it’s ok to lash out at me when he is representing York – acting as its public face.

This is unprofessional on a staggering level. Clearly David didn’t think before he sent this. He was annoyed by my mail and reacted. Which, if he had used his personal email would have been fine but he didn’t. It is this lack of thinking, lack of courtesy, lack of professionalism, lack of holding oneself to any standard of behavior that has me turned off by most staffing firms. They hire the lowest common denominator, pay them next to nothing and expect to get results for their clients. And the clients are the ones who really suffer.

I can tell you from vast personal experience that companies that employ the methods similar to York’s typically provide lower quality talent because they spend less time vetting that talent and follow the principle of “throw enough crap against the wall and some of it will stick”. That’s great for their bottom line since the cost to operate that way is less to their margin is higher. But as the client i can tell you it takes longer to complete projects, you cycle through talent more frequently because the firm doesn’t understand/care what your requirements are and it’s harder to find cultural fits, it takes more effort and energy to manage the resources you do get and it ends up costing more.

There are firms out there that are different. I’ve mentioned before that TekSystems is the most professional firm I’ve ever worked with. As part of their business model they take the time to understand the culture and environment at their clients. They spend the time to ensure they understand the projects and the needs so that when they send a candidate profile/resume over you can be sure it truly meets the requirement. Further, they meet their talent and check references before they ever submit them. Once the talent is on site, TekSystems meets with the talent and the hiring manager regularly to make sure things are going well and to stop issues before they occur.

As I said, I don’t care if David thinks I’m goofy or wrong or whatever. But I do care that he thinks it’s appropriate to lash out at me in such an unprofessional manner as a representative of York. I also think there needs to be an awareness in the staff aug industry that client’s expect more and better for their dollars and you can only provide that if you have professional recruiters who are following best practices – something York Solutions – or at least Daivd Herr – isn’t doing.

Where to give your money

Most who know me know that I believe in giving back – I have a list of organizations to which I contribute here on my site. It takes time to find charities that are a right fit and that are trustworthy – that’s why I was so heartened this morning when I hear on KBCO that Colorado had launched a new website that helps those who want to give money check out potential charities. The site is Check the Charity. As I said I was heartened when I heard about it and quickly went to the site. That’s when my hopes were dashed. Instead of having a simple, intuitive site where those wanting to check out the validity of a charity could go and either enter the name of the charity or pull it down from a list, there is this:

check the charity dotcom

check the charity dotcom

This is not only an unattractive site but it’s not intuitive – which of the four giant buttons does a visitor click on and why? And when a visitor does click on one of the four big button they are taken to a completely different site and the only one that actually offers any kind of information useful to someone coming here to find out about charities is the Attorney General site which gives six tips on charitable giving. The tips are good so I’m going to include them at the end of this post. I am amazed that the state of Colorado could not find someone with appropriate design and development skills to build a site that would actually be useful to people who want to give their money but want to make sure they are doing so responsibly. In this economy they could have had 50 candidates in an hour if they had posted on Craigslist.

The goal of the state of Colorado was a good one. But as is so often the case, the execution is sub-optimal. I would love to see the figures on abandonment for this site. I can image that the majority of people who come here will look at the page, be confused about why they are there and what to do once they are and will leave. A great and altruistic goal – protecting potential donors – will not be achieved because there was no upfront design time spent on this site. It’s a shame really.

A much better site – thought there are problems with the design of this one as well – is Charity Navigator. On this site they did the right thing – they put a search box way up top and highlighted it in yellow so visitors could do what they came to do without hunting, pecking and getting confused and frustrated.

much better, more usable design

much better, more usable design

The State of Colorado could have used this site as a starting point and made some improvements -hell they could even have simply linked to it and not attempted to reinvent the wheel. Makes me wonder how much of my tax dollars went to the site the Colorado put up.

Here is the six point list fromt he Colorado Attorney General’s site:

  • If a solicitor calls you: Ask for their registration number AND the registration number of the charity they are representing. This will help you investigate the charity with the Secretary of State.
  • Ask every solicitor: “How much of my donation will actually go to the charitable organization?” If you think the amount is too low, tell them “No thank you.”
  • Ask every solicitor and charity: “Is my contribution tax deductible?” Charities must indicate their tax-exempt status in their registration statements. Tax exempt does not necessarily mean that contributions are tax deductible.
  • Check out the charity before you give, particularly if you are unfamiliar with it. You can check legitimate charities out with the Secretary of State’s Office online or go to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
  • Don’t be swayed by strong emotional appeals — take some time to examine the charity’s claims and to consider alternatives.
  • Don’t be pressured to make an immediate decision – Be suspicious if the solicitor insists upon an immediate donation or offers to send a courier to pick up your contribution. Take time to check any charity before giving.
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    SEO results better with dashes or underscores?

    I just got off a call with a client and a client of my client. On that call was a developer from a Denver based web development firm that also does SEO. On the call the developer stated that dashes are no better than underscores when it comes to SEO optimization and ranking. I almost feel out of my chair. I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t my place to do since this was a client of my client. But I darn sure had a call with my client afterward and let her know that the developer on the phone was not very competent.

    There are several sources of irrefutable proof that dashes are better but my favorite is a very in depth post from Paul at Pioneer Websites that shows pictorially why dashes are better. I’m really tired of people who claim to be experts that give misinformation to clients. It makes it really hard for those of us who try hard to make sure we are always telling the truth. Alas, it just oges to show that you can be mediocre and still make money even in this tight economy.

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    Please form an actual opinion of your own

    I’ve pretty much had it. I keep hearing on the radio and television people say things like, “I’m not voting for Obama because his name, Barack Hussein Obama, is only one letter off of Osama”. That and people who say things like, “Obama is an elitist and McCain is for all Americans”.

    You know what, at the end of that day I really don’t give a rat’s ass who you vote for. But if you’re going to vote for one person over another do so because you have a reasoned, well thought out opinion of your own. Don’t do it based on some crap you heard on a campaign ad or because it’s what some talking head on one side of the argument or another told you to believe.

    People have the right to their opinions and I cherish that about this country. But for crying out loud don’t be a sheep. Do the research – and by this I mean well rounded research not just what the right or the left says – and form your opinion based on thinking about that research.

    Anyone who has taken a minimum amount of time to look into the facts knows that Obama isn’t a radical Muslim. He’s a Christian. And anyone who understands the policies of the Republican party – at least the policies of today’s Republican party – understands that those policies are anything but inclusive and will benefit no one but the very wealthiest.

    I don’t care who you vote for but for crying out loud please don’t vote for someone because someone else told you to. Do it because you’ve reviewed the facts, have mulled them over and have formed a reasoned opinion.

    What we could have done with the money

    Dave Caolo at Hardcore Geek wrote an incredibly thought provoking post titled My $3 trillion shopping spree on Friday about how much money has been spent on the Iraq war and what he would have done with that money instead had he been given the option.

    I love his approach. To think, for less than the price of this irresponsible – some would say illegal – war we could have ended our dependence on foreign oil, put an end to hunger and poverty related diseases and a whole slew of other much more responsible and moral things.

    There’s a new blog called the $3 Trillion Shopping Spree that’s grown up around this very idea and they have a great youtube video that you should check out:

    How would you spend the money?