Recruiters in the late 90s

In the summer of 2000 I became fed up enough with clueless recruiters calling me I decided to create a fake résumé to test how bad the industry had become. The résumé was not just slightly fake, it was over-the-top and obvious to anyone in the industry. I put the résumé up on Monster.com with my real name and phone number and a completely altered work history.

I had calls within 20 minutes, including recruiters claiming to work for KPCB and Benchmark encouraging me to come work at companies such as BroadBand Office or Catapulse. I had so many calls I had to shut off my phone to get back to work.

Résumé highlights

  1. 15 years of Java experience. I told one recruiter I was not interested in working with them but she wanted someone with 15 years of Java experience so bad I suggested she give James Gosling of Sun a call and she probably did.
  2. Created industry-leading teleportation technology for Amazon.com in 1989. I actually got a call from an early Amazon employee about this one, so it was worth it. (Amazon was founded in 1994)
  3. Worked as Pixelon’s CTO developing industry-leading vaporware and head party planner of their $16 million launch party. Pixelon was in the news for falsifying everything including their own names.

Do I remember the bubble of the late 90s? Yes, why yes I do. I hope I never again get a call from a recruiter interested in vaporware experts.

7 comments

Commentary on "Recruiters in the late 90s":

  1. Jazzpants on wrote:

    Ooooooh, yes! The CLUELESS recruiters!!! I have a slew of them!!! Some obviously didn’t know what SQL was and essentially admitted that they were playing “buzzword bingo.” Some were quite arrogant and snobbish and wouldn’t bother with you b/c you don’t match up with their buzzword bingo. The managers I DO talk to expressed the same frustrations as well too. (They’re not getting the candidate that they’re looking for.)

    I did have a small group of recruiters that I know and trust, but for the most part, I relied on my network, craigslist.org and a LOT of hard work knocking on doors (well, not literally… more like a lot of emails) to find a decent job. It’s how I found the majority of jobs…and I’m better able to make the case for the salary I deserve rather than having my recruiters push me to take a lower than normal salary just so that clueless recruiter can make their quotas.

    GOOD RIDDANCE to them!!!

  2. Jeremiah Owyang on wrote:

    Interesting experiment Niall, I’m waiting to hear of a group of bloggers create some ‘over the top’ resume as a joke to see what will happen.

  3. Seth Finkelstein on wrote:

    Ah, those were glorious days.

    Don’t think of it as “how bad the industry had become”. Think of it as “how good programmers had it” :-)

  4. John Dowdell on wrote:

    Thanks for the great post, Niall, I guess I owe you a beer now…. ;-)

    jd

  5. Kevin Burton on wrote:

    No… programmers didn’t have it good – this type of environment breeds laziness and sloth.

    Of course the current situation is deteriorating.

  6. paulo on wrote:

    that only happens with recruting agencies, i stopped sending resumes to them and only answer to real tech companies
    take care

  7. Sunil Rodger on wrote:

    I’m a student trying to get a summer job in IT. You might find the following tale of woe vaguely amusing/distressing in light of your experiences.

    I don’t do CompSci (I am a Modern History and IR major), but I have a keen interest in computers, and quite a bit of experience. For instance, I worked for the local council last summer (temporary job, sadly), and I’ve been employed by my University IT service for 2 years – both paid and unpaid – with an excellent letter of recommendation. Armed with this, I have been trying to get a job…

    I tried to apply for a paid internship in Cambridge, UK. The lady at the end of the phone was condescending, stating that “we only want computer science students”. When I contacted her again, she’d not even bothered to send my CV to the appropriate department (it’s an e-mail attachment FFS!), and again stated “the *kind of people we look for* are Cambridge University CompSci students”. Excuse me, if I didn’t get into one of the two most selective Universities in the UK! When I pointed out that according to the advert on their website, I had the appropriate skills and experience for the job, she said “I am not technical, I can’t judge that”…

    :: bangs head on desk ::

    Eventually she said she’d forward my CV but “not to expect much luck”. I had a reply back that day, saying “oh, competition was too tough” – again from the same woman. At no point did anyone with any technical knowledge contact me.

    Needless to say, I don’t particularly fancy working for that company after the experience. However, that kind of attitude seems to have been pretty typical, so far. I’ve found that as a student wishing to gain additional experience in the IT industry, it’s almost impossible to get a job. A summer in the wonderful world of “office admin” beckons :’-(

    Sunil