I must admit, I’ve been very fortunate in my contracting career. I’ve found assignments mainly through my network and, all in all, the process has been relatively painless, however, my recent experience as a ‘contract hunter’ has been illuminating and also, sadly, a bit depressing.  

As an HR professional and a process analyst, I can’t help but reflect on how different interactions can either make you feel delighted, optimistic and excited for the future, whilst others could completely destroy your motivation and sense of worth.

NETWORKS (specifically past colleagues who know your work)  – To me these contacts have always proven to be the best way to get your ‘foot in the door’, however, if you live by your HR Code of Conduct, it still means participating in a fair and transparent selection process and doesn’t always guarantee success, you still have to graft.  

AGENCIES  – There are those who invest time to ‘get to know you’ and have a genuine interest in, not only ensuring you are a technical fit to the role but also there is a cultural fit for both prospective employee and organisation. You ‘feel’ as though you’re always on their radar through regular (not necessarily lengthy or time-consuming), check-ins. There are some really great boutique agencies out there, and then there are …..the ‘black hole’ agencies – see below.

JOB BOARDS – social media/professional bodies – I must have sent off hundreds of applications in response to ads and I count myself lucky when/if I receive an automated acknowledgement of my application.  This means of advertising is naturally going to invite large responses and must be challenging administratively, I know, but having run large recruitment teams and campaigns, it’s not impossible to build in a courteous response, even if it’s a rejection to bring closure for the candidate. It can be very impersonal and very demoralising to see an ad, feel motivated by it and then ……… tumbleweed!

On the odd occasion that I do receive an email requesting a telephone conversation, it can feel that the recruiters motivation is simply the need to ‘send over CV’s to the client’ to make up numbers and is merely calling to make sure they won’t be embarrassed if you’ve lied on your CV!   Again, from this point …….. enter the ‘black hole’.

This post isn’t about recruiter bashing, it’s a factual account of my experience to promote the power of networks and some great agencies with whom I’ve worked.  You know who you are!