Recruitment agencies worsen IT skills shortage by proposing unsuitable candidates

December 02, 1998 Sophos Press Release

Recruitment agencies are wasting company time by sending unsuitable and under-qualified applicants for interview. Research by Sophos, the UK's largest anti-virus specialist, found the direct approach yielded five times as many successful candidates as those put forward by recruitment agencies.

In an exercise to compare direct applicants with recruitment agency candidates, Sophos personnel staff found the agency success rate to be 1 in 60 against 1 in 9 of those who sent their CVs through directly.

Almost half of the rejections made by Sophos were due to exaggerated applicant capabilities from agencies. One, for example, highlighted extensive C++ programming skills on a candidate's CV which turned out to be a two week course at university.

"We know there are dynamic and qualified people out there, it's just a matter of finding them," said Paul Ducklin, head of research at Sophos. "I'm sure competent recruitment agencies exist, but unfortunately our experience has been one of time and effort wasted. We urge candidates to send their CVs directly to us because we can be much more confident that it is all their own work and that they have a genuine interest in the job they are applying for."

"Agency commission can be as much as 20-30% of the candidate's first year salary, and is, from our experience, generally undeserved," added Ducklin. "For this amount, surely you have the right to expect more than a faxshot of a few dozen candidates whose CVs contain a couple of keyword matches with your job advertisement?"

Other problems emerging from the survey include a lack of presentation and preparation advice given to interviewees. One agency also re-arranged an interview four times in one day without informing the candidate.

Sophos recently announced an expansion programme to create 100 jobs over the next few years.