There is an episode of Red Dwarf – the second one of the fifth series, to be precise – called The Inquisitor, about a creature that travels through time, visiting every person who ever lived and judging whether they have pursued a worthwhile existence. Those he deems to have wasted their one valuable shot at life are erased from time and replaced by someone who didn’t get that chance.
Like many of the stories in Red Dwarf, particularly from series 3 or 4 onwards, the episode is arguably a concept that is cleverer than its execution is funny. Some of the sci-fi ideas tackled by Dwarf over the years could have sustained entire films, and yet were routinely dispatched in barely half an hour on BBC2, with a few jokes thrown in for good measure. But whether you judge The Inquisitor to be a good episode or not (by either sci-fi or conventional sitcom standards), the premise of the title character possesses a certain resonance.
The reason for bringing this up is a recent experience that will be familiar to many. Having spent a couple of months with a job application in the shambolic hands of a recruitment agent, there is but one outlet remaining through which I can rant about it – this here blog I call my own.
The sheer frustration at the pointlessness, ineptitude and lack of personal interest of the agent can only be resolved in one of two ways – either an Inquisitor-type figure appears at some point during my lifetime to judge the agent in question, or my own life follows a similar plot and I become an Inquisitor-type figure having witnessed the demise of the universe and realising there is no God.
Either is fine, as long as my own eyes get the satisfaction of seeing the agent replaced in the timeline of the universe with someone who can offer a greater contribution to human endeavour. Because if civilisation and society has been reduced to this – people’s hopes, aspirations and livelihoods depending on office suits with no vested concern in either the employers they represent or the potential employees they ensnare, then we really are all sitting in a barrel, floating down a river and waiting for the big drop.
What follows is the reproduction of an e-mail received from the agent in question after I questioned what exactly had happened with the vacancy I applied for. We first spoke in mid-December of 2010, during which conversation he stated that any interview that might be considered appropriate would be arranged through him. If that isn’t giving the impression of being solely responsible for the recruitment of a vacancy, then I don’t know what is.
At no point during two-months of sporadic correspondence was it explained that – (a) other agents were involved, (b) the agent didn’t even possess a formal job description, or (c) the employer was looking for someone with retail experience despite advertising the position as suitable for graduates. What the e-mail below doesn’t explain is why many of my unanswered e-mails and unreturned phone calls couldn’t have been responded to, briefly but politely detailing (a), (b) and/or (c).
I don’t give a damn how busy he was – if basic decency and respect for people’s futures don’t warrant five or ten minutes from the working day then someone shouldn’t be in that line of work. Indeed, it is questionable whether “that line of work” should even exist. So let’s ask: recruitment agents – what is your justification exactly for making everyone else’s lives more difficult than they would be if you weren’t involved?
* * * * *
28th February 2011
I can confirm that the position has been filled at <the employer>.
I can also confirm that I spent a lot of the time in the intervening period from our original conversation waiting to be advised by my client about the “state of play” regarding the recruitment for this position. I can confirm that the position was not filled by <us> and can confirm that I never gave you any indication whatsoever that this position would be handled exclusively through me. I have been in “competition” with other consultants and know full well that <the employer> have their own recruitment department and if you have assumed that I was solely responsible then this is unfortunate.
What I can also confirm [is] that your details were sent to my client along with many others but my client didn’t pick up with your application. Many were overlooked by my client blaming the lack of experience in the retail sector so didn’t warrant further investigation. I do not know where or at what level the candidate has been recruited at.
I will admit that given the lack of direction/contact from my client in the latter stages of the assignment, combined with the pressing need of other assignments elsewhere, my focus was, and has been, on these engagements. In this instance, we were not supplied a job description despite requests and it would have been wrong to generate a job description from my own words/notes.
Yes I should come back to you but given the volume of numbers of candidates that we are dealing with and lack of feedback, I cannot guarantee detailing responses to all candidates. Yes, the “mopping up” of letting everyone know has been overlooked.
My apologies for that…
* * * * *
None of this says a great deal for the employer either, but they weren't the ones I was dealing with. Rant over. Bring on the Inquisitor.