games industry recruiting

Shaming the recruitment agencies – Aardvark Swift

Given how much money these agencies charge – and how that SPECIFICALLY reduces the chances of “good but not great” candidates of getting job offers (anyone who says otherwise is a liar or naive) – I’m fed up of their mediocrity and the lack of criticism it gets. So, I’ve decided I’m going to stop complaining in private to the agencies themselves (that seems to have had no effect for the past 5 years) and instead start naming and shaming them. Sorry, Aardvark Swift, but thanks to your current email campaign, you just volunteered to be first. It’s nothing personal, I promise.

(I will probably never ever get a job again via any of the agencies I go on to talk about :). Oh well.)

Aardvark Swift is one of the better-known UK specialist recruitment agencies for the games industry. They used to have a good reputation (although it’s been up and down over the years, depending upon who you talk to). They just spammed me to ask me to apply for the job of “Lead AI Programmer in Australia”.

Now, if you were to just take a brief look at my work history (, you’d probably notice that:

  1. I live on the opposite side of the planet, literally
  2. I have never in my life been an AI programmer
  3. It’s been many years since I did a programming job

That’s bad enough. Except … I already told them much the same over a year ago, the last time they were cold-contacting me. I have a vague memory that they even had a fairly recent copy of my CV/resume at that point (no more than a year old).

I know people in the industry make big, sudden career changes, but is this – blind spamming of inappropriate jobs – really an effective way to catch those? Because – as a candidate – it feels like lazy bottom-feeding tactics; how come they can’t even be bothered to check current information on public LinkedIn profiles? As an employer it makes me wonder: of the candidates this agency would send me, how many would the agency even know the first thing about the people they’re sending through?

Companies are desperate for good candidates these days, so it should be easier than ever to get a good job in the industry. But somewhere between the Hiring Manager and the Candidate the process often breaks down completely. Just to be clear, it’s not just Agencies that are to blame – far from it, often it’s the companies’ own insane internal bureaucracy, or misdirected HR depts, that screw things up – but as an industry we *really* need to put a stop to this.

Or at least stop whining and bitching about how “universities and schools aren’t providing enough programmers, artists, producers, and designers” (whether or not its true) – many companies wouldn’t spot a good candidate if they walked in the front door and handed in a printed copy of their CV/resume.

2 replies on “Shaming the recruitment agencies – Aardvark Swift”

I’m a newbie in the industry (recent graduate) and I’ve already experienced two things mentioned in this article:

1. Spamming from AS. I was repeatedly sent emails from AS despite having no interest in the jobs. Hell, I hadn’t even expressed an interest in receiving the emails in the first place. They even phoned me up and I told them I was happy in my job and wasn’t interested, but they still kept sending emails to me for months afterwards. They’ve stopped sending them now, but it was somewhat irritating at the time.

2. HR problems.. The first thing I learned after gaining employment was simple: “bypass HR if you want to get anything done”. HR at my current company has some nice people, but they are poor at getting certain things done in a timely fashion and they often fail to spot good candidates. I’m guessing this is a fairly common occurrence.

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