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You've gotten some good advice so far. the world of contracting and job
shops have changed drastically over the last 30 years, to the point of
barely being recognizable.
30 years ago, recruiters were guys like us who had decided that they were
tired of writing or engineering and decided to use their knowledge to pick
good people to put into jobs. Or often they were retired or laid off from
an industry that wasn't coming back. Regardless, they knew the job, and when
Company JCN called up with a requirement, they could tell who could and
couldn't fill it and sent that person's resume in.
Today, most recruiters are in their 20s, often fresh out of school with some
sort of marketing, sales, or business degree, and have almost no knowledge
of the positions they are requested to fill. I've had many recruiters who
have no idea what Word, FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Doc To Help, PageMaker, and
the like are. they have no idea what the job is, other than a sort
description, and have no idea if I do or do not have what it takes to do the
In the last year, there has been a huge influx of "recruiters" calling who
barely speak English. I hate to sound bigoted, racist, or discriminatory,
but close to 3/4ths of them I cannot understand at all. and I have worked
for years in mixed ethnic and cultural groups. I fully suspect even though
they claim to be from Decatur, GA or Princeton, NJ or some other All
American town, and have a local phone number for there, they are actually
overseas some place with a phone forwarding system. If you listen
carefully, you will often hear lots of background noise similar to the old
stereotype newsroom of movies 40 years ago or of the call centers locations
I hesitate to suggest avoiding them, because unfortunately, many large
corporations are now having their infrastructure supported by off shore
companies rather than doing it internally or by hiring local American
companies. So if you want a job, you may soon be getting it through some
Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, or other foreign company.
Many companies will throw out multiple submissions. I avoid it, but often,
the secrecy of some recruiters mean you may submit twice to the same without
you knowing. their description may not match another yet be for the same
job. Always insist on know who and where the job is, and tell them it is
necessary so you do not double submit.
Double submission has become so bad that some companies are employing
submission software that puts you in their system once, and no one else can
submit you. I had one submit me at a job at say $40 and come back 3 days
later requesting I drop to $34. I said no. A week later, when no doubt the
company wasn't getting results, another came in and submitted me for $45.
They then called back and said I was locked out because of the earlier
submission, even though it had been rejected.
Developing a relationship with a recruiter is a nice idea, but most I have
seen the last 10 years are more like one night stands. So remember to get
all you can get from them the first time since there usually isn't a second
time. You think turnover is fast with contractors, you should see turnover
with contractor recruiters.
Remember that a contractor has a lot of expenses an employee doesn't have.
Your expense of getting there is your pocket, as is all of your expenses on
site. then you have no benefits. Medical may be available through their
group plan, but it is much higher than if you were a real employee. and when
the job ends, you have to pay it all in full through COBRA. So a family is
typically $200 a week in the group plan and $1300 - $1600 a month on COBRA
unless you are in some very small contract shop. I was in one that the rate
was $1200 per month on their group plan. COBRA would run $2000. Figure that
you need about $7.50 an hour just to pay insurance normally and about $14
per hour to pay COBRA. Obviously, a job paying $15 to $20 is going to let
Lowball. Yes, you need to worry. Most recruiters lie. They tell you that the
client is only paying say $30 per hour. The reality is the client is
probably paying $60 per hour, the shop is taking $30, and giving you $30.
The shop can realistically get away with 25% of the billing rate, so they
could really pay up to $45 to you but instead they are insisting only $30.
BEWARE the split rate. This is a con. Let's say they offer $30 per hour but
your budget needs $35. They offer a split rate since you are away from home,
when they pay maybe $20 as rate and $10 as per diem. This lowers the tax so
your take home pay is higher and you think you have more. many go for this.
REALITY CHECK. If you qualify for per diem by the IRS, you will be deducting
all your expenses on your 1040 anyway, so this money will end up in your
pocket regardless. Remember, this is a business, you are not an employee.
However, your rate is now $20 per hour, so if you get overtime, you get $30
per hour overtime instead of $45 per hour overtime. If you work 10 hours
over, you make $300 instead of $450 extra.
Some even are more unscrupulous, in splitting something like $15 rate and
$15 PD or $10 rate and $20 PD. You can see where this is going.
AND when it comes time for Social Security or even unemployment, you find
your pay was that low rate that was reported as income, not the total
One killer that hasn't popped up in some time is that any computer
professional (i.e., anyone earning their living with a computer), you do not
have to be paid time and a half on over 40 hours per the IRS. However, this
is not a prohibition, it is merely a loophole. No one has to pay you that.
It does not mean they can't . Whatever is in your contract is what they have
to pay. If you make your contract that all hours over 40 are paid at triple
rate, they have to do it and it is not illegal.
Don't let a recruiter tell you it is illegal to pay you overtime. It isn't.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Kari Gulbrandsen" <kkgulbrandsen -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2012 10:56 AM
Subject: tech writing recruiters
I am hoping to get some advice about job recruiters. I was laid off at the
end of March. (Some of you may remember my tale of woe -- I managed to
stick it out for 6 months before getting laid off. It was actually a
with what I was going through with my commute and the situation.) Anyway,
I'm looking for a new job, and I'm not sure how to deal with the
situation. I am being contacted multiple times for the same position. Some
of these are decent positions, so I would like to go with a recruiter who
will be able to do me the most good or who I can develop a relationship
Do I need to be concerned with being low balled or having my resume sat on
(so they can get somebody else in the position)? Or am I just worrying for
nothing, and that I should go with the first person who contacts me about
Any and all advice or anecdotes on how to proceed is welcome.