Re: Recruiters

Subject: Re: Recruiters
From: "Steven J. Owens" <puff -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 07:03:34 -0800

Andrew Plato writes:
> I don't want to get in the habit of defending contract agencies, but I
> do have to say a few things in defense of the recruiting process.

Nobody ever said the recruiting process was easy (I've been on
the inside of the recruiting process a few times and I know what it's
like) but then again, that's putatively what the recruiter is getting
paid for, right? I mean, maybe we're thinking of different kinds of
recruiters, but in the contractor-programmer field, job shops typically
try to get 50% of what the client is paying for - and will often blow a
deal trying to get it.

In theory the value they provide is

> However, in the case of contract positions, many times the
> agency/recruiter has very little information about the job.

This is true; a lot of larger companies have to filter their
requests through HR/Personnel departmental layers to the point where
the request gets watered down completely. The ideal is for the
recruiter to talk directly to the person the contractor will work
under. But, of course, that's the ideal, not the reality.

> This can be seriously exacerbated with a recruiter who is completely
> non-technical. This is one of the reasons the recruiters at my
> company are all full-time contractors as well.

And good for your company. Unfortunately, most recruiters I've
dealt with only have memorized buzz-words. This despite the fact that
they will happily tell both contractor and client that part of the
value the provide is familiarity with the technical field.

> You get the idea. Clients are notoriously vague about their needs. In
> fact I would estimate that a good 75% of the job requests I get, the
> client really has no idea what they need or how much it will cost. [...]
>
> Ultimately, a good agency will help make some sense out of this chaos.
> Unfortunately, most agencies can't make sense out of their own chaos,
> let alone their clients.
>
> I guess what I am saying is, give the recruiters some slack.
> Sometimes they are as much in the dark as you are.

True, but then again, I'm not the one selling my services for a
*significant* chunk of the bottom line (most shops want at least 22%
and would rather you not ask and they get at least 50%, if not more).
All this based on the claim that I know what I'm talking about,
maintain strong personal connections with and knowledge of both the
local market and the intricacies of the major employers, and can
prequalify contractor/job combinations (saving both the contractor and
the employer time and grief).

> Push for an interview with the client and ask the client the tough
> questions.

Sure, I'll ask the client the tough questions - for one thing,
knowing which questions to ask is one way of demonstrating my
competence. But I expect the recruiter to ask at least the EASY
questions. My favorite example of this is when I tell recruiters I do
web development but not with microsoft platforms and tools - and then
get a stream of jobs that are entirely Microsoft NT/IIS/ASP/FrontPage
based:

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this out. I have
specifically told recruiters that if the skill requirements list the
above, not to bring the job to me. They still bring them to me, then
petulantly ask "But don't you want to do web development?" Then they
lie to me, outright lie in answering specific questions, and send me
to interviews that are a waste of everybody's time.

> Also, do not expect an agency to reveal the client's name or company
> until an interview is setup. Agencies get jobs ripped out from
> underneath them all the time. They have to protect themselves.

I understand and respect this, and I sympathize with your
experiences. However, when a recruiter asks to submit my resume, I
absolutely must know where the resume is going. It's my resume and I
have every right to know who has it. I also have to protect myself
from double-submissions, since I don't deal exclusively with one
recruiter (unless the recruiter is willing to hire me full time and
pay my rate).

Double-submissions can poison you in a market. Most recruiters
have legal agreements with the employers. These agreements usually
extend to cover even resumes submitted. Hence, rather than try to
deal with the hassles of figuring out which recruiter gets the
commission, they'll just throw the resume out. If this happens often
enough, they'll start to just throw the resume out on sight. They'll
keep dealing with the recruiter, of course (usually because large
companies have a committee or approval process to decide which
recruiters are approved).

> That is such an unprofessional thing to do. Unfortunately, there
> isn't much you can do about that.

I agree, it's unprofessional, which is why I don't do that. It's
also unprofessional for recruiters to pressure applicants to take
positions that they're not suited for, or that do not match their
career path (as another example, I've had recruiters often ask me to
take QA engineering jobs, because I've been responsible for doing QA
work as part of my writing duties). But it seems to be the industry
norm.

If you don't respect my professional integrity enough to trust me
with the knowledge of where my resume's going to be submitted, why
should I respect your professional integrity enough to trust you with
my resume? I've always been hardline about this issue and,
ultimately, I've never had a recruiter refuse to do business with me
because of it.

Steven J. Owens
puff -at- netcom -dot- com

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=




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