[LRUG] Recruiter disruption rant (was: Re: Expat thinking of coming home)

Paul Robinson paul at 32moves.com
Mon Sep 17 07:03:31 PDT 2012

On 17 Sep 2012, at 12:41, "Louis Goff-Beardsley" <louisror at gmail.com> wrote:

> The vast majority of CVs they get don’t result in placments as their
> business model is based on volume and speed. Agency recs have got very
> strict KPIs such as 2.5 hours on the phone + 70 dial outs /day + x number of
> CVs sent to decision makers. If they spend time faffing around with CVs they
> will get it in the neck from their directors who came up during the first
> dotcom bubble when IT recrutiment was a megaprofitable free-for-all.

And that of course is the flaw in the model, and why the recruitment industry is ripe for massive disruption. Particularly in software where we pride ourselves on doing a good job, believe in quality, set huge store by integrity and look at what IT recruiters do and start pissing ourselves laughing. Or in my case, just get really angry.

I'm a CTO, and have run other businesses prior to being involved in my current org. I've worked with and for over a dozen outfits. I've been on both sides of the recruitment flow, and it is *deeply* frustrating when agency recruiters get involved. 

I don't want volume. I don't even want particularly high speed. I certainly don't want cold-calls or cold emails, *ever*.

I want quality. I want really deep understanding. I want curation. I want them to provide me with a web interface of the candidates they have lined up for me that I can review in my own time - I don't want Word docs (I don't have Word installed, and neither does any startup CTO I've met). I want to see the candidate's twitter feeds, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, activity on mailing lists and github, etc. and the recruiter has to be happy I'm not going to screw them over with that info.

Twitter and Facebook pages full of photos from barbaric rituals and poems about killing penguins? I'd rather know about that *now* than 20 minutes before/after the interview, so recruiters are doing me a disservice by hiding it from me.

For a developer, we're talking about £2k minimum and potentially up to £20k in fees. Is what I'm asking for *really* too much to ask for that kind of money? Many people don't pay that in agency fees when selling a house! (Particularly where I'm from, oop north in deepest, darkest Manchester).

If they don't trust me to not screw them over, then they clearly don't have a relationship with me, and have assumed I'm a horrible, devious bastard who gets ahead in business by cheating. That does not make me feel warm and gooey about my relationship with them. In fact, it makes me think *they* are the horrible, devious bastards. It makes me question if *they* are in fact the ones cheating me.

And why the mistrust? Even if 80% of hiring bosses "cheated" (hint: they won't if they believe the recruiter is doing a good job and they have an ounce of moral substance), the losses will be more than covered by the huge monies involved on the remaining 20%. They will gain more new business through building a relationship than they will ever retain by spending their days removing contact details from CVs and cold-calling .

When I get a CV cold-emailed to me with contact details removed, I go find the person involved and email them. I say "Recruiter X is using your CV to cold-email me and try and turn me into a warm sales lead for their candidate database. Are they actually representing you?". 75% of the time, the answer has been "No, I've never heard of them". At that point, I have no problem with screwing over that recruiter:

1. They are pretending to represent somebody they have no relationship with
2. They are starting a relationship with me by not trusting me with the contact details and hoping I'm stupid enough to not know how to use Google (hint to recruiters reading this: I know how to use the Internet better than you. I am one of the people who helped/is helping to build the thing. No really, actually, in data centres and with cables and everything. I know how to use search engines and data sources in ways you haven't ever thought of. Send me an obfuscated CV that's still useful, I'll find the person involved in 30 seconds flat, every time)
3. They have cold-emailed me, which despite having a tiny bit of knowledge about who I work for is not that different to just outright spamming me

Therefore, I don't mind taking the lead if it's a good one, and running with it myself. Some will consider this dishonest. I do not. I'm helping some poor bloke (why do recruiters do such a bad job representing women, BTW?), who is being misrepresented, perhaps get a job they might be suited for.

If a recruiter I have a relationship with touches in once in a while and said "Hey, Paul, you guys look like you're growing, I noticed you were talking on ... list the other day about scaling and performance, I have this engineer's details lined up if you're interested - he did a great job over in Berlin at ... and now wants to be back in the UK, his salary expectations are ..." and gave me his/her contact details so I could find out a bit more about them? I'd happily give them 15% of first year on a hire. Happily. 

If I wasn't hiring right then, I'd remember them the next time I was. I'd tell others about this great recruiter I've found. I'd take their phone calls whilst I was on holiday (what's one of those?). I'd tell them as much about our strategy as I could so they could keep us in mind when they knew a candidate would be free in 2-3 months. If I spoke to the person they sent me, they weren't ready for us right then and I hired them anyway a year later, I'd give the recruiter their pound of flesh any way - it's the respectful, professional and morally correct thing to do for somebody who actually gave a fuck.

I can go onto LinkedIn myself and harvest profiles (as agency recs have to). I can "touch base" with 100+ developers myself if I need to. If that's all the agency recs are doing, they're not adding value. I will keep the cash they want in fees, do the leg work myself, and spend the money on things that add value (increased salaries, infrastructure, give it over to marketing, whatever).



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