By Rishon Blumberg, Founder of 10x Management
A Google search for the phrase “Bad Tech Recruiters” returns over 590,000 results! Article names range from “Why Tech Recruiters Suck, and What You Can Do About It” to “Tech recruiters, why are you such morons?” Recruiting is not a new discipline, it’s been with us for quite some time. Certainly a lot has changed since the inception of the practice, but at the heart of it, many issues with recruiting still exist. Not all recruiters are bad, there are many wonderful individuals and companies performing the task but many more are deficient at the job.
What should be a personal and curated experience — a company is trying to attract a certain type of worker, and a worker wants to find a certain type of career — tends to be more of a cattle call where inexperienced recruiters target wide groups of individuals using dubious tactics in order to try and fill a position that their client (the company) either doesn’t have the time to fill or doesn’t know how to fill. Whatever the case may be, many (but not all!) recruiters have a bad reputation and more often than not, it’s rightly deserved.
As a founder of 10x Management, I have talked extensively to both employers and employees about recruiters. We’re in a similar space — at 10x, we place the world’s best freelance tech talent into short and long term contracts with a broad array of companies in desperate need of exceptional talent — and we’ve worked very hard to explain how we’re different in many ways from a recruiter. For starters, we believe that the key to placing great talent is to represent the talent and not the company they will work for. In doing so, it properly aligns all the incentives because our main objective becomes finding amazing work for our client and we are equally motivated to create an amazing match for the company in need of talent. By creating a long term relationship with our clients (the tech talent), we learn more about them. We know what kinds of engagements work best, what types of projects they like most, in short, we understand the needs and wants of our clients. Because the relationship with our clients is over the long haul, it’s very easy for us to determine which project based engagements and with which companies, they would be best suited to work with.
But that doesn’t mean recruitment can’t be both effective and done well. The best recruiters are the ones that have a sophisticated knowledge of the positions they are trying to fill. By understanding what qualifications are required to fill a specific position and taking the time to get to know as much about a prospective candidate (prior to reaching out to them), a good recruiter helps ensure that when they approach a candidate it feels authentic and genuine…as opposed to false and trite.
Below are the top four things that recruiters need to do if a tech prospect is going to take them seriously. Many of these have come from personal experiences and stories told to us by our 10x-er freelance tech clients.
- Do research on the people you’re approaching before reaching out to them – This seems painfully obvious but sadly so many recruiters do little to no research before reaching out to a potential client. It’s become such a numbers business, recruiters know that the more people they reach out to, the greater chance they might find someone to respond. Perhaps this is a short term solution, but this is certainly a long term disaster.
- Understand as much about the position you’re trying to fill before you approach a potential candidate – Sadly, many recruiters approach candidates without ANY real position in mind just to lure them in and then pitch them for whatever they can find. Clearly this is a bad idea but equally as prevalent are recruiters who only have a cursory understanding of the position that they’ve been asked to fill and therefore target candidates that are not relevant for the job.
- Don’t try to be “cool” and “hip” in your use of language when approaching a candidate, just be authentic – Stay away from phrases like “game changing technology”, “disruptive technology”, “rockstar coder”, “world leading company”, basically anything that makes you sound like a hype machine. Not every job needs to be a game changer…and not all technology is disruptive. Just be straightforward about the company and the position, it will help ensure that when you DO have something big to highlight that people take you seriously.
- Don’t make outlandish claims about a position, be honest and realistic – Most of the stories I’ve heard have some elements of bait and switch attached to it. Either a recruiter who specified a salary range that was significantly higher than the one that is ultimately conveyed in the interview or a scenario where the location for the position changes from what was initially claimed. Recruiters succeed when they develop a level of trust with a candidate. All four of the suggestions here help to develop and sustain that trust.
There is hope! Good recruiters do exist, but it will take a lot of hard work and adhering to some pretty strict guidelines for the profession as a whole to achieve the level of credibility it would like. Following the above four rules is a step in the right direction but ultimately, the process of finding great talent is most effective when there is a long term relationship not with the company but with the talent itself.
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You might also like reading, Working with Freelancers – 4 Steps for Success.