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Becoming a Recruiter - Pros?  Cons?

So here's the sitrep: A mutal contact has referred me to to a guy who runs a local recruiting firm - he's looking at indicators that lead him to believe the IT market is going to heat up again, and he wants to bring legitimate technology pros onto his recruiting staff to be prepared for it. My resume bubbles up, and the guy wants to talk.

Now as you all know, I am as much in love with the business side of technology as with the technology itself - sometimes more so. Right off the bat, I can see two things that are appealing: a) helping my fellow geek find some work, and b) helping business find just the right person for the job.

This sounds like an opportunity that is within my universe of interests...but I really don't know that much about what the day-to-day life of an I.T. recruiter is like. Before talking to Mr. Recruiter, I'd like to get some independant information from people I trust - that's YUO.

Does anyone here have any work experience as a recruiter? If so, please share.

NOTE: I'm seriously trying to evaluate the merits of a career change here. I am already aware of the rampant anti-recruiter sentiment here at Ars. I'm also willing to stipulate that 90% of you have some "bastard recruiter" story - hell, I have one too. So please, as a courtesy to your ol' buddy Norrick...don't thread crap.

Norrick
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

cold calling 100 + calls a day.

joby
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Have recruiters ever found jobs for anybody?  All recruiters I sent resumes to either never respond, or call once and forget.  All jobs I have got, or seen friends get, are through personal contacts who may or may not be recruiters.  I do not think recruiters use any real technology to surf through resumes and find the ones they want.

KS
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

I got my 2nd job from a recruiter.

Johnny Simmson
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

This ain't Ars.

You need to customize your posts when you're spamming all the boards for advice, man.

Mr. Fancypants
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Hey old buddy Norrick, ;-)

Most of the recruiters I've witnessed who do really well at it already have a sales background and are sales-inclined.

In fact, as obnoxious as this sounds, the vibe I've gotten from a lot of recruiters is that they go into it because there isn't anything else that they can do particularly well enough to make a living at.

I'm not convinced that a good techie "alone" would make a particularly good recruiter. I think a better mix of inclinations would be strong sales background, excellent interpersonal skills, *plus* enough native intelligence to not insult the intelligence of your candidates and to be able to speak respectfully about someone else's technology skills.

One thing to keep in mind, too. You are current in today's technology, but if you went into recruiting, that "strength" would fall by the wayside as you lost touch with your roots. So at some point you would be competing on the same level as every other recruiter. So that's why I am emphasizing that your technical strengths probably aren't going to offer a whole lot of leverage, except perhaps in the very beginning and only with certain job req's.

Personally, a steady diet of that worklife would get really old to me.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Personally, I believe the best place to ask this question is at an online IT recruiting forum. I don't have any relevant URLs handy at the moment, however, if you do a Google search I am pretty sure you should be able to find at least one that is pretty active.

As far as what technical recruiters do for a living, most of them do a lot of cold calling and schmoozing. As far as finding contractors to fill open positions goes it all depends on what type of shape the agency's database is in. You might have to do some web searches, place ads at online job boards, etc.

One Programmer's Opinion
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

And oh, yeah. If you changed your mind at some later point, I can't think of a more effective way to lose the respect of technology peers and to therefore become unemployable.

So if you do this, plan an exit strategy, IE, what to do if it doesn't work out.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Here is an active technical recruiter's board. They don't exactly love technical people there either:

http://208.155.195.240/~TRForum

I think you'll have to email the moderator to get a login, but you can log in as Guest and lurk.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

1. 100+ cold calls a day or don't show up.

2. Get ready to be screwed by greedy companies and techies trying to circumvent you, i.e. you introduce em (company & techie) send them on an interview, they make their own side deals, sometimes companies even initiate this.

3. Commissions are HUGE

4. Yes they do use tools to filter resumes, I used to work for Personic (as a techie), and at the time they used a document scoring system called verity.

5. Strongly consider who you work for - run from RHI, all their sales managers seem to cruise the used car dealerships to find employees. If its a small boutique recruiter, consider setting up shop for yourself.

6. Be wary of person telling you about economic indicators, what are they how does he know etc ... don't forget if salespeople are liars,  sales managers would have to be liars among liars (I am not saying this is true), but it is definaetly true that they are there to get your enthusiasm up, and make you sell, and make you feel like a loser if you don't. ALL SALES CULTURES ARE LIKE THIS!!! In a lot of cases their strategy is to get you in, get access to your network till its dry, and then spit you out if you can't produce.

7. Speaking of networks, how many people can you hit up initially, because cold calls are fine but you will do much better talking to old managers, colleagues...

8. DOn't assume techies will hate you, there is more than one techie who had his ass saved by a recruiter. Also, when networking with techies it is important to give them technical behind the scenes details (they love that) of how the recruiting industry works.

the artist formerly known as prince
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Norrick, you don't have a hope. First, the job has nothing to do with being technical; it's do with sales. Translation, lying and exagerating, fudging, half-truths, and so on.

Second, your job is not to "find fellow techies some work," but to make sure you stop them finding work and hide the location of the jobs, so you can grab a commission.

Third, technical knowledge is irrelevant.


Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Pros:

Money

Cons:

Purgatory


Wednesday, February 04, 2004

If the opportunity presents itself, spend a day with the recruiter.

m
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Three thoughts:

First, the money is not necessarily HUGE.  It can be when the market is good, but in the past few years a lot of recruiters suffered.

Second, the most important thing you have to do is build a network of contacts - customers, people you can hire, and people who know people you can hire.  Join every local user group you can find.  You can even sponsor them with pizza and book giveaways.  When programmers are looking for work, they often start attending those user group meetings.  If you're saavy enough, give a presentation on a technical topic.  You'll earn the trust of the good talent - the ones you want to recruit.

Third, market your technical skills to customers. The biggest complaint hiring managers have when dealing with recruiters is the tidal wave of resumes from unqualified candidates.  If you can effectively filter those out, then you'll establish a good reputation.

Nick
Thursday, February 05, 2004

"This ain't Ars.

You need to customize your posts when you're spamming all the boards for advice, man. "

Busted. 

But for the record, I only spam 2 boards.  *holding up fingers*  Just two.  ;)

Norrick
Thursday, February 05, 2004

"Norrick, you don't have a hope. First, the job has nothing to do with being technical; it's do with sales. Translation, lying and exagerating, fudging, half-truths, and so on.

Second, your job is not to "find fellow techies some work," but to make sure you stop them finding work and hide the location of the jobs, so you can grab a commission.

Third, technical knowledge is irrelevant. "

That has got ot be the most negative post I've ever seen here.  I disagree with every statement you made.  Every single one.

Norrick
Thursday, February 05, 2004

If you think recruiting is about helping people, you would.


Thursday, February 05, 2004

"Now as you all know, I am as much in love with the business side of technology as with the technology itself - sometimes more so"

I didn't know that.

I got my current job through a recruiter.  The way their outfit worked was a little different.  They take resumes from a small set of techies and then call around and network until they find positions for them.  It worked pretty well for me.

I think most places use computers to match resumes to positions and such a job would be very depressing.  I can see though, if a recruiter took a different approach and used technical knowledge to match positions with people that might be effective, satisfying and valuable.

I wouldn't count on it though.

name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, February 05, 2004

Ok, Norrick, it sounds like you're seeking validation and you've made your mind up already (or at least are seeking a certain conclusion to an extent).

I believe that I am known as a voice of moderation on this board, so here is what I think of recruiting as a career as it affects the individual. While I have never worked as a recruiter I pay attention to what they have to say and I note their general attitude. I've dealt with a lot of recruiters.

First of all, almost *all* sales cultures are about making a profit for your employer first and foremost. It's not about making polite conversation or being a good neighbor to your technical friends now out of work.  Rent and watch the movie "Glen Garry Glen Ross" for some insight into the worst of the mentality. Only in rare instances does the company prioritize longer term business building and relationships. I think this tendency is somewhat prevalent in permanent placement agencies and is totally rampant in the contract placement industry. IE, "brokers" at the norm make us feel like a piece of meat.

Secondly, the comments about doing cold calling are correct. Not just cold calling of companies but also cold calling of candidates. You're going to live on the phone, or else you won't stay in the business very long. The most successful recruiters do a lot of calling, the least successful rely on the internet and on the mass resume email services.

Third, if you examine the attitudes about recruiters coming from most technical people who have been around a bit, one does tend to note a unanimity of negative opinion. The *general* trend, the majority opinion, is that recruiters aren't trustworthy at all. I take from that, that most technical recruiters work in "Glen Garry" type environments. In other words, even being the most optimistic, recruiters are bastards because they are trying to adapt to the demands placed on them.

Fourth, re: the comment about about profits being everything. You sound in large measure like you want  to make the world a better place. That's cool, but recruiting is the wrong place to attempt this. Even at the "best" agencies, all skills and all candidates are a commodity and you will *have* to be insensitive. Why? Because that's the way companies are, and recruiters are driven by the customer. The customer is the company. Example: a company will send you a requirement for an XYZ programmer.  You will have established personal relationships with laid off ABC programmers that you'd like to help. You *know* the ABC guys could do the job, you know that the skill set isn't all that different. What is stopping you from making an intelligent determination that the ABC guys should be submitted? Your relationship with the client. There is probably *some* dick/pinhead/asshole in the client company in HR who will block the submission because they are AWARE that the argument will be made that ABC could fit, but they want to cherry pick and they are the client and they have the $$$. So you will have to act like every other f***ing recruiter and blow off the ABC guys and you may even have to use the "you're not good enough" comments to turn them off so they stop begging to be submitted. So someone will be on the street a while longer because EVERYONE with a clue, including you, knows that the ABC guys 'should' get the placement, but instead the jon will remain open for a bit longer.

In summary, unless the agency is a REAL gem (unlikely just due to the laws of averages), if you have any sensitivity and scruples at all, you will probably be disappointed and frustrated.

I think the most cogent suggestion made in this thread is to try the work on a trial basis. Maybe the same things that would frustrate me are no problem for you, or maybe with this agency these factors are not present.

Whatever, good luck.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, February 05, 2004

Oh, and at the risk of drumbeating too much, two things I forgot.

#1 - As I alluded to in my longer post, you will probably be asked to do things from time to time that you find unpleasant. Example: many times recruiters try to string candidates along because a company is taking a long time to make up their minds. Another example is that someone may want the candidate to sign an agreement that limits the candidate's options. Yet another example is that you 'have' to discourage a candidate from taking another job that you know is probably better for their interests, because your company wants the placement fee for a different job. In general, you may be asked to manipulate the candidate in ways that you won't find ethical. Why do I know this? Because it's been done to me and to others.

#2 - Most technical people love process because it interests them. Most business and sales people hate process because it costs them money. We do the work because we are interested in the process. Businesses only tolerate technical people because they see a result arising from the process.

I think if there is one way in which I find I clash with business people and especially sales people, it is that I want to do a good job and "take my time", which sales people tend to find absolutely incomprehensible.

The point is, you will have some huge cultural divides to cross and I suspect that any technology person will have to change themselves substantially in order to succeed.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, February 05, 2004

Bored Bystander

Thanks for sharing your insights. Even though, I have no plans to get into recruiting biz, your comments are quite helpful for all of us.

Farid
Thursday, February 05, 2004

"Ok, Norrick, it sounds like you're seeking validation and you've made your mind up already (or at least are seeking a certain conclusion to an extent). "

Not at all - I don't have nearly enough information to decide if this would be a good creer for me.  Don't mistake my unwillingness to participate in recruiter-bashing for me having my mind made up.  I'm trying to get the good, the bad and the ugly.

Your post was very good.  Lots of cogent points.  Thanks!

Norrick
Thursday, February 05, 2004

Norrick, by all means check out "TRForum". Some of the threads there are illuminating. Recruiters do get laid off and they do get treated like commodities too.

Middlemen in any field tend to be the most despised people around. And they are basically paid because a suitable buyer and a suitable seller are clueless as to how to find each other.

FWIW.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, February 05, 2004

If you sign up with a company to be an *exclusive* recruiter - you can make a ton of money.

Prakash S
Thursday, February 05, 2004

Feel free to call at your convenience, I'll tell you the truth.
Mark Hill
Exec Recruiter 10 years.
707-938-9957
Sonoma, California

Mark Hill
Thursday, February 12, 2004

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