Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three Tips for Recruiters

The longer I work in the software development community, the more recognition I get from recruiters as someone who can help them find candidates and the more colleagues that approach me asking for career advice. I love helping good people on both sides of the equation, but there are a few things I expect from recruiters.

Be Candid

When I speak with a recruiter who is unwilling to share information about the client for fear they will be circumvented or will not provide a general range for the salary/rate, it says to me that they do not trust their own value and consider the candidate an adversary.

Experienced recruiters bring more to the table than a job description. They, or someone they work with, have a relationship with the client company and a reputation of bringing them solid candidates. A resume presented by such a recruiter may be given more credibility and often goes to the top of the interview list.

In my experience, providing a general range of possible compensation for a position is a win-win. It gives a potential candidate the information they need to decide if the opportunity is worth pursuing and keeps from wasting anyone's time.

Avoid Random Referral Solicitation

I can't count how many times some random recruiter has asked me to help them expand their network by recommending them to my colleagues or, even worse, asked for me to give them contact information for possible candidates. There is a short list of recruiters which I provide when someone I know is looking for a gig and these are people who I've known for years and have a solid reputation for taking care of their candidates. It baffles me that someone would expect me to recommend them when I cannot vouch for their character and abilities.

That said, I encourage recruiters to email me job openings that fit my niche as I may come across someone who would be a good fit. While I appreciate having these on hand in case a colleague expresses a need, I do not actively seek candidates for these positions unless there is significant motivation for me to do so. Motivation comes in many forms, but the most straightforward is a referral fee. If a recruiter who I do not have a relationship with expects someone else to spend time and energy helping them fill a position, they should expect to offer compensation in the same way that I would share part of my billable rate should I need help from another software developer who is not getting paid for the work.

Get Involved

Having served as Treasurer, Vice President, President and now Board Member for the Nashville .NET User Group, I often encourage others to drop by and find a way to participate in the community. It can be an important tool for software developers, but is absolutely vital for a recruiter.

Imagine taking all the juiciest most healthy fish in a lake and putting them in a swimming pool. Wouldn't that be a great opportunity for a fisherman to make a great catch? User group meetings are where the best and brightest gather and recruiters are welcome at most of them, so long as they respect the meeting and are not overbearing. Even if the recruiter doesn't speak to anyone about opportunities during the meeting, they have a connection to reference next time they call.

Attending community events is not just about networking. The bulk of a technical presentation might be over a recruiter's head, but over time they can pick up meaning behind the buzz words and witness individual and group reactions. Understanding these reactions can help identify the right candidates for a position and what motivations particular candidates might respond to.

There's a wealth of non-technical education that takes place as well. By watching how people interact one can learn quickly who people in the community respect and how they interact. Seeing how someone interacts with their peers can be a great indicator for how they might fit into a team.

Chances are, any recruiters who are taking the time to read this article are already on the right path. Hopefully these tips will help provide direction to someone I will, one day, have the pleasure of working with.

If you have any additional tips or thoughts on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment below.


  1. Very well said. I continue to sing this refrain to recruiters and other's who want to tap into the talent at MIGANG. It's about becoming a part of the community. Serve and you will be served, build real relationships. It's drives me nuts when you have a director of some development organization who is not having success with recruiters that thinks he is going to just send an email off to the group (which we don't allow) to land his fish.

    How does your UG present opportunities for your attendees? We have "30 Second Resume/Openings" near the end of the meeting.

  2. The Nashville .NET User Group offers sponsors a short introduction to the group, however we generally do not involve individual recruiters in the meeting itself. We invite them to attend and will often point them out, should any of our members be looking for a new opportunity.

    As far as I know, all of the recruiters that have attended the group have been very respectful and avoided soliciting individuals directly unless interest was indicated.

  3. I would add these:

    1. Know your talent. A quick look at my resume should indicate I am neither a $75K/year resource or a junior Cold Fusion developer.

    2. Call back if you say your are going to call back. I know you feel your time is money, and I respect that, but jsut blowing me off because I don't immediately take your call is very arrogant. :-)

  4. I think both side should be taken care while recruitment process is being done and your tips is quite helpful to them who are going thru this.


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