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James Serra's Blog

James is currently a Senior Business Intelligence Architect/Developer and has over 20 years of IT experience. James started his career as a software developer, then became a DBA 12 years ago, and for the last five years he has been working extensively with Business Intelligence using the SQL Server BI stack (SSAS, SSRS, and SSIS). James has been at times a permanent employee, consultant, contractor, and owner of his own business. All these experiences along with continuous learning has helped James to develop many successful data warehouse and BI projects. James has earned the MCITP Business Developer 2008, MCITP Database Administrator 2008, and MCITP Database Developer 2008, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. His blog is at .

Low-rate recruiters – The bane of my existence

There is nothing more annoying to me in my profession than getting calls and emails from recruiters who are looking for senior-level BI people at ridiculously low rates.  A common example: they want someone with 10-years experience in BI to work in NYC for $45/hr, no expenses paid.  Seriously?  I get 3-10 such requests each day.  90% of the time the recruiters are from India.  They will email you as well as call you.  They love to put “URGENT” in the job title.  And if you make the mistake of replying to an email of theirs, you can expect they will call you immediately and continue calling until you pickup, no matter what time of day it is (somehow they got my home and cell phone and would call both numerous times).  Many times their English is poor and their phone numbers are disguised to show as coming from the US (New Jersey seems to be the most popular one, where they have “headquarters” there with outsourcing centers in India).  They make telemarketers seem like angels.

Most of the time their email does not tell you what the pay rate is.  If you ask, they usually reply “Rate is negotiable please let me whats the rate you are looking for?”.  If you insist they will tell you, and you can expect the rate to be no better than half of what the average going rate is.

My advise is to immediately delete an email from an Indian firm or hangup if they call (but beware they sometimes use fake English names).  The few times I have expressed interest were complete wastes of time.  They always want your resume (no doubt they have a quota to obtain a certain amount of resumes each week), and always want you to fill out a bunch of useless info (i.e. name, address, visa status, expected hourly rate, etc).  And to top it off, many of the jobs are nowhere even close to my skill set (“You are a perfect fit for the opening we have for a K2 developer”).  They never bothered to actually look at my LinkedIn profile, as you would then know I am nowhere near a “perfect fit”.  Sending out these boilerplate template emails is no different from spam.  Often these emails will have a unsubscribe link that will take you to a webpage that looks just like the graphic below, with a different company name and color, but everything else is the same, leading me to believe they are all working under the same company:

Untitled picture

Unfortunately these recruiters are all over dice.com now, making it that much more difficult to filter through the job listings to find jobs worth applying for.  Many times you will see multiple postings of the same position from different Indian recruiting firms (just the other day I saw 13 postings on dice for the same exact position).

These recruiters are very bottom-level people who make tons of calls a day to try to find someone who expresses interest.  When that person is found, they then hand you off to their “manager” who will try to convince you to allow them to submit you to the client at some crazy low rate (a recent recruiter asked me if I would be interested in taking a contract in Minnesota, no expenses paid, for $40/hr less than I am making now at a local client.  He knew what I was making and that I did not have to travel, yet he still tried to convince me to let him submit me).

These firms from India are offering low rates because there are so many layers of companies taking a piece of the rate.  Here is a typical scenario: A US company wants to hire a consultant/contractor, so they have a US staffing firm try to fill the position. That staffing firm can’t find someone, so they sub-contract out to a large staffing firm in India. That large staffing firm then sub-contracts out to a smaller staffing firms in India, and on-and-on.

If contacted by one of these recruiters, the first question to ask them is if they are working directly for the client.  If not, they are one of many layers and the hourly rate will be low.  I see similar abuse at large consulting firms offering a low salary.  Those firms pay a low salary and then bill you at triple (or more) what you are making.  The result?  Lot’s of junior programmers doing senior level work.  That is why so many projects fail or go way over budget .

I asked a recruiter who has been in the industry a long time about this:

I’ve actually worked for a few Indian firms and your assessment is pretty accurate.  Sometimes there are many layers to a deal and that destroys the margin.  But sometimes they may just be recruiting for a client that doesn’t care about quality talent and only offers poor rates.  To work with those types of clients, some staffing firms take the approach of throwing as much “bleep” against the wall and hoping some of it sticks.  That takes very little recruiting talent and it is more of a numbers game than anything else.  But you get what you pay for, and the clients that provide these low bill rates usually get the lesser talent (or the talent that is sponsored on an H-1B until that person gets their Green Card).  I hate to stereotype, but foreign national firms are usually the ones that are willing to churn through the “low rate” business, that is why they are the ones always contacting you about low margin stuff.

I’m not a fan of working with these types of firms.  There is very little accountability, a lot of turnover, and it gets pretty greasy when everyone is fighting over a nickel.  When I first got out of school and didn’t know any better, I went to work for a firm like this.  I will say this, it was a great way to get experience and I learned a lot during my time there – it helped me get to where I am today, so I can’t bash it too hard.  At this point in my career I just choose not to work that way any longer.  But if you take me as an example of the experience level of people who work in that space (I had none to very little when I worked there) it is a good reflection of the type of people you’re connecting with.  They don’t know very much about the business, the client, the details of the opportunity, or the staffing industry for that matter.  They are basically reading you a job description word-for-word, and that job description was spit out of a vendor management system where the staffing firm has no inside knowledge.  Not much value there – but there is a market for this type of business and so you’ll continue to see it…

More info:

I’ve Reached an Unfortunat?e Conclusion About Indian Recruiters

Indian Recruiters – What Is Wrong With This Country?

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