• Show me the money

    Do you like recruiters? Do you use them? It's almost impossible not to use them these days when looking for a job. So many of the listings on online job boards are from recruiters and many have deals to place people, so chances are you'll at least deal with on even if they don't get you a job.

    In many ways recruiters are in a great position. They can save time during the hiring process and make it easy for non-technical people to find good, qualified technical talent. However most of them don't do that, barely screening people and just sending along resumes that meet xx% of the requirements for the job, hoping one candidate will get the job and they'll get paid.

    But they're not all that bad and some of the corporate recruiters actually do a good job finding people for their employers. And there are some good private ones as well. I'm actually trying to solve some of the problems with recruiters with some friends and hopefully we'll have a company one day that can help DBAs find jobs.

    I was interested when I came across this list of things that you shouldn't do when contacting a recruiter. It's from a Microsoft recruiter and it's a pretty good list. It's more applicable to a corporate recruiter since some of the private ones I've dealt with would encourage you to lie if it got them paid, but I think for a corporate recruiter this makes sense.

    A recruiter is often the person in the middle and doesn't have an agenda. Whether you get the job or not, they still have other people to find, for your job or another. So treat corporate recruiters well, don't annoy or pester them, and they can be a great advocate for you with the hiring manager. Granted you still have to pass the interview and get the job, but being in their early and getting the interview help.

    I know hiring managers that have tossed resumes out unread because the recruiter mentioned someone was a jerk.

  • It's hard to find direct job adverts in the UK these days, nearly everything comes through recruitment agencies, and I'm currently talking to a lot of them. That's the trouble with niche skill sets, you can't "target" a company, there's a 99% chance they don't have a current opening for your skill set anyway, so you're left with the middle men.

    I find what you call private recruiters a complete PITA usually. Your CV gets parsed into a db and boxes get checked, I'd say about 90% of these recruiters are just telesales agents, they neither read nor comprehend your CV, they just forward it straight on if the right boxes get ticked. My main problem is I'm an IT Manager with (mainly) BA skills, you find a recruitment ad with a spec you're perfect for, but unless your CV is read by someone with basic comprehension skills you fail to tick the box marked "Business Analyst" and therefore are not worth considering.

    As to corporate recruiters, well I don't get on with them at all - in my experience usually home counties Landrover drivers with horses and a hubby who works in the city, nice but dim, which isn't conducive to communicating technical abilities, in fact thinking about it my success at interview is inversely proportional to the amount of exposure I get to these HR types.... 


  • Agreed Richard. Despite contacting a great many agencies  over the years my recent jobs have all come from direct adverts in Computing! Agencies are just a black hole for cvs. If they do say they are putting you forward for xyz don't expect to hear anything more.

    Most employers attitude to recruiters is negative. In my experience they'd rather spend on advertising direct and save the rake off fees. I've sifted through the inappropriate dross sent by agents who never bother to read past the first line of requirements then persist in calling to push their services. Direct recruitment is always best.

  • I guess I'd have to say, like anything else, "It depends"

    Had one recruiter try to push me into an Oracle job I didn't want... they got all huffy when I told them "absolutely not".  Tried to make them understand that not all SQL is the same.  They didn't buy it because they just don't know.  I don't use them any more and have stopped recommending them to anyone... they were just a body shop that didn't really care about providing the client with a good match.

    I have another recruiter that get's it... he actually tries to make the candidate match the job and the people at the job.  He refuses just to put a body in the job... Cuts way down on the revolving door and the word is getting out to the clients to use this guy because the matches are so good.  His revenues are going way up because he's got lot's of folks in the field with "permanent" consulting jobs.  Doesn't need the high turnaround that other shops need.

    --Jeff Moden

    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Yeah - it definitely depends. When I was just starting in the field, I worked with a recruiter that was with a supposed technical recruiting agency. However, I felt that I knew much more about what I wanted and about the field than the recruiter - and that wasn't a good sign. I ended up getting a position on my own, by responding to an ad in the classifieds in the local newspaper. I didn't go back to that agency though because I didn't feel that they truly knew technical stuff - that they were more a cv clearinghouse, so to speak.

    After that first placement, I had recruiters calling me. I'd return their calls unless they sounded too pushy, in which case I wasn't going to deal with them. But I haven't let them place me as no one has been good enough to sell me better than myself and family and friends. I ended up working with my husband for a few years before joining a friend at the place she's loved for the past 4 years.

    I've referred friends to work with the recruiters who follow up just to see how I'm doing and to shoot out positions every now and then. But these are the recruiters who know how to work with me, even when I'm not interested in looking at other offers (like now).

  • One thing I have noticed with recruiters, which I believe is referred to above, is that they don't read the information you have provided them about yourself. That is frustrating when you receive totally irrelevant emails (as in, I've told you I am a database developer, why are you emailing me about insurance sales jobs?). If you are going to solicit information from me to match me to a job, why don't you use the information you solicit? Or do you need to be recruiting IT personnel for your own staff because you are unable to use the information you collect?

    And this may simply be an American attitude, but after filling out your information request, which generally includes citizenship status, I find it annoying to receive emails from India-based recruiters, recruiting for USA jobs and asking after my H1B status. I told you I was a US citizen when you asked in the beginning AND it is in my CV. If you have the capability of parsing my CV for the skill keywords you want to find, why can't you find this too?

    Buy the ticket, take the ride. -- Hunter S. Thompson

  • Well - I've used recruiters on and off.  There are a LOT that don't have a clue, who are in essence dangerous (since they wouldn't know how to match my skills if they bothered to even try); but there are a few (like the outfit I happen to be working for), where the recruiters ARE knowledgeable, don't try to place you without talking to you, and actually try to work WITH you, not work ON you to take something that isn't a good match.

    I've found they become more relevant the more experienced and/or specialized you get.  Postings these days are often vague (both in terms of experience and skills required, and in terms of remuneration for said skills), so the right person will help cut through that garbage.

    For what is worth - try using SEVERAL recruiters, and make sure they're aware of each other  (a little competition is always good).  Find an outfit that is somewhat specialized (a "recruiter" that has the same people placing bottle washers, accountants AND technical folks is a temp agency, and there very rarely will be anything of worth there), small enough to care, and find the recruiter that cares.  I did, and it helps.  A LOT.  The right one will be more interested in making sure there's a "good mesh" than trying to match up words on a resumes with those in the JD.

    Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part...unless you're my manager...or a director and above...or a really loud-spoken end-user..All right - what was my emergency again?

  • I have several years experience working with Access, and consulting on CRM software, and am looking to make the jump to being a dba working with SQL Server 2005. I passed my SS2K5 MCTS exam, and figured (ha!) that I'd be gobbled-up for a job fast. No such luck. Then I responded to a job posted on craigslist in Montreal and was contacted by a recruiter who seemed good. He made me do some online tests ( to verify that I knew what I said I knew, and after I did well on those, called me in for an interview.

    The inteview went well, but I was surprised by the fact that he didn't seem to have read my CV at all. Lots of stuff written very clearly on there - in bulleted format! - that I guess he hadn't read. That was a little discouraging, to say the least. Then he told me a story about some whiz-kid who had aced his Java tests in under 9 minutes, and looked at me like I ought to be impressed. So I'm sitting there, trying to be polite and look interested, but thinking: I'm not a Java programmer with 10 years experience, and I don't aspire to write online tests in under 9 minutes - why are you telling me this?!

    My other frustration is that I am looking for an entry-level Jr dba position, which he didn't seem too interested in... maybe not a big commission on Jr DBA jobs? Most of the job postings on website are looking for dbas with heaps of experience, so I'm starting to lose patience - how's a Jr dba supposed to get started?!

  • Maybe it's because I'm picky and high maintenance, but I've had great success with headhunters, both as a hiring manager and as a recruit. My last three out of four jobs (in ten years) came to me through 3rd-party headhunters (and I wouldn't've gotten the first interview without their help). The jobs that I want are never listed on Dice or Monster. (It's "depressing" to remember that it's been 20 years since I looked in an honest-to-God newspaper for a job.)

    The one job out of four in the past decade that I took which wasn't connected by a headhunter was miserable for me. In fact, a couple of them tried to talk me out of it... and I should've listened to their advice about the corporate culture. In one specific case, I didn't trust the advice because it came from a headhunter who wanted to place me at Microsoft instead of the place I went first. Lesson leared: just because someone gives you advice that benefits her doesn't mean that it's incorrect.

    When I was hiring people into my $2.5M/year development staff at the startup, I used headhunters because they saved me weeks of paddling through the flood of unqualified resumes that Dice and Monster poured into my office. I only worked with headhunters that I knew would not waste my time with easy-to-reject candidates.

    The first time I tried it solo, we had more than 400 resumes submitted in the first couple hours that a posting went up! After two weeks of phone screens, quizzes and interviews, we hired none of them... For a small company that doesn't have a huge HR organization, it is totally worth the 10-15% of a candidate's salary to avoid all of the nonsense and wasted time surrounding self-advertised jobs.

    I maintain my relationships with the headhunters that I know and trust by making them buy me coffee or lunch once in a while, which is to their benefit as well. They know that I'll use their services when I need to fish somebody out of another company with a special skill set the next time I have a headcount to fill, and I know that I'll be top-of-mind for them the next time they have a chat with a CxO of some kind who needs a new CIO, CTO or VP-Technology. Anybody who doesn't put his ear to the ground once in a while will probably get run over by the stampede...

  • I had a recruiter call about a DB2 position. I talked to him for a bit, feeling increasingly uncomfortable that he really didn't know what he was talking about. Turns out the job was on a mainframe. The recruiter didn't know the diff between mainframe and micro implementations.

    I worked with a recruiter once and wasn't too keen on the experience. I felt they were very unresponsive, the local office (Phoenix) was seemingly impotent and everything had to go through Atlanta. I especially did not like the fact that my recruiter did not follow through on promises, such as checking back with me to see if the job was a good fit, etc.

    The job was great: as it happened, I knew one of the primaries on the contract from 3Com User Group meetings 15 years prior. Sadly I wrapped up everything in about 14 months. Fortunately they let me telecommute, so moving to the mountains and working wirelessly from a copse of trees, our substitute for a front lawn, was viable and very nice.

    [font="Arial"]Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. --Samuel Johnson[/font]

  • I always work with recruiters. Some I knew for years. Usually they were pretty good, only one recruiter I did not like so far.

    He pushed me to accept the job I did not like. The rest of the recruiters were ok.

    The only one thing is they will not help me to find a job if my company is also their client. It happened to me twice.

  • Last time I used a recruiter I found myself sitting on my duffel bag and tools in a hanger waiting to be deployed to Israel.

    That ended my relationship with recruiters.

    It would appear that little has changed since then with all types of recruiters.

  • My experience with recruiters has been *BAD* most of the time I got called to work on things that I don't want or care. Only on very counted times I have been matched correctly .

    I believe that you are *very lucky* if you know a recruiting firm with the "right" people.

    * Noel

  • My experience has been that if you absolutely DON'T want to do something, then you should completely omit it from your resume. ColdFusion and Java, for example. There's apparently still an ancient copy of my resume in a database somewhere from 15 years agao that has CF and Java on it and I still get spam and cold calls from people and companies that I don't know to do that kind of work...

  • Absolutely David.  I have 2 years of Access programming/managing, it has not once appeared on my resume or "skills list".

    I've had fairly good luck with recruiters, but then I also refuse to talk to them until they tell me what and who.  Some of them are uncomfortable with that, but if they don't trust me enough to tell me that, we don't need to talk (my attitude was a bit different in 2002 while unemployed of course...).

    I've also found it works much better to work on a contract to hire basis for a consulting company, i.e. one that also does contract work.  They seem to have MUCH better recruiters than staffing companies.

    I've also kept in touch with some of the recruiters from my previous consulting firm, which is great when it comes time to negotiate salaries.  Nice to have access to whatever databases most companies are using to evaluate salaries in your area   Oh and the occasional free lunch doesn't hurt.

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