Recruiters Are Pretty (and How to Find One)

You would need to be blind not to notice that tech recruiting firms are now tending to hire young and attractive female rookie recruiters, which is an obvious strategy (similar to the so-called “booth babes” at trade shows) to get the attention of the predominantly male tech audience.  Some of the LinkedIn recruiter profile photos border on racy, and perhaps sad.  I should confess here that I too use a LinkedIn profile photo, which is probably best described as smug (included below, for science).

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Since I started blogging I have been regularly approached by readers living hundreds of miles away asking if I know a recruiter in their geography that might be able to help them find new work.  For every ten people that hate on recruiters, there are at least a couple that see value.  Many tech pros complain that they are only being approached by the aforementioned 22 year old crowd with an average six months of recruiting experience, sending canned messages with a pretty LinkedIn profile photo.  How much solid career advice can you get from a new liberal arts or PE grad who was waiting tables until a couple months ago?  Very little, and I should know – because that was me 15 years ago (except Economics and bartender).

I deal with internal recruiters that work at my client companies, but readers want intros to people who do what I do.  These internal recruiters only represent their company, whereas agency recruiters like me can provide several job opportunities.  Instead of just replying with “Sorry, I don’t really know anyone in your area”, I thought I’d provide some thoughts on methods to find someone you will want to work with in your job search.

Actually finding a recruiter should be quite easy, but how do you know if that recruiter is any good?  Let’s start with the search for a recruiter, and then talk about some positive and negative indicators that might give some insight into their ability to help.

How To Find Your Recruiter

Referrals from other technologists

The most obvious way to find a recruiter is to ask around.  Who to ask?  Start with former (and current if you trust them) co-workers or friends in the industry.  Another source may be local user group and meetup leaders, who are regularly approached by recruiters and could know a few that are ethical and helpful.  The more veteran among technologists, and particularly independent contractors, should have a wider recruiter network than most.

Referrals from HR/internal recruiters/hiring managers

If you are lucky enough to have some contacts in HR or internal recruiting, they could be the most effective resource.  HR pros who have been in the business for a while will know which recruiters and firms are best and which may be cutting corners to make a buck.  Your former manager, or any hiring managers that you know, will have some historical anecdotal data on their success rates with certain firms or individuals.

LinkedIn

Recruiters use LinkedIn to find you, so why can’t you do the same?  Not only can you find the recruiter, but you can also discover some valuable information on their background – not to mention, PRETTY PICTURES!  Here’s how you do it:

1 – Click on Advanced at the top of the main LinkedIn screen (just to the right of the search bar)  advanced copy

2 – On the upper left side of your screen you will see several fields.  Make sure you are doing a People search (and not a Jobs search).

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3 – Type ‘Recruiter’ and something else that you feel is specific to you in the Keywords field.  Try ‘developer’ and the name of a technology that a recruiter might lazily use to brand you, such as a language.  Recruiters typically will fill their LinkedIn profiles with the technologies sought for their clients, not unlike job seekers who populate their tech skills section to catch the automated eye of a résumé scanning system.

keywords copy

4 – Enter the zip code of the area where you wish to find work and consider setting a parameter.  Some recruiters work nationally, but local knowledge goes a long way if you are seeking to work in a specific geography.  Once you start entering the code, a box appears with a dropdown menu.  Depending on where you live, you may want to select 25 or 50 miles (probably good for northeast or mid-Atlantic US), or up to 100 miles (for midwest).

location copy

5 – On the right, make sure you have 3rd + Everyone Else checked under Relationship.   This will maximize your results, particularly if your LinkedIn network is not large.

3rd copy

6 – Click Search

7 – Repeat, and vary the words you used in Step 3.  You should see a few different faces as you adjust the keywords.

How to Evaluate Your Recruiter

We’ve found some LinkedIn profiles and viewed recruiter pics (some pretty, others smug). Now what?  What methods can we use to eventually choose which recruiter(s) we want to contact?  Are there any indicators as to who might be best to use?

Just like recruiters do to find out more about you, a simple Google search or looking up the company on Glassdoor might lead to some useful info.  It also just might lead to more pictures.

As recruiters today rely heavily on LinkedIn, you can be sure that any serious technical recruiter pays close attention to their profile.  The LinkedIn profile IS the recruiter’s résumé.  Thus, we can assume that everything we need to know about a recruiter should absolutely be included there.

Here are a few things to consider

Industry experience

This will indicate quite a bit.  For one, agency recruiters with many years of experience will have witnessed most scenarios imaginable, and should be a valuable guide throughout the search.  They should also have deep networks, loyal clients, and insight into the local market.  The job market turbulence of the first dot com boom/bust and the more recent recession have served to cull the recruiting herd, so those that survived through must have been successful.

Keep in mind that recruiting is highly competitive, revenue-driven and results-based, and recruiters are primarily compensated on a commission basis.  Staying employed in the agency recruiting business is dependent upon results (getting people hired).  However, some of the successful recruiters might just be the best at selling snake oil.

Consistency

There are a few different items to consider when we evaluate consistency.

Has this recruiter remained in the industry throughout their career or did he/she have some unrelated experience somewhere along the line?  For someone who leaves the industry and returns, recruiting is probably a job and not a career.  Some recruiters might change areas of focus and switch from technology to finance, in which case the depth of specific industry expertise may be questionable.

Has the recruiter moved between agencies on a consistent basis?  The recruiting industry has job hoppers too, and often this can be due to lack of success with different firms.  Since recruiters compensation is commission-based they are cheap to hire, so taking a chance on a job hopper poses little risk for the recruiting agency.

Has the recruiter bounced back and forth between the agency side and internal recruiting?  This one is important, and perhaps a bit controversial.  In case you didn’t know, successful agency recruiters make a very good living.  To put it in relative terms, a top agency recruiter can make two to three times (or more) as much as the typical salaried internal company recruiter at most firms (exceptions, of course), and agency recruiters often earn significantly more than the tech pros they represent.

So why would a recruiter leave a lucrative agency job to go work as an internal recruiter for a hiring company?  Stability is one factor, as the promise of a consistent paycheck with no risk is attractive to many.  The desire to build a company and actually help create something big is another cited reason, and even though I’ve been successful on the agency side for my entire career I’ve given consideration to internal roles on occasion.

Some agency recruiters jump to the internal side because they couldn’t survive on the outside, and sought the safety of an internal recruiting job.  Some will revert back to agencies, as even the most experienced recruiters can be hired by agencies for cheap.

Credibility

Does this recruiter have any details that stand out above the others?  A list of LinkedIn endorsements is a bit of a joke, but you can give at least some credence to a recommendation that required effort and thought.  Are there any extracurricular activities listed that may give some evidence of expertise?

A professional blog or writings can provide insight into the recruiter’s attitudes towards industry trends.  Is the recruiter involved with any industry organizations?  Has the recruiter actually worked in the technology industry, where it is assumed the recruiter would have greater understanding?

There are a few certifications that recruiters can achieve, but their value is questionable due to the fact that most are virtually unknown even within the industry.  There is no degree in recruiting that I’m aware of, so education isn’t usually a valuable indicator.

Conversation

The best way to evaluate a recruiter is to talk to him/her.  Your career is important, so partially entrusting it to someone requires a level of mutual respect.  If you find a recruiter immediately tries to sell you on all open jobs he/she has regardless of fit, chances are this person isn’t very concerned with your best interests.

Find a recruiter who shows curiosity in your goals before trying to push every job on you.  Is the recruiter even paying attention to what you are saying?

 

Like this?  Thinking about a job search in the near future?  You might like my book.

8 comments

  1. Mike S.

    I hate the “booth babe” recruiter technique with a passion, specifically because it works so well. I am more likely to read a LinkedIn connection request if it comes attached to a pretty face, and more likely to engage a recruiter instead of just sending a polite dismissal if the communication is associated with a pretty face.

    But I’m here, and I’m not attracted to men, so obviously I’m not completely ruled by my …testosterone.

    Just in case, you may want to put on a wig before you update your LinkedIn profile picture. ;)

  2. Pingback: 4 Tips to Research a Company’s Culture Fit During Job Search | The Job Emporium
  3. Ellie Rose May

    Attractive young women are not to be trusted as competent in their job? This is pretty much the upshot of this right? This smacks of some of the most bitter misogyny I’ve ever heard. You’re also really insulting a large portion of developers here, implying that there testosterone levels will over power all reasoning if they see a young woman.

    It’s difficult enough for female graduates to get their foot in the door without you dismissing them based on gender and age because of your own misconceptions. One of the biggest problems in this industry is that women are dismissed as “booth-babes” almost instantaneously before they’ve even had the chance to open their mouths. This is perhaps one of the most sexist things I’ve ever heard. Next you’ll be spouting the idea that “it’s their fault because they try to look pretty.”

    Your analogy of what does “some new liberal arts or PE grad who was waiting tables until a couple months ago” know about the industry also gives us a beautiful insight into where you believe women should stand: with the “fluffy” subjects, not the serous man subjects like “economics.”

    You are SEXIST and have, quite frankly, pissed me off. This is precisely the attitude that puts women off getting into tech. Misogynist dinosaurs parading as white knights who are too short sighted to realise the depth of their own misconceptions.

    • fecak

      Attractive young women who are qualified to give advice should absolutely be trusted as competent in their job. Same goes for men. Unfortunately for both sexes, it seems that much of the hiring of recruiters comes with an unspoken requirement of a certain look. Every attractive female or male isn’t a “booth babe”, but that hiring trend does make it more difficult for everyone in the industry that wasn’t hired to look nice. We obviously can’t tell who is knowledgeable by looks, but it’s hard to look past the trend in hiring.

      I think you may have missed my point about new liberal arts grads giving career advice. My reference to economics and my own background was that I was a new grad too, giving advice before I was qualified to do so. There is no degree in recruiting that I know of, and new grads of either sex who have never even conducted a job search are hardly qualified to give advice. Your comments about “fluffy” subjects are a reach, and I I think Econ falls well into those liberal arts disciplines that don’t qualify anyone to be giving career advice. Serious man subjects like Econ? You are looking for something that isn’t there with that comment.

      I’m hardly a misogynist nor a dinosaur, and I’m hoping that exposing the hiring trend for what it is will be helpful to both men and women in tech. I think it’s sad that some companies feel they need to hire based on looks and age in today’s marketplace. Recruiters with 10 or 20 years of experience often aren’t the ones sent to events, and this should be a concern to both men and women.

      Sorry you have become pissed off. I think people should be upset about the hiring trend, but I don’t think there is any value in being angry at the messenger.

    • Mike S.

      Ellie Rose May, I believe you jumped to conclusions. Please re-read what he wrote, “Many tech pros complain that they are only being approached by the aforementioned 22 year old crowd with an average six months of recruiting experience, sending canned messages with a pretty LinkedIn profile photo. How much solid career advice can you get from a new liberal arts or PE grad who was waiting tables until a couple months ago? Very little, and I should know – because that was me 15 years ago (except Economics and bartender).” There was nothing sexist in that, he specifically included himself in the roster of young recruiters that did not have enough experience to provide useful career advice to an older technology industry professional.

      And none of the advice he provides further in the post rules out young recruiters that the person might find attractive. He’s recommending the prudent course, which is to evaluate the recruiter based on their competence as a recruiter, period.

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