22 Recruiters “Engagement has to be human because people trust people more than brands.” Ana Alonso, Global Marketing Head, Shell Recruiters often get a bad rap in the tech industry even though they provide valuable services both to companies looking for talent, and to people trying to get noticed by those companies. Like most things in life, they are not all good or all bad—most of the time it depends on the person and how you interact with them. To make the most of your time, you should know what to expect. This chapter will cover some basics on dealing with recruiters and give you some tips on making the most of your interactions with them. What Recruiters Do Recruiters do as their name suggests: they recruit people for positions. Sometimes they work internally for a company, other times they may work for themselves or specialized recruitment agencies that are hired by companies who need help filling jobs. They are almost always paid through commission or on a bonus structure, particularly those who work for third-party staffing agencies who are not employed internally by the company. Rewards for placing programmers are remarkably high (averaging around $30,000 according to some estimates in the US market) compared to other industries, and successful recruiters could make a living off of placing just a few people per year. Sometimes this payment is a percentage of the candidate’s salary over a period of time or just a lump sum. It is important to remember that everyone has their own incentives and goals – the recruiters, the company, and the job seekers. No one should be blamed for doing what is in their best interest as long as they are being ethical and not intentionally harmful or deceitful. Even though the recruiter may try to sell you on a certain company or position, it’s important to do your own investigative research apart from those interactions. During your job search, ensure that your incentives align with whatever company you ulti- mately get hired at. During the hiring process, it is in the recruiter’s best interest to treat you well and help you out, even if you are a beginner. You will one day be an experienced developer who can recommend that recruiter to your peers. Savvy recruiters know this and try to in- vest up front in the developer community to reap rewards later. These are the type of recruiters you want to network with. How Recruiters Can Help You Recruiters work for companies to fill recently vacated or new positions. In that pursuit, they can also be helpful resources for you in your job search. Here are some ways that forming relationships with recruiters can be used to benefit you: •Reviewing resumes and cover letters: Ask them to look over your resume and cover letter and take note of their recom- mendations. They are always trying to make resumes look more appealing to companies and review hundreds of re- sumes a week as part of their job, which gives them good insight into what a great resume is structured like and what skills hiring managers are looking for. •Career recommendations: They can make career recommendations based on your goals. If you are looking for work-life balance, for example, they could recommend certain companies over others. •Networking: Tech recruiters who have been in the industry for a while will usually have lots of connections in the area. If you establish a relationship with them, you can start asking them to make introductions for you with other well- connected people. •Interviews: They can set you up with interviews as part of their job. The best recruiters will also be able to set interview expectations with you and give you tips to help you prepare. It will be a bit harder to get interviews as a new pro- grammer, even through a recruiter, but still not impossible. The market is short hundreds of thousands of program- mers so they may be able to sell you to a company. •Support: The recruiter you are working with should also be available to you throughout the interview process. You can ask them for recommendations or feedback as well as information about the company you are interviewing at. •Information: Recruiters can give you information about the current and evolving job market. Third-party recruiting firms work with many different companies and applicants so they have a great view about what is going on in the tech market in your area. If you want more information about how recruiters can help you, check out my podcast episode where I interview tech recruiter Nicole Osbun about this topic: faradaytechcafe.podbean.com/e/episode-12-understanding-developer-tech-recruiter-relationships-with-nicole-osbun. Recruiter Strategy Once you start listing tech experience on your LinkedIn profile, you will start being contacted by recruiters online. If you are proac- tive in your networking, you will be meeting local recruiters long before that happens, though. You need to prepare yourself for what to expect and how to get the most out of your interactions with recruiters. First, you need to be sure you are working with the best recruiters for your situation. Most recruiters do not go to developer mee- tups which are normally held outside of business hours and require extra effort to attend. However, the ones who are really invested in the community, helping people, and networking – the savvy ones I mentioned earlier – will be going to these meetups. These are usually the best types of recruiters to connect with when you are getting started. Many of them are happy to meet you for coffee to look over your resume and chat about the tech industry. Take advantage of every opportunity you have with these types of recruiters to form relationships. To get connected with more high-quality recruiters, ask for recommendations from lynchpins in the community, like meetup organizers or other well-connected individuals. Keep a list of them and reach out from time to time so you stay on their radar. Even though many recruiters have never been programmers, the good ones research the technologies that they are trying to hire for. You have to know what you are talking about to some extent even with recruiters. If you are dishonest with them about your skills, it will come up in the interview process and you may get a bad name in the recruiter community where you live (they call it re- cruiter blacklisting). When you start getting spammed by lots of recruiters online, remember that you do not have to reply. It is probably a good idea to accept any requests for recruiter connections on LinkedIn or other social media when you are starting out, but some recruiters lazily send out their messages to spam hundreds or thousands of people at the same time, hoping for replies from a few. Those mes- sages or emails aren’t personalized and often, the jobs requirements do not match your skills at all. Do not waste your time on pushy or low-effort recruiters. Only work with high quality ones who value your time and effort. Questions for Recruiters If you are going to work with a recruiter, you should interview them just like anyone else. Here are some ideas for questions to ask recruiters at your first meeting. •What types of companies do you work with? They will not tell you the names of the companies but you can ask for as many other details as you want as long as it does not give away too much. •What is your placement rate? This will give you an idea of how effective the recruiter will be at placing you in a job. •What types of skillsets do you usually place for? •What types of assessments do you think I will have to take for the companies I am looking at? •What are you currently hiring for? •What salary ranges do the people that you place typically receive? •Where have you placed other candidates before? They might not be able to tell you, but it is worth asking anyways. Other Tips & Recommendations •You do not have to tell anyone how much money you are making at your current job (it is actually illegal for companies to inquire about this during the application process in California). If it is your first job, you can do some research to get an idea of what companies will pay and then let them know an amount you are comfortable with. •Be professional – it does not matter what you have heard people say about recruiters, they are just people doing their job and deserve the same respect as anyone else. Do not burn bridges and be polite in your interactions with them. •It is okay to work with multiple recruiters. You are not cheating on one by working with another. In fact, you should be working with more than one. The only exception is recruiters working for the same recruitment firm. They will not be allowed to speak with you if you are already working with one of their coworkers. •There are recruiters that you can hire who will work to find you a job. I recommend not spending the money on that unless you feel like you really need help. You really have to go through the experience of networking and job hunting on your own to get the connections you are going to need to grow in the industry. •You have to be somewhat flexible. Recruiters are balancing many clients and applicants, and they may not get back to you right away. Do not feel bad about sending them reminder messages either. In my experience, they appreciate the reminder. •Make sure they do not update your resume without your permission. You own your resume and information. If they work for a company with scruples, this should not be a problem, but it cannot hurt to ask and make sure. Conclusion Recruiters can be valuable allies if you connect with the right ones. Go out there, network, and connect with as many well-connected recruiters as you can right now. Action Steps: 1.Start connecting with recruiters in your community. 2.Ask around to get recommendations for the best recruiters to work with. 3.Meet with recruiters and solicit help with your resume and navigating the job market. 4.Make a list of recruiters you have connected with and stay on their radar by reaching out from time to time.