Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
If David Heinemeier Hansson Was a Tech Recruiter...
10 points by danielhodgins on Oct 25, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 7 comments
He probably wouldn't send himself job offers for Rails jobs in the Valley, unlike an unfortunate and clueless recruiter who did just that!


Folks, I want to create a programmer-centric tech recruiting agency that is basically the opposite of the story above. And I need your ideas!

Imagine that DHH, Jason Fried and the rest of the 37 Signals crew were to create a small, scrappy tech recruiting agency. What might this look like?



Treat potential candidates like people, rather than interchangeable pegs that you try and fit in whatever square hole you're trying to fill at the moment.

This means:

- Spend time to build real connections and relationships with the people you're trying to recruit. Find out what the look for in a job, and if you none of your clients fit the bill, say so point blank, but that you'll get back to them when you find one that does.

- Build a tribe (in the Seth Godin sense of the word). Build a group of people that look to you about finding jobs and hiring. Organize events that get lots of smart technical people together, that isn't just a recruiting event. Think about the 37 signals blog and the conferences they've organized. Think Super Happy Dev House.

- Don't cold call. Speaking personally, I'm much more likely to talk to you if you email me. Aggressive phone calls are a major turn off. If you must call, don't call before 10am in my time zone.

- Being open about the companies and positions you're trying to fill. No caginess about what the company is, and being open about any potential downsides you know of.

- Don't recruit for companies you don't believe in.

- Know what you're talking about technically. This means not recruiting people for positions that don't match the experience they list on their resume. It means not recruiting them for positions they're highly unlikely to be interested in, based on past positions.

In general, recruit people like you would want to be recruited. In the short term, this will likely be less effective than more traditional approaches. In the long run, as you start building a network and reputation for integrity, I bet it's significantly more effective.

Note: this comment contains implicit perspective

While 37s makes wonderful products, this post reminds me that time and time again DHH has a habit I dislike: thinking his opinion is the hole in which every puzzle piece can fit. There are times where his team brings out some outstanding, accurate and worthy information, this is not one of them.

What would a 37s recruiting agency look like? I couldn't tell you-but I can tell you, from the perspective of someone who actively executes virtual recruiting services for startups across the landscape, it wouldn't be a very good one.


He exhibits the very ignorance he's railing against in this blog post: assuming all recruiters are as clueless as this one for sending a shotgun blasted email to any candidate that stands a remote chance of replying, by sending a shotgun blast signal to the industry that he clearly does not understand by saying they're all the same.


David is certainly entitled to his opinion, but to assume that one email from a single recruiter is representative of an entire industry and the life work of tens of thousands of people (if not more) is simply ignorant.

HN'ers - throw down your horror and/or success stories related to working with recruiters!

I have been on the receiving end of these machine gun emails from recruiters and I've noticed something that is so obvious it may be redundant to say it here.

The recruiters receive details of a job-opening from a company (hey, we're hiring), calculate how much the fee will be to them (OMG $20k!!) and then proceeds to cast a wide net by spamming twitter, email, cold-calling, linkedin etc to get as many CV's as possible then cut the list down and try to get them into interviews. Its driven by the payoff because if a recruiter does their job amazingly well, then they place you in a good job and you never need them again... companies on the other hand are always reruiting so better to help the company.

...the problem is all those people who sent in their CV and didn't make the first cut are naively under the assumption that you are proactively searching for an opportunity that can help nurture their dreams/desires and provide room to grow in a new role etc etc. Rubbish.

I don't know the answer, but thats my take on the situation - based on experience of going through the system a few times with different recruiters.

Actually, if the recruiter does their job well, you'll contact them every time you are considering a career change (perhaps every 5 or 10 years) because you'd be a fool not to. This 'cradle to grave' business model results in the highest lifetime value per candidate for the recruiter.

Some recruiters do actually have your best interests at heart and work hard to find you the right role. Why else would you go back to them in the future or refer your smartest friends?

It's a good sign if a recruiter refers you to a competitor or is 100% honest that they don't think they'll have a position for you in the near future. Any recruiter who operates with a shred of integrity will be glad to do either.

I think it's pretty obvious what to do. If you operate your business with respect for the industry and take it seriously you will be good. Otherwise you will not. It's kind of that simple. Recruiting isn't really a tough job on its own, kinda just the amount of effort you bring to the table.

Thank you for the thoughtful and insightful comments ScottyAllen, Albahk, IamDave and Wdewind.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact