You may not want one, but you deserve one.
It's sad to see that even without the visibility of the mob amplifying itself in public, you still get a private lynching of sorts... Perhaps the same people who sent those emails can come out of the woodwork now and apologise. That'd be big of them.
Even if he was trying to be a bad guy why bother sending hate mail? And the guy trying to get him fired was particularly strange.
I've had a few private e-mails responding to innocuous comments of mine over the years threatening all sorts of stuff. I put it down to the "if you're out there enough, you'll keep encountering that 1% of crazies" rule and assume my reach must be getting better ;-)
Feel free to buy me a pint on behalf of the community at the next HN London meet-up. ;)
If they need understanding of the technology, I will gladly help them with that.
If they need understanding the domain knowledge, I will gladly help them with that.
If they need understanding of interpersonal, organizational, or "soft" issues, I will gladly help them with that.
If they want referrals, I will usually do what I can.
If they don't call back or follow up, I will eliminate them.
If they are ever dishonest in any way, shape, or form, I will eliminate them and tell everyone I know.
For a recruiter, brutal honesty can overcome any perceived weakness and enable others (even us hackers) to be on their side.
Steve, thanks for your brutal honesty here at hn. That's the best we could hope for and should be a model for any other recruiters lurking here. Respect.
Now I do my part to be honest, and I look for the same in any recruiter I come across. I'll echo Ed's sentiment in saying thanks and it's nice to read about recruiters who have a passion for the industry and the people in it and not just a passion for making the sale.
2. People's reading comprehension aren't perfect, or even all that great. People -- myself included -- often seem to miss points being made in discussions and subsequently leap to conclusions that are usually a result of some combination of their own mood, biases, and prejudices.
3. I personally don't see anything wrong with you doing recruiting work here -- so long as you advertise it clearly as such and make it entirely opt-in. i.e., there are monthly posts on HN for people looking for work (freelance and otherwise), and as long as you were clear and asked them ahead of time if they were interested, it shouldn't be a problem. That's just my take on it though, others here may have some strong aversion to recruiters or something.
You do have a lot of value to offer here, you just have to be careful about that line between offering value and taking advantage -- just as everyone else does here.
I don't think recruiters are hated by their clients; they offer a service: an expensive service that they usually don't do very well, but they're willing to work hard, they can be called at any time, filter as many hundreds or thousands of CVs as needed, so it's not all bad.
The hate, I think, comes from the candidates. The reason is because recruiters treat candidates as meat, and it shows. It's not just a problem of domain expertise, it's a problem of human compassion.
I read a study a while ago that showed that people don't sue incompetent doctors more than others, even when faced with complications; they sue doctors who they think don't care about them.
Recruiters don't need PhDs, they need to be perceived as caring (and the most straight way to acheive that is to actually care).
As a "for instance", I went for an interview last year where the recruiter had lied to me about the nature of the job, and lied to the client about my skills and expectations. Fortunately, I did (later) get the chance to put them in the picture but it's that kind of behaviour which does no good to anyone. It wasn't my first bad experience like that, but it will be my last because I won't be dealing with agencies any more: I can't take the chance on the "distortion" they introduce.
I agree although I do believe a lot of clients are jaded by their own experiences with poor recruiters. If I pick up the phone to speak to a candidate almost all will take my call and answer my questions however when I call a prospective client for the first time they are usually skeptical as some receive dozens of calls a day from recruiters all claiming to be the best in their respective field.
The key is differentiating yourself from the herd. Hopefully this blog will play a small part in doing that eventually.
As a comparison, I'm sure Gabe Levine got the option for a lot of new business after the "Fuck You. Pay Me" presentation. He suddenly became the lawyer that freelancers...liked. http://mylawyergabe.com/ Among HN users, sunchild is a "lawyer I know knows about software"...and there are worse positions in which to be.
All I'm saying is that I suspect it's worth quite a bit to be trusted by hackers as a recruiter who knows his stuff and won't screw them over.
But seriously, there have been some excellent suggestions for future blog posts that will be relevant to the people here on HN and I fully intend on writing some decent content over the next week or two so stay tuned.
Well, yes, candidates don't have much to lose by talking to a recruiter, and the potential reward is high; for a prospective client the potential reward to talk to yet another recruiter is low / nonexistent, since they're probably already in business with one, and one is enough?
But that doesn't mean candidates like recruiters more than clients do; they have different incentives.
(What you're trying to do is great, BTW).
I try to never give negative feedback on candidates back to recruiters, or else they might not be sent on any more interviews (or worse, bad mouthed). Ultimately, the recruiters won't get nuanced critique.
Your original post was classy, as was this follow-up. Well done, sir.
Many other creative disciplines offer agents/managers/handlers for the 'creative' - think sports players, writers, actors, bands, etc. I've been wondering if a model like this would work in the tech industry for developers. I'm not sure developers would go for it, since many tend to have a 'DIY' attitude about everything.
What I see in the agent model is that someone follows you and your career for the long haul, and finds you work that helps advance your careers (gets you better parts in projects, better gigs for the band, etc). I've never met a recruiter that has kept in touch with me for more than a month or so after a successful placement. They're only working for the employer, because that's who pays them.
Would developers be willing to fork over 10% of their pay to an agent who negotiated better pay and benefits for them, helped get better gigs, etc? As attractive as this model sounds on paper, I'm wondering if this has a snowball's chance of working.
Oh, and thanks for your offer to the group, even if it was abused by a few people. I do this occasionally for members of our local php user group, and it's fun to help people understand how to promote themselves more positively. :) Never done it on the scale you did, and can't imagine the time/effort involved!
Example: Say I place you in a 6 month contract where you get paid £500 per day (I'm an optimist!) in such a deal my fee to the client, your employer, would be anywhere from £50 to £100 per day meaning I could place 4 good people and make £2k a week before costs. I work for an agency currently but if I was self-employed (and a lot of successful recruiters are) that would be £2k a week in my pocket.
Your next question will probably be 'Why aren't more recruiters doing exactly that?' and the answer is simple, it's the same as launching a start-up. You become self-emplyed and your income isn't secure. More importantly it is almost impossible to get traction as a self-employed recruiter unless you've been in the game for at least 5 or 6 years and have a littany of highly successful relationships with hiring managers that regularly recruit.
Incentives for the recruiter to place someplace that's most beneficial to the developer. The person paying for the service is the employer. YOU might not make an bad placement, but many other recruiters I've worked with don't know how to tell a good one from a bad one, and if the employer is initially happy, that's all that matters. If the placement doesn't work out, I've found employers tend to blame the employee more than the recruiting firm (maybe that's not always the case though?).
Long term relationship with the placed candidate. There's no incentive for a recruiter to keep moving someone from company to company every year because they'll get a bad rep with the hiring companies. If the person paying the recruiter is the employee/contractor, the focus would be more on making them happy vs making the employer happy. In an ideal world, all parties are happy, but if it comes down to making a decision, people will come down on the side of the money.
Pro's: Employers will be a lot more keen on dealing with an agent if they no they won't ever have to pay extra for their fees.
Cons: When the market changes (and it's already starting to), jobs will become plentiful and the need to use a professional to find you a new opportunity becomes less of a priority.
Maybe, but they may end up back in having to weed through hundreds of agents instead of hundreds of applicants. I suspect that won't be the case entirely, as an agent would have more incentive to be selective about placement opps - they don't want to waste their time either.
Starting from the ground up with no clients and trying to build a client base on this model would be difficult. If you can't show results, I'm not going to give you 10% (or any other percentage), mostly because so far I've been DIYing it and doing decent. But if I already had a "relationship" with a recruiter, maybe one who's actually good at technical placement and they found something good for me along with offering to be a long term career guide / mentor / agent, I'd be interested in listening to them much more than if someone just calls me out of the blue. And if the pay was more than I get now, even with the 10% cut taken out, and involved interesting projects, that would get my attention.
I think the long term career guide and mentoring part would have to be a big part of it. I know my skills but I don't necessarily know who out there wants them, maybe there's people out there who need my skills but also don't know it. The agent comes into play here and matches up two people who don't know they really need each other in order to make great things. This takes a lot of work on the part of the agent.
If you have this business model, managing 10 to 20 developers and taking 10% cut of salary, that's enough to make a nice living on and you'd have time to be personal with all of them.
Getting the 10% out of some people would be hard - I guess you just wouldn't use them as clients(?). Would you collect up front? Weekly payments? I don't know many developers who can easily just hand over $8-$10k in a lump sum, so you'd probably have to collect over time, and if they're not good with budgeting, that's a whole other problem.
If you start with just a few people you know well, I can see this being a good side job until the client list grows. The hard part is probably going to be that the people you know best are friends, friends may not want to pay you for your help.
Funny what a difference a couple of decades makes. Saying something like that in 1991 about programmers would have been obvious, biting sarcasm.
I'm glad to see you've come back to HN, and although you say you don't want an apology, I hope those responsible (especially the one who phoned your boss) do apologise to you.
I'd like to say its a shame recruiters have such a bad rep, but 99% of the ones I've dealt with have been a lot more interested in getting their commission than getting me the right job.
That said, I've met some genuinely awesome recruiters, and you seem like one of those, so keep fighting the good fight :)
There's the rub. The vast majority are only focused on how much money they can make from you and how quickly.
Bad recruiters build relationships based on mutual financial gain and little else.
In the short term the bad recruiters often come out on top since treating people as numbers leads to higher short-term throughput, but long term the solid relationships are what will make a recruiter a success. They are what lead to referrals both from managers and candidates, allow bad news to be communicated without hesitation or undue stress (as honesty is a basis of the relationship), and best of all move with the recruiter as they change firms and grow as a professional.
I very much look forward to seeing your post about how being a software developer gives you an edge over your peers in the recruiting industry.
I also appreciate this follow up post, I looked a couple of times at the previous user name and realised you'd stopped commenting. It did make me think at the time maybe it was a (rather elaborate)scam to harvest C.V's after all. I'm glad to know I was well and truly wrong.
Thank you for wanting to contribute to the community and giving a gift to people who were not confident of their CVs and resumes. I'm sure you were able to help at least one person drastically change their CV for the better.
Can you elaborate on your "edge" when you worked as a recruiter with a tech background?
In a nutshell, I worked as a developer for a number of years and two key factors seem to have made a drastic difference:
1. Practical industry experience. I understand the full software development lifecycle. I know what it's like to work on boring, unchallenging projects and I like to think know what get's people excited about going to work in the morning.
2. I'm self-aware. I know our industry is universally hated by clients and candidates alike. I understand exactly why our industry has a terrible reputation and I actively conduct my business in the opposite manner to what you may have come to expect from recruiters. I don't 'key word match', money is not my primary focus, I don't try and shoe-horn candidates into roles that won't interest them and when it comes to clients I find out everything I need to know at the beginning and I try to be as unintrusive as physically possible throughout the process.
A recruiter who understands, and has true experience in the domain is invaluable. I wish you all the best!
When speaking in public, especially on the internet, you are speaking to a very diverse crowd. It is inevitable that some of the people "listening" will have serious personal issues: They had abusive childhoods, they were badly burned in some way by someone "like" you in some way, they got taken advantage of in some gruesome fashion by someone claiming to offer help, they are still suffering for it, they are currently in an abusive situation of some sort...etc.
Any time someone as an individual offers publicly to personally do something for a bunch of total strangers, well, you can't equally "love" everyone. And some people have a very hard time accepting "love"/help...whatever you want to call it. I've worked hard at trying to put info on websites, instead of making public personal offers, in part to make it less personal. People can read it and see if it makes sense to them or not and it punches fewer of those buttons because it is more "information" and less "a person/personal favor". And someone will always be left out. You had to close the offer and only got to 80% of what was sent to you. The folks who didn't get something for free will feel (somewhat irrationally) kind of screwed over. You can't do that kind of thing for everyone. So it's best to handle things more discreetly.
I try to not make "blanket" public offers I can't back up. There isn't enough time in the day to give away everything for free to every single individual in need. I try to find ways to make the world a better place without it being so personal, without it being so much about me helping lots of other people individually. Because one of the things I have found is that making a personal offer like that gets read by the crowd as "ego". People think I am attention-mongering or something and if someone else hasn't had enough ego strokes for the day or I am threatening to steal their thunder or something, watch out! There will be hell to pay.
The people in the world who are in a lot of pain, so much pain they would piss on you to that degree, they need a lot more love and assistance than reading their resume is going to provide. And they basically feel like it's just not fair that others are getting what they need and they are not. I know that in part because I was an abused child and I spent a lot of years feeling angry and jealous and invisibly left out and so on. And it often struck me as cruel when other people would try to talk to me about things in a well meaning way but still could not/would not meet my needs. So if I can't genuinely help someone who is living with some kind of enormous suffering, I try hard to not step in it, to not say anything that will sound like rubbing their face in their suffering and all that they don't have. It's part of why I have left some of the health lists I have left: I got myself well and I share my story in hopes of helping others get well but it mostly gets rage and abuse heaped on me. I actually understand their emotional reaction: They are doomed to a cruel fate and my presence just makes them all the more painfully aware of how unfair it is. I still don't know how to resolve the situation. I don't feel right about withdrawing entirely and leaving them to their dire fate when I know it's possible to get healthier. But what I have been doing hasn't been terribly effective and seems to just rub salt in a very, very, very bad wound.
Anyway, this is not about "me". I just tell my story as an example, because I am still compulsively helpful and public lynchings have yet to cure me of that.
The second trick is to help people who are vulnerable. People know when they are vulnerable, and when you help them they are usually very grateful.
The best one I've found: helping people on the side of the road with flat tires. If they don't know what to do, guide them or even do it yourself.
However, what I have found with regards to the health stuff is that the people who are most open to hearing are people who seek me out -- who found my website by googling for that type of information rather than running into me on an email list. I sometimes do okay with talking to people in person that I am on friendly terms with -- and sometimes bomb badly.
The issue I have with helping vulnerable people who know they are vulnerable is that this tends to lead to dependency. I was able to figure out how to get physically well after being appropriately diagnosed at age 35 in part because I had already mostly psychologically recovered from an abusive childhood. I have had to ditch quite a few "helpful" people who didn't know how to be real friends or accept an equitable relationship and desperately needed to be needed. I had to ditch them because they didn't really want me to stand on my own two feet. They wanted me get better but not really well and to continue to need a crutch so they could be needed and have my gratitude. I have no desire to turn around and do that to other people -- and I don't think it really works anyway (for one thing, I prefer having real friends to being surrounded by sycophants and I am prone to attracting sycophants, much to my irritation). This is part of why I have worked at finding a less personal way to share information: So no one has to be personally ingratiated/indebted/socially obligated. (Next step: Figure out how to monetize it.)
The other thing I have concluded is that society has two venues for the "wisdom" business: religion and arts/entertainment/comedy. So I am working towards doing something in the entertainment/humor space, where it is okay to say things you can't say in many other settings and get people thinking.
Just from reading this article my perceptions of recruiters has changed slightly, though I fear recruiters such as yourself are few and far between? Hope your start-up becomes what you want it to be. Good luck Peroni
I agree that decent recruiters are few and far between however I think there is a lot that can be done to help change the industry. I will be following up with another post in a week or so outlining exactly what I believe are the issues with my industry and what steps need to be taken to change things.
Or in other words - they spend a lot of time recruiting people they don't have any clue of what they are good at, to jobs where they don't understand what the jobs involve.
If I can ask one question, though: Why do some recruiters seem keen on ignoring the phrase "I'm not interested in new opportunities at this time"? I have set my LinkedIn profile to say this, and it's the first thing out of my mouth when I get cold-called, but there are some who are not stopped by it. It'd go a long way in my view if recruiters would simply take it at face value when I tell them I'm not interested at the moment.
That doesn't make it right or true, it's simply the way they work.
Is there anything I can start saying to recruiters that could plant the seed of this idea in their minds? I know it's hard and that I have to compete with a $25,000 fee, but everyone has to start somewhere.
That is one of the many issues with the recruitment industry, you could launch a national advertising campaign highlighting the fact that you DO NOT want a new job & I will bet good money you will still get recruiters calling you.
While I know Peroni will never share those email addresses (he's much to polite) I somehow wish we could see which users are that rude/psycho to send this guy hate mail and stalk him (albeit online with the exception of the one nutcase who called his boss)
First, the hate mail. I'm happy that you're taking it in stride, but personally, I think all of the hate mail senders should be outed and their accounts removed from HackerNews. (Yes, I know they can just make a new one.) This community shouldn't tolerate this type of bullying - which is exactly what this is - and resetting karma to zero and forcing people to own up to their actions in public is the type of response I'd think appropriate.
Second, given the response, there is clearly a huge demand here. Perhaps a business opportunity is worth exploring in this context? People are clearly not getting the feedback they need from existing services. I wonder if there is some sort of "pay per submission" service that could be linked to reputation to facilitate CV/resume reviews... like linked in without the recruiters. Obviously needs more thought but there's definitely something there given the interest you received.
It's amazing how some people react to acts of public good.
Looking forward to meeting you on the next HN London meetup.
Reason I got out of it was that my passion is in IT so I got back into that world. Now I get to listen to shoddy recruiters calling me and I usually laugh at them... :D
So ignore the bad candidates and focus on the good ones. They are the ones that will put food on your table.
It's different from developing, certainly, and different even from hiring people to work for you. But, as far as I can tell, it's quite difficult to actually get set up as a paid recruiter. I've gotten quite a few people jobs. Hell, I've gotten people who worked for me jobs elsewhere, and never once have I gotten a dime out of the deal.
If there were any "common themes" in the resumes you reviewed or if you have any general advice for the HN crowd regarding resumes, I would love to hear them.
It would seem to be an excellent scam and since there are 80k visitors to HN, it isn't strange that a few tenths of a percent of the userbase should have encountered really unethical recruiters and be mad enough to do something about it.
Just the way things are, I guess.
100% accurate. I can only recall one specific CV that had redacted all the details of who he was and the companies he worked for, there may have been two but that was it.
It would seem to be an excellent scam and since there are 80k visitors to HN
Possibly. There was a huge amount of info there that I could have used to my advantage but I think part of the reason I had such a high response rate was because my profile at the time had a high karma level and I had been actively contributing to the community for a while.
What does an unethical recruiter do that ends up screwing over the recruited?
I could phone your previous employers without your permission on the guise of taking a reference for you and use that opportunity to build credibility with the potential client.
I could contact you and find out where you are currently interviewing and approach those companies with stronger candidates.
An unfortunately common story I hear from acquaintances who have used recruiters in my industry is that many recruiters will use a shotgun approach and feed lines of bullshit to prospective employee and employer alike. The recruiter might take your resume, massage it to hit all the right notes for a wide range of listed positions, and then submit it. That will probably garner a few phone interviews and on-site visits at the very least. Once the candidate gets on the phone or on site, he and the people he's interviewing with will soon realize he's being tested for an entirely inappropriate position for his skill set. Not only is this a waste of time for everyone involved, but it permanently damages the candidate's reputation with that company and the people involved in the interviewing.
The guy was an idiot, my boss at the time thought it was hilarious and he was only one person. He didn't mention his HN handle (most of the people who emailed me didn't) but hopefully he spots this post.
(not saying you have some moral responsibility to be a crusader against internet bullies here, just that 'trolling' isn't funny anymore when people start calling other people's jobs and families and that we shouldn't just shrug it off and accept it as a normal thing on the internet)
It's better to ignore idiots.
People standing in the middle of the street holding signs about how Jezus saves, or posting online about being abducted by aliens: idiots, ignore; people picketing funerals with 'god hates fags' signs: bullies, punish. (not in the lynch mob sense, but in the 'recourse society takes against deviant subjects').
I really need to remember that more often.
* I don't really like that framing but my memory is that is what he said. I would personally make that "The only good reply to stupid remarks is silence." or "The only good reply to stupidity is silence." We all do dumb stuff sometimes. It isn't necessarily proof that an individual is actually an idiot.
Looks like a lot of work.
Also, stop calling me; I'm not interested in working with Flash/Flex, servlets and C# on a Tcl app for a Fortune 500 company within 200 miles of my local area.
Edit: well, Peroni found it funny (didn't see his post when I replied.)
I never understood that to be a form of mockery, more of sympathy. So I looked it up and yes, I was apparently, and unintentionally, mocking Peroni. My apologies.
I think people are being a bit protective of me on the back of my bad experience.
If it's any consolation, I thought it was funny!