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My experiences as a Recruiter on Hacker News (voltsteve.blogspot.com)
402 points by Peroni on July 12, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 114 comments



I don't want an apology on behalf of the very angry minority, not even close.

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.


I think you have to write a post like that with such a statement even if it's not true. He deserved and should want an apology.

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.


That particular guy was an anomaly. He claimed that his 'friend' sent me his CV and that I then called every single company on the CV trying to pick up jobs. I did try and reason with him and he refused to point out who this particular 'friend' was and it was simply his insistance that I was corrupt against my instance that I kept my word about not taking advantage of my situation.


My first thought was "so there are 45 other recruiters on HN and they're not happy with what he's doing".


Hopefully I will upset a lot more recruiters along the way.


Unfortunately, like most sites HN has its fair share of borderline-psychotic oddballs who like to send angry e-mails to people and attempt to upset them.

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 ;-)


More interestingly, I once had a slightly heated debate on HN - nothing serious - just different points of views - and in the end the person managed to hunt down my email address just to apologize in case there were any hard feelings (which there weren't). This community is one of a kind, even with your occasional borderline-psychotic oddballs :)


Hacker sociopaths are one of the most disturbing varieties.



Great story, imagine how scary it would be if the guy was smart enough to crack WEP in less than two weeks.


Great story. I just submitted it:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2757234


You may not want one, but you deserve one.

Feel free to buy me a pint on behalf of the community at the next HN London meet-up. ;)


hopefully not a Peroni. Italian import piss ;-)

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peroni_Brewery


That's the one! Love the stuff. Trust me, I'm Irish.


If you're ever in Boston, i'll buy you a pint at the Cambridge Brewing Company. Way better than Peroni ;)


Deal. I always wanted to go to Boston.


I actually tried Peroni beer today just because of this thread. I gotta say it's not bad at all. But if you're ever in LA, I'll match the beer offer :)


Is there a web page for such things?



Happy to :-)


How I deal with recruiters:

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.


I think that honesty is a two-way street, especially in this scenario, and too many developers wind up holding a recruiter over a fire for what the developer perceives as a dishonest/snake oil salesman approach when they themselves are often inflating the truth either on their resume or when talking about previous accomplishments (I was guilty of this early in my career as well).

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.


Thanks Ed. As for the points you mentioned, you nailed it.


So true, there's a lot of bad recruiters out there. However the few I know to be good, I try to keep a good relationship with.


1. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of anonymity is that it allows people to not be responsible for their actions. That's endemic to any anonymous forum; the only thing that varies is the level and amount of abuse. Anonymity has its advantages, but this is an inescapable disadvantage.

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.


Although I'm currently self-employed (and therefore neither trying to recruit or be recruited) I have dealt with recruiters before, both as a client and as a candidate.

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).


Unfortunately I've lost all faith in recruiters, both as a client and as a candidate. They lie too much and they rarely understand IT (which is why it's a shame OP got such a mixed reception here).

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.


Recruiters don't need PhDs, they need to be perceived as caring (and the most straight way to acheive that is to actually care).

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.


In that vein, if you're aching for ways to distinguish yourself, I think there are few opportunities better than what you've got: right now, you're the most-loved recruiter on HN, and you're a (relative) expert on something most hackers are interested in, but not enough to become experts in. You could leverage that quite a bit with a series of blog posts on hiring negotiation, how to find a job using weird technology stack X (If I could find anyone to pay me to work remotely with clojure...wow), etc.

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.


you're the most-loved recruiter on HN

Aw shucks.

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.


> If I pick up the phone to speak to a candidate almost all will take my call and answer my questions

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).


The difference is that recruiters get paid by clients and sell candidates. The candidates are the product, and when they can't sell one, they just drop them.

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.


I know this wasn't a pity post, and that you're not looking for an apology, but I just have to say, I'm a bit disappointed that some portion of the community interpreted took time out of their busy day to give you flack for an act of kindness, when you specifically set things up in a way to show that your intentions were altruistic.

Your original post was classy, as was this follow-up. Well done, sir.


@peroni - this is a little offtopic, but hopefully not too much, and I'd like your opinion.

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.

Thoughts?

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!


It's a tricky one. Technically speaking it already works like this for contractors.

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.


What's missing from that equation are two things:

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.


The interesting element to this is taking the cost away from the employer and moving it to the candidate.

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.


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.

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.


Or could a high quality recruiter just start doing this with a small number of select, high quality, recent clients? (developers are the clients in this case)

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.


Agreed on all points - it's a chicken/egg situation to be sure up front. It's something I've thought of doing just because of my circle of contacts - I know many fairly well (probably 5-8 pretty strongly), know their strengths, know what they'd like to be doing, and I get calls from both recruiters and companies looking for people with XYZ skills/interest. I'm not sure it's enough for me to do full time, but it's made me think more about this issue, and the state of the industry.

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.


I think you'd work it into the contract with the hiring company to get a % cut of each paycheck. The hiring companies probably already have a system in place for paying contract houses, this would just be a slight change. That'd probably be the easiest for the developer, too. And the 10% was just a number, you'd probably have to charge less than that. For example, the NBA limits agents to 4% (or so my quick Googling says), which seems like a reasonable fee.

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.


I'm an independent web software developer. I work for various clients on an hourly or per-project basis. The highest rate I charge is 50% higher than the lowest rate I charge. If I had an agent that could keep me busy with the higher rate jobs--increasing my average hourly rate and giving me more hours to work because I'd spend less time chasing down gigs--I'd be more than happy to pay him/her 10%.


Pretty easy to make a living on 4% when you're dealing with multimillion dollar (and multiyear) contracts, not so much so when dealing with $80k developers :)


Isn't this somewhat like a consulting firm? Those didn't survive the busting of the tech bubble all that well.


The hate mail is weird. I made a similar offer two years ago (http://blog.fairsoftware.net/2009/05/13/being-a-new-cs-grad-...), received a lot of resumes, and I can't remember receiving even one complaint.


I think the key difference is that I am a Tech Recruiter. Your own background is a lot more credible and there is no reason why anyone would assume that you would take advantage of the info you received.


I am sorry that members of the community treated you shabbily.


It was an incredibly small minority and the positive feedback far outweighed the negative. I did feel the need to highlight the hate as I think it's pretty indicative of the automatic assumption that we are all selfish, money grabbing salesmen.


Life is like that; minority ruins it all. Better to focus on the great feedback. Still, I'm surprised that HN users acted like that.. maybe there's something we don't know. But anyhow, I feel sorry for you as it was a great initiative. Good luck in your next startup :)


even if we aren't one of the 'cool crowd'

Funny what a difference a couple of decades makes. Saying something like that in 1991 about programmers would have been obvious, biting sarcasm.


Fair point! It was sincere though. I have a massive amount of respect for the level of talent and creativity among the users of HN and I think it's about time you got the level of respect you deserve.


I think we can safely say it's a tiny minority of HN users that would respond in that manner.

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 :)


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.

There's the rub. The vast majority are only focused on how much money they can make from you and how quickly.


Every community has idiots. The ones who emailed you can be easily dismissed as fools, but the guy who phoned your company went too far and owes you an apology and explanation. Stuff like that can seriously affect peoples lives and is totally unnecessary.


The problem with hate mail is that it's a lot more affecting than positive mail. The best way to deal with it is simply to smile and delete. Everyone is entitled to their opinion - but they are not entitled to change _your_ life.


Being the son of a recruiter and a software developer myself I've had the pleasure of meeting many good recruiters and many bad ones. I've noticed that the key differentiator between the two is that good recruiters understand how to build solid relationships with people that are based on trust, honesty, and integrity with mutual financial gain being necessary but not the foundation of the relationship.

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.


It always amazes me how people will actually take time out of their day to personally abuse someone. Great response post and best of luck with your recruiting!


I agree and I was equally amazed by those who were offering to donate money to my paypal in exchange for what was a pretty run-of-the-mill offer of assistance.


I was one of the few guys who missed out. :( If you do ever get round to it, it would be greatly appreciated still.

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.


My email is in my profile. Send the CV on and I'll look at it immediately.


It's unfortunate a few knuckleheads decided to "teach you a lesson." You can't please everyone.

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?


Keep an eye out for future posts on what I think is drastically wrong with the recruitment industry.

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.


Having worked with recruiters a few times, I would say you are most definitely an exception rather than the rule. Mostly it comes down to buzzword bingo. I had problems when trying to explain to a recruiter that we were looking for a junior Java developer, but they kept sending us CVs with people with 8-10 years experience. After all they had "Java" on their CV didn't they. Very frustrating.

A recruiter who understands, and has true experience in the domain is invaluable. I wish you all the best!


Thanks!


Like I stated on your blog post in comments..you live up the word recruiter..a nice change..when I do get to London(currently in the Midwest USA) will attempt to find you ad offer you a pint..


I spent a lot of years being all helpful in public and had the living shit kicked out of me over it. So I spent a lot of time working on how to make peace with my internal wiring (where I am sincerely just a helpful person...and often wish I could gnaw my left arm off and escape this trap) and the kind of reactions that gets when acted on publicly. So this is my personal opinion about why this kind of thing, which you would think would be well received, typically goes over so very badly:

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.

Peace.


The trick to being helpful and not getting torn apart is being an 'opportunistic' or 'predatory' helper. That is to say, don't broadcast an offer help- selectively give it when you see it's needed.

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.


Thanks for the feedback. :-)

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.


Oh, I know what you mean with the dependency bit et al. When I really feel the need to be helpful, I typically extend it to people I have never met before and will likely never see again.


A nice article. It's a shame that people misunderstood your intentions regardless of how clear you were. I'd say you deserve an apology.

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


Thanks for the kind words.

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.


Let me guess - it will involve a lot of recruiters not understanding (and in some cases, not wanting to understand) the businesses and needs of the companies they recruit for?

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.


Pretty much spot on. There is a lot more to it than that but what you've just said is the fundamental issue.


Wow. I'm no huge fan of recruiters, but I'd also never send anonymous hate mail to one. Sorry you had to deal with that, and I'm glad you're making the effort to stick around on HN.

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.


No one pays any attention to your preferences on Linkedin. Every recruiter believes that the job they have for you is better than the one you've got. Few believe that you are 100% happy with your current career choice.

That doesn't make it right or true, it's simply the way they work.


That's sad. I'd like to be treated as a person, not a "resource", and the zeroth step in that is respecting my wishes. When I want to make a career change, I will make said desire known.

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.


The only thing I can think of is trying to make it a bit more obvious on your likedin profile that you are not interested in hearing about new roles.

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.


Honestly the one takeaway I got from this is that there are roughly 45 active HNers that I absolutely do not want to interact with.

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)


I'm pretty confident that a lot of them were lurkers. The grammar and general literacy levels seemed to be well below your typical HN standard. ;)


A couple of things struck me about this post.

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.


I completely agree. Hacker News is supposed to be an open, intelligent community and we really shouldn't tolerate that kind of bullying.

It's amazing how some people react to acts of public good.


Great post Steve! I guess much like some developers contribute to open source software projects, 1 recruiter wants to do the same in his field.

Looking forward to meeting you on the next HN London meetup.


Thanks buddy. I owe you a pint I think. You were the one who encouraged me to inform the community about my experience in the first place.


I have just suggested you as a guest on Techzing.


Good post. I spent 3 years in the Tech Recruiting industry. Did sales, recruiting for both direct-hire and contract. There are a lot of bad apples out there because it's a low-barrier career. But solid recruiters are a gem and take care of their candidates. Most good recruiters make more money than most developers out there and know their industry well. There are those that are idiots and don't know jack about IT (I'm an IT guy so I did well and understood candidates and clients).

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.


A low barrier career? really?

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.


You were smart to tell your boss ahead of time.


Welp, I might've accidentally down-voted you when meaning to upvote. As I have no way of telling, apologies if that happened!


People like you make HN worth visiting. Good luck with your startup!


Thanks for coming back!

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.


Good idea. Rather than post my advice here and have it lost in the noise I will write a new post over the next day or two pointing out exactly what you suggested, common themes, common mistakes, general advice, etc.

Great shout.


I'm sorry to learn that you're were treated in a rather indecent manner by some; hopefully the immature response of those folks doesn't deter your noble initiative.


I understand why those persons send you that email (not that I agree with it). Wild guess only one or two of the CVs had the personal details removed?

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.


Wild guess only one or two of the CVs had the personal details removed?

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.


Help me out, because I've never been in a position to be "recruited" for anything technical.

What does an unethical recruiter do that ends up screwing over the recruited?


One thing I have seen a LOT lately is asking for references early on in the process. It used to be that a recruiter would ask for references after a successful interview but now every recruiter wants them upfront, often as part of the initial application. Personally, I always decline and say that I wil be happy to provide them once an offer is forthcoming. It's never failed me, and I suspect that it's just a ruse to solicit the names of direct hiring managers.


There are a couple of options.

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.


Those are fortunately pretty rare behaviors. They call for a degree of sociopathy rather than merely buffoonish incompetence.

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.


There was an example of somebody who had taken an ad posted by a company, removed the name and increased the salary with 5k -- that way the recruiters would get all the applicants and they would get a lower salary than they would expect based on the ad.


I think you're entirely within your right to post the abuser's email addresses / HN handles on your blog or elsewhere.


No chance. That's one thing I love about HN. Even when you do encounter the odd troll, people here rise above it and don't play into their hands.

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.


Sure, and I guess it would be a net negative for you since most people would find it petty, but at some point someone needs to take a stand against idiots who think they can hide behind their keyboards and who feel they have the moral high ground and that that gives them the right to bully others into molding their behavior according to the bully's world view.

(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)


"Take a stand against idiots"? Really?

It's better to ignore idiots.


OK maybe not 'take a stand against idiots', but 'take a stand against bullies'. Harassing people is not somebody just being an idiot; it's not like we should ignore people who put a dog turd in somebody's mailbox every day.

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').


A friend of mine from another culture used to say 'The only good reply to stupid people is silence'.* I assume it was some saying from their culture.

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.


Hats off to you, OP for not having gotten discouraged by the hate. Rock on.


341 * 20 * 0.8 = 5456 minutes of reading CVs.

Looks like a lot of work.


No good deed goes unpunished.

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.


why the downvotes? Do people not understand sarcasm?


My reason for down voting is it came across as mocking Peroni. I certainly understood it was sarcasm but I did not think it was funny.

Edit: well, Peroni found it funny (didn't see his post when I replied.)


> No good deed goes unpunished.

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 was thinking the same thing.

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!


I wish I had an explanation for weird internets us/them/genocidal behavior.

Thanks anyways.


341 * 20 * 0.8 = 5456 minutes.

Looks like a lot of work.




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