Does anybody know how recruiting works in the upper end of C-level recruiting (i.e. Top500s)? I suspect that contract negotiations here are more similar to the movie industry i.e. - lawyers talking lawyers - after some screening process of the candidates etc.
Retained search does occur for specialized firms, typically >$100,000 salaries in roles such as hedge fund analysts / developers, Sr Director's of large scale companies (MS for example) and the like.
Hopefully an actual Exec recruiter at the C level (so different then Sr VP / Director) will chime in, but they are probably out doing dinners and golfing with potential candidates and clientele in megacorps.
Of course I will need a plausible "walk away" option - are you willing to give that?
Edit: it's a bit early in the morning so that was supposed to be an expanation why you might not choose to give ana age t the negotiation power they need.
Not a sales pitch
It takes a long time to find work, and having someone else do it for you, as well as negotiate a higher salary, would be completely worth losing out on even 30-40% of the work you might otherwise have gotten.
I'm not claiming to be a superstar, but superstars are usually in the same position: They are already in a job they love and are successful at. So negotiating a better gig for them always includes the option of credibly walking away.
Of course, the question then comes back: why are you a decent agent, and why should I let you represent me?
Can you tell me more about differential privacy - if the London Underground releases data about journeys from my start point to my end point, surely at some point enough data is released to determine which anonymous ID is me.
I just would like to know are there determined upper and lower bounds on how much can be released before it is explotable?
In Hollywood, people often need to create a reasonable sized business, have it work for a year or two, and then it falls apart. That's what a film is. Most people's engagement in this business is only a few months, maybe less, no matter how well they do. Therefore you need to get hired again, and again, and again.
In programming, there is a hope and expectation that people will last substantially longer in a job. Therefore you do not need to go back to the hiring well nearly as often, so it does not make sense for you to have a dedicated person who is going to regularly try to hire you out.
In practice, that's seldom possible. Hell, we're on hacker news - it's a tossup as to whether most of the companies you hear about on here will still be operating in two years. If those are the companies you work for, you'd be best off with an agent.
The companies on hackernews are not the majority of companies that employ developers though...
This is why we're creating matchist (matchist.com).
In London's finance industry, there are actually many contractors often working on temporary projects of a similar lifespan to a hollywood movie. The difference is the relationship with the third-party recruiters. The companies and their HR departments will still be around afterwards, similar to the point you're making here, so they establish long-term relationships with the agencies/recruiters. Thus, the agency is biased towards serving the needs of the company. It sees the company as its client, not the contractor. A lot of the time they can get exclusive assignments this way, and with many exclusive assignments around, it's not in the interest of a developer to be tied exclusively to any one agency.
In programming it's exactly the same. No one works in a software project for decades, and most gigs last 1-2 years until the programmer either moves to management or takes another project.
If you're a talented developer, but with no marketing or other such skills, you join a company. For the sake of argument, let's call it a Software Consultancy. Then the consultancy finds you Gigs (i.e. takes on projects and puts you on them), and you get money.
Companies, in fact, solve another problem that acting doesn't have - namely, actors are hired alone. Software, on the other hand, is much, much more likely to be built by a team. And having a team brings you all sorts of other difficulties that customers can't deal with:
* You need a team that works well together
* You need proper management of the team
* You need proper processes in place for building the software
* In some cases, even access to equipment is an issue
In short, an agent that can represent a single developer is not the right "level of abstraction" for most clients.
The list goes on and on. Software is special, but it isn't that special.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan
If you are a lawyer, architect, accountant, engineer-a professional billing to the client on an hourly basis-an agent doesn't want to work for you. Cf below-the-line Hollywood professionals, like colorists, sound engineers, cinematographers, these guys don't get agents.
"The Hollywood job market doesn't work the way Joel thinks it does. It barely works at all. If you thought Google and Microsoft interview questions were ridiculous, wait until Joel Spolsky has us all dressing up in Catwoman suits just to get a job, after we've established ourselves as stars."
If your interest is acting, there are a great many local and regional venues, likewise there are outlets for athletes (including teaching and coaching), and other creatives.
As with software, there are people who lead pretty fulfilling, if not always hugely financially rewarding, lives without associating with the majors.
Also want to say that as valuable or even more than building referrals through clients you've worked for is building up a network of other dev contractors you've worked with. Much of my work is a job someone else lands and then needs to bring in additional help, or a job they turn down for lack of availability. And likewise, I do the same for others I know.
You don't have an Ari Gold because the economics of software recruitment are different from that of the fictionalized A-list acting crowd. See other comments on the quickly apparent disparities between the two economies.
There's more than enough work available in 2012 if you know your stuff. And you can get it easily as a direct relationship with a company. Just ask. They won't want to give you a full recruiters fee but might be cool with meeting you part of the way on what they save.
Consider other agencies, like professional sports teams, can you put together 12 engineers who can win you the superbowl of engineering (what ever that would be)? Perhaps there is a disruption opportunity here.
Fact is projects like that are pretty rare.
In that case the team is pulled from existing employees, so there isn't an externalized negotiation that goes on, at least not directly.
From the disruption point of view you would need some sort of loose conglomerate which sort of re-defined 'agile' development, a company with a small cadre of full time 'producers' and 'project managers' but not engineers. They might come up with some sort of concept and then hire an 'architect' (the moral equivalent of the director) and then working with that person perhaps the 5 to 15 core engineers. Then a bunch of 'extras' in the form of new engineers who aren't yet 'stars.' Between the architect, the producer, and the product manager roles would be doled out and extras added as needed.
If you really did this like a Hollywood movie there would be a period of 'pre-production' where most of the overall design decisions would be made, the architect person would work with a designer ( the equivalent of a script writer in our analogy) who would layout the pieces and how they would fit together. Then you'd go into 'location' and spend 3 - 6 months of really long days getting the whole thing put together, and dump that over to QA / post production team who would go through and clean up the loose ends. Then blam you ship it, collect revenues and go to work on the next one.
Not surprisingly that is somewhat similar to the 'game studio' model. Games being programs that have a limited lifetime. Game programmers don't float from studio to studio though.
I would agree that your "5 years" is equally as meaningless as anyone else's generic 5 years. On the other hand, I would like to think that a quick look at your GitHub profile could make a huge distinction between you and another programmer.
Also the vast majority of authors are paid less (usually much less) than the average software developer.
What agencies really do these days is "packaging". They put the actors together with a director and with money and producers. They're starting to package software development in related cases as well.
They aren't representing developers yet, but it's not a stretch to believe it may eventually occur to them.
He's a matchmaker that works at the C-level, placing interesting developers in qualified situations. In fact, the client isn't encouraged to pay their invoice for his one-off fee unless they are happy with me.
It's all relationship driven networking, no acronyms or resumes involved. And we both are very happy with how this works.
In closing, I assure you that having an agent is possible, you just have to have a personality to match your coding chops.
Which entirely defeats the point of having an agent
It doesn't change the fact that it makes excellent sense for me to delegate the job of finding suitable clients that are looking for someone with my background.
Now we all have children together.
Looking back at when I was indy, main() is a service I wish had access to then. See also: Had I known then what I know now (through a series of sometimes painful lessons).
Why is this? I've seen it pushed to the level where it's clearly detrimental to the company... It seems irrational.
This entails certain operational risks, key of which is 'key person risk', where the ongoing operation of the business is exposed to the availability of a single person (or small number of people).
This is why CEOs of large companies are such mediocre 'everymen/women/persons' because if the ongoing operation of the organization depends on the availability of the CEO, that is a very large risk to be exposed to.
If you cannot reduce a function in your organization's business process to something that is repeatable and replaceable, then you have an ongoing operational risk.
Small companies value growth, large companies value security, consequently large companies will expend more resources on mitigating risks than expanding the market/revenue/products of their business.
Thus, agents don't have to convince those hiring how well the actor can do his job (well or poorly). They only have to negotiate compensation and scheduling.
With individual software developers, their skill is not easily visible to those hiring. Thus it is much more difficult for an agent. The agent would need to becomes salesman as well as agent.
10-15% means a lot more in one place than the other.
That's why the Ari Golds aren't scrambling to get you (or any other dev) on their rosters.
If you're a freelance developer spending 25% of your time every month seeking new clients (to keep the pipeline full), that's time spent on prospects that may or may not work out.
What if you instead paid an agent commission on work found only (and didn't waste 25% of your time each month)?
Working on projects of any decent size would make this worthwhile I imagine.
Even if the author of this article wrote RMS's bio and knew the man and his work intimately, this embarrassed coughing everyone seems to do whenever Stallman comes up really grates on me. I didn't finish reading past that sentence.
Linus really is known for his work, huh?