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An issue we've talked about here before that I've experienced myself is that recruiters often don't understand that titles in this industry are often meaningless and don't know enough about the lingo and the languages to competently place someone somewhere where they should be making the money they deserve based on their skillset.

I met with a local recruiter that claimed to be the best at what it did -- working with technical people -- and they couldn't parse my résumé except to say that they didn't see anything that said "senior" and therefore they couldn't help me. Given the fact that the types of jobs they were bragging about placing for was icanhascheezburger and other equally worthless entities, I'm fine with the fact that they don't get it, but experiences like that could be damaging to someone that doesn't understand their worth to begin with and would be willing to settle for less because people paid to help them don't actually understand what they can do.

100% agreed, many are just looking for buzzwords. The best way to avoid being underpaid is to know what you are worth. Some recruiters will be better than others at understanding the market and where an individual's experience/skill/etc place them.

After talking to a new candidate for about 20-30 minutes, if we haven't discussed compensation yet I'll usually throw a guess at them. I've been off by 50% on either side, but usually I'm within 10%. Part of that accuracy is based on my having a specific niche, to the point where I'm quite aware of which employers pay more than others in my market. I'll adjust my guess based on their employer, which is something more generalist recruiters probably couldn't do.

This is where I plug http://www.recruiterspam.com/ , even though it's not my project: the stats are interesting.

I myself am always back and forth on the value of recruiters in general. In the abstract, it seems like a perfectly okay idea for some circumstances. In real life, though, I've only ever talked to one recruiter (out of dozens and dozens of requests to 'connect on linkedin'), and that's because the salary they were offering was so high I figured it might be a joke.

Steve - You are probably in a unique position because of your visibility, at least within the community itself if not to at least some subset of recruiters. Recruiters that read the tech news have probably (hopefully?) seen your name a few times, though I could still imagine you being approached by a freshly minted recruiter for a junior level Rails job in some far off town.

Surprisingly, I too go back and forth on the value of most recruiters. My business model is so much different than pure contingency recruiters that it's not an apple to apples comparison. The industry is plagued by a well-earned bad reputation in some cases, but there are some that are worth the time. If you are ever interested in having a discussion with another recruiter (that probably won't have a job for you, but perhaps some insight), I'm easy to find and I'd be happy to take your call.

I can't tell if that was a joke. You seem smart enough to not try to recruit someone while he is complaining about people trying to recruit him.

Maybe less subtlety in the future? For thick people like me.

When a recruiter offers to talk to you, it's not necessarily a threat that you will be recruited. Some of us are real life human beings, capable of having a conversation without the need to try and push a job or my clients on the other person. I talk to lots of people about their career, give tips, etc. without the thought of possibility of recruiting them. Most of these people are more junior and certainly not as well-known as Steve, but I get requests for career advice often based on my writing.

My business focus is geographic at this point, so unless Steve wanted to move to where my clients are I probably wouldn't have a job for him. My mention of 'probably not have a job for you' could have been clarified as 'I'm quite confident that I won't have any relevant jobs to discuss'. But based on his mention of only having spoken to one recruiter, my offer to discuss his career with him remains open.

The average recruiter is a recent grad with little to no experience and often don't receive much training. Most are giving a list of people are are told to start calling until they find someone who is interested. It's sink or swim and the turnover rate for new recruiters is incredibly high.

Why do staffing agencies take this approach? Most understand to some extent its a numbers game. If you call 100 people, 10 are interested, 5 will be qualified, 3 will be interviewed, and one hired. In many cases its cheaper to hire an army of new recruiters who work mostly on commission than it is to hire experienced recruiters who know what they are doing (and understand that they could just start their own staffing agency). This is not a defense of these practices, just an explanation.

There are however lots of great recruiters out there who do "get it" and can help you make the right career portal. Personal referrals from friends who have had good experiences are usually the best way to find those good recruiters.

Very true. What bothered me about this particular agency is that the owners were older folks who I believe were transitioning from design recruiting to tech because they knew there was more potential there. As such, they had nothing to rely on besides titles.

I just went back to their website and it looks like they are back to working solely with creatives, so a small victory there.

This is 100% correct, and the source of the issue. The size of fees is also an incentive to cheat. I was lucky to be hired into my first job by a manager who did lots of training and had high ethics. There are some good ones out there. Some recruiters need to realize earlier in their careers that their name and reputation in the industry need to be preserved and protected through good practices.

The numbers game can be eliminated by engaged and retained search models, which is how I like doing most business.

Oh god yes.

You want to know the best job in the IT world?

Solution Architect

Enterprise Architect also works. Those two magical words can mean any of the following (I've seen them all):

1.) Network infrastructure design. Varies between handing over a Visio diagram to Cisco sales team vs detailed component level design .

2.) Server hardware guy who decides server/nas/vm requirements for the company. Deals with hardware vendors.

3.) Some combination of 1 and 2, but does 90% vendor management.

4.) Software engineer who does integration.

5.) Another visio guy, but this time highish level application workflow design. No programming. More like technical business analyst.

6.) Like the above, but presales focus and client facing. Gets a commision. Like this: http://bit.ly/YlsaWu

7.) Lead software engineer with 20+ years experience designing $10M+ software for use in critical real time distributed applications. Delegates coding jobs to different teams. Defines APIs. Defines design patterns. Does coding reviews. Understands entire code base. Excellent knowledge of concurrency and parallelisation design considerations.

To put it mildly, there is some ambiguity in the title. But what makes this 'solution architect' so special is recruiters consider it a very senior position that is remunerated accordingly. And here is the kicker that illustrates how poorly some recruiters understand IT roles:

Sometimes its not clear if a solution architect role is a software or hardware job. So long as you've got experience as a solution architect you'll tick the recruiters box and your resume will make the short list.

Think about that for a second. Dont believe me?


So to all IT people out there, I'd suggest if you ever find your job role shifting towards work requiring Visio, try and get a title change to the coveted Solution Architect or Enterprise Architect. It shouldnt be a problem unless you have a very senior person with the same title. Dont demand a pay rise. You'll be well compensated the next time you look for a job.

- Alex, Aspiring Solution Architect

'Solution Architect' is one title that should actually scare more recruiters than it attracts, but that isn't always the case. I would discourage any client from using solution architect, enterprise architect, or anything architect as job titles. The architect title means well, but the implications seem to be mostly negative today.

Alex, that's why I never use Seek to look/advertise jobs for anything tech related.

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