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In Defense of Recruiters (42floors.com)
81 points by quadlock on June 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 67 comments

The main difference we've seen is between retained vs. contingency recruiters. Contingency recruiters don't get paid unless they find you a hire, which sounds great in theory but turns it into a lottery for them: spam as many developers and companies as you can, hoping for a big jackpot. It also leads to some of the scummier practices of hiding names and contact information (wouldn't want to lose that commission!), and paying for referrals (after all, if I'm getting $20k for a hire, I can afford to pay out $2k to the person who did the work). They don't really care if you fire the person after 6 months because they'll be on to the next thing (or, even better, they can make another commission off of you!).

Retained recruiters, whether they're contract or full-time, are ones you pay to represent your company. They work off a salary or an hourly rate, like normal employees. They expect to be there in a year or two, so if the hire doesn't work out they'll hear about it. They represent you as a company and don't have any incentive to hide who they're working for or who they're talking to. You can still get clueless recruiters here, but at least the relationship is much better.

The problem in most recruiting, as I've said here before, is that the big fees in contingency recruiting models give recruiters incentives to cheat/lie/etc. Fees of 30 - 50K might get people to do things they wouldn't do for 10 - 20K.

You also need to look at risk. In contingency recruiting, 100% of the risk is on the recruiter. Company pays nothing until a hire is made, so companies can engage all the contingency firms they want and most will be doing free labor - spreading the word about the company, drumming up interest - it's free PR for the company. I could find 10 perfect candidates and spend many hours, but not make a dime if none get hired or if the company changes direction.

In fully retained recruiting, all the risk is on the company. The company will pay money out and may get mixed results. My model tries to split the risk a bit, with small upfront fees and small back-end fees (all flat fee and unrelated to salary).

Negotiating with a couple recruiters to pay them some money up front with additional back-end payout for performance may yield better results for companies that complain about contingency firms. Recruiters will appreciate you reducing their risk, and by removing the risk a company should be able to negotiate a lower fee.

I have almost no problem with internal recruiters, it's the external/contingency recruiters that I hate with a fiery passion. They call during work hours, email constantly, and provide VERY little value in my experience.

As others have mentioned, due to the high payouts to these recruiters they are willing to lie their pants off to get you to accept the job. The last recruiter I worked with tried to hide the name of the company which really irked me. I am not some piece of cattle to be herded between companies and I am perfectly capable of looking up information on a company to determine if I want to work there or not.

I don't need a recruiter throwing buzzwords at me that he/she thinks will convince me to take the job. Every call with the recruiter was more painful than the last and then at one point the recruiters supervisor contacted me and used even more BS/flowery language to try and convince me to apply for the job.

A few months after I got a new job (without a recruiter) I was contacted by another recruiter but noticed before I trashed the email that this wasn't from a company of recruiters. Instead it was a recruiter hired by the company looking for programmers. We talked back and forth on email a little and she was very nice and I felt like there was much less over-hyping (still a little but that's to be expected in that position). Within a few days and about 2-3 emails I had a phone call with the co-founder. I ended up not taking the job due to lack of experience in what they were really looking for but it was a very pleasant experience. Contrast that with 5+ calls (3 during work before I told him not to call 9-5) with the external recruiter, a meeting in person, him harassing my reference, and never once being able to talk to anyone at the company they were trying to hire me for.

Your experience with internal recruiters vs external is not unique, and it's the recruiting model that is at fault. Internal recruiters aren't going to be too salesy - they have a monopoly (not always) on the job requirements at their company, and they aren't being paid commission - whether you take the job or not may impact a bonus or performance review, but it isn't going to get them a car.

The contingency recruiter, particularly one who is independent and not working for a big firm, wants you to take the job because it means a new car.

This is an important thing to understand. Cashiers at grocery stores don't pressure you into buying more items, because what you buy has no discernible impact on them. Car salesmen, or realtors, care quite a bit.

Until companies start changing the way they engage recruiters things won't change. Paying them less, but with some guaranteed up front money, is my answer.

> They call during work hours

Honest question: Should recruiters call during non-work hours when -- presumably -- no one would answer?

Side note: I prefer email, and it is mysterious to me why a significant portion of recruiters simply must insist on a telephone conversation when an email would suffice.

I also would prefer an email as long as it's is not some form letter (which is all I get from external recruiters and is nothing like what I received from the internal recruiter). I'd also like them to take a look at my github, google me, know more about me than "joshstrange.isProgrammer == true".

The internal recruiter talked only over email with me and setup a call with the cofounder in her second email to me. (Note: we traded a few more emails to figure out a time that worked for both of us). I just looked at the first email she sent and it isn't very personalized but it is informal and not a wall of text filled with BS buzzwords.

-------------------------------------- Hi Josh,

I work for [removed]. We're kind of like a [removed] for [removed]. We’re [removed], whether they work in factories, wait tables, or drive firetrucks, with each other and the companies they work for. We recently raised our Series B round and we’re looking for great engineers to help us reach an even bigger audience.

We are passionate about including all employees at the workplace in the conversation. Potentially you could be a great fit for our engineering team here at [removed]. Would you be open to chat either today or tomorrow?

Look forward to connecting with you.

Best, [removed] --------------------------------------

As you can see they didn't mention anything specific to me but I am much more open to responding to than what I get from most recruiters.

I may be an edge case in the phone call department but I always answer my phone if I am awake and not in the middle of something with friends. If I am at home at 8pm messing around online or watching TV I will answer. I find it extremely uncomfortable to talk with a recruiter while at work. It was even worse at my last job where I sat within 5 feet from my boss with no divider between us at all. I feel like I have to speak in code and watch out from saying certain words that might tip off my current employer that I am talking to a recruiter. Now a days if I hear the words "Hi I'm XXX XXX with YYYYY" I hangup if "YYYYY" is a recruiting firm. If you google my name you can find my email address in seconds so there is no reason anyone should have to call me and I refuse to deal with external recruiting companies after multiple bad experiences and overall dislike of their business model.

>Every call with the recruiter was more painful than the last

Why did you continue to work with that recruiter after the first call?

A lot of the comments here are from the employee "I hate being bothered by recruiters" side, which I totally get. But as a (newly promoted) Director of Engineering in SF I'm struggling to make any headway building my team without using contingency recruiters. I'm new to being on the hiring side and my manager is frustrated that my only resource for candidates is to use recruiters (primarily because of the cost). What other things can / should I be doing?

Here are some things I've considered:

- Meetups: Hosting usually gives you a quick pitch to the audience, but there is a real time investment to make a successful meetup that leaves a good impression. I could attend other meetups and try to recruit but I don't want to be "that guy" when everyone else is there to learn

- Craigslist, StackOverflow, LinkedIn, etc... These are all things our recruiters should be covering, but I thought I might get some traction as an engineer trying to hire people. Not much luck so far

- Hiring remotely. This is a little scary but I think that there's a big talent pool outside of the Bay Area that we're not seeing because they don't want to live here. I've read a lot about how to create successful remote teams but I'm wary of building a team that's 95% in-office with one guy in Alabama who's out of the loop.

I'd really love your thoughts or advice on this.

EDIT: Formatting

You need to start considering your company's reputation as an employer of technologists. If there is no reputation, you need to start building it. Perhaps sponsoring a meetup for a few hundred dollars is a good investment, as it shows your company supports the community. Perhaps one of your engineers could speak at a meetup, to show off some of your talent or give a sniff of your interesting products and projects.

Once you've built a bit of a hiring brand, you'll start to see incoming traffic coming in organically instead of having to go and do outreach all the time.

I've not been to tons of meetups, but. Ime, half-way through there's five or so minutes for a few people to pitch their company. They keep it short, and stick around after to talk to anyone who is actually interested. To me, it feels more like supporting programmers rather than hunting them. I may be naive ;). But especially for me as a relatively new programmer, without a huge professional network, I appreciate it.

The number one source of candidates should be your own social network, and the number two source is the social network of other engineers at your company. Having an employee referral program is nice, but nothing beats just asking your best engineers directly who they've worked with that you should be working together on recruiting.

One of my problems there is that we have a large number of foreign people (myself included) who've only been in the city for a few years. For a number of them this is their first job. Accordingly, the social networks are small. I'll try to work on that, though.

Thanks for your feedback

I've built iOS and android dev teams at way below market costs by doing one thing. Going to meetups and community events, showing intense passion for building great products and being a strong pitchman for working on my team.

Most people want to work on exciting projects with energetic and curious people. It's infectious.

I can't imagine anyone not liking your short pitch at a relevant meetup. The ability to chat with you afterwards, on a level playing field is a huge boon to making a good connection. It does take time though.

If you care about maximizing your take home pay, you will not use a recruiter.

Regardless of what they tell you, their fee will factor into your salary negotiations and give you less leverage to the upside.

While the potential employer won't tell you the recruiters fee, behind closed doors the conversation goes "Well, he wants 125K and the recruiter has a 10% fee on top of that, so..."

You're automatically a more expensive employee if you go through a recruiter and that's a bad thing. If you're half-way good at what you do, reach out to the company you like directly.

I'm a recruiter, and I often see the opposite effect. There are quite a few candidates that are underpaid and don't realize it until they start talking to a recruiter. If they'd gone directly to the company they may have received that 30% bump to bring them to market rate, but perhaps not. One benefit a recruiter provides to job seekers is the info on the market - of course this only applies to recruiters that know the market.

I'd think fee only figures into the salary conversation when fees are exorbitant (which they can be), otherwise it's a cost of doing business for some companies. Once a startup taps out their friends and family plan, they often reach out to me for some hires, and those usually lead to some referrals from those new hires and the company can subsist off friends/family of the new hires for a little longer.

This is part of the reason I charge lower and fixed (fees paid in advance, well below market rate, and fixed meaning not tied to salary) fees than my competitors, as it takes this argument off the table from both sides. It doesn't prohibit a company from making a hire because the 'tax' on the hire isn't high enough to be prohibitive, and candidates know that the 'tax' on their hire is also relatively low and prepaid. Under this model, any hire is judged based on compensation to value, and not based on a high 'tax'/fee.

I feel like I have a disincentive to share salary info with recruiters - they'll just give that to the company for whom they are soliciting me. I know that's less true in the agency model you've talked about before. What's your advice on when it is and isn't appropriate to discuss current salary and salary expectations with a recruiter?

Edit: a specific scenario from earlier this year. I was cold-contacted on LinkedIn, the job sounded interesting, so I talked with the recruiter, ended up applying, interviewing, and declined an offer. I told them the range I wanted, they asked what I was making. I dodged the question, so they asked if it was more-or-less X, and I confirmed. Turns out that when they talked to the company, they said I had wanted about 10k less than I had actually said I wanted. The number they said I wanted was a 10% bump on my current salary, and it seemed to me that they were trying to find out the lowest number they could give that would still be a 10% raise. It seemed pretty scummy to me, and I'm not going to work with him again.

It's actually true that an agency recruiter will likely share your salary info with the company - in fact, the company may require the recruiter to provide at least some context (current salary, expectations, or both) when submitting a candidate.

There is a ton of 'fear' or at least awareness about being at some disadvantage if a company knows your current salary. I personally think the only number that matters is your salary expectations.

If you are truly underpaid and you are aware of this, then your expectations might seem a bit high relative to where you are now, but not high if you consider the market. As an example, when candidates move to the US from foreign countries, they can see themselves earning double or even ten times what they made at home. If you make $10K US in India and tell the recruiter that, and the recruiter shares that info with the hiring company, do you really think the company is using that number as some baseline? Of course not. Expectation is the key number here.

If you are overpaid for a certain market (which can be dangerous from a career mobility perspective) and aware of it, usually due to some externality, your current salary makes little difference. When someone changes geographic markets, such as moving into or out of SF, their current compensation is basically thrown out the window. Should you have fear telling a recruiter that you were making 100K in Philadelphia when you are moving to SF? Your market value in SF may be closer to 150K, so current salary means little.

If you know your market value - and a good recruiter who knows a specific market should be able to price you out - discussing current salary doesn't matter much. When I'm working with underpaid candidates, I'll always mention to my client company that my candidate is underpaid and we expect that will be remedied during this job search.

On the flip side, what if you're terrible at negotiating? For those people, even s theoretically reduced salary may be higher than what they'd get for themselves.

In my experience I have gotten better salaries when I went through a recruiter. I am a terrible negotiator and they have greater knowledge about going rates for my skills and what the employer is willing to pay.

Most recruiters don't care about the number; they only care that you signed the dotted line. Their downside is much, much bigger than their downside.

This is partially true, although you have to keep in mind that agency recruiters never have the incentive to minimize your compensation. They do have an incentive to get you more money, and their biggest incentive is for any offer (high or low) to be accepted - but their incentive is never to get you a lower salary.

It isn't that simple. Like real estate agents, they only get paid for a placement. Numbers wise, they are motivated to place you any way they can. They don't have much more to gain from getting you another $10K. They risk not placing you if you are too expensive.

I don't have anything against recruiters but one should be realistic as to how things actually work.

They do get paid for a placement - this is true - but there is certainly motivation in getting someone another 10K. For someone like me that owns their own small company, an extra 10K for my candidate could mean $2,500 in my pocket.

I'll always advise candidates on the risk of asking too much or the potential for an offer to be retracted if we don't negotiate in good faith and reasonability, but it isn't accurate to think that the incentive to raise a candidate's salary isn't there for many recruiters. For your example of 10K that may result in $2,500 to the recruiter, that isn't an insignificant amount. That's a mortgage payment for some.

I do agree that the risk of someone being too expensive is real, but the recruiter doesn't decide on what is too expensive - that is a decision made by the market and participants in the market.

Nothing wrong with recruiters, but never make the mistake of thinking they are your friend no matter how 'nice' they appear. They follow the money. It's their job to do that.

I can remember being on contract and wrangling a bottle of Whiskey out of the agent. I had to go into the car park and collect it quietly there as he didn't want the other people he was managing on site to get wind he'd given me it. Funny in an odd way.

Remember that an agent is just following the money. A lot are on basic + bonuses. One reason I used to keep the company and address of my current role off my CV is that their focus is so much on locating new roles.

Of note if you hate an ex-boss, just casually mention that you worked for X :D

Agreed, most people follow the money. To me it's just a matter of understanding that their interests are not necessarily aligned with yours. Recruiters want to fill the position quickly. Those smart enough to want your repeat business will want to make sure you're happy with the hire, but their interest isn't an ideal candidate who excels in the job. That's not their concern, and I don't blame them. We just have to set ground rules.

For an employer, that means making sure they're not coaching candidates too much. I once learned a recruiter had coached a candidate so much that their resume was highlighting skills that were actually very weak. They even noted words we'd used a lot in explaining the position, and coached the candidate to use these words in stories. No one outright lied, as far as I could tell, but the recruiter was going a little too far in forcing the fit.

Potential employees need to watch out, too, because the recruiter doesn't really care if you're going to be happy or fulfilled in the position. I've also used recruiters to find jobs, and they helped me find a really great position once early in my career. The recruiter kept trying to get me in to interview for positions I didn't want. He'd say, "just check it out and see." Sorry, no. Make it clear you're not going to waste your time if it doesn't move you in the direction you want or offer the pay you demand.

Recruiters are often maligned on HN because of Linkedin spammers, but I think that's a minority of bad recruiters making more noise than everyone else. My view is that they can be a useful channel as long as you do your homework and know what the recruiter is doing.

Usually the 20K payout is staged and contingent on the employee working through a target date, say 1 year.

This has made me want to call them up at 50 weeks and ask for that bottle of whiskey or brown paper bag of cash, otherwise I walk. Oddly enough, I've had plenty of recruiters that placed me call me up on that 53rd week and try to place me somewhere else.

Too bad the employees are not getting in on this racket?

In the US the guarantee period is usually much less, and fees are paid relatively quickly. 90 day guarantee (sometimes prorated) and 90 day net is pretty normal, and you might even see 30 day net.

I don't get all the recruiter hate. You're the pretty girl/handsome guy at the dance, for now. The unsolicited attention will fade with age. Enjoy it while it lasts.

I'm sure this isn't universal (though I don't think I'm the only one), but my experience with recruiters has been a series of cold emails for jobs that aren't even close to my areas of expertise in areas nowhere near where I'm located. They usually incorporate some form of "if this isn't a good opportunity for you, can you please forward it to someone else" with no attempt to actually get to know me or what I'm looking for. That type of stuff is borderline spam, regardless of market demand.

The forward it to someone else is probably what comes off as most offensive if you haven't developed any rapport with the recruiter. I get tons of referrals now from past candidates, but I almost never ask for referrals. I'd rather be the one not asking for them, which differentiates me from most other firms out there.

If they didn't ask you to forward, would you freely respond with what you in fact are looking for, or would the recruiter specifically have to ask that? I usually phrase my intros by saying if the opportunity I presented isn't something you are interested in, I'd like to learn about what types of things would interest you so I can let you know about only those opportunities if they happen to come across my desk. Response varies, even with that added line.

When I get a cold email, especially if the email doesn't show any particular knowledge about who I am or what I do, I almost always want to know how the person emailing me came across my email and decided to email me. It's fine if I get an email about an opportunity isn't a fit for me, but I would like to know who or what gave the impression that it was so I can correct it.

The forward request is a little grating, but I used to reply to recruiters asking how they came across me, regardless of whether they included that line. Virtually none of them replied back. Lately, I've just been junking any recruiter email without replying back if it's clear they don't know anything, or they know the bare minimum, about me.

If a recruiter emailed me, opened the email up with an explanation of how they came across me and why they thought I'd be interested, I'd be much more inclined to respond with more information about what I'm looking for even if the offer in their initial email is not even close or if they asked me to forward the email to someone else.

This is good to hear. I usually provide some context, like if you have experience with a certain framework or in a specific niche perhaps - whatever caught my eye. Sounds like that info is useful in cases where it was a false positive. Thanks for the insight, and glad it validates my thought process.

Well it's "attention" I guess, but is it the right kind?

A better analogy might the pretty girl walking home from high school, of the rather hick-ish / paleosuburban sort -- when the older dropout pulls up in his muscle car and asks "Hey babe, wanna party?"

I get about the same feeling when talking to recruiters, most of the time.

People call you to offer you a well paying job. You probably get these once a week or 2. Most people (as in humans) would kill for that attention. But us developers complain that each well paying opportunity isn't the exact one that we're looking for.

I get your point, but... they're offering a 'well paying job' to someone who already has a 'well paying job'. And they know it.

Go in to a McDonald's and start asking the staff if they want to come work at Taco Bell or Burger King. Interrupt them at home during their time off a few times. "Hey, come work for another company doing essentially the same stuff for essentially the same money - maybe 3% more!" I doubt you'll get many takers.

They offer what they imagine (based on keyword filtering, idle speculation, nose scratching, drooling, and other advanced heuristics) maybe-might-sorta be a lukewarm mutual fit between two parties who most likely wouldn't be talking to each other.

Which they then package with over-the-top smarminess and intellectual dishonesty. And for this, they add a 30-40 percent premium to your acquisition cost for any potential employer (and concomittant disincentive to hire you, or respectively, increased incentive to relentlessly grill you, check you over for ticks and fleas, etc to make sure you're worth the overhead, if they do choose to bite).

They aren't offering me a job. It's a complete mismatch with my skill set, and the company would flush me in 5 seconds if I actually tried to get the job.

The problem is when the unsolicited attention becomes a distraction. When you have engineers that can have their work process interrupted by something as trivial as workplace banter, an overzealous recruiter that calls incessantly, spams your email with job listings (for "anyone you might know looking for a new opportunity"), and in general doesn't know when to stop is something most developers would rather do without.

I've worked with a few good recruiters, but even over a 5-month job search and talking to every major recruiting firm in town, I got zero actual job offers (and only one real promising lead that fizzled out on the company's side). There's a LOT of inefficiency in the system.

These tactics are driven by recruiting managers running a bullpen and stressing it's a numbers game. They'd encourage you to make 200 calls a day until someone bites. I'd rather make 20 targeted approaches (via email almost exclusively these days) than interrupt people that are working by phone unnecessarily.

Contingency recruiting and the incentives inherent in that model, again, is at the heart of the problem.

There's a world of difference between being approached by recruiters who have been retained to find talented people, and being hounded by recruiters who are trying to place their allotted candidates where ever they can.

Recruiters who suck mostly suck because that's what their customers want.

When you get a call from some shady recruiter asking you about a 6 month contract in Omaha, you're getting that call because a company or government agency decided to start doing strategic sourcing and procure people the same way they buy any other commodity.

So two things explain the poor quality -- they are literally squeezing every penny out of the process and are hiring idiots

The other thing is that they don't want to find candidates. They want to have low rates of success -- they're just engaging in a recruitment process to justify hiring workers on guest visas who can be more effectively exploited. If you look in an industry "trade rag", you'll usually find a page with some hard to read, small print job postings -- those are "compliance" advertisements purchased for the same purpose.

I was recently talking to two startups through their internal recruiters. The two companies had similar positions available and were of a similar size, but their recruiters were night and day. One of them frequently forgot to get back to me, was unresponsive, gave unclear instructions, and generally slowed down the process. The other was extremely attentive, always moving the process as quickly as possible and accommodating my requests. It was dramatic enough that, even though the company with the slow recruiter had a ~3 week head start, I had to stall with the better recruiter to get an interview with both companies.

Even in situations where the employee profile is similar, recruiter quality can vary widely.

The reason full-time internal recruiters tend to operate very differently to external recruiters is primarily because the incentive is entirely different.

Full-time internal recruiters are rarely financially incentivised per hire or to hit targets. If they are, I'd strongly argue that the company employing them is utilising the recruiter incorrectly.

External recruiters live and die by their targets and their commission. Money is a terrible incentive (possibly the worst) for encouraging recruiters to actually help their candidates or clients.

Just like the best engineers/designers/etc, the best recruiters are those that go above and beyond simply to help their company succeed. When you use an external recruiter, that company is an agency.

You know, I was just called by a recruiter from a great company about a great job. I talked to him for a bit, the job sounded great, the commute sounded great, etc. I asked him if I needed to do anything and he said "no, I'll put you against the job req internally, you don't even have to go on-line".

"When should I hear anything?"

"I have a meeting with the hiring manager in 2 days, I'll call you back right after."

A week passes. I call him back, it's 2pm on Tuesday.

<clearly waking up> "oh yes. Well this job is about..." <repeats the original pitch>

"okay, so I know this, and last time we talked you said you had a meeting with the hiring manager and would get back to me, a week ago."

"so...I'm not at my computer, but I have some feedback on my computer, I'll call you back this afternoon?"

"Well was it good or bad feedback?"

"I...I...have it on my computer. Can I call you back this afternoon?"


No call, nothing. It's 3 days later now. At this point I've hit so many red flags I'm not even interested in checking them out anymore. But it is a great company. One of those Top-20 best places to work kind of places. I called a friend of mine who works there and they checked with the hiring manager, but got a non-reply. I'm apparently being put against the position, so that much is true.

It's not the first time I've dealt with this kind of shenanigans. My favorite is the "why do you want to work here?" question which pops up somewhere in the process. And I respond with "I don't you asked me to come, why do you want me to work here?"

Recruiters really are a waste of time and if I had spent more than 20 minutes on the phone with this guy I would feel kind of burned right now. But instead I've just added it to the pile of bizarre recruiter interactions I've had over the years.

On the flip-side, a company my wife used to work for had great success with a professional retained recruiting agency. It took a few months to finally nail down what they were looking for in a candidate, but before long they had a steady stream of qualified resumes coming in. So there's that.

A recruiter setup an interview for me about an hour or so south of where I live. He talked up how great of a person the C is. I show up early and wait for the recruiter. He showed 10 minutes AFTER the interview was suppose to start and only then actually met the C person.

I started talking to the interviewer and found out that one of the main things on his list for a candidate was to be local. Within 5 minutes we both knew this wasn't going anywhere and wrapped it up.

A long time ago, I showed up in a company for interview after the recruiter told me so. The contact person didn't even know I suppose to be there.

After that, I refuse to go to any on site interview unless I talked to the hiring manager on phone for 10-20 minutes.

If the "lead" is from recruiter to my email inbox, I ask for job descriptions, salary range via email. 98% of "jobs" are rejected base on those info. Good for salary range - No need to "chat" with any headhunter, period!

Is it not possible to do some sort of "phased" payment to recruiters? So instead of giving 10% of the employees salary if actually employed (or employed for at least 3 months or other variations), how about giving increased percentages depending on actual time employed. So maybe 1% of salary if employed, then 5% is the employee stays for more than 3 months, then 1% every 3 months thereafter until it reaches 10-15% or some other amount.

I would imagine that this would encourage recruiters to not do a shotgun approach (i.e. do any employee you can) as only the actually good employees will be profitable, and the others will probably end up costing the recruiter more than the first 5% he could get.

Of course I have no experience doing this and all figures are made up, but are there any obvious reasons of why this would not work? Maybe in the end the final percentage is higher than the typical market rate for recruiters (i.e. >10% maybe) but extended over a longer period so the recruiter would have to actually cherry-pick the candidates.

This sounds a bit like contract to hire, but it's an interesting idea. It's the counterpoint to how recruiters debate the issue of guarantees.

Companies want long guarantee periods, meaning if they use a recruiter and pay 25% of salary, they want a refund if the candidate leaves quickly. Most guarantees I see are 90 days.

When a company wants asks for a six month or one year guarantee, recruiters may use the rebuttal "Well if my candidate stays for 20 years, are you going to pay me a 50% fee instead of 25%?"

It's an interesting concept to reward recruiters who provide candidates that stay for a long time. I've never seen any data to suggest that new hires that come from agencies have any longer or shorter tenures than those found through other means, so I'm not sure how a phased payment system would really help change much (other than recruiters having a vested interest in their hires staying at a job for as long as possible, which is the object of contract recruiting).

having a vested interest in their hires staying at a job for as long as possible

Exactly what I was thinking, but of course as I'm not experienced with this I thought there could be some glaring issues with it.

I would love to see some data (even if anecdotal) from someone that tried something similar. Imagine that you can even treat some of your older, most successful employees as "passive income"; as a recruiter you made a really really good effort locating, training and making the best fit for someone, and then that someone is netting you, say, 1% of their salary every 6 months or something, for the next 5 years (haven't worked through the numbers so that might not even make sense), but replace 1% and 5 years with X and Y.

In general terms, I would like to have a recruiter in more "closer" terms. So maybe this recruiter got me a job at company A, then 3 or 4 years from now, since they really did their job and know me well, they can put me in a much better job, for say the next 3 or 4 years again, and so forth. That would mean both he and I could have continued income due to the effort we both made. He made his effort picking a really good candidate and so did I, doing my job.

Kind of like an investor. Successful traders are usually the ones that make their due diligence and thus are rewarded with the most handsome payouts. Isn't that what a recruiter should do? invest in a particular candidate and find the best place where his "investment" can payback handsomely?

You're looking for an agent essentially who will be getting a portion of your earnings, though you won't be truly paying for the service the agent provided (the company will). I've written about this twice (1,2), inspired by a piece here on HN, as a potential solution for the problems in contingency recruiting, but with fees being paid by candidates. That is the key differentiator to that agent model - the job seeker, not the company, foots the bill.

Would you pay say 2-5% of your annual salary to a recruiter/agent every year? Even in years that you aren't actively looking for a job?

These are interesting questions if you think the recruiter can find you good jobs that you might not find on your own, can provide solid career advice, and negotiate salaries that are higher than what you might receive otherwise. If I can negotiate a 5% higher salary than you every time, paying me 2% every year is a pretty easy decision. Most technologists probably trust that they are as good at (or even better) negotiators than most recruiters, and in many cases they may be correct.

(1) http://jobtipsforgeeks.com/2012/09/17/disrupt/ (2) http://jobtipsforgeeks.com/2012/09/26/disruptii/

Awesome! thanks for sharing. I'll be sure to read those articles.

Great to see I'm not alone with this crazy idea. When writing the previous comment I actually started thinking if I would pay someone to actively look for the best job I can get at any given moment, and that I would probably pay for that happily. Of course, you make a serious point about considering that same payment after X years in a stable job (e.g. I've been with Google for the past 3 years... I'm not planning on changing jobs.. why should I pay this guy every year?) very interesting things to ponder over.

Again, thanks for sharing!

In Australia, it is not uncommon that the employee has to stay with the company for 3 months, for a reward to be given to the recruiter.

If you haven't read Elaine Wherry's post "The Recruiter Honeypot," you haven't read the best one about recruiters. Check it out here: http://www.ewherry.com/2012/06/the-recruiter-honeypot/

A lot has been written about recruiter incentives in these comments, but the market is still clearing even with extremely high fees. The reason bad recruiters can still get paid really well is because there's zero transparency and therefore almost no accountability. I think most of the problems with recruiters could be solved just by addressing this issue.

When you're looking for a good restaurant you can go on Yelp to find one, and you can tell from the reviews what to expect. The same goes if you have a bad restaurant experience -- you can write a review on Yelp and warn others about the crappy food / service / etc. Nothing really exists like this in the recruiting space, despite people really loving to write about how much recruiters suck. And a lot of them do, but what real accountability is there? If a recruiter gets in touch about a job, how do I know he's not super shady? If I'm an employer and need to hire rapidly, how can I find good recruiters other than word of mouth? There should be a Yelp for recruiters. If you're slimy, the world should know about it, and you should have a hard time finding new business and new candidates. If you're a great recruiter who's adding real value, that should be obvious, too, so that others will want to work with you.

Some friends and I have been working on making this a reality. Check it out. Leave a review of your worst recruiting experience (worst one we'll feature on the main page). Or your best one. Or both. And if you're interested in helping us with this project, get in touch. www.hiredex.com

Hired is basically a team of recruiters (well, at least there are a good 10 of us coming from various flavors of recruiting) and even we have a need for external recruiters and internal interview coordinator.

The external recruiters we use are in markets we don't know a lot about (like Marketing - which we are hiring for big time right now). The internal coordinator helps keep onsites organized and managing the huge amount of interview flow through the organization so that key stakeholders still have some time to do their jobs.

The low-end contingency recruiting agencies have given the whole profession in San Francisco a bad name, when in reality there are great people (like Oliver, from the post) who do great work and are incredibly valuable to a fast growing organization.

My experience of recruiters is mostly good. I spend almost no time saying no to offers that I don't like. For offers that might be good, I have a better negotiating position than if I applied for the job - I still have my current job, so they have to make a really good offer, otherwise I won't switch.

I am mostly contacted on LinkedIn, and I think, on balance, that it works well there. I've written about it here: http://henrikwarne.com/2013/08/21/linkedin-good-or-bad/

So how does someone who is a recruitee get connected with a DECENT recruiter?

All I seem to get are the body shop type places contacting me (aka Robert Half, TEKSystems). I've told them that I would be interested if and only if it would mean a step up, go on to explain my current levels of pay,vacation, sick, bonus, etc, and say if the opportunity isn't better than that, then we have nothing to talk about.

Of course they start trying to hard sell me, and it turns out these places have zero benefits.

I'd entertain discussion with someone looking for my skills that would be willing to pay for them.

I wrote an article a while back on how to find a decent recruiter (http://jobtipsforgeeks.com/2013/08/09/pretty/). You really can't control who contacts you, so to find a good one you'll likely have to do some outreach.

In my eyes the main thing is experience. Young recruiters who haven't made any money yet get tied up in trying to recruit everyone and they don't discriminate. They waste everybody's time - the candidate, the client, and their own. Wave 5K or 10K in front of someone a year out of school and they go bonkers - wave that same amount in front of someone who has been in business for a while, and they know how valuable their time really is.

The recruiters that are trying to squeeze round pegs into square holes haven't figured out the time management side of things yet. If they figure it out at some point, they could have a long career. If they don't figure it out in a couple years, they have to leave the industry (or bounce around between companies until they are unemployable).

Career longevity could mean that the recruiter is the best at sales and skilled at convincing candidates to take any job. But doing that isn't sustainable over years and years - your reputation will eventually catch up to you.

Find someone who has been in the business for a while with a steady work history and experience in your industry. They will be thrilled to hear from you.

If you know any hiring managers, they will probably be happy to connect you with the recruiters they work with that they think are the most effective. It's possible that very effective from an employer standpoint isn't the same as very effective for an employee, but I bet it is - things like "actually responding to emails with emails instead of calling your cell phone" are probably appreciated on either side of the bargaining table.

I hate the ones that require you to give an in person interview with them before they'll suggest you for an in person interview with a company. Can someone explain the reason they do this?

I've never done that, but one reason is for them to be able to coach you. If you show up to meet them dressed poorly or making a bad overall impression, they will either coach you or simply cut you loose and say they couldn't get you in for the interview.

It also helps build a relationship. At some point that recruiter might 'ask' you to take a job with his/her client. Saying no to someone you haven't met is easier than saying no to someone you have spent time with.

Recruiters are constantly doing little sales 'closes' during the process, building towards that big close of you accepting a job offer. It's all part of a sales process, no different than any other sales position.

Edit: changed "the reason" to "one reason"

My big problem with IT recruiters at the moments is the constant calls. Come on guys, send me a damn email. I am at a work, not I don't have time to talk to you now. Put your stupid questions, which are the same questions every time, in an email, and I will copy and paste from the last time someone did it.

What would be great is finding out how much exactly recruiters and referral services charge. For instance, how much can Hired.com charge per referral to afford to give several thousand back to the employee.

Hired charge pretty much the same percentage rate that most agencies charge.

>What would be great is finding out how much exactly recruiters and referral services charge.

The answer is anywhere between 12% and 35% of the candidates annual salary.

Engineer at Hired here -- so the answer is 15% of the first year salary with a 100% money back gaurentee or 1% per month for 24 months.

Like the talent you're trying to hire, recruiters span the spectrum from horrible to not-so-horrible... with the occasional gem. Now if only there were recruiters to help find good recruiters.


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