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I started recruiting for startups around Philadelphia in 1998. For the first couple years anyone who could spell Java would get significant raises to leave big companies in the area for funded startup scene. Signing bonuses were given to most hires, and stock options were valued highly by most hires.

When the crash happened, I started to get calls from developers who wouldn't take my calls a year earlier. Many had a few jobs within a short period of time. I remember placing one guy three times in two years due to closings.

Many recruiters couldn't generate enough revenue and subsequently left the market, which was actually a good thing because the market had become flooded and needed a purging. Salaries came down a bit, but candidates at this point would put very little value on stock options. Options went from being looked at as a large piece of the package to being considered the equivalent of lottery tickets.

To be insulated, I'd encourage you to try to become 'known' in your space. Those with solid reputations and networks were always employed, even if they bounced around a bit.

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