5 Things I Learned About Tech Recruiters

Tech recruiters can be annoying
Tech recruiters can be annoying.

Studies show turnover is fairly routine at tech companies, suggesting that recruiters are always working. Over the past year, I’ve taken note of the emails and interactions I’ve had with recruiters. I’m not open to a new position, but I wanted to see if there was a way to crack the recruiting code. Here are my five main takeaways.

Multiple Recruiters, One Job

Ford wasn’t named in their emails, but when a dozen-plus recruiters reached out with that “special opportunity” to work for a “known player in the automotive industry” – which happens to be located in Dearborn, Michigan – I made my assumptions.

That sort of mass-mailing is routine. Open jobs at attractive companies typically draw the attention of recruiters hoping to make a commission or improve their numbers. It’s the job. I get it. I’m not even mad about it.

In my experience, most of the recruiters who swoop in to fill these jobs are from the same agency. Each of them even puts you through the exact same rigamarole after the initial contact (typically, it’s filling out paperwork so they can forward you onto the next person in the process, sometimes at the hiring company).

H1-B under Trump is under fire

Politics Matters

After Trump took office, I began seeing a trend of “W2 ONLY!” in my inbox. That soon morphed into “no H-1B” and “U.S. citizenship required!”

As we’ve pointed out, Trump hasn’t made huge reforms to H-1B. His campaign promises about killing the visa program seem to have been forgotten, at least for the moment.

But recruiters and hiring companies see what might be around the corner, and are taking precautions. In the current H-1B system, applicants with advanced degrees enter a “master’s cap” pool of 20,000 visas; those who are rejected then enter the 65,000-visa “general pool,” which features applicants without advanced degrees. Under the administration’s current proposal, the revamped system will allow all applicants, including those with advanced degrees, to enter the “general pool,” and any who don’t land a visa during that first round can then end up in the “master’s cap” pool.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, recruiters and hiring managers are always paying attention to what’s happening on the broader political scene. That can have a trickle-down impact on companies and job candidates alike.

Recruiters Don’t Research

I don’t want to relocate. I also don’t code beyond Swift and Objective-C. Still, I get offers for jobs in Dearborn, Michigan. Another company wants to hire me as an Android developer. A different company is looking for a mid-career web developer… in Indianapolis.

Had these recruiters bothered to look at my profile, they would have seen that none of the above opportunities were right for me. But that’s not how many operate: quite a few simply cast the widest net possible in an attempt to snag a few good candidates. The tech recruitment process is long and brutal, and there’s a lot of rejection, so more candidates logically means a better chance at filling the job.

You Can Run Away

I recently changed my email, and made sure to update my profile on Dice. Recruiters are still emailing my old address, though. This indicates they cull data periodically rather than perform bespoke searches as jobs pop up. (That being said, the transition is happening: new recruitment emails are coming to my new address, but it’s a slow process.)

The takeaway: you may want to keep a separate email specifically for recruitment purposes. This allows you to keep it tucked away from your main workflow, monitoring as needed. You could also write dedicated email rules, but the recruitment landscape can shift abruptly (i.e., you may not ever catch ‘em all and contain the recruitment emails to a single folder).

You’re A Recruiter, Too!

I’m not an Android or web developer, but if I know a friend who is, I can get a bonus!

Internal recruiting offers incentives to those who drag their friends into this mess. The promise of a few hundred bucks (or more) undoubtedly keeps the name-drops coming at a rapid clip. Some external recruiting firms also rely on referrals.

Such methods can build out an HR specialist’s CRM database, and keep a healthy cadre of potential candidates on-hand. From the recruiter’s perspective, forking over a portion of the commission is a short-term move that may yield long-term returns.

Let It Be

Whether we like it or not, recruitment is a big part of tech. If anything, it shows that the industry is healthy and in constant need of talent.

It also shows that many recruiters are cognizant of their environment. In most of the upfront interactions I’ve had, recruiters were fairly blunt in their needs and assessments of me; at no point did I get the impression they were simply wasting my time.

Caveats exist. We suggest you visit your Dice profile to make sure your information is correct, especially pertaining to your experience level and availability. As with any other networking or job profile, keeping your info current will save you a lot of headaches, even if recruiters take a bit of time to catch up!

7 Responses to “5 Things I Learned About Tech Recruiters”

  1. Moonshine

    Interesting article, and it confirms what I have observed. I’ve been searching for a position in telecommunications (beyond the short term contracting stuff I have been able to get), and I can certainly confirm that a company in Morristown,NJ who I was working with does indeed bring people in from overseas. They were hiring a salaried engineer to do the very same work they hired me to do, only with me, it was a contingency basis. Rather than bringing me on as a salaried employee, they brought somebody in from the Balkans who was quite a bit younger.

      • Harold L Thomas

        You are right, this country has PLENTY of talented people. Any foreign labor to do STEM jobs is because employers want slaves who work for nothing. However, the future will require more and promoting STEM opportunities is critical for the country. Americans can easily support their STEM needs without cheap foreign labor.

  2. And, two years later, the same tired old methods are being used.

    * Multiple recruiters? I cringe whenever I see certain positions appear on job boards from companies that I have no desire to work for (because they have the same job appear every six months) because I know I’m going to get inundated with phone calls about it. Even worse, though, is the contacts from multiple recruiters *from the same agency*. Don’t you folks talk to each other?

    * Nagging candidates about out-of-state roles when the board they pulled your resume from clearly states you’re not interested in those roles. Apparently, the screen-scraping tool they are using to populate their candidate database is unable to parse that bit of information. Or they assume that a candidate might have changed their mind since clicking on that “no relocation” box. Either way, my Inbox would be dramatically less cluttered if they would pay attention to that checkbox.

    * Using outdated resumes to find candidates. I moved six months ago, immediately updated my resume on the job boards to reflect that, and the “local” job descriptions that are sent to me are, obviously, assuming I’m still living at the old address requiring me to repeatedly explain why “it’s only 20 miles” doesn’t mean a darned thing in a major city/suburban area and that, no, I’m not going to be happy moving back to my previous city for a contract role. This process ought to be automated—do it at least monthly if not more frequently. Why would they want to continue using outdated information?

    * As for why a candidate is even *getting* many calls is often a mystery. It’s hard to believe that the old keyword matching selection process hasn’t progressed to do a much better job of finding resumes that are more closely aligned to job description’s requirements. There are the recruiters who send out emails or cold call for positions where you cannot find a single requirement that would have matched something on your resume other than, maybe, that you happen to live in the same state as the job. (I get those. Every. Single, Day.) That it hasn’t tells you a LOT about the sad state of the HR and recruiting profession—if those people aren’t complaining to their vendors I can only come to the conclusion that they *just don’t care*.

  3. no name

    ll it takes to be technical recruiter is a fake VoIP phone number and matching a couple of words on a resume. Most of these assholes have no idea what the words mean but their goal is to get a finder’s fee.

    If a injun recruiter calls I hang up. They are the worse and lie .

  4. Recently, I had an email from a large recruitment site that said my resume was just taken ‘offline’ becuase it had been x-years since my last update, if I wanten to keep it online, I needed to login to my account and push a button to put it back online. So, I logged-in, looked at the resume, decided not to change anything in the resume itself, and pressed the button to keep it available. But that’s not what happened: it was treated as a new resume posting, and all manner of recruiters send me what can only be described as fishing-messages offering me hot opportunities doing work for which I am not even remotely qualified for. In fact, they matched me up with opportunities in previous locations where I traveled to for quick jobs and left upon completion (and I’m not anxious to return to a place where people shoot-up drugs in business doorways while I past to a nearby sandwich shop for lunch). They didn’t read that I no longer drive, I’m not available for relocation, and that I only consider projects within walking distance of my house in Florida unless they supply the transportation (like they have to actually pay for a car and driver to pick me up in the morning, bring me home at night, and take me to lunch daily), but they don’t even give lip service to Uber. That aside, I keep getting matched-up to do senior Java projects, even though I explicitly say in my resume that I am no longer available to work on anything Java-related. The senior part notwithstanding. They are just casting as wide a net as possible, trying to induce me to live in some frozen miserable wasteland part of the country where everything is polluted after years of not maintaining local systems.

    If I sound a bit independant, it’s because I’ve been abused a few too many times, and employers were not interested in hiring me when I graduated fresh.