Getting Started: Recruiters

I love helping new developers find their path. As an active member of a few alumni chapters and as a developer with an eclectic background, I’m often asked for advice by recent graduates (or people switching careers) on what they should be doing to get a head start on their career. In the second part of my “Getting Started” series, I’d like to talk about the inevitable part of anyone with a career in tech – recruiters.

There are several types of recruiting companies but they mostly fall into several categories – overseas agencies, national recruiting agencies, and specialized agencies.

Let’s start with the one you will get the most calls from – overseas agencies. Most overseas agencies are based in India and have some generic name like “InfoTech”. If you have uploaded your resume onto any job database expect emails, calls, or LinkedIn messages from them. The calls will show up on your phone as coming from somewhere in the U.S. (Mostly New Jersey, Florida, Texas, sometimes California) but these recruiters are almost always sitting halfway around the world in a call center. These recruiters never, nor will they ever, talk to the person hiring for these positions, thus removing any potential preparations or insights they can give you going into an interview. Overseas agencies tend to work on state government jobs or other jobs that depend on a large public database. These agencies can be great for getting your start if you have no prior experience in your chosen tech, but generally, I would recommend avoiding using these agencies.

Talking to recruitersThe large shops are mostly nationwide and have local offices in every major city filled with a large number of recruiters. They operate on a more manager/client organization and recruiters tend to be younger individuals, managed by an older Account Manager, with little to no technical expertise or background. Additionally, generally the recruiters at these companies spend 1 to 3 years working as a recruiter before going into a more specialized recruiting agency or another sales position. These companies are mostly resume hunters using sites like Monster/Indeed/ZipRecruiter or their local database of resumes and then calling you to see if you’re interested in a position. They usually have no contact with the person actually hiring for the job, but their Account Manager does. Usually, an intro call/email/message will be more of a screening to then pass you up to the Account Manager to give you more specifics about the company and the position. The large shops are great for a first job in the market or if you’re branching out to a new career.

There a ton of smaller, more specialized agencies out there as well. These are usually based in most major cities and their accounts are other local companies in the area. A lot of these agencies rely more on word of mouth to find potential applicants over cold calling people but do generally have a database of people they have worked with or called before. These types of agencies are really good if you have some or a lot of experience and are looking to move into a more specialized or larger company. The recruiters are more seasoned and have usually worked for one or several of the larger shops before. They have a lot of contact with the hiring manager of the positions and usually have great insight into the position and the hiring manager.

Rules to follow:

  1. Make sure you are only submitted once to a position and from only one company. Nothing worse than being disqualified from a position because you were talking to two agencies, got submitted with both and having to watch the glow of the bridges you just burned with the agencies and the company hiring.
  2. Be honest about your salary or rate. Everyone has bottom lines and there is usually some wiggle room for the right candidate. If you have to move to a new area for this position, do some research on living costs and adjust accordingly.
  3. Answer the phone calls from the zip code you want to work in. In the day and age of transferring numbers with cell phones this won’t always be the case, but usually recruiters outside of the zip code you want won’t be the most helpful to get that position
  4. Don’t rely on the recruiters to be your sole source of information. I encourage you to “professionally stalk” the people and company you are interviewing with by going to their LinkedIn profile and seeing their past experience, or their website and reading on what it is the company does and stands for. Even just a plain Google search can yield some great information to give you a leg up. An example of something that I encountered during an interview was that the company is really into community service, so I found a way to bring mine up to show a cultural fit.
  5. The recruiter’s job is to call you and see if you’re interested – so be polite and kindly let them know if you aren’t interested or that isn’t your skillset. Quite a few times I get called for Java jobs, a language I’ve never coded in, when my skill set is in Javascript. Most of these companies keep records of their calls.  No use in being rude and shutting the door.

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