A Few Things A Recruiter Needs To Know – For A Reason

By: Tanner Bell

I was reading an article in Forbes this morning titled “Ten Things Recruiters ‘Need to Know’ — That Are None Of Their Business,” by Liz Ryan, and I had a few issues with what Liz Ryan had to say.  I know that every situation is unique and every industry is different but I wanted to write a quick message to give her a different point of view.  I work with a Denver based in IT recruiting firm and thought I could give her some insight “from the trenches.”

She was right when she said that it IS easy to become a recruiter and there are a lot of companies that don’t treat their recruiters well or give them training to ensure their success in the long term.  For the record we don’t respect those companies either because the pushy and rude recruiters that she speaks of give the recruiting industry a bad name. Unfortunately, these are the experiences shared the most.  Our company is dedicated to learning about the candidate to find the right fit for them.  We work equally hard to understand our clients’ needs, beyond just the technical skill sets, to be sure we’re doing everything we can to make the proper fit.  I wanted to address a few issues with her list of 10 questions “Unprofessional Recruiters Ask Candidates.”

“What are you earning now?

This may seem “rude or pushy” at face value but perhaps the reasoning behind the question is not fully explained to the candidate.  We deal with many clients that conduct salary reviews and will not pay a candidate more than X% over what they were making in their last position.  Other times it is to help us frame a cost of living difference, whether that be an increase or decrease   We have had candidates moving from Silicon Valley to the Mid-West and cannot understand why the salary is $80k instead of $130k.  We also ask this question to better understand our candidate and their unique needs.  If we unknowingly place a candidate in a position earning significantly less than their previous role, as recruiters, we may be presenting a candidate who is a flight risk for our client, or presenting a candidate with a position that really isn’t a good fit for him or her.

Furthermore, our clients expect us to know the candidates salary history and expectations.  Finally, and this is important: we do not share the specifics with the client unless we are required to and always with the candidate’s permission.  Yes, this is true.  We use the salary discussion to help us present the candidate in the best possible situation to create a win-win with the client.  We don’t tell the client the candidate’s salary history.

“What other companies are you interviewing with?”

First of all, the candidate doesn’t need to answer the question if they don’t feel comfortable doing so, but we ask this question for a couple possible reasons.  We want to be sure we are not presenting opportunities to candidates where they are already interviewing.  By asking about their interview activity, it also helps us understand how far along they are in the process.  If we find out they are having a final interview with a company, we may decide to hold off on submitting them to a client if they are likely to be off the market in a short period of time.  If they have a fair amount of interview activity, it also gives us the chance to let our clients know that timing is important if they are seriously considering the candidate.  And believe it or not, we regularly are able to give some helpful information to the candidate about other companies they are interviewing with.

“Can you send me your list of references right now?”

While the references do not need to be addressed in an initial screening, they should be asked for as soon as the client expresses interest.  Whether we are checking the references or it is done by the client, having them readily available is important.  We do not make reference calls until the proper time, but many hires have disappeared because of the lag in either gathering the references or getting the references to respond.  Additionally, each client has different requirements for reference checks, some want references completed very early in the interview process, others not until the time of an offer.
As in any industry, there are companies that are customer focused and provide superior service and others that don’t.  We find value and satisfaction in the work we do.  It is both client and candidate focused.  Even though recruiters often get a bad rap, and sometimes deservedly so, the reality is that we’ve found jobs for candidates that would have never found these opportunities on their own and they were grateful. It is also rewarding to act as their advocate with our clients so they are more than just another applicant or resume to review.  And we do this, I might add, without a fee to the candidate.  As recruiters, we can’t perform superior service without really understanding our clients or candidates.  As far as I know, you can’t really get to know anyone or understand any situation without asking questions and finding the right position is personal.  Our clients have tasked us to identify and qualify candidates for them, if we don’t do our job comprehensively, we haven’t served either the client or candidate well.  I don’t intend to defend all the questions in the article, but I do want to defend quality recruiters and the reputable work we do.  As the candidate, working with a recruiter isn’t any different than securing any other service or product you need.  You wouldn’t work with a contractor to remodel your home if they did shoddy work; you wouldn’t buy a car from an annoying and insincere salesman.   The same is true with recruiters, don’t work with a recruiter that isn’t providing the quality of service you are looking for.  Quantix is different, check us out.

I would love to know what you think on this topic.  Do you have any questions that did not make the list? How do you feel with these or the other questions on the list? Comment below.

Adios IT Manager, Hello Hands-On Techie!

By: John Hutchins, Quantix Vice President, Client Services

Many IT professionals see their only possible future as moving into management. Once they get there, they quickly learn that management isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The meetings, the politics, the babysitting – it’s enough to make you want to hit yourself over the head with a keyboard! Not to mention the fact that you actually enjoy technology, but now have no time to even think about it. How does one escape IT management and return to the simpler life of being hands-on?

The biggest step to returning to a hands-on role is increasing your credibility. Think about it – if someone came to you and said, “I want to move back into software development,” your first response would likely be, “Great, but we don’t have any COBOL development positions available right now … and haven’t had any COBOL positions for the last 12 years!”

If you’ve been in management for any length of time, technology has probably passed you by. You need to dust off your analytical reasoning abilities and update your technology skills. Community colleges or online training programs may be your answer. They offer a myriad of hands-on technology courses at affordable prices. Better yet, they cater to the nontraditional student.  You don’t need another college degree; you just need to sharpen your skills a bit.


Image Credit: Tonya O’Rourke

After you’ve sharpened your skills by learning a new technology, the next step is to build something using those new skills. There is no better way to increase your credibility than by demonstrating your knowledge through a real-world project. If you’re a software developer, turn your hobby into a functioning website or Web application. In today’s day and age, there are plenty of open source technologies to choose from. It won’t cost you much money and you’ll probably be able to complete the project in your spare time. If you’re on the infrastructure side, build a home network, incorporating some virtualization and storage technologies. You may end up spending more money on hardware than the software developer, but you should still be able to put something impressive together at minimal cost. If you’re unable to come up with a project on your own or you’re altruistic-minded, volunteer your new found technical expertise for the benefit of a charity or nonprofit. They typically have a real need for technology, but lack the funds or expertise to make it happen.

Completing coursework and a hands-on technology project will build credibility and demonstrate your passion for technology. If you have the time and the money, it also may be worthwhile to pursue certifications. Although not required for the transition, certifications greatly improve your chances of being taken seriously and being given a chance to prove yourself.

Finally, there is no better way to destroy all of that credibility you’ve now gained, than by telling a prospective employer, “Yeah, I’m interested in that Ruby developer position, but I need a salary commensurate with what I was making as a manager – how about 120K?” If you’re serious about making the transition, you’ll need to calibrate your value. You’ll need to tighten your belt in the short-term, but if you’re good, it won’t be that long before you make it back to the salary you had as a manager or possibly even surpass it.

Last words of advice – be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. We all have the habit of romanticizing the past. Your memories of being a hands-on techie may not be today’s reality! Before going down that path, make sure it’s truly what you want to do.