It doesn’t pay to hate recruiters
Why recruiters are bad
I don’t dislike recruiters, and I may be in the minority because most engineers I talk to do. I completely understand why. Many recruiters will…
- Be charming as long as they can “sell you” and instantly ghost you when you are useless to them.
- Send you offers for jobs that are not remotely suitable for you.
- Send mass emails and not even get your name right. There is a recruitment company that keeps sending me emails calling me Matt.
- Will aggressively hustle you into a role if the company is keen on you, even if you are unhappy with the conditions.
- They are terrible at building a relationship; they use you and then forget you (which ironically works against them)
- Send an eager (mass) email with a role you like, and ignore you after you reply.
- They don’t bother giving you feedback after you fail an interview — some even ghost you.
Why recruiters are good
The root of this aversion is that recruitment is much closer to sales than it is to engineering. Salespeople are far more people-oriented and won’t shy from embellishing the truth. In contrast, engineers don’t like wasting time chit-chatting and want to be presented with facts early on. Many engineers don’t understand that this quality of recruiters can also work well to their advantage.
For example, I wouldn’t have transitioned my career from IT support into DevOps roles if it wasn’t because of a recruiter who saw potential in me. At that time, I had little reason to believe I would be good at this job, and even as I transitioned into a sysadmin role, I felt like a fraud. I was wrong; I actually did very well in my new career. Would I have applied to that role myself? Probably not. And even if I did, would I have been able to pitch myself to the company in the same effective way that the recruiter did? Unlikely.
Fun fact: that recruiter who helped me get my big break is now a bit of a celebrity chef — Good job Theo!
This hustling quality of recruiters makes it easy for us to keep getting interviews. In fact, here is the kicker, I have only gotten roles via recruiters. I used to apply directly for positions, but I don’t bother anymore. Recruiters make my life easy because it is their job to hype me up to employers. It also means I can skip daft online forms that ask me to enter all my information even after I upload my CV.
Qualities to look for in a recruiter
Does that mean all recruiters are great? No, I agree with engineers; most recruiters suck. Here are some tips to help you spot the good ones:
- They are trustworthy and transparent. They tell the truth, even when it means you will pass up a role.
- They are upfront early on, salary, type of job, responsibilities, etc.
- They aim to get you the maximum salary and will tell you if you are underpaid in your current role.
- They are good listeners and understand your needs and desires.
- They know the market and the nuances of the roles they are recruiting for.
- They don’t try to hustle you into a role. They give you the facts and then step back for you to make a decision.
- They go out of their way to try and build a relationship and help answer any questions you may have. Even when there isn’t an immediate reason for them to make cash out of you.
- They know you and your capabilities well enough to sell your skills efficiently to their client.
- They give you ample feedback when you fail an interview, something you can use to improve yourself.
- Can see past your insecurities and find your raw potential and skill. This one may be too much to ask, but it’s nice to have :-)
Recruiters like this exist; I’ve dealt with a few myself. They are uncommon, but you will find them.
Recruiters are a powerful resource to help you get roles. It doesn’t work to your advantage to look down on them or think they are all dishonest. Appreciate that you don’t have to be the one hustling and that opportunities are thrown at you to pick from.