Recruiting In 3D

A Recruiters Manifesto to Engineers

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Recruiters are frustrated. Especially those doing technical recruiting in hotbeds like San Francisco, New York and D.C. They can find the talent that they want out there, but they can’t get them to respond. And frankly, I get it. Engineers must feel like slabs of meat in a recruiter-filled nightclub, when it’s well after 2 AM. 

But that’s not you. You’re not that meathead who is just mass-spamming engineers about their “NEXT GREAT OPPORTUNITY! But to them, you might be. It’s hard to stand out and prove your not like all the rest. And I’ve always thought about just being brutally honest with engineers and seeing if we could go back to the good ol’ days when I had a career proposition for someone, and they were happy to hear from me. I suspect if that was ever sent, it might look something like this:

Dear <insert code for pre-populated NAME field here>,

I feel like I need to explain myself, so you can understand me a bit more. I think we’ve gotten away from the core of our   relationship, which is ultimately quite symbiotic, and I want us to fix that. And I think we can get through it without therapy. Just hear me out……

Why I Reach Out

I have to. This is my job.  I know that you’d rather just find me when you’re ready, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. I’m supposed to go out and find the best and most talented engineering minds so that they can join our team and help make us all more successful.  Chances are, if you are getting a message from me, it’s because I’ve researched you and have decided either you are exactly what I’m looking for, or you might be willing to network with me to point me in the right direction. 

I Don’t Code, But I Respect It

I could NEVER do what you do. It’s just not how my brain is wired. And frankly, I’m in awe of what you are able to create with your mind and some code. This is why I always make sure to take care of an engineering team when they helped me out.  I might have the right ideas, but they help bring the idea to life.

But I’m not going to have all the answers to your deep technical questions. I’ll tell you when I haven’t got a clue or I’m in way over my head. But my primary goal here is multi-faceted:

  • I want to assess if you share the mindset of our team.
  • I want to make sure you fit our culture. 
  • I’m assessing your commitment to best practices. 
  • I want to find out what YOU want in your next role. After all, I’ve got the job, but it’s your career. 

Help Me Help You

If there is a best way to communicate with you, let me know. If you are a Twitter-centric person, let’s do that. I’m flexible and can communicate with you on your terms. HipChat? G-Chat? I can work with all of that too. There are days I hate the phone too, trust me. And I want to work with you in the way that you work.

Stop Being Paranoid

Yes, I found your email. How?! Where?! Yeah, I know, you think I’m an intrusive stalker. But really, like you, I’m just doing the best I can at my job, and utilizing the tools available to me. So, yeah sometimes I need to get creative about where to search for contact information. Then again, with all the information the NSA could dig up on someone, what I’m doing is small potatoes.

I Can’t Speak For Everyone

Look, I can’t prevent companies from making bad hires, or thinking they can turn anyone who has ever talked to another human being into a recruiter. I’ll never be able to put a forcefield around you and insulate you from people robotically conversing with you as if they are running off of a checklist. I likely can’t force people to have a conversation like a human. But I promise that I’ll give you the opportunity to tell me everything you want me to know. And I’ll make sure you get the real deal from me. I’ll hold to the deadlines for updatesI give you, even if that update is that there is no update. That’s a pretty good foundation for our relationship, if you ask me. 

So what do you say? Can we start over? I think we still need each other, a little more than we both want to admit.

Let me know and I’ll call you. Or, you know, text you if that’s what you prefer.

Counteroffers – Come Together, Right Now…..

I had been thinking alot about how the job market has been rather competitive as of late, and started thinking about counteroffers, as I began to hear more about them. As I was perusing Twitter the other day, I found a gold nugget that brought me back a few years.  Seriously, what did we do before Twitter? I think we waited overnight for news and trends about our respective industries or something like that.

I happened to stumble on a great blog post from Kristina McDougall (I highly recommend the follow on Twitter), about how we’re starting to see the return of the counteroffers and “tire-kickers” in their full glory, a la the great tech boom of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I suspect that it’s like the infamous killer animals, the Poison Dart Frog and the Box Jellyfish, where people tend to shiver when they hear about these. I digress…..I think Kristina did a great job of walking through the things you should talk to the “tire-kickers” about to vet them out, and do the heavy lifting early on to avoid being window shopped.

And in reality at the end of the day, I think counteroffers will only ebb and flow,  but never disappear. So what’s the fix? The burden of responsibility probably lies with both the recruiter and the candidate. But what can each side do to reduce the chances that a counteroffer will interfere with things?  For starters, both sides need to work together in a relationship-driven, and not a transaction-driven model.  Everyone will feel more engaged. With engagement comes trust.

Here are a few ideas:


  • Be upfront. Talk about the potential pain areas of the role or company, while still accentuating the positive aspects of the organization. Trying to sell everyone sunshine and butterflies only ends up making you look silly, and your candidates know it.
  • Discuss early on the potential that there could be a counteroffer, and discuss this with your candidate. Don’t dance around it. It is an uncomfortable situation, without a doubt. However, it’s not quite as uncomfortable as having to tell a manger or client that the candidate that was hired is suddenly not going to be there for Death By Powerpoint orientation.
  • Don’t badmouth the current company that the candidate works for. It’s cheap and doesn’t make you look any better.


  • Be upfront. Talk to me about why you are really looking. Tell me what you make, and what you want to make going forward.  The more I know about your motivations and what you are looking for, the more I can do in working with managers to get that for you. Skip this, and we’re all just gambling.
  • If you are unhappy now, it’s probably not just about money.  So, more money isn’t going to solve whatever is making want to leave there.
  • Know that if you accept a counteroffer, you are wielding irreparable damage on your relationship with this recruiter. The chances that they will work with you in the future are very slim. If it is a successful and well-networked recruiter, remember that word travels fast.
  • If you accept a counteroffer, know that it is something that will forever be linked with you at your company. Companies rarely give out unexpected sums of money under duress without it being followed by some type of angst.

At the end of the day, if both candidates and recruiters get on the same page with one another from the beginning, we will see fewer  “tire-kickers” and counteroffers accepted.

Feel free to comment on what other things each side can do to reduce the potential for an 11th hour fiasco.

Thanks, But No ^#$%&* Thanks!

When you are a recruiter, you get to see all sides of human nature, and all the accompanying emotions. When people get the job, there is elation. When they don’t dejection. You get to see kindness, competitiveness, nervousness and aloofness. While all these things are great and each have their own place, I feel the need to highlight my favorite….stupidity.

I devote a short bit of time (and catharsis) occasionally here at RI3D to the absurd, amazing and usually unbelievable snippets of things recruiters hear. As comedian Ron White says, “You Can’t Fix Stupid”.

Maybe we should have hired that guy after all?
Some of the things that fall into the YCFS category are the things that people write back after being rejected for a job. Look, I get it…..the job market is tough, and you’ve applied to 200 jobs (of which you are qualified for all of them, I know) and I’m just the next recruiter to stand in your way. But there is a graceful way to reply to a rejection, if you feel so compelled to respond to it. Below are two examples of how NOT to respond. Recruiters get hours of entertainment out of these. I hope you get a laugh or two.

  • “LOL I am more than qualified good luck to u”
  • F$ck offSent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

I’d put each of these in context, but, well this is all they wrote. At least I don’t know which cell phone company the first person uses.

Yes friends, the old saying goes, “you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose”. But, you can pick your choice of words.  Aside from the obvious lack of salutations that most professional e-mails tend to contain (what? I embraced my geekdom long ago) and the “sentences” written in “Textglish”, these are pretty funny. I mean, unless you are the angry person who wrote it.

So, if you need to respond, then do so with a little dignity and tact. And maybe one or two less F-bombs.

But then again, those are funny.

If you look close, you can see the Medulla Expletive

Back from Hiatus – All the Fun of a Vacation without the Vacation

So it’s been a while since I put any new material up here. Since the end of the year, I’ve had my share of things going on which kept me away from contributing here – but not from all sites (more on that below). So let’s see, what have I done since the end of 2010:

  • Potty trained a two year old – when in doubt, offer M&Ms. TRUST ME my wife on this one
  • Started my MBA program, and am about half way through – Kicking ass and taking names with straight A’s. Anyone who knew me in college in the late 90’s knows that A’s for me in Accounting and Economics classes defy all known logic. Coming in 2012/2013 – Yours Truly with an MBA in Human Resources Management.
  • Continuing to build upon the foundation for the recruitment process at my current employer. Adding many needed processes, some of which are tedious. Raise a glass if you’ve ever had to implement a Digital I9. Now chug said glass, because it can be mind-numbing.
  • Remodeled the bathroom – much needed. One day I’ll post a picture of the rug that was our bathroom floor in that room for years. (Nausea sets in)

I’ve been fortunate to be asked to guest blog on a few sites and also had a short stint as a ghost blogger on a site that gained huge popularity in a short time frame. Alas, it is no longer, but it was a GREAT ride while it lasted and it was great to have a forum to talk about the real issues with pure anonymity.

I’ll have a guest spot as a co-blogger coming up soon on a very popular site, and I’m excited about the content. It gave me yet another outlet for my snarky side. (MOI?)  It’s a great piece and I’m excited to see the reaction from the community at large.

One of the best parts of my hiatus was having the chance to participate in the planning for recruitDC, a great networking event for recruiting professionals in the DC area, which I spoke at last year. This year I was a part the planning committee, which was a great opportunity to work with some of the most incredibly talented recruitment minds in the DC area and beyond – but in a more behind-the-scenes fashion. It was a tremendous success, and I’m looking forward to the next event where we can build upon the success. I’ll have a full rundown of that event, but here’s a peek at the slide decks to whet your appetite.

I could add in 100 other points of minutiae here and bore you to death (HEY, wake UP!) but I won’t. Instead, I’m just going to jump back in to the routine and get back to doing what I do, adding my two cents in about the world of work, HR, and Recruiting – with the occasional foray into some non-recruiting topic.  I’ll have some new content coming, including my takes on:

  • Employee Referral Programs
  • The new laws that are making life in recruiting and HR more difficult by the minute
  • Reference checking tips for candidates

Keep an eye out for a badly-needed site redesign which I’ll be working on this summer. It may even be time to pony up for a URL. Maybe.

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You are the Red-Headed Stepchild. Embrace it.

Recruiting is classically the red-headed stepchild of any organization. It’s just a fact of life. You’ve known it, you’ve either embraced it or you’ve spent the better part of your career trying to fight it. But when it boils down, we hear the same things. “Its an operational role”, “They are not a revenue-generating department” “All they do is shuffle paperwork”. Yep, all of these sound familiar to you if you have been in recruiting for any significant period of time.

Is it true? Probably not. Think about it – sure, we are an operational unit, and yes, we probably are responsible for more deforestation than any other team in a company (But we’re all starting to digitize, right?!?). What I cannot get over, and trust me I’ve fought this battle in my head for years, is the “non-revenue generating” claim. Exactly who do you think produces the candidates from thin air who DO generate the revenue? Without a strong recruiting function, there aren’t any “rainmakers”, “sales kings” or any other fancy name you want to derive. We may not hit the P&L as “sales”, but almost all of our jobs involve a level of sales, and showmanship.

What we really need to do (and this includes me, TRUST ME), is to just embrace the fact that there are some perceptions we may just never overcome, no matter how much data and “metric-y” information we provide. What you can do, is to build a trust and rapport with those in your organization who will ultimately recognize the value of a strong recruiting function. By doing this, you’ll be building an army of supporters who can voice to the organization that they just can’t live without you. Having that voice be speaking on your behalf will ultimately get you the seat at the table you so desperately want. That, and solid data to prove what you contribute. Not just time to fill, and applicant source data. Data that speaks to the revenue generating side – cost effectiveness, business savvy with contracts (job boards etc.) How much money did you save by employing your vast set of skills. Sales folks don’t just say “hey I closed 3 deals this month!”. They say “hey I closed 3 deals this month worth $425,000!” You can be an efficient recruiter, but be sure to quantify HOW efficient you’ve been.

If you don’t, the beatings will continue.

Authors Note:
Sadly, I wasn’t sure sure how the phrase “red-headed stepchild” came about, but I got curious and looked. You should too. Looks like we have Charlie Sheen to thank, at least in part.

Thanks Charlie - you've doomed us all.

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