Working with recruitment consultants — an engineer’s experience
Here are some insights to working with recruitment consultants.
In the past, whenever I wanted to change jobs, I used to go to LinkedIn, search for a job title and then tinker with the filters until I got reasonably relevant results to what I was looking for. Then I would go through each vacancy, read the description and check if it’s a good fit for me or not. Then I would apply. This is the traditional method of searching for a job, It worked for me multiple times and I’m sure it’s being used by the big majority of people out there, but I feel that it’s no longer easy and effective to do this. I had the opportunity to find my last job with the support of a recruitment consultant and I decided to do some research on how agencies operate in the technology sector. I’m now convinced that the best way to get a job as a senior software engineer is with the help of a professional.
When I apply for a job, I have to go through tens, maybe hundreds of listings to find the companies that I like. It takes hours and hours of scrolling and evaluating. I usually open 100 tabs, each with a job description and I cycle through all the tabs, closing the ones that are not relevant. After this, I end up with less than 10 options. Out of these 10 applications, only 2–3 get back to me, some use email, some call me during working hours and usually, the recruiter needs 15 minutes of my time. Some companies email me back saying they are no longer hiring or that they hired somebody else or some don’t reply at all. Scheduling the first interview takes time, patience and many exchanges between me and recruiters. If you’re like me, you probably have a similar process. But this happens totally backward when working with a consultant. Most of the time, recruiters do the filtering for you, they search for people that are relevant for the companies they represent. They probably open 100 tabs, each with a possible candidate and close the ones that are not relevant. After this, they end up with less than 10 candidates. They usually send an inMail to all of them and out of 10 prospects, they end up with 2–3 potential candidates. One of those candidates can be you.
After I have the interview with the recruiter of a potential company, I want to make sure it’s the right company, not just any company. That takes more research time: analysis of the benefits package, Glassdoor reviews, feedback from connections, company’s mission, values, etc. But when working with consultants, I can write a well-thought paragraph about what I’m looking for and they will tell me if they have such a client or not. Or they ask me if I’m willing to do concessions on some points. The paragraph contains things like expected salary range, roles I’m interested in, technologies I wish to use with or any benefits that I would appreciate such as occasional work from home. Consultants like this and pay extra attention to such candidates because they know they have a serious applicant.
There is one matter that recruiters will hide from you and that is the contracts they have with their clients. I haven’t seen such a contract, but I’ve done my homework about them. Agencies receive a commission of 10,000 euros when they hire a senior candidate. And that’s the minimum. Sometimes they collect a percentage from the candidate’s negotiated wage. This part might work in your favor because the consultant will try to get you a good salary. This acts as an incentive for hiring and being aggressive when it comes to finding candidates, but the most important thing that works towards the candidate’s advantage is the minimum working period. If the candidate leaves the position before this term, the agency will have to pay back to the client whatever insane amount they received. That’s a great concept because, besides the hiring company, consultants also pay attention to the fit of the applicants so that the hired person is not disappointed and decides to search for a new job after 6 months.
Working with consultants comes with a few caveats. Agencies have a few clients they partner with and sometimes it feels like missing out on other opportunities. Besides the small set of clients, agencies also tend to work with startups or small-medium companies that don’t have the resources for a full HR department dedicated to recruiting engineers. So, with these in mind, going with consultants limits the opportunities available.
If you’re looking for a job, I recommend working with consultants: prepare a well-thought paragraph explaining what you are searching for and pay attention to any advice they might have. It will save you time, energy and you’ll end up with a nice offer on the table.