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Friday, February 5, 2016

Headhunters, can't live without them, can't get them to stop asking inane questions

I get contacted by head hunters / recruiters / talent hunters at least once a week. A lot of it is blanket emails from LinkedIn but some from local folks I have worked with in the past. I am not looking for a job so this is all cold calls hoping like heck you want to change positions.

Head hunters need to clean up how they perform cold calls. Yes, some time in the past I have done Basic, Delphi, Clipper, C/C++, C# and other languages but I have not really touched them in the past 5 years. It is silly to approach me for a job where the company is looking for a Delphi programmer. I doubt they want to talk to someone who used it for a few months 7 years ago. Keyword searches without also using a timeframe context is a waste of everyones time.

Quotas are stupid. I work remote so I don't drive any place during the day. I can tell a head hunter that I am not looking for a job but they want to take me out for coffee anyway. Why? They can write it off and hit some "talked to a developer quota" they have. Why would I take time off work to do that? When I was looking I did have lunch with a few head hunters so I could give them a better idea of what I was looking for and to get a feel for the current job market.

When I was looking to change jobs I had one head hunter try to send me to interviews to up her count. She did not care about me or the company that was looking to hire. I was told the name of the company and I knew it totally underpaid for the area. They have been advertising for senior level C# developers for same salary for years. Second it was C# which I had not touched in years and I specifically told her I was only interested in mobile work. She was getting mad at me for not wasting my time - it would have been a $35k a year pay cut in a language I was not interested in doing. She said it would give me interview practice. What? Totally waste my time and their time but she got a notch in some ledger for trying. I told her the other company would be mad at her for even sending me over. They probably pull 2 or 3 people out of important work to talk to me. She called me back a few days later to apologize but I will never work with her or the firm she represents ever again.

It may sound cool to get approached by five head hunters in a week. Looking at it logically you can easily see a pattern. There is one job opening and they are all trying to fill it. A business in the area first attempted to fill it using internal HR staff. When that did not work they reached out to a few trusted firms. Once those did not pan out they shot gunned the head hunter pool. Now they all want to fill this position. Do you know why it is open? Because the hiring company has a bad reputation in town. Either they under pay or they have a less than stellar work environment.

I have been called to fill a position I previously had. Listed right on my resume and on LinkedIn. I left for a good reason and don't want to go back. Not that I have burned a bridge, just would not work there again. When they call they give me some generic "local company in the financial industry" and I say "Is it Company X" and they fully admit it is. Tell them I worked there before and I know the person who left leaving this vacancy. They tell me management changed since I left and I inform them yes, it changed for the worse as my buddy who just left filled me in on the current set of issues.

It is pretty easy to get a bad reputation in town as it really is a small developer community which is even smaller when you are dealing with mobile developers. Once you have a bad name you are not going to get primo talent again. I let the head hunters know they are going to need to reach outside the area to find someone.

Which brings us to another point. If you get called about an out of town position guess what happened? They have scared off all the local talent so they are reaching farther out. Since I have been watching this pattern locally I would be really scared to take a job in another area of the country. Company either underpays and you don't understand the local economy to know that or they have a crappy environment. Either way you need to run away from them. If you are a novice developer just looking to get into the business it might not be a bad idea to get some experience under you belt but if you have experience it probably is not a good idea.