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5 Tips for Working with a Recruiter

Zak Brocchini

  • 12-13-2023
  • Blog articles

Hiring engineering and product resources is challenging and frustrating.  The sector has had virtually full employment since the Great Recession of ’09.  Working with an experienced recruiter is an excellent way to take the pressure off your internal team, and get that position filled!

Over the last 20 plus years I have helped lots of engineering and product teams scale.  I’ve learned that the most effective searches occur when there is a strong partnership between the recruiter and the hiring team.

Here are 5 tips for working with a recruiter to hire for your team:

1:  Establish a Relationship

This sounds obvious, but often managers will write a description and throw it out there to recruiting firms as if they’re posting it to a job board.  Though you may feel like the description says all there is to know, it doesn’t.   When I get to know a hiring manager and have a feel for their personality and the culture of the team and company, I’m better able to represent that to candidates, and determine who will fit into that environment.

When there is a relationship, a hiring manager is more candid about what they are and are not looking for.  The manager will trust the information presented by their recruiter.  Not every candidate is an expert resume writer or LinkedIn profile builder.  Passive candidates are working and don’t have the time to keep all their code samples or portfolios up to date.  If you trust your recruiter, we can point you to great passive candidates that you will be otherwise unaware of.

2: Only Engage One Recruiter

Once you’ve established a relationship, work with that person exclusively.  Many think giving a search out to multiple agencies covers more ground, in fact it covers less.  When 10 recruiters are competing for the same one fee, they will throw whatever candidate they immediately know into the mix and move on.  It’s not worth the time to do more when there’s a 1 in 10 chance of filling a position, and a nine in ten chance of working for free.  This also leads to multiple recruiters calling the same candidates, which makes the hiring company look desperate.  When recruiters know they’re competing with a bunch of firms, they submit any and every candidate because they know if another firm submits them first, they’ll lose the right to represent.  A hiring manager is then left fielding resumes from partially qualified candidates.  If that’s what you seek, I’d suggest posting the job on a job board instead of engaging a recruiter.

With my best clients, I accept a retainer up front which is applied to the full fee upon completion.  When my client has paid a retainer, we both have skin in the game.  I know they’re committed to making a hire, and that search becomes my number one priority.  As I’m confident I’ll fill it, I will assign additional sourcers to work on that position.  Since I have accepted the deposit, my client knows I am committed to them and focused on filling their search.

In any large or strategic purchase, it’s best to work with one qualified subject matter expert.  You wouldn’t hire multiple real estate agents to sell your house.  You establish a relationship with one agent who knows your market and can best represent you.  Approach recruiting the same way and you will have much better results.

3: Give Quality and Timely Feedback

In a typical search, I will usually submit 6 candidates who are interviewed, and 1 will be hired.  I will typically reach out to about 300 people to narrow down to the 6.   Every candidate I submit I believe meets the requirements and is someone the manager will be interested in hiring.  If you’re not interested and don’t tell me why, I will keep sending the wrong candidates.  Keep in mind that I have a team sourcing for me.  The faster and more detailed the feedback (both good and bad), the faster I can reset the search and fill the position for you.

Another real estate analogy: if you need a 4-bedroom home but your broker keeps sending you two-bedroom homes, at some point you’ll tell them to stop sending you those listings and to ONLY send you listings with 4+ bedrooms.

4: Work With Your Recruiter To Set Expectations

If you’re working with a recruiter you trust, ask them about your market.  I speak to about 25 unique people every day, which is roughly 125 a week, or 500 a month.  I gain a lot of market insight…  Searches are typically newly created positions or replacements for someone who recently left.  Ask your recruiter about what’s going on in the market, about where they’d ballpark salary, and how they’d position the search.  I love when clients ask for insight and am happy to provide it.  I want to make the search process easy for my clients, and to fill their positions quickly.

5: The Clock IS Your Competitor

There have been more tech jobs then tech workers for the last 40 years.  When a qualified candidate is presented, you can’t afford to wait.  Assume every candidate you speak to is speaking to someone else.  You don’t have the luxury of dragging out a hiring process for months and having the candidate take multiple days off from work (or book multiple days of video chats) to see if you’ll make an offer.  You have to have a streamlined hiring process.  I’m not suggesting making rash decisions.  Know what qualifications you need, and when you find someone, move quickly.  You want your prospective hire to be as excited as you are.

Think of it in dating terms…  If you asked someone out on a date and they didn’t get back to you with an answer for a month, would you still be excited about that date?

Final Thoughts

Scaling your product and engineering teams can be challenging and frustrating.  When you do work with a recruiter, keep the 5 tips above in mind.  Establishing a relationship with an experienced and well-connected recruiter can streamline your process and make hiring the right resource easier.

If you don’t have a strong process or relationship with a recruiter in place, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 2Bridge Partners:

We’d be happy to help you refine your process and scale your team!

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