All joking aside, the current state of the recruitment industry is no laughing matter. It is a world lacking any form of entry barrier and as bizarre as something directed by David Lynch himself! HR departments so it seems, were put in place with the sole purpose of fending off hordes of thick skinned recruiter-goblins, whose only purpose is to waste the time of the productive and hard working. Recruiting, a world in which the under-skilled make a living hustling experts against their will and selling them to the highest bidder, ... A strange parallel (sales-)universe where the hero of the day is the one with the most "cold calls" and ever inventing new ways of social hacking in order to get through to prospective applicants. Because in the eye of the recruiter everybody wants a new job, and what they offer you is always better than your current position (even if it pays 30% less). Or at least this is what it seems when judging from the non-matching job opportunities I received over the last year!
Start of 2012 we decided to stop complaining and instead took matters into our own hands. Valbonne Consulting branched from "software & technology consulting" into "technical recruiting". Whether we will make a measurable impact remains to be seen. But at least it is a new direction that we propose in an industry that has gotten used to accept it's shortcomings as "all part of the game". Below some thoughts of what we believe should change.
When it comes to evaluating applicants CV's, or matching the applicants skills to clients requirements, only recruiters who know both -the job AND the applicant- can pass judgment in regard to their technical suitability. You don't have to be "Gandalf the grey" to understand this. But what is the definition of such mighty knowledge that the recruiter should bring? Isn't it sufficient to scan the CV for keywords, and then match them to whatever the client said they wanted? Sometimes maybe! But it would be as wise as asking your plumber or electrician (regardless how capable they are with pipes and cables) for legal or accounting advice. You might as well ask Gollum for the best way to prepare fish - at least the answer you receive would be an honest one!
We firmly believe that before jumping into the magic world of recruiting, any young warlock should first spend a couple of years walking in the sandals of those which they place.
For this reason our account managers are not the traditional (sales-driven, pushy) recruiters that we all love to hate, but seasoned industry veterans with plenty of real-world technical experience under their belt. Obviously turning engineers into capable recruiters is wizardry in itself, ... and probably as challenging as walking into Mordor. In comparison to our competition we despise cold calls. And despite of being funny (which sometimes backfires), we don't always have the smoothest answer as you would get from a slick and slippery recruitment professional who is drilled and bred to sell.
If lack our lack of sales instinct wasn't enough we also choose to ignore the unwritten rules of the industry (the rule that sex sells). We don't rely on sexy recruiters under 25 to fish for CV's on LinkedIn and Xing with a Photoshop'ed profile picture. No sir, because doing so would be hypocritical especially when we preach "equal opportunity employment" to everyone including their mothers.
As a hiring-manager searching for the perfect new member to complement your team, wouldn't you rather trust the filtering of applicants to somebody who knows the job and your industry? Remember that this recruiter will be advertising your business and hence be the first contact and impression a prospective candidate receives from your company. So ensure you agree with their philosophy and test if they really understand your business and requirement. Don't just assume that they understand. Instead interview them as you would interview your applicants! Selecting a recruiter that understands the applicants previous achievements and also comprehends the complex workflows and processes within your organization can save you and your team a lot of time and money.
And as an applicant, ... wouldn't you rather send your CV to a recruiter who understands it as well and as detailed as yourself? And who is also able to ask the right questions?
No matter how good your intentions, ... If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem will look like a nail!
This is also true for technical recruiters: He/She will be like a software developer who knows only one programming language. Ask them for a solution and it will always be written in that one language. So next time when you talk to a technical recruiter and are not sure about their capability ask them a simple question such as whether they can explain a little more on the job, e.g.: "Could you tell me whether the company works using agile software development or are they still working on the waterfall model?" That way you will quickly figure out whether the rest of the info about that particular job you receive is in fact reliable! It will also reduce the risk that you prepare for the wrong interview questions (and then fail the interview). Doing this is even more important when you are a contractor. It is not uncommon that an agency only has half the story (or the wrong story) on a particular project and when you turn up for the first day realize that the job or contract is completely different than what was agreed.
So what does Valbonne Consulting do differently (apart from being the noisy new kid on the block)? We build long-term relationships with experts and technology leaders. We actively and constantly seek out individuals who are over-performing and who love and excel in their work. Such experts can usually not be found on traditional job-sites (most often they already have a job). Finding "the best" requires deep digging, a technical understanding of their work as well as a long-term commitment and interest in their career. Once we found them we never flood them with constant automated job-offers and don't contact them unless we know that we have something worth their while. We want their attention when it matters, and we understand that we should "shut up" and stay out of their way at all other times. We identify changes that could boost their career in accordance to where they wish to go. Our solid technical background allows us to communicate at eye-level with these professionals as well as properly understand our clients requirements.
What we do is not exactly wizardry, and if you look closer it isn't even science! In fact anybody can copy our model, and truth is that we wish that more recruiters would work that way! If you run such a recruiting company (and we know some of you do) please get in touch so we are less lonely.