You’re now job hunting! What you need to know about recruiters, and how to benefit from them!

Perhaps a Congratulations is in order?

If you’re a recent graduate, as I am, then you’re just about to head out into the big bad world of the labor force! It’s really not so bad, and if you’re in the tech field, you’re in luck! There’s a ton of positions that need to be filled, and hardly enough of us to fill them! So, make the most of it! Chances are, there will be less entry level positions, but I’ve been introduced to so many, that that doesn’t appear to be the case! So, learn how to hustle, otherwise you’ll have to settle for less! 😉 If you’re more senior, hopefully my great insight into human behavior will be of some use to you. If not, then I apologize ahead of time and wish you the best!

Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, what are these recruiters?

I’ve heard them called many names (e.g., recruiters, head hunters, relationship managers, etc) and all of them seem to be indicative of some part of their roles. They could be called all of these, because all of these are true. They recruit people, they hunt various locations for potential recruits–which have heads–, and they manage relationships.

These are all basic things derived from their names. I think the best thing to notice, is their language. They use the term opportunity, when referring to an available position. At first glance, it appears to be a lavish way of saying a potential job, but I think it speaks more of the profession than anything else. They are, very much so, opportunists. That being said, they are great to have by your side, though pretty dangerous at the same time. So, tread carefully.

Of course, not all of them will be fully focused on the opportunities, they will also be focused on managing a relationship. These, more often than not, are the ones you want to have by your side. They take the time to get to know you, and leave you feeling like a person; not a product. They do come in some varieties, and you will likely come across all of them, unless you desperately need to rush into a position, in which case you’ll come across the “first responders”. They’re quick, and will hit you like a wave from a bursting dam, if you’re unprepared!

bursting dam

Bursting dam.

All of the first responders seem to be third party recruiters, and will generally keep an eye, or have some sort of alert go off, when your resume meets certain criteria in a job searching site (e.g. dice, indeed, etc). Most of them tend to rush through introductions, and getting a glimpse of what you are capable of. Some of the slower third party recruiters tend to take a little longer and really get a feel for them. The best analogy I could come up with is, picking a puppy from a breeder, or a shelter. You generally don’t want one of the hyperactive ones, they will be terribly troublesome, and annoy you quite a bit. They focus on their needs, and don’t quite take you into consideration. They come to you from time to time, but it’s usually because they need, or want something from you. The later ones, the betas, at least in appearance, seem to take their time getting to know you, and maybe do take you into consideration. Those are the ones you really want to work with! If you’re interested in those, feel free to send me a tweet or message, I’d be more than happy to recommend them to you. If you’re curious about the hyperactive and less caring firms, ask, and I’ll give you as much detail on them as you would like!

Somewhere between and after the first responders and the betas are the corporate, or company recruiters. They have a stable job, and can afford to take their time. These tend to take you into greater consideration, and are as pleasant as the betas. Given that the relationship with this recruiter is only limited to the company, they don’t have to great a role, outside of the hiring process there, than the betas. I would definitely encourage you to find a good beta for those future job hunts!

These are just categorizations and analogies I used to make more sense. If you would like a better grasp of them, here’s a few links I read to better understand them and their roles. 5 Things You Should Know About Job Recruiters by Susan P. Joyce gave a good list of things to know about them, then breaking them into generic types (internal vs. external). Working with Recruiters by N-Jen gives you an even greater look at recruiters, and how a general transaction with them will go. Finally, I add this one because it focuses on the recruiters side of the transaction, 5 Myths About Working With Recruiters by Arnie Fertig. You have mine, from a non-recruiter stand point, so, I feel it’s important to get at least one from a recruiters point of view!

Here’s where you really have to use your brain!

Recruiting, especially technical recruiting, is a highly lucrative business. The sheer demand for the technical field makes this such a great opportunity for recruiters to make money. It’s also another great opportunity for the job-seekers to take advantage of their demand. Hence, the great demand for technical recruiters. Most would say they are a necessary evil, but necessary for whom? Given the great demand for the technical job-hunter, it’s in the companies best interest to shotgun job offers, and try to get the lowest bit for the most qualified possible recruit. So, the recruiter’s are not only searching for the best possible recruit, they’re also searching for the lowest possible bid. It’s true, they do make more money with the greater amount that you make, but think of it this way:

''' The recruits, in a very simple example '''
recruit_1 = 70000
recruit_2 = 70000
recruit_you = 80000

''' Each placed recruit gives the agent (recruiter)
    about 20-30% of profit, here I will give you the
    highest profit, and the competition the lowest'''

profit_1 = recruit_1 * 0.20 + recruit_2 * 0.20
profit_2 = recruit_you * 0.30

if profit_1 > profit_2:
(TAB) print profit_1

(TAB) print profit_2

This is  overly simplistic, but I hope it will give you a sense of what you’ll be getting yourself into. This is an economic game your playing, so make sure you go in with as much preparation as possible. If you’re interested in looking up these concepts, get some more information on game theory! If you’re not familiar with it, maybe you’re familiar with artificial intelligence, and a few of it’s corresponding concepts! Think of the recruiter as an optimized agent of profit! Their goal is to maximize their profit. Likewise, your goal is to maximize your profit. So, the ideal would be a zero-sum game. Both parties benefit mutually, and none will be left feeling like they pulled the short straw! This isn’t a simple take-take relationship (though I have come across a few recruiters that were more focused on the take, vs. the giving). You have to give, in order to receive. Likewise, you should expect something in return for something else.

This was the aspect of my communications with recruiters that was the most entertaining. They were constantly asking for more and more information, though only giving empty praises, and offering no opportunities. Remember, this is a game of the mind, if you place a great value on complements, then it will still be zero sum! Though, your bank account and future career may be less convincing of that fact! Don’t be tricked by complements, they could cost you thousands! I personally don’t think they’re worth that much, but if you do, then don’t feel bad when you’re paid significantly lower than your peers! If everything feels staged to you, or not sincere, that should be a big warning sign; you’re entering an assembly line! Also, be careful with what information you make available.

One of the best requests was, “Where else are you interviewing?” This is a very interesting question, because it seems harmless enough. They state, “We just don’t want to offer you the same opportunity.” That’s believable enough, but when all of them say it? It’s almost as if they’re all attending the same recruiter school, with the same phrases! I definitely enjoyed this game, because everyone would continue to say it. I went one step further, and provided as much information to them as I could for these positions. I even fished for some extra questions. They don’t like abbreviations of these companies (a dead giveaway that they’re not looking for your best interest!). What you may think is a prevention of removing collisions, is actually a fish for more opportunities. Remember that little snippet of code? Let’s say they have a recruit, that is going for $70,000, and they have you going for $80,000. They can now swoop in, with that other–potentially equally qualified–recruit and seal the deal! Or at least offer you more competition, which I am a fan of, but not when it collectively decreases our worth! Again, game theory, they can get more recruits coming in, and fill more positions with less pay, which will allow them to make more profit in the end; this will end up hurting you. That being said, if you have very little interest in the position, feel free to share it! Again, it is a give and take relationship, just make sure you level the playing field enough to keep it even, or, if possible, to your advantage!

Other tactics I’ve seen, were related were along the same lines. If you’ve noticed any tactics used, please let me know and I’ll add them here! I’ve heard some horror stories, where the recruiter would coerce you, or make it seem that you’re not worth their time. I have not had an experience like that, but if you have, I’d definitely be interested in hearing about it!


Some closing remarks, and such.

Remember, every opportunity to interview, is an opportunity to improve yourself. So, don’t be stingy with the information, but keep the ones you’re really interested to yourself! Also, make sure they’re pulling their own weight as well. Fishing for information, without providing any is definitely working against you! Do yourself a favor, and get a beta! It’ll make your life so much easier! 🙂 Also, be respectful to the recruiters, they have a pretty tough job.

As I said before, if you’re interested in getting some additional information, find me on twitter (you don’t even have to follow me, and I’ll respond!), or on LinkedIn. I’m in the Chicago area, and have been in correspondence with Chicago based recruiters, mostly. So, if you’re looking to move here, or are already here, then you’re in luck! I’d be more than willing to provide you the information to some of the great recruiters I’ve met, and also which ones to avoid around here! If something wasn’t clear, or could’ve been better covered please let me know! Well, good hunting, and don’t forget the ones you leave behind!

Alternative Spring Break: Mammoth Cave Restoration!

This was the group I worked with during my spring break. It is with the University of Illinois Alternative Spring Break Organization. Easily one of the best experiences I’ve ever had! The amount of team work and camaraderie was perfect! I’d like to believe that great team work is why we were given plenty of time with our coordinator to explore so much of the mammoth caves; including the Hidden River and Echo River Caves. Each of these individuals were such a joy to be around, and work with. Well, let me tell you a little more about the experience! After this pic!

Image of the tour guide and Alternative Spring Break 2014 Team.

Rick, our guide, and the entire Alternative Spring Break: Cave Restoration Spring 2014 Team. First Row (left to right): Paloma, Jasmine, Abhi, Lauren, Ari, Valeria, Rick, Cai.                Second Row (left to right): Dan (me), Arjun, Morris.                                                         Finally: Justin (Our team mate and awesome camera man).                                  

The first day was a series of touring, scavenging for food and getting settled into our living spaces. Our drive over was approximately 6 hours long. We arrived at the Mammoth Caves tour HQ and, obviously, rushed to the bathroom! Shortly after that, we were to meet with our trip coordinator, Peggy. This meant one thing… most of us did not get breakfast! And since we drove straight to the Tourist Center, we didn’t have lunch either. So, a few of the other guys and I were hunting down a vending machine, or some other form of sustenance. We did find a vending machine and food place, but needed our wallets! Most of us packed them into our backpacks, haha. Finally, we walked to the vending machines, where a short time after our coordinator called us to wait for her in the main Tourist Center. Ahh… so close. We would’ve preferred a decent meal, but a Honey Bun, some Chips and a soda is what most of us purchased. There was a little diner there, but we didn’t have enough time for a full meal. This mean the 2 hour tour inside the caves consisted of us looking for a KFC, or Starbucks at every corner! It was a really nice tour though, and that is where we first met our tour guide Rick. We finally ended up going to an Applebee’s, and ordered a bit too much! Haha, the eyes were too big for our stomachs… well, at least mine were. After our glorious meal we ended up in Walmart to shop for some of our weekly necessities. While purchasing, we did not take into account how tired we would be most nights! Haha, this will come into play in a few paragraphs.

The second day, or first work day, was a work day in a sink hole. The previous neighboring people used the sink hole as a personal dump. There… were so many soda cans in there! Though, we did find a few nifty things including: a toaster, a coffee maker, a golf club bag, an antenna, a little turkey candle holder (which became our souvenir for the trip.), and a good amount of shoes! We ended up lifting around 2 tons of trash this day, 500 pounds of which being recyclable! This was our first taste of what was to come, haha. I can at least speak for myself in saying that I was pretty sore and tired that evening. We did take a few pictures here and there. Near the end of our work day, one of our team members faced a near death experience! Haha, well, a few inches off to near death. The crew working along with us tried to remove a log that was hindering our progress using a rope and an air-force strap. Unfortunately, in the process of pulling the tree out, the rope experienced a bit more stress that it was used to, and SNAPPED! There were a couple of videos of the incident floating around; the expression on this persons face was… priceless. We definitely needed a shower after this! Well… most of us <_< You know who you are, hahaha. 😉

Our third day was the first day working inside of the caves. We headed into some of the previously unexplored parts of Mammoth Cave, and were put to some hard labor! Our task for the day was to collect pre-organized rubble from one room and move it into another room (the previously designated ladies rest room). Seems like a simple enough task, except that the rooms were not near each-other, nor was there a direct path. We placed the rubble into plastic trash bags, then carried them like little babies! Well, that’s what we initially did, before realizing it was much easier to swing them on our backs! The route was… hmm.. how to describe. Let’s start with the location of the pre-organized rubble. From there, it was around 70 yards to the first set of stairs, which had a little overhead needing to be ducked by some of us taller folks. Once you reached the bottom of the stairs, it was a bit of a low ceiling, so a little crouching was in order, the all clear to the bottom of the next set os stairs about 30 yards away. Then we reached another stair case, with… at least twice as many stairs as the previous one, and a few more overheads. This lead to a short walk from the top of the stairs to the former ladies room. Here is where we started piling the bagged rubble. This was definitely the hardest day, in terms of labor. We managed to move around 2.5 tons of rubble! I sparsely remember the end of that day, but I’m certain we were barely able to do much this evening, haha. We did manage to make a decent meal! Some quesadillas and fries!

The fourth day started off with some fun events, courtesy of the Hidden River Cave touring headquarters. They were such awesome people! They let us zip line their 300 ft zip line, and rappel from their 80 ft rappel tower? Well, it was the top of the cave’s mouth. Haha, they were so kind, they even let me hang around in the zip-line for a little while (i.e., they threw me back). Once we finished our little fun time, we cleaned some of the other cavers gear, and prepared to go in ourselves! The task for the day was *bump butta bump* surveying the caves for life signs! We ended up checking some of the survey sites and refilling some of the alcohol that is used to preserve the smaller critters. They will eventually be used for some research purposes down the line, but all we did was count and refill! Here I thought that was the end of our tour; perhaps wishful thinking after the previous day, haha! Alas, it was merely the beginning! It was a muddy and slippery journey back to this sections bottom, then we moved on to another section of the Hidden River Cave (formerly the Horse Cave). This section was… considerably larger than I had expected. There were so many different sections and loops and crawl spaces and tunnels! I’m not the shortest person in the world, but this definitely made me wish I could shave a few inches off the top! There were some places that I honestly thought I’d just get stuck in! Not to mention a few of the rocks that appeared to be held by only a mere little tike of a rock. I wanted to touch it, just to see if it would move, but at the same time I wanted to still be alive at the end of the day! I’m sure most of my comrades felt the same way! I know at least one person wanted to get out of that cave, hehehe. This was the day that really wore us out! Physically and mentally, we were drained! I may just be drawing a conclusion, but judging from how everyone just fell asleep, and instead of making our dinner, we simply went to taco bell, I think this was an accurate assessment! Ahh, and… no showers this evening! Too tired, more important things to do and all. 😛

The fifth day was one of many glories! The morning for instance held one of the most wonderful experiences we could have dreamed of! For the first time, everyone of us took a shower at the same time! Glory be to the great shower head gods! From then on, the day only got better. Not to say it wasn’t hard work, far from it, but it was such a beautiful day in Kentucky! And we worked outside all day! We were tasked with clearing out an old community cemetery that was overrun by fallen and dead trees, a number of nasty little vines and plenty of branches! Ahh, there was that mid-day sun shine, a nice cool breeze–perfect for some hard work–, a nice soft woody scent, nice ambient sounds, and great scenery! There was a watering hole for the cows a few yards away; the cows even came over to drink while we were working! And green everywhere! This was they day the let us out a bit early, and head to Knoxville, TN! We did some exploring, ate some ice cream (well.. I had the cappuccino since the place said it was their best… it was decent) visited an art museum (free to students), and ate at the Hard Rock Cafe! A good night if you ask me!

Our sixth and final day consisted of an early morning! We were off to do a radio show and be on live TV–yeah we’re big shots ;). Then take another shot at those rocks of rubble with Rick! (yes, that triple rrr was intentional) This time, we had a plan! And our awesome team work! We created a chain, and stock piled backs! It was fun and efficient! Which meant one thing! More time to explore the caves! And, this was indeed the case, though, I’m sure most of us wanted to get out of the caves and into some fresh air by this time, I believe we all enjoyed those extra explorations. So many amazing formations, and interesting tidbits of history. This was a much easier caving day than our Wednesday surveying! And probably one of the reasons it was more enjoyable, hahaha. A long day, and a lot of work! Which means! A lot of pizza! Our coordinator, Peggy, was treating us to a pizza party at Turtlelini’s Pizza and Pasta. The owner was pretty awesome, we were only getting 4 pizzas and drinks, when he decided to upgrade us to infinite drinks and access to their buffet! He also kept the pizzas coming for us! Haha, such an awesome place. And of course, one more shower!

The seventh and final day there was bitter sweet, as most of the last of anythings are. We were treated to a wonderful breakfast from our housing host, Pastor Dave. He and his group of guys treated us to delicious eggs, bacon, pie, bacon, sausages and bacon! It was a great breakfast with great company. Fortune would have it, this day was also Peggy’s birthday! We never really found out her age, but we guessed 29, haha. We gave her a little cookie cake, and hopefully some good memories! We also departed, leaving behind some thank you cards to all of those wonderful people we met along our trip. Of course, we still had to separate as a group, haha. Our 6 hour drive consisted of the usual napping, well the passengers; we hope not the drivers :P. A pit stop here, and before long we were back in Chicago! So, we started splitting off, perhaps not entirely processing the events. It’s hard to believe you can get so close to a group in such a short time, but this is proof that it can happen. And, as we part ways, I know we’ll still see each-other’s Facebook and Instagram feeds, and hand out an occasional like. Haha, but I do hope we get to hang out from time to time! It’s been great working with you guys, and if we don’t hang out again, I wish you all a great journey!

Well, I’ll just publish this now, and tag these awesome people… but first, let me take a selfie. 😉