- Third-party personnel recruiters work with companies that are searching for one or more employees.
- Third-party recruiters work on a commission basis, with the commission typically amounting to about 20 to 25 percent of the employee’s first-year salary.
- Third party recruiters are put in the delicate position of having to reconcile two sets of interests, those of the company and those of the candidate. In most cases, the interests of the company win out because the company is the one that pays the recruiter.
- Third party recruiters often have specialties, such as finding executives or technical employees. They may even specialize in very specific niches such as finding C++ programmers or engineers with government security clearances.
- Never work with an employment agency that charges you a fee.
- The song Amanda, by the band Boston, was their biggest hit. It reached number one on the singles chart in 1986.
The feeling takes so long to grow
After the contract with the megacorporation ended, the job market hit a short-term slump, at least locally. I had only one real suitor for a new position. It was a start-up out of Silicon Valley called eStamp. We had a slow courtship. I heard from them about every two weeks. The first call was from a recruiter, Amanda. Amanda was enthusiastic. She made the job sound fantastic and my chances sound great. The company she represented specialized in online stamp / mailing label sales. They needed a lead technical writer with strong web skills. Amanda liked my resume and my web site, so she decided that I was the perfect fit. The job paid a lot of money, $87,000 a year plus 1000 shares of stock per year for four years. I understood that the Bay Area housing market was pricy, but this seemed like enough money for me to live comfortably on and I liked the idea of moving to the nerve center of the geek universe. I also liked the idea of having a full-time job rather than a contract.
About two weeks passed before I had my first phone interview and another two weeks after that the company called for a follow-up interview. Both interviews went well, so they decided to fly me out to meet the crew for one final round of interviews. The trip took about two weeks to set up, of course. When I got there, everyone seemed enthusiastic and I came away feeling good. After the xenophobic atmosphere of the megacorporation, this little startup seemed downright friendly.
I’m gonna take you by surprise
Once I got home, however, another two weeks passed before I heard from them. Eventually, Amanda called to let me know that they wanted to hire me, but they were dropping their offer to $77,000. They wanted me to prove myself before they made me lead technical writer. It was a bit of a slap in the face. I had never had anyone cut their offer before.
If there had been any other opportunities brewing, I might have turned their offer down, but I needed work. I didn’t have any money left in my account. I told them that if they were going to drop my pay, then I needed a relocation allowance get me out there. At first they didn’t want to give it to me. They didn’t like the idea of laying out any money in advance. The company eventually agreed to give me $2000, but they wanted to put restrictions on it. The main sticking point was that they wanted the money back if I didn’t last at least six months. I was perfectly willing to give the money back if I quit, but I would not agree to repay them if they fired me or if I was laid off. Amanda was unsympathetic. She accused me of plotting to use eStamp to get to California where I could get a better-paying job. I explained to her that I was happy to repay them if I quit, but not if they decided to get rid of me. They were two separate issues. She told me she didn’t see the difference, but she would take my demand to them anyway. It was frustrating, and the days kept passing.
Tomorrow may be too late
I was about to cave in. I needed the job. I began to pack my stuff and I even signed the contract, but I left it on my desk rather than fax it to them. Amanda was supposed to give me eStamp’s final word on my request by the end of the day. I had decided that, no matter what their final offer was, I was going to take it and give the job my best shot.
At about two o’clock that afternoon, I got a phone call from a different recruiter – a local recruiter. This recruiter said she represented a major computer company that needed a new writer by Monday. I told her that was great, but if they wanted me, I needed an answer within three hours because I had another offer I was planning to take. Within ten minutes I was on the phone with the computer company’s technical communications manager and one of their writers. Within an hour my fax machine was spitting out a contract for a brand new job. Instead of heading blindly to Silicon Valley, I would be driving twenty minutes to a research park on the southeast side of Tucson. It was a contract job, and it paid less money, but I wouldn’t have to move.
I don’t wanna lose you
Amanda called at about four o’clock that afternoon. She was abrupt and irritated. She had decided to take a hard line with me. “They aren’t going to give in on this, so I need your answer now, yes or no.”
I took a breath. “I guess this isn’t going to work out then. Thank you for trying.”
To say that Amanda was upset would be a gross understatement. Amanda screamed. Amanda pouted. Amanda argued. It got even worse when she realized I was taking a position that paid less than their offer. I explained to her that this job didn’t require me to move. I could keep paying my dirt-cheap Tucson rent, so financially I would be better off. At some point Amanda started to cry. She accused me of leading her on. She called me a liar. She begged me to change my mind.
I stayed calm. I reminded her that eStamp had dragged their feet for almost two months. They had even dropped their offer. Once Amanda realized I wasn’t going to change my mind, she demanded that I call the manager at eStamp myself to tell her I wasn’t taking the job. This is not the sort of thing recruiters make applicants do, ever, but I agreed to do it just to get her off the phone.
There’s something I just have to say
I called the manager and let her know I was taking another job. The manager took it in stride. “This is the Silicon Valley,” the manager said, “it happens all the time. I don’t know why she was so upset.” The manager wished me luck in my new position and that was that. It was a strange day. I was thrilled to have a new job (and a local one at that) but I was also emotionally drained. I had never had a recruiter go through a meltdown before.
I was once again a gainfully employed technical writer. I had gone from a megacorporation to an even larger company. It was a company that had once been fabled for both its size and its culture. Even after ten years of layoffs, it was still one of the largest companies in the world. They were the stuff of legends. The glory days had since passed, but I was still going to be working for The Big Mothership. We’ll call it TBM. Now, the adventure was truly about to begin…
A Boston Technical Recruiters Blog: Even recruiters blog. There is some good advice here.
Deceptive Recruiting: HR’s Last Stand? A discussion of recruiter ethics
What experiences have you had with recruiters?
What is the longest period you’ve ever had to wait between an interview and a job offer?
Have you ever had to personally turn down an employer?