So this post serves two purposes.  One is to remind folks that tonight (Wednesday the 8th of September) is the Plug meeting, Mid-Career Development.  Robert Merril, local recruiter for SOS Technical will be presenting on various tips and tricks for making yourself be a desired asset.

What he is also pushing, is for feedback on why geeks like me tend to hate recruiters, and what can be fixed.  So here goes some of my notes.

The average recruiter to me seems like most used car salesmen.  They are willing to say, or do, anything to meet what they want.  What’s worse than the average car salesman is that they are negotiating with two separate parties.  Most talks with recruiters to me seem to be cold contacts, with stories that I can see through in moments, and leave me feeling like I need to seek out a public clinic.  There are exceptions of course, and I’d like to point out some of the things that I feel stand out.

A good example of a recruiter is one I know that works for
Ticketmaster.  Now at Ticketmaster, they make heavy use of tools that
rank pretty high on my skill list.  I know this because I see them
often following email lists for those technologies, participating as
they may.  They work with the groups in question, even when not
actively hiring, just because they have an interest.  They attend
events that I also have an interest in, and pay attention there.  In
Ticketmaster’s case, I’ve seen them repeatedly at OSCON.  At the event,
they have a way to easily filter their prospects, that is very
applicable to the field (they have a complex perl obfuscation, and if
you solve it and bring the answer to them, you get something).  Their
candidates come to them because of an interesting gimmick, and get
something out of it, even if they aren’t currently looking for a job. 
They make their case quickly, while obviously trying to “sell” their
job, they make sure to answer directly and honestly, and
if you are uninterested, they will still talk to you on a personal
level and make sure they know you.  In my case, I haven’t followed up
for a few reasons, the most important is that they are based out of
West LA, and don’t do telecommuting.  And yet having told them that a
few years ago, I was greeted at OSCON this year with a friendly smile,
asked if I had solved the new obfuscation puzzle, and asked if I was
interested in moving yet.  Yes, a large conference and they remembered
me.  They didn’t have my name memorized, I have never given my full
resume, but they remembered enough about me.  They weren’t pushy, and I
was impressed with them.

That brings up an important part of my idea of what a recruiter should
be.  Yes they are selling a person, and their skills.  But Geeks are
tired of shucksters who try to move people as if a number of units per
day. Instead the recruiter should become a friend of their candidates,
it should be a long process where the recruiter is familiar with a
large catalog of people, ready to pull out the right tool for the right

And yes, Geeks in general are very focused on the right tool concept. 
*nix type folks even more than others. The concept of do one thing, and
do it well is ingrained into us, and we hone our skills to do specific
types of work very well.  We despise the lousy job ads, and recruiters
that really don’t know what a job is, which is only compounded  with
not knowing me and it’s a geeks idea of a disaster.

You need to know what those bullet points on my resume really are. What
do they mean to me, and how good I really am.  If you try pitching me a
Windows job, you should know why I’m not only uninterested, but that I will be thinking much less of your skills.

I want a recruiter who attends my Lug, or Sig meetings.  Who can tell me that the job presented to me will be developing in TTK on Ubuntu boxes, even if he’s not really familiar with what those are.  The recruiter doesn’t have to know how to use every Perl Templating kit out there, they just need to think to ask about those things from the prospective employer.  The familiarity with the group will cause the recruiter to find out the nuances of a job that will really get a Geeks attention.  Maybe knowing that a job uses Catalyst will allow me to provide you more knowledge of my skills that could help both me and the recruiter make a little more money because I can express more interest, or provide a better resume listing based on my skills.

Basically, recruiting should be done through people familiar with the community.  People with a long-term relationship who can help their friends out with what they really need.  I don’t want a door-to-door salesman with jobs, I want my good friend that knows of a really nice opening with my name on it.  I am not a square peg in a round hole.

You can also always do your part in cleaning up the horror that is business job postings.  Geeks will always tirade against a bad job posting (just view the PLUG archives).  We commonly point out what is always wrong with job postings, but it never changes.  The recruiter can help in this process.  If you see a lousy posting, don’t just pass it on, get the real deal. Familiarity with the groups will help you ask the right questions, to find out what the business really wants.  If you aren’t sure, just post it to Plug with the header “Please rip apart, so I can ask them the right questions”.  Being a part of the community, you’ll be able to ask people like me to help you find the questions.  Even if I have no interest in a job at the moment, having me help point out questions lets you know me better.  Just don’t repeat the same question too much 🙂

Oh, and good food and swag are always nice 🙂