Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Recruiter Websites

As part of launching this feature, I've spent a lot of time on the web pages for recruiting agencies ranging from huge firms to one-recruiter startups.

Many of the company pages feature a condensed blurb about the recruiting agency. I make these blurbs by finding the interesting bits of information from the recruiting websites and deleting all the fluff.

It should not come as a surprise that much of the information on the recruiter websites is useless self-congratulatory hype. I've found entire paragraphs and pages containing nothing but hype; usually an entire "about us" page really only contains a few sentences of meaningful information about who the company is.

Every recruiting firm claims to be "world-class" and deliver an "exceptional value" for their clients. The sheer volume of this crap on their websites is amazing to me as an engineer who has worked with lots of recruiters.

I hope as our database grows, JobOsmosis will find more ways to cut through marketing hype and describe the underlying value propositions of recruiting agencies clearly and succinctly.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Company Profiles

Earlier this week we released some new features. The most visible upgrade is the addition of company information as part of the recruiter profile page. Each company has a basic summary page listing the recruiters who work at the company and some other basic information. In addition, company information is also included in site search results.

If we acquire reviews and additional information about recruiters, aggregating it into company profiles may be interesting. Here are some examples of the new company pages on the site:

Keyword analysis using Google Trends and AdSense suggest that there is not much competition for the names of most companies. However, most of the people searching for companies are probably trying to find their website - not sure if they'd be interested in looking at other sites merely about the company. I am interested to see if company profiles lead to an increase in search traffic on the site. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Site Update

We've pushed an update that reorganizes the recruiter details page into several different pages. This is to make it easier to understand the initial page, and it also gives room to provide some additional information that would have made the original design too crowded:
  • Summary section at the top of the page was added, showing key data about the recruiter in a condensed and consistent format.
  • Added links to common actions that users might want to take, such as reviewing the recruiter, chat or reading reviews.
  • The recruiter overview page now shows a list of similar recruiters, based on skills, sector and location. 
  • The process for writing a review has been separated into a dedicated page to make it easier.
Hope you like the changes!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

How do you find an IT job?

Many people looking for jobs in information technology initially use a combination of networking and job applications. Odds are if you're doing this, then you'll be found by some agency recruiters. 

The first call from a recruiter can be a relief: a real person has noticed your resume and she has a job she thinks you'd be a great fit for. If everything goes well, you could be a month away from an awesome new job.

But the calls keep coming, some callers get pushy and some fail to deliver what they initially promise. Worse, you could be pushed towards a position that doesn't fit your interests and needs. They don't get any direct benefit from telling you that a job is anything but a great fit for your situation. 

What you need is a system for working with recruiters that helps you find your next IT job.

Here are some of my suggestions for managing the search process and focusing on areas that will get you results.

Make a Checklist

Put together a checklist of the things you want from the next job: skills you want to learn, compensation requirements, etc... For each IT job a recruiter suggests, go down your list and see how it measures up. 

Recruiters are probably going to resist giving up some of their information early on, so you may need to guess it initially. Recruiters usually are reluctant to talk about compensation. You can infer compensation initially by looking at the job title, the company's reputation and benchmark data. Sites like Glassdoor can be a useful source of benchmark data.

Keep Track of Job Applications

If you're actively looking for an IT job, odds are you'll apply to a bunch of jobs. You should know which jobs you've applied to and what your status is in the interview process for each of those jobs. A spreadsheet can be really helpful. The following might be useful to track:
  • Job Title. The title is useful for a lot of reasons. If a specific title is important to you, it can indicate how well the position fits with your goals. Beyond this, it may indicate the compensation before you're able to hone in on an accurate figure.
  • Compensation. If available, this information is probably very important to you. However, you may not find this out right away. Low compensation will kill a number of the job opportunities.
  • Name of the Company. The reputation of the company you work for matters. A position with a well-recognized company name can be a big break for your career.
  • Recruiter. You'll be talking with the recruiter throughout the process, so you need to remember their name, email address, phone numbers, etc... This is an area where JobOsmosis is helpful, since we keep track of contact information for the recruiters in our database.
  • Hiring Manager. Besides the recruiter, this is the person you'll be talking with the most about the job if things are going well in the interviews. Odds are this person is part of the IT department, usually they are the person to whom the open position reports. They will be a big part of whether you get the job, and whether you eventually accept a job offer. You should track name, email and phone numbers.
  • Priority. How does this job stack up against your checklist? You should pay more attention to jobs that are close fit to your checklist and less attention to jobs that don't fit.
  • Status. Where are you in the process? What is the next step? You should note upcoming interviews on your calendar and also on your tracking spreadsheet so you can see everything at a glance.
  • Notes. Keep track of anything else interesting about the job, like technologies you'd be working with or things you like/dislike about the role. 
Of course, you can track more or less as desired. Using a cloud-based spreadsheet like Google Documents can be a good approach, since it would be available across multiple devices and is secure from prying eyes at your current gig.

Jobs You Don't Get

Keep track of the job opportunities that don't work out. Note the reasons the jobs didn't work and review these regularly. If you see a trend, it might help you better focus your energy. For example, in my last job search I was approached for a number of "Director of IT" positions in television companies. They all stalled out before getting to even a phone interview. Once I noticed this trend, I stopped prioritizing roles in television companies, and instead I focused more on roles that were getting better results.

Jobs You Don't Want

I've written about this already, but it bears repeating: despite the bad economy, there are ample jobs available in information technology. You don't have time to uncover or apply to even a tiny fraction of them. If a potential job is a bad fit or doesn't stack up well against your checklist, don't waste time on it. Saying "no" early gives you time to look at other possibilities.

You should tell the recruiter clearly that you are no longer interested in the position. It's on them to break the news to their client. Watch out for emotional or manipulative appeals from the recruiter - what's really hurting them is that they're losing out on a commission from their client because their opening isn't a good fit for you after all.

Accepting an Offer

Once you decide to accept an offer, you should let everybody you've been working with know. Don't just disappear! This is important for your next job search. 

The best recruiters you worked with on this search will likely be on your short list of people to talk with when it inevitably comes time to move on. And if you are hired into a management role, you may be using recruiters to search for candidates for your new employer; the people you like to work with as a candidate will probably represent your positions well when you're the hiring manager.

Finally, if you find helpful recruiters along the way, we'd love to hear from you about it. Please consider taking the time to write a review by searching for them on JobOsmosis.

With some effort and organization, your next IT job is within your reach. Good luck and happy hunting!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Finding Recruiters

We've been building our database of recruiters over the past couple weeks. Our current count is about 350 recruiters, with a heavy lean towards web development and Java in the NYC area. This reflects my own technical background and the kind of cold calls I usually get, so not too surprising really.

I'm looking to broaden this data to reflect a more balanced view of technology careers. We're starting to experiment with other methods of locating recruiters online: turns out the internet is pretty hit-or-miss for finding recruiters. It's surprising how fragmented the information about recruiters is online. Most sites with information about recruiters contain only a handful of references, and very little actionable information about them. The closest I've come to finding reviews of recruiters is on the RecruitingBlogs site. As we build scale on the site, I think the transparency and ease of search on JobOsmosis will be a draw for employers and job seekers looking for recruiters.

Finally, an interesting riddle in our site data is that a large portion of our traffic isn't coming from the NYC area. I'm seeing an increase in traffic from parts of Texas, including Houston and Dallas. I don't know much about the tech scene there, but will have to give it more thought if the trend continues.

Minor Update

Just pushed a couple minor updates to the site. The LinkedIn login now redirects properly back to the page where you clicked the sign in link. Also the about page has some more copy and a list of blog posts.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Better Recruiting Outcomes

I came across a couple posts by Dave Fecak who works with placing technology candidates in the Philly area. His posts are getting some attention and are a somewhat different response to the same problem that JobOsmosis is attempting to solve.

Compensation Models for Improving Recruiting Outcomes

In the first post, Dave lays out some serious shortcomings in the way agency recruiters traditionally operate. He goes on to advocate for an alternative compensation model that allows recruiters to take a more balanced position. By being compensated by both the job candidate and the hiring company, the idea is that the recruiter will be better able to represent the interest of both parties.

In the second post, Dave goes on to explain how secrecy is central to the role of a traditional recruiter. The idea is that if the job seeker and employer knew about the other party, the recruiter would be out of a job. I think this discounts the role of information overload, but there is a kernel of truth at its core: many recruiters aren't adding value in proportion to their cost.

Ultimately, Dave's position is that altering the compensation can be an effective way to change recruiter behavior, and that clients and recruiters could move to a better compensation model once they understand its benefits.

Plurality of Improvements

I like the idea of a job agent in the tech recruiting space, because the fundamental motivation is about better outcomes for the employers and job candidates. The information asymmetries that make recruiting lucrative also make its outcomes sub-optimal. This creates an opportunity for a new set of practices to emerge, which will both lead to more desirable placement outcomes and will probably disrupt the recruiting industry.

I don't think there will be just one answer to the current state of recruiting. The problem is simply too complex. Here are some areas I am looking at:

  • In-Sourcing. I think in-sourced recruiting will be another part of this trend, as companies realize that the low barrier to entry for recruiting allows them to take charge of their own destiny to a degree.
  • Transparency. JobOsmosis is about creating transparency, which could reshape the role of recruiters in the hiring process. Other information systems like Glassdoor and LinkedIn also have potential in this area.
  • Compensation. We see this to some extent already, for example some employers don't fully compensate the recruiter until the candidate makes it to their 90 day mark. Dave's argument for an agent approach falls within this classification.

References

Here are the links to Dave's posts, definitely worth a read:

  1. http://jobtipsforgeeks.com/2012/09/17/disrupt/
  2. http://jobtipsforgeeks.com/2012/09/26/disruptii/