Ask techies: How's jobhunting, nowadays?
The answer is: it's HORRIBLE.
I am sorry but that's the most accurate word to describe it. It's utterly terrible, disappointing, and frustrating. Considering we developers and technical people are such a juicy prize, we're treated like shit, both by recruiters and companies. It's not my opinion, ask any developer you know. They will agree in less than two seconds, no need to think about the answer.
I am going to tell you my opinion. The fact that dealing with interviews and recruiters is crap is not debatable. That is a fact. Now, the reasons for this situation are open to discussion and what I am saying here is my point of view, purely personal, based on my own experience.
It looks to me like nowadays anyone can call themselves "recruiters". Not so long ago, recruiters were people with specialized studies, even psychology degrees. People who were trained to understand people. What happened to that? There were proper formalities, and a candidate was informed of the status of the process. There was respect.
Now, we are contacted by random people offering some positions that might or might not fit our profile. We answer that message telling them we're interested, and we might or might not get a reply. If we get a reply, it's like it was us who started begging for that job, because we have to constantly ping the recruiter to know what's going on. That is, of course, if the conversation doesn't abruptly die (from their side).
Maybe we're offered an interview with a ghost company because they don't want to give away the name or any detail. We probably don't know about the salary range either. Recruiters ask us, and we have to tell them about our expectations. That's no confirmation that we'll get anything close to that. I've been offered way less than expected AFTER all the interviews, because you know, "that's the average for the position in my city".
How can we prepare for interviews or do proper filtering of where we apply to, if we don't know all the details? If a recruiter wants to know everything about me, I have to tell them or I lose my chance. It should be reciprocal.
If you want to understand my profile, the best way to do it is to read it in the first place. I've been told things like "oh, you seem to be a bit unstable, there's a lot of jobs in your CV". No Mister, I have been freelancing and I've had a lot of customers. That, in my dictionary, is called a success, not instability.
Also, please, just because I did some Java a million years ago doesn't mean I am a fit in that Java position you're managing today. Context, my friend. Also, most of us evolve, we started doing something, and we ended up doing something else. Or we specialized in something, who knows. So yes, consider our past, but to see if we're what you're looking for, check what we're doing now! Best clue ever, for free.
I am totally open to discussing technical things in interviews, but spending 1 day coding a full website to get a position, no thanks. Especially if I don't know what am I fighting for. Tell me what the reward is, the full conditions list, and I'll decide if I want to do that long technical challenge you sent me.
If each screening process has a long technical challenge, imagine being involved in two or three. I get that companies need to vet people -if a technical challenge is their way to do it, so be it, but be reasonable. And please, don't expect people to know things by heart, especially if the engineer asking the questions doesn't know the answer either. That gives a really poor impression to candidates.
Please, put that engineer back to their computer. Developers shouldn't be allowed near a candidate, ever. Unless they have some basic people skills and empathy, they should stay away from recruitment processes completely. It's ok for them to validate technical tests, but they shouldn't be deciding anything. Maybe developers who lead teams are an exception. They made it there because they're good both with code and with people.
Very often, developers doing recruitment make the interview a competition, a confrontation of opinionated approaches (also known as DOGMAS). Some even fear hiring someone better, more experienced, who might eventually replace them, get more money or simply be more popular. It could end up being a fight of egos. A chance to show bosses how good they are compared to anyone who shows at the door. No. Leave them out, unless you've vetted those developers first, and you're sure they can offer a fair chance to candidates.
Use this checklist to make sure that developers are fit to do recruiting:
- can they do what they expect candidates to do?
- Do they know the answer to the questions they will ask?
- Are they good team players?
- Are they good with communication?
- Can they sell the company and the project?
- Are they positive?
- Are they happy in the company?
If you can answer "YES" to "ALL", then go ahead and bring the developer into the process. Otherwise, restrict the scope of that participation to technical checking, away from the candidate. And if possible, ask for feedback to more than one dev, to avoid personal bias over legit reasons to discard someone.
I get that recruiters have a job to do and that they're only paid if they find the right people. Copying and pasting a job offer mindlessly & ruthlessly to everyone fitting your "search keywords" and not properly managing answers is not the way to go. Here are some steps I suggest you follow to be a professional & respectful recruiter:
- Collect a small number of profiles you've reviewed. A number of people you can manage.
- Shortlist the best ones.
- Send them a personalized message.
- If they reply positively, proceed with their candidacy. The ones who did not respond or showed no interest, save them for the next opportunity. You've shortlisted them for a reason. Don't let that work go to waste.
- Do you expect full disclosure from candidates? Well, lead by example. Provide all the details about the job opportunity. If you don't know all the details, why are you contacting candidates already? Get the answers first!
- What? You don't want to give away the name of the company in case the candidate bypasses you and you're not paid? Hey... we're not like that. Why would we do that anyway? What do we gain? That would make us look shady. Don't worry, we're not stealing from you.
- Job hunting is an emotional & energy draining experience. And chances are we're in more than one screening process at once. So keep in mind: it's harder for us than it is for you.
- Try to watch any technical person on the company's side involved in the process. If there are developers in the decision-making circle, that's potentially bad news (for the reasons explained above)
- Team up with us! Look, we might hate interviewing, but we have to do it to get jobs. So let's be friends, let's walk the path to success together, because your success and our success mean basically the same. We get the position, you're paid. Help us and you'll be helping yourself.
I don't mean to offend anyone or to pretend I know everything cause I don't. But again, recruiting is getting ridiculous and really bad according to... well, everyone I know, in several countries both in Europe and North America. I don't think I am wrong in this regard.
If you, recruiter, feel identified with the bad practices I've described, let me tell you this: you suck. But the good news is, you can get better. We, the candidates, learn from rejection (or we should). You can learn too, and shine.
Think about it.