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  • Writer's pictureLiam Young

Are recruiters even necessary?

A recruiter and a software engineer find themselves caught in the great Victorian bush. Here's what happens next:

I recently had the pleasure of meeting an entirely new friendship group whilst on a camping trip organised by a close friend of mine. As I manoeuvred my way around, introducing myself and getting to know people, it quickly became obvious that there were several Software Engineers in the group. I rubbed my hands together and cackled sinisterly to myself, like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons when hatching an evil plan, before remembering that I wasn’t there on business. D’oh. As the night went on and we had made a solid dent in the Esky, some stories and opinions were shared with good humour that shed light into the relationship dynamics of software teams & recruitment consultants. We were sat in the scorching heat far into the bush of regional Victoria when one of the Engineers joked with me that the only thing more annoying than the flies that kept landing in our mouths and drinks, were the recruiters that frequently swarm his inbox on LinkedIn. Of course, this was all in the name of good fun and I know that he was partially playing devil’s advocate, but I couldn’t help but notice that there was an underlying hint of suspicion regarding the relevance of recruiters in the industry. After some friendly banter back and forth, he admitted to me that he hadn’t had a bad experience, but he had heard rumours of costly agency fees and struggled to understand what it was that recruiters did to warrant them. My inner wind-up merchant tried to get a nibble back by joking that the same might be said about the salaries of Software Engineers, but in all honesty, it got me thinking, how many other people are out there of the same opinion? Sadly, I can’t spend the weekend camping with the rest of the tech community who are of the same opinion, share a few tinnies and open their eyes to the real benefits of a good recruiter, but I can share them with you here. So… what is it we actually do, and why do people come to us for help?

Finding potential candidates is a full-time job. In software especially, unless you’re Amazon or Meta, gone are the days of posting a single paid advertisement on a job board and being inundated with a large pool of suitable candidates. Finding the right people for the role is a full-time job that involves utilising numerous costly subscription services to identify a large enough volume of potential candidates that are interested in working for a given company. For some very niche roles, it can take days, if not weeks to identify a single suitable candidate that is both qualified and interested in the role being advertised, at the rates being offered. Plus, this is far from a guarantee at filling the role. Whilst third party recruiters and agencies are often structured in a way that enables them to focus constantly on the task of identifying potential candidates, this is just one of many time-consuming responsibilities for most internal talent acquisition teams. Not only do most internal acquisition teams have the responsibility of hiring for a variety of vastly different roles at any given time, which involves having to come to terms with a plethora of different technologies and technical jargon - but they must also conduct interviews, as well as take care of the rest of the onboarding process. To summarise, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to put in the necessary time needed to build a sufficiently large talent pool to ensure that every single vacancy that they are hiring for is adequately taken care of. Therefore, partnering with external recruiters is often a matter of necessity, not a choice.

Our clients are only ever charged for successful placements, and this doesn’t impact the job seekers salary 95% of the work that we do for our clients and candidates alike is unpaid (this is to be intended as a figure of speech, and not an actual statistic). This is including but not limited to:

  • Consulting with our clients, offering advice and market insights on how to best secure and retain talent based on current market conditions.

  • Actively participating in our clients marketing efforts by getting to understand and championing their company and its perks to its target audience, through means of direct word-of-mouth advertising.

  • Writing and posting relevant paid and unpaid advertisements to job boards, and our existing networks, at our own expense.

  • Revising and tailoring our searches to our clients frequently changing expectations.

  • Managing both the candidates and our clients’ calendars, and scheduling interviews and video conferencing links to best suit all parties involved.

  • Being an advocate for each of our candidates and clients, ensuring their needs are met, and championing their cause at every opportunity throughout the interview process.

  • Delivering both good and bad news to candidates in the interview process, as well as constructive feedback to the best of our ability.

  • Finding more opportunities for candidates that have been unsuccessful in the interview process and continuing to support them throughout their search to find them a suitable placement.

  • Negotiating the final outcomes and ensuring all parties are satisfied with what is being offered in the event of the candidate being successful in the interview process.

  • Conducting relevant background and character reference checks.

  • A commitment to aftercare that continues long after a successful placement, to ensure long term satisfaction for both our candidates and clients.

And when all this is said and done, due to the nature of the current job market, far more often than not, a recruiter can spend up-to a month in daily liaison with both the candidate and client, ensuring that the process runs as smoothly as possible, to then have a client suddenly decide to hire someone internally, or for the candidate to suddenly change their mind regarding an offer that meets or exceeds their expectations due to having received a counter-offer from their current employer. Likewise, the candidate might also suddenly take an interest in a different opportunity with another recruiter that they have been collaborating with at the same time. Now don’t take this the wrong way, I absolutely love my job and wouldn’t even think about changing it. I could even go as far as saying that it’s the competitiveness of the industry, and the uncertainty of securing a placement that contributes to making the role so rewarding in the first place. This was merely an attempt at writing down in words some of the value that we add behind the scenes as external recruiters, and a glimpse of what else goes on below the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be honest, the lethal combination of beers and the heat may have impacted my ability to think on my feet during that fateful camping trip, and I don’t think I argued my case as well as I could have. But in retrospect, to the Software Engineer that compared those in my profession to being the tech industries equivalent of a common fly – I wholeheartedly agree. Maybe recruiters can be irritating to some folks, but that is completely subjective. Besides, whilst flies may be incredibly annoying from time to time, they are also smooth pollinators, break down our waste, and just like recruiters in the job market, play a valuable role in the vitality of our eco-system. I’d like to end this post by referencing the well-known adage that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in life – unless you find a fly in it.


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