On Using Technical Recruiters

This is just a note for other startups who are considering using technical recruiters. Be careful. At Radar Networks, we tried using what appeared to be a reputable technical recruiting firm to fill several positions. Like many tech recruiters, they required an up-front advance against their fees (which would come as a percentage of the first year salaries of anyone we hire through their firm). They then set off looking for people for us to hire. We were seeking top-level Java coders and search engineers.

For our $10,000 up-front retainer fee, we received 12 resumes over 4 months, not one of which fit our needs, and many of which were for people who were not even available. We never made a single offer, let alone hire, through them. When I spoke to the CEO of this firm about the total lack of results we were getting, he claimed they were spending "hundreds of hours" doing searches for us. I find that extremely hard to believe, given the results. Unfortunately, although I complained to them about their performance or lack thereof several times, they did not remedy the problem. I also asked for a refund, but they refused. So basicaly it cost us just under $1000 a resume. What a total rip off! I won’t mention the name of the recruiting firm, but they are based in the Bay Area and I would definitely not recommend working with them.

In any case, we ended up hiring all our people through our own network, and through Craigslist and other job boards, at a much lower cost and in less time. I would not use a technical recruiter again after this experience. I do think that recruiters may be useful for VP and higher-level positions, or perhaps outside of the tech field for other kinds of people. And maybe there are tech recruiting firms out there that are really good. But frankly I am skeptical given this recent experience.