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.

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2 Responses to On Using Technical Recruiters

  1. Wow. What a bad trip! But hardly qualified to diss an entire industry!
    Technical recruiting is an industry that you can get taken if you only buy ‘brand’ and don’t do the same diligence as if that recruiter/company was being hired direct to you as your employee. There are tons of bad recruiters out there and like hires, there are some truly golden ones if you take time to do the homework necessary. I know tons of horrible technology companies, I still use technology. I knows tons of horrible web sites, I still find great web developers. You had a bad start, but now develop your expertise in finding good recruiters. If you master this, you suddenly find hiring to not only build profits & catapult your own career , but bring great people into your life that were meant to work side by side with you. A great team is waiting for you to figure it out. 🙂

  2. Nova Spivack says:

    Fair enough. Actually working with a technical recruiter on a contingency-only basis (where you only pay a fee if you hire someone they found) is much better. I have had good results with that arrangement.