Interview with a Vampire Technical Recruiter

by Samantha Ogletree

Hiring in this job market is tough—much tougher than the dot com boom of the 1990s, when Stout was first established. Here are some tips from two of Stout’s veteran Tech Talent Specialists.

What does a technical recruiter actually do?

Priya: “First, we meet with the client–the hiring manager as well as any of the client’s recruiters or HR people. We discuss the position with regards to what they are looking for–requirements, the salary and anything else related to the position. After the meeting, we immediately get to building out the job based on requirements and on what we took away from the meeting. Then I can begin sourcing candidates. As candidates go through our process, they undergo a technical screening with us. If they pass that, I will then schedule a talk time with the candidate to discuss the details of the position. This gives me a chance to gauge if the candidate is genuinely a good fit and meets the client requirements. In turn, the candidate also gets an opportunity to learn more about the client and the position they are applying for. I then present their credentials to the client. I follow up with the hiring manager, schedule interviews, and chase for feedback. If the candidate is not right, I go back and talk to the hiring manager and recalibrate the job description to capture a better candidate. If they want to hire the candidate, I am involved in presenting the offer and any negotiations for benefits or salary. After a candidate is placed at a client, I follow up to make sure things are going well and both parties’ expectations have been met.”

Brian: “First I strive to understand in as much detail as possible the role that’s needing to be filled – including technical requirements, soft requirements, culture of the business. Second, I identify candidates who will, as close as possible, be a good fit for that role I’ve learned so much about. Third, I keep things moving forward. I get the candidate presented and reviewed by the hiring managers. I keep everything moving forward with regards to interviews, offers and reference checks with the goal of ultimately having a happy ending with a candidate who is well matched and placed with a client.”

What are some of the things that make your job harder or easier when working with a hiring manager?

Priya: “My job is harder when the hiring manager does not have a good handle on what he or she is looking for in a candidate or does not have a good handle on what exactly are the responsibilities and requirements of the position. I’ve had hiring managers who keep changing the requirements and responsibilities throughout the process. Constantly rejiggering the job. That makes it very difficult. I can understand it somewhat because it’s sometimes only after you talk with someone that you figure out they are not exactly what you’re looking for. 

“The worst thing, in my opinion, is when they’re not prompt--especially in a job market like this. Not prompt in reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews, giving feedback, responding to emails, interviewing candidates, scheduling the next interview. That’s not being respectful of anyone’s time. My job is made easier, of course, when the opposite of these things are true. The most important thing is promptly giving us feedback--being respectful and mindful of people’s time.”

Brian: “Some things that make it easier are providing us with as much detail as possible with regards to the role, the company culture, the cool factors that the company may have to offer, all the things that will make this role attractive to candidates. Also their timeliness in providing feedback on a candidate submitted, arranging interviews in the event of interest, and just keeping everything moving forward at a fast pace because it’s a very fast moving market right now. 

“Things that make it difficult are when clients don’t provide enough feedback to help us fine tune our search. When they drag their feet and take too long, a good candidate takes up another offer with another company.”

What makes a great hiring manager?

Priya: “They are very communicative and responsible. Mindful of people’s time. Respectful. Polite. Generally, just a nice human being.”

Brian: “Somebody who takes the time to really explain what they’re looking for, is willing to talk to you in person about that and doesn’t drag their feet.”

When do you think companies should use a recruiter and when should they not?

Priya: “If it’s just hiring managers reading resumes, they may be inundated with a hundred resumes that they don’t have time to look through because they have other duties. I’ve seen this go very badly—they get in a time crunch and just randomly pick one or two resumes, hire those individuals, those employees fail, and they go back and do the same process. It’s not an efficient way of doing it. 

“I’d say if the company has a robust HR department and individuals whose only responsibilities are to source and vet candidates, they won’t need a recruiter.

“As an aside, I would say that if a company has an applicant tracking system that automatically uses an algorithm to filter out candidates based on just keywords/skills, that is the worst possible scenario. An automated process may give them efficient robots but probably not enjoyable humans to work with.”

Brian: “Using a recruiter is a great opportunity for any company because it essentially builds out your own HR department without having to hire additional people. They don’t have to have us on their payroll but they can get the same, if not better, results. The people in HR who are recruiting are often doing a lot of other HR functions as well. So they can be spread really thin and never have the opportunity to dedicate themselves to become good recruiters. So by using an outside agency where that’s literally all they do—recruit, recruit, recruit and continue to hone their craft—that’s an opportunity to build out their HR department without having to put that person on payroll. I don’t know that there are many companies that have a robust enough HR department to meet this standard, but that would be the instance I would say that a company doesn’t need to use a recruiter.”

What’s the most rewarding part of being a recruiter?

Priya: “When you help someone land their dream job. Especially after COVID, so many folks were burned out and needed a change or a break. There was one person who said she hated her job because, although on paper it was a hybrid role, the company switched back to being mandatory onsite. She was bummed out. They wouldn’t even make an exception if she was sick. She deserved to be with a company that would work with her needs. A lot of women, especially ones who had babies during COVID, had very difficult experiences with their jobs. Data has shown that employees are just as productive in a hybrid/remote setting. I’m happy to be an advocate for these types of candidates.”

Brian: “That kind of ‘matchmaker’ experience of knowing you understood what your candidate was looking for and what the client was looking for and you were able to ideally make a perfect match.”

Proudest moment as a technical recruiter?

Priya: “After COVID, a lot of people were laid off or needed to find remote roles. They got burnt out looking for a new job, so when I was able to help them find a rewarding position that suited their lifestyle and it made them really happy--that was very fulfilling. Also, when I help a client fill a really hard to fill role—if they’re looking for that unicorn or purple squirrel and I’m able to find that person–it makes me really happy.”

Brian: “Sometimes a good corporate recruiter comes to us as a last ditch effort to help them fill a role they simply have not been able to fill on their own. When I am able to fill it, I feel pretty good about that! Likewise, when I help a candidate who has had a particularly hard time finding a position. For example, I had a candidate who had no hearing at all and had a cochlear implant. There had to be a lot of special arrangements made for interviewing him and a lot of upfront work presenting him properly so that he would be given the opportunity to interview. When we were able to place him with a company, it was a really proud moment.”

 What media do you consume to stay atop the recruiting industry?

Priya: “LinkedIn News, Business Week, Forbes, SHRM, and of course Stout Systems’ Hiring Trends always has a great digest!”

Brian: “We follow everything! We read Dice reports, Glass Door, white papers, LinkedIn. I follow recruiters on social media and read their articles that they write. We research hiring topics to write articles for our website and to put together our Monthly Hiring Trends newsletter.”

This is a technical/business article catered to developers, hiring/project managers, and other technical staff looking to improve their skills. Sign up to receive our articles in your email inbox.

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Stout Systems is the software consulting and staffing company Fueled by the Most Powerful Technology Available: Human Intelligence®. We were founded in 1993 and are based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We have clients across the U.S. in domains including engineering, scientific, manufacturing, education, marketing, entertainment, small business and robotics. We provide expert level software, Web and embedded systems development consulting and staffing services along with direct-hire technical recruiting and placements.

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