Why recruiting?

A while back I wrote “Being Unreasonable about working on Projects“. I took this to heart when I decided to work as a recruiter, because I know that recruiters are seen as horrible scum that really do no good for the world. I decided that the only way I could work as/for a recruiter was if that company fit the MO that I set forth in the article I wrote previously. At the time of writing that article, I had already started my new job but the rubric for choosing it was in my mind when I interviewed the owner of this company about how he runs his company.

So, to directly attack my restrictions for being unreasonable:

Why do you want to do this project work here?

I have always wanted a job where I could help people and get paid to do so. Recruiting affords that opportunity and gave me the option to step away from coding for a while, which I felt that I desperately needed.  Burn out is a bitch.

Will it make money?

Does the pope shit in the woods? No really, does he? Because that would be hilarious.

It does make money, but the money is based on performance. Am I doing my job? Am I finding great people? Am I in the community making things happen, introducing people to other people, and is a difference being made for our clients and candidates?

Does it do any good? and/or Who does it benefit?

Yes, it does good. I get to help developers find great jobs at companies that want to pay them what their worth, teach them to get better, and grow together. It is pretty awesome helping someone who deserves it (because they worked their ass off to be awesome) get into an awesome job.  I also get to help companies who need these people to grow to find these people. I love the idea of being responsible for building teams that foster innovation, build quality, and help to make the company move forward.

What is the MVP? How hard will it be to get there?

The MVP here was me. I had to learn the industry, learn the process, learn my customers, figure out their company culture, and figure out how to find the right people. I love that the MVP was me, because it means I got to learn something new and use skills I already had in a new way.

Who else is excited to work on this with me?

The owner of the company was excited to work on this with me before I even knew it was a possibility. He’s a recruiter, so he saw qualities in me that would allow me to succeed. He knew that he’d have to spend extra time teaching me, but ultimately that time spent would be worth it. He knew this before I knew this. I was ready for something new, but I assumed it would be at a keyboard putting curly brackets to text editors not searching job boards and calling people.

The question I didn’t ask myself was, What does the market think of this project job?

The answer, which I knew at the time even though I didn’t directly spend time thinking about it, is that the market hates recruiters. They are the insurance salesmen of the HR world. Recruiters are known as slimy sales people who have their heads up their asses so far they haven’t seen daylight in years. These are people who are underqualified to talk to the people they are hoping to hire, they sell people on jobs, they sell clients on using them to hire people, and they are paid on commission.

So, why did I take this job? Because of that part I mentioned above where I interviewed the owner of this company. He didn’t interview me, he knew that he wanted me to work for him. I asked specific questions about process, quality, tactics, community, and customers. These questions helped me to realize a couple things:

  • The sales pitch wasn’t a sales pitch – it was straight conversation about what this company does and how, that’s it.
  • Brutal honesty is a mantra, it’s a business model, it’s a way of living and working. Some people can’t handle it, but most people appreciate it.
  • Doing things because they are the right thing to do, even if it costs a ton of money, is the right thing to do – everytime.
  • Spending time with people (customers or candidates) is the best way to find out if there’s a good fit. Keywords and resumes are only a way to get close, you still have to weed people out, if you don’t you won’t get anywhere.
  • This job is not easy, it’s tough because you really have to know what peopel are looking for and be willing to tell people they are a not a good fit – even when they’re a good fit technically. It sucks, but it doesnt’ do our customers a bit of good if the person we find for the job is a complete asshole, won’t think outside the box, or can’t work with other people within 10′ of their desk. This means we turn down or pass up a ton of people, but it’s the right thing to do for the people who pay our bills when we find the perfect candidate.

I didn’t specifically mention who I work for because a sales pitch is not the point of this blog post. I used my example in order to illustrate the point that being unreasonable works. I got damn lucky that the first person I called when I needed my next job just happened to be the right job for me. Ask yourself the questions above before you start a new job, before you start a new project, and you can find something that will help you grow and learn – even if it is in an industry that is despised and hated. Then, you can do what I am doing, trying my damnedest to give recruiting a good name and turn it from a necessary evil into a service that makes a difference.




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  • Kath Brandon

    Hey Matt –

    Absolutely LOVE this post – resonates so hard with me.

    I’ve wanted to recruit since the 3rd grade when I told my Dad that I wanted to help people find jobs that made them happy.

    Recruiting (to me) is an exciting puzzle where you find the right person for the right company/right culture/right reason and they all live happily ever after.

    At one time I recruited for Executive Sales placement and I placed two guys that on paper didn’t stand a chance. But their passion was real and their determination off the charts.

    3 months after I placed the first guy, he came into my office on a Friday afternoon, brought me a dozen roses and picked me up and swung me around several times. He’d just won Rookie of the Quarter. With a company car and a $5000 bonus – which was enough to hire a lawyer to help him gain custody of his son. He cried as he thanked me for helping him change his life.

    The 2nd guy was 62, everyone had written him off, his wife left him, he was at rock bottom. With nowhere to go but up, he NAILED his new job. Ran circles around guys 30 years younger than he. 9 months after the placement I received a lovely letter telling me how well he was doing.

    These examples are not about tooting my own horn, but rather to show what happens when, as you put it in your post, you do the right thing for the right reason.

    The right recruiter can make all the difference in the world.

    • http://mkbernier.com Matt Bernier

      Kath – I JUST NOW saw this. Admittedly, I am terrible at checking my comments but trying to do better.

      This is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing!

      I have been having a ton of fun with my job, helping people like myself who don’t know what’s out there to get awesome jobs and do great things. It’s so cool.