Why Your Recruiter Is the 2nd Most Important Person at Your Company

Sourcing is the process of actively seeking out candidates most often through the use of the Internet. With amount of time we, as individuals spend online growing, sourcing is a great way to engage a passive job seeker before they are actively looking for a job at a new company.

The challenge of sourcing is that now nearly everything we do is happening online. It’s a noisy space making the process of finding qualified candidates extremely challenging. I liken it to attending a conference party like a few of them at Oracle World or Dreamforce and being told that somewhere at that party among the 50,000 registered was the holy grail of employees in the market to work at a new company. Finding this talent is searching for a needle in a haystack. It takes a special sourcing skill or a hell of a networker to find that one qualified candidate.

Talent attraction teams have to weigh the time spent by an internet researcher compared to the cost to use job posting services or a third party agency. Recruiter agencies while effective can be expensive and in the technical industries cost upwards of 25% of the candidate’s first year salary. If an engineer’s salary hoovers at $200,000 per year, you would pay an agency recruiter $50,000 for a single opening.

This is the reason many technology companies are leaning towards in house and those who are contract recruiters. They aren’t focused on the fee of placing a single candidate and are more vested in the growing the organization for the long term. They work for your company and represent the organization. Good contract recruiters become long term ones, and it’s clear to me who is likely a good fit for an organization and who is not. Good contract recruiters in the tech world’s contract extends long beyond 90 days.

Good Technical Recruiters are Hard to Find

The challenge with sourcing which frankly is a lot like blogging is that there is no barrier to entry. Everyone thinks they are a blogger. Everyone is a sourcer just like everyone is a technical recruiter. It gets extremely noisy but over time, it becomes more clear who is talented at finding talent online. Technical talent is extremely challenging. Companies are taking over 58 days to fill the average job opening with important positions like engineers and coders taking six months or more to find a candidate. Traditional job posting channels are useless as tech talent hides in the shadows with the best taking on new positions on the recommendations of friends.

Talk to any highly skilled engineer and they will fill your days with stories of dumb recruiting blunders and bad LinkedIn InMails from recruiters desperate to fill an opening. Bad recruiting gives us recruiters and sourcers a bad name. The need for great recruiting and sourcing talent is so great that startup founders and CEOs are going to great lengths to find not only good engineers but good recruiters to work on behalf of their company.

Elaine Wherry is a startup CEO in 2010 who was on a mission to find great recruiters to fill javascript positions at her startup. Her entire female engineering team became pregnant and would be going on maternity leave. Work and development needed to continue and she was unsure what recruiters she could trust to fill those openings. Elaine created a fake persona and javascript expert, Pete London including a website and various social profiles to find the best recruiters to fill her startup’s technical openings. She details her efforts on her blog to locate the best recruiters to fill her openings. Of the 382 recruiters who connected with her from 2010-2012, only one realized the profile was in fact fake and that Elaine was actually Pete.

Tips to Recruit Technical Recruiters for your Technology Company

Her recommendations for recruiters and startups from her two years posing as a candidate to recruiters are insightful. Technical recruiters and talent attraction teams can learn a thing or two.

  • Recruit off the grid.
  • Recruiters flock to LinkedIn first, if not always. To increase your personal opportunities, join LinkedIn.
  • Your real recruiting nemesis is the start-up down the street. Pitch your job opportunities with more specificity than “fast-paced, innovative startup.”
  • Find your superstar engineers first and your superstar in-house recruiters second.
  • Push for at least 18-month no-poach policies with external recruiters.

Good recruiters and sourcers are the second most important positions at your company. While engineers help build your product, your recruiters uncover the great talent to continue growing and scaling your organization.  Not every recruiter is a good one but when you find one they can help transform your organization whether you are a technology startup in Silicon Valley or a grocery store chain in the Midwest. Good recruiters are not always great sourcers but by working together they can help uncover hidden gems and hires that can transform your organization. At the heart of a great organization, talent is key.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Luke McMasters says

    On of the best things you can do to find the right recruiting agency is to go local. A company that is near to your location, knows the job market, and can devote time to you specifically is the best option. Local companies don’t have to worry about nationwide locations and can be very specific while finding the right engineers for you.



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