Monday, February 21, 2022

Things are hard for tech firm recruiting

Via the New York Times, this rather remarkable set of anecdotes: 
On some of her very long days, and most of her workdays of late are very long, Tiffany Dyba, a 39-year-old recruiter in New York, recalls with a little nostalgia a hiring job she once held at a luxury-fashion designer.

Back then, people were so eager to get her their résumés that a young woman once looked up Dyba’s photo on LinkedIn and then waited outside her office on Madison Avenue to intercept her on her way into work. On another occasion, Dyba, making conversation with a possible hire, mentioned that she had a fondness for toffee — and the next day, toffee, beautifully wrapped, appeared in her office. Back then, the people she was hiring were hungry, they were eager. There were flowers. Carefully crafted thank-you notes. Those were things a recruiter might not expect but might occasionally enjoy. A recruiter felt wanted.

...Recruiters working in technology these days do not receive candy, flowers or thank-yous. The recruiter is lucky if she can get someone on the phone — if she receives so much as an email in response. Technology workers need court no one: Along with microchips, toilet paper and Covid tests, tech workers will be recalled as one of the great, pressing shortages of this pandemic. Estimates of the unemployment rates for tech workers are about 1.7 percent, compared with roughly 4 percent in the general economy; for those with expertise in cybersecurity, it’s more like 0.2 percent. Tech employees today tire of the attention from recruiters, the friendly hellos on LinkedIn, the cold calls (which Dyba does not make). “They think we’re like used-car salesmen,” Dyba said of her quarry. To be a recruiter in tech is to be an in-demand commodity for those companies doing the hiring but to feel like something of a nuisance — like an essential gear that emits a loud, irritating noise.

I can imagine things being pretty darn hard for recruiters these days.  


  1. The best way for a recruiter to get my attention is to convince me that they understand my industry and aren't a time-waster. Even if I'm not currently in the market, I respond to recruiter emails with well-fitting positions because I see so few of them. 99% of the time, it's some crappy temporary QC technician position that would set my career backward 20 years, and I'm picturing a complete idiot on the other end who doesn't understand that there's more than one kind of chemist.

  2. I too have to say that most recruiters I spoke to in the past do not understand the difference between cement plant and cemetery, steroids and asteroids. They have a position to fill, and with an eye on the reward they just contact the people at random. Also, in many case there is a reason why the position is not filled - either it is a very crappy kind of job (QC or CRO job) or the company hiring for the position has a very unreasonable set of expectations and cannot put those requirements into a coherent form.

  3. Software recruiters are often better at their jobs though. It's a lot harder to hire a good SWE than a good organic chemist say.

    1. Are software recruiters more apt to be ex-programmers who changed careers? The only chemical industry recruiters who are any good are ex-chemists who understand the field and know what the words in the job description mean.

    2. In my experience on the biology side, the few ex-biologist recruiters I've talked to have been horrible (often in the "I say you're a square peg, so even if you think you're round, I'm going to try to hammer you into this square hole" kind of way).

      The best recruiters I've talked to are willing to put effort into presenting a few options, and then asking what makes one look better than the others, iterating that across the process. By iterating, I mean they take maybe three candidate's resume summaries to the hiring manager, and actually listen to why some are better than others--and then they formulate questions about that, which they put to people in their network/database. If that answer sounds good to the recruiter, they start talking about the position description, and ask the candidate what makes them a good fit. Those answers then accompany the candidate's resume on the trip to the hiring manager.

      Obviously, this is a lot of work, and demands a recruiter who 1) is willing to listen and 2) has a good attention span. That rules out many of them.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20