Many developers and engineers live according to one inalienable belief: they think that tech recruitment is pretty terrible. It’s often worse when big companies such as Google and Facebook come knocking. But one developer has found a way to cut to the chase quickly with recruiters.
Yegor Bugayenko’s blog post, titled “Why I Don’t Talk to Google Recruiters,” is a good look at what it’s like to be recruited by big tech companies. As he notes at one point, Amazon flew him from Ukraine to Seattle for a job interview, which made him think the firm was very interested in his specific skill-set. But after he failed to create an algorithm from scratch in four hours, he didn’t get the position.
“If she would have started her email with ‘We’re looking for an algorithm expert,’” he wrote in the blog posting, “we would never have gotten any further and would not have wasted our time. Clearly, I’m not an expert in algorithms.” (At least Amazon put him up in a really nice hotel.)
After that bad experience, Bugayenko decided to
break his loop on the first recruiter pass. When recruiters reach out, he now sends this:
Thanks for your email. I’m very interested indeed. I have nothing against an interview. However, there is one condition: I have to be interviewed by the person I will be working for. By my future direct manager.
The result? Recruiters tend to drop the communication cold, though Bugayenko suggests they often return later to query him about other positions. His experience reiterates an old argument among tech pros: tech recruiting needs some TLC.
While we won’t advocate Bugayenko’s abruptness with recruiters, there are ways to elegantly navigate the process. As with any good negotiation, good faith plays an important role. Recruiters (annoying as some tech pros may find them) have positions to fill. If they fire off dozens of spammy messages, it’s because the client (or bosses, for larger companies with dedicated recruiters) have an urgent need for talent.
A new hire is also expensive. DevSkiller notes that recruiting a new hire can cost as much as $60,000, and the process may take over a month. It’s reasonable to think recruiters would want to get you speaking directly with companies quickly, even though that process has a tendency to confound:
Google: 90% of our engineers use the software you wrote (Homebrew), but you can’t invert a binary tree on a whiteboard so fuck off.
— Max Howell (@mxcl) June 10, 2015
Although his take on recruiting is perhaps a little sensational, Bugayenko still highlights a skill that tech pros should develop to better navigate the hiring process: ask what specific skills the job requires. It lets the recruiter know you’re engaged, interested and cutting through the fog at the onset of recruitment, which can help avoid wasting everyone’s time. Even during the application process (which can yield similarly pitiful results to direct recruitment), asking the right questions early is a solid move.
A recruiter knows what specific skills a hiring company wants; asking about those skills at the beginning of the process can prove a good starting point from which to launch a discussion about the role. The recruiter can likely get that info from the company, if it’s not already on-hand. If they can get you the information, you’ll know if the granular skills needed are ones you’re comfortable with; no more whiteboard fails! (Just kidding, you’ll still fail now and then.)
The desire shouldn’t be to avoid recruitment, but to get beyond the initial stages as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Bugayenko demands to meet with the hiring manager straightaway, which is probably unrealistic. But if you make it easier for the recruiter to confidently recommend you for the position and an interview, the company has a good reason to expedite the initial steps of your hiring process.
From there, it’s all up to you… even the dreaded whiteboard interview.