Why have all the recruiters (or should I say Talent Acquisition Specialists) working in the big software companies been trained and grounded in search and recruiting firms? Have you ever seen a recruiter at Google, Amazon et al. trained at said company from rookie status through to competency? No, I thought not! These companies don’t train – someone else does that for them. Have a look through LinkedIn at the thousands of recruiters who work at the software behemoths.
Randomly, let’s pick a typical profile:
Middling degree from middling British University
Sociable type, usually under 35yo.
2-3 years as a recruiter at either small vertical tech recruitment consultancy or with one of the “usual suspect” listed firms. Was never going to be a big biller, but knows how to turn the handle.
Joins big ticket tech player at $80k.
Linkedin profile – given a big makeover – Seems to have a whole new array of skills and endorsements. Who wouldn’t want to receive a “poach call” from someone like this?
Promoted to talent manager: APAC sourcing lead after just 2 years. Now does strategy, events, metrics, team boostering. Not sure if they still have to talk to candidates. Although probably does interview #4 the “now I’d like you to meet our Global Director for talent … and welcome to the team…it’s truly a special place blah blah” interview. Now batting north of $160k. Further promotions might however be a little more difficult to secure. At this stage corporate visibility is everything.
So, clearly a better world than soldiering on at Joe Pokie’s recruiters. Or is it? Let’s have a look at the guns, the top 5% working on a fee for service basis.
Year 1 training. Base salary 50k and 10k of bonuses.
Year 2 $75k but feeling the pressure to deliver. Social and management culture questionable.
Year 3 $100k but sees no future and well “I’m outta here” OR chooses to stay and….
Starts to eat contractors for breakfast and goes to a whole new level. Becomes a “Lone Wolf”, makes a bucket load; but enough is never enough. Bills over $1million in year 5. Would contract out own mother on a fat margin if it helped the quarterly figures. The rest of the team start to look at him/her with a mix of awe and fear, vowing never to end up like the office superstar. Develops a nasty little coke habit and takes on a king’s ransom of a mortgage. LinkedIn connections well over 20,000 by now and there’s not a devops guy he/she doesn’t know in Australia. Management can’t afford to lose them, but man, aren’t they becoming hard to handle. Inevitably this is going to end in tears all round.
Anyway, all jokes and hyperbole aside, what are the take outs for recruitment company owners and managers who do the blood, sweat and tears of training and development only to see Uber or similar predators poach your emerging talent? A career in recruitment as rewarding as it can be, has plenty of dead ends. The mouse wheel only gets faster and faster and well you’re only as good as your last deal etc. etc.
As a starting point, consider the following:
- Improve your environment – make it fun! It’s part of the attraction to working at the Amazon’s of this world.
- Reward the real developers of value and revenue. If they’re making serious coin and feeling genuinely rewarded, they’re not going anywhere.
- If your light and middleweights end up “going internal” so be it. Everyone’s a winner!
- Do all the little things that create a high performance culture. Eventually consultants see that they will do better in the long run staying external.
- Grow the business above all else. A flat or static business doesn’t shine much of a light on the future.
In the end it is what it is; and compared to the not so distant past, the competition for recruitment talent is probably a good thing! Recruitment is increasingly perceived as a legitimate and professional career path.