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I get a lot of calls and emails from recruiters — it had been 5-10 per week, but, since raising our last round, it’s spiked to 3-4 per day. I try to politely tell them we do our own recruiting, but, it doesn’t seem to get the message across. So, if you’re thinking of using recruiters, here are five reasons not to waste your money:
1 – Recruiters are Ineffective — Every time I’ve used recruiters, I’ve seen three or four candidates for every one that we’d even consider hiring. Because you’re paying the recruiter a lot of money, you feel compelled to interview the candidates she sends you; but, the vast majority of the time, the recruiter’s candidate pool is worse than just trolling LinkedIn.
2 – Recruiters are Expensive — Most people don’t realize that it’s common for a recruiter to command 20% of a new hire’s first year salary. For an engineer, that’s $15k-30k! Recruiters typically require “exclusives,” so, if one is sending you candidates and you make a hire through another means, you still pay the fee. And, if the new hire doesn’t work out, most recruiters won’t refund the fee.
3 – Recruiters Dilute Your Brand — Recruiters are like watch salesmen in Times Square. They’re representing a number of companies to prospective candidates and typically doesn’t have more than an ephemeral grasp of what you actually do. You work hard at building a great culture and then your recruiter bundles you in with everyone else for the candidate.
4 – Don’t Let Foxes in the Henhouse — Elaine Wherry wrote a great post on mediocre recruiters a couple years ago. In it she describes the only good recruiter with whom she’d worked was also one trying to poach her people. In the rare occasion when we’ve tried recruiters, I’m always shocked that they’ll immediately turn around and try to poach our people as soon as their contract ends. By exposing your best engineers — the ones who typically run interviews — to a recruiter, you run the risk of the recruiter trying to poach them.
5 – Use the Money on to Build Your Culture and Your Brand — The money spent hiring a recruiter for even a single engineering opening can be spent in so many better ways. Sponsor every Meetup you can. Print a ton of t-shirts, and give one to anyone who promises to wear it. Make sure your employees have awesome welcome packs. Or, hand the money over to your team and let them help you build a kickass culture. It’s amazing what they can do with that kind of money.