On May 1st, 2017, I parted ways with my previous employer. It’s now June 23rd, and I’ve just accepted a fantastic offer for a senior devops engineer role! While everything is still fresh in my mind, I wanted to capture my experiences, specifically in regards to recruiters, job hunting sites, and some things I’d do differently next time around!
If you find yourself hunting for your new position, perhaps this info will help you out!
Prior to this job hunt I had only dealt with a recruiter once before, job hunting around 2005 or 2006. And it wasn’t on purpose! The Craigslist ad I responded to didn’t make it clear I wouldn’t be contacting the company directly.
Often you can tell when a post is from a recruiter, i.e if the job listing doesn’t actually mention the name of the company, or it’s got some weird filing code in the post title.
Anyway, my one and only interaction with a recruiter back then left a real sour taste in my mouth. The recruiter was extremely patronizing, and treated me like a child. On a phone call prior to scheduling a face to face interview with the hiring manager at the company, I was lectured about how I need to wear a nice shirt during the interview… told to always smile and make eye contact, basically stopping short of telling me to brush my teeth the morning of the interview. Even back in the early days of my career, I didn’t need to be told that shit.
More recently, I’ve experienced recruiters from the other side of the fence when I was hiring new people for my teams. A whole other nightmare.. but I digress.
So this time around, as I hunted for a new senior level dev/devops position… I found myself dealing with a whole whack of recruiters…. again, not by choice! The majority of job postings I responded to were created by recruiters, but made no mention of that fact!
I will admit that my hatred for recruiters has definitely softened as a result of this job hunt. My experiences with the companies were pleasant for the most part! And only one of them got into the patronizing interview advice and tips that led me to hate the industry in the first place.
Here are the companies I dealt with:
- altisHR – ghosted me after the initial screening interview! boo.
- CompuStaff – the person i dealt with here was the patronizing interview tip offender!
- Modis Canada – was able to provide several leads
- Robert Half
- hireVOUCH / Hire Level Consulting – one of the best recruiters I dealt with! When one position didn’t go past second round of interviews, they hooked me up with another!
- TEEMA Solutions – One of the people I dealt with here was based in Vancouver. Didn’t realize Newmarket != Toronto!
- IQ PARTNERS Inc.
- TALGroup – again, ghosted me after initial screening interview. please have the courtesy to let me know when a company isn’t interested in me!
- Michael Page – I dealt with two different people for two different roles. Had to go through the initial screening/resume sending for each! Don’t their people talk to each other, or share a DB?
- VitalSource IT
- PMC Recruitment
- Grossman Dorland
- Executive talentondemand
In an ideal world, my relationship with a recruiter would last far beyond an application process to one of their clients. It’d be amazing if I could get hooked up with someone I liked and work with them for the duration of my career. The recruiter’s client should be ME, not the company looking to fill an opening… sort of like how talent agents work! Look at all the recruiters I dealt with on this job hunt. Each one of them had dibs on a position I was interested in… and each time the process involved at least two or three emails, and an introduction call of twenty minutes or more, before I’d even start communicating with the person doing the hiring! It’s a huge time sink, and awfully redundant. Also it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in these people having any insight into the type of role I’d actually be a good fit for, beyond some simple keyword or experience matching.
If we built a legitimate relationship with an independent recruiter, over time they would start cluing in on exactly the type of role you want, or the ideal type of company you want to work for. They’d get to know what drives you… and armed with that deeper knowledge, could honestly start providing some genuine good matches! The job wouldn’t have to end once you’ve accepted an offer! They could keep their eyes peeled on the market for you, and if something they know you’d like comes along, well maybe you feel like it’s time for a move! Basically be more of a career assistant, than a temp agency. I like that thought. Someone figure out how to do this please.
Job Hunting Resources!
There has been steady growth in the recruitment / hiring industry over the years. Lots of new sites have popped up, plenty of new fresh eyed websites, trying to “disrupt” the industry. It can be a little daunting figuring out where to go, what tools to use! Perhaps my details here can steer someone in the right direction!
Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile. This is #1. THE most important thing. Treat your LinkedIn account like a living resume. A ton of third party recruitment/hiring sites, allow you to import your resume data directly from here… so if for any other reason, sign up to save yourself some typing!
The jobs section here isn’t too shabby! The searching capabilities are somewhat restricted unless you have a paid account Also doesn’t have the greatest design. Searching listings don’t seem to be sorted, and it’s not always easy to tell which places you have already applied to until you drill into the job itself. If the company has opted in to easy apply, you only have to click a button to send your resume and profile over! A lot of the listings make you go to the companies own job site. It’s a good place to start. And there is the benefit of being able to easily see if you have any connections at a place when you are applying. It can be helpful to chat with somebody currently working somewhere, or who used to work there.
Angel.co is a social network / linkedin type thing, focused around start up companies and their employees. I discovered they have quite a fantastic jobs section! Probably the best selection of start up job listings out of everyone, and it’s extremely easy to use. You basically set up a little search with the job title, location, and salary you want to look for. If you see something you like, you click a button to express interest! The company sees your interest, can check out your profile, and contact you via a messaging system to get the ball rolling. All the postings seem to be from real companies, not masked recruiters, which is a major plus! Lots of the roles I saw listed on here weren’t found anywhere else.
Hired.com is… interesting. Their USP is a human vetting process for job seekers, and a how they’ve changed the typical recruiting paradigm. Instead of candidates searching through postings and blasting everyone they think is a match… the companies get access to all candidates and pick and choose out of the lot. Your profile on hired goes live with others as part of a ‘batch’, that remains up for three weeks. After that, if you are still hunting… there is a cool down period of a couple weeks, then you can decide to go live in another batch! One feature here I really liked, was the ability to block out times in a calendar, indicating when you are free for an interview. Saves a lot of back and forth emails! I was contacted by four different companies via Hired. Some small startups, some big corps. It was a good mix. Had a good experience here, but I’m not sure I’m sold on the reversed paradigm.
Glassdoor.com is that website where employees can review places they’ve worked! Perfect for conduction research on places you are considering applying to, or interviewing at. That said, take the reviews with a grain of salt… it’s clear some companies probably make their employees leave fake ass five star glowing writeups, and you find awful employees shitting on a company because they got fired sorta thing. In addition to company reviews, the site here also lets you review/comment on an interview you had with someone. Super handy for getting a little advance knowledge of what kind of tech questions you might be in for! The jobs section has a lot of posts… stuff from small startups, big companies, everything in between. Definitely a bumpin little job board! Super easy and well designed site!
Finally, indeed.com. This is the junkiest site of the bunch. It really looks like a job board from 2005 with it’s kijiji-esque design. Really, your big generic job board. Companies that might not know about angel.co or glassdoor, will likely put their job listings here. The type of roles you find here really run the gamut, so no matter what tech you specialize in, or role you are looking for, chances are you’ll find something relevant! That said, this place is recruiter central. It felt like 90% of listings I submitted a resume to, led me to a recruiter and not the actual company.
I’ve used Craigslist to find every job I’ve had since 2004. Those days seem to be over now. When I surfed over to the usual sections, web/info design, software / qa / dba, internet engineers… there were a lot fewer posts than what I remember seeing in previous hunts… and they were largely made up of entry level LAMP stack positions, WordPress stuff, people who need a website built for $1000, those type of roles. I don’t know if most companies don’t bother with Craigslist anymore, or if the type of job I’m looking for, a senior role, was never really posted on Craigslist anyway….
Personally, whenever I’m tasked with finding a new team member, I always include a post on Craigslist. And it definitely still works… it found me a fantastic guy at my last company… someone who basically became my #2, and proved an invaluable addition to the team. Don’t overlook Craigslist!
Beefs With These Job Sites
One thing I’m not a fan of on the majority of these sites, is not being able to tell if you are submitting your application to the company directly, or into some recruiter.
Another gripe is with the terrible staffing portals a lot of companies choose to use! Taleo.net, jobvite.com, greenhouse.io were the branded ones I saw… bigger companies tended to have their own custom built talent portal. Most of them allow you to import your data from LinkedIn, and most of them do a piss poor job of slotting in the data they pull into their own fields. Almost every time, I had to do all sorts of corrections and manual work after importing my LinkedIn data. Sometimes to the extent that it probably would have been faster to just input it from scratch!
Tools Worth Mentioning
Three sites that aren’t for job listings, but provide other useful services while job hunting!
Don’t let yourself get rusty during your employment down time! Or brush up on some basic algorithms you think might come up in an interview! With hackerrank.com, you can complete challenges in a vast array of subjects, with just as many diverse languages supported too! Beyond challenges, these guys offer regular contests where you compete against all other entrees for prizes. I had a lot of fun here, and definitely see myself continuing to use it.
Neat new freelancing site, that focuses on offering customers one on one mentoring with subject experts! Sign up, list your skills, and after a brief review, you will get activated as a mentor! I got on, and made some sorely needed dollars by helping people out with coding homework in PHP, customizing some nginx config files to do something a little out of the box, and offering guidance on someones new startup idea! A big plus, if video chatting or helping live isn’t your thing, people can request offline work… which are basically just short term/fixed price little jobs to do. codementor.io lets you set your own rates, choose your own jobs, they payout via paypal every week, and even provide an escrow system for bigger dollar tasks! The major negative here is that they take a 20% cut of anything you make… but still. So much nicer than any other freelancing job site I’ve dealt with.
So you finally got that offer from the HR lady by email. She needs you to sign and initial it, and send it back to them. I remember having to print PDF’s out, sign them, then scan them back in and send over as jpg’s in days gone by. Now, you can just use hellosign.com! It’s a free service (with paid upgrades if you are heavy user), that will consume your PDFs, and let you digitally insert a signature, initials, or a date, wherever you want, before dumping back to a PDF for you to either download, or send directly to someones email! Super handy.
What I would have done differently
Research and hit up companies directly! Virtually every company has a ‘jobs’ page these days. Before starting my hunt, what I should have done is put together a list of target companies, places I’d like to work. Go direct to them and see if they have anything that might be a good fit. Even if they don’t at the moment, never hurts to throw your resume into their system in case something does come up in the near future!
Use a cover letter with my applications. Most of the sites I mentioned allow you to attach a cover letter along with your resume when applying. I’ve almost always made use of a cover letter when job hunting.. but for some reason this time around I got lazy I guess and skipped it. Once you have a basic template set up, it doesn’t take long at all to do a little research on the role, and the company, and describe why you are a good fit. Bullet points on a resume don’t always convey the right picture.
Utilize friends to find openings that might not be listed anywhere. Almost all of my friends are also in the tech world, and almost all in senior level roles. It can’t hurt hitting friends up, asking them if they know any open jobs.. or even any companies that might be good to apply at knowing what they do about you.
Don’t tell anyone the lowest salary you’ll accept. There are plenty of sites that collect data about typical salary ranges for your industry or specific job title. Glassdoor.com is one of them. Salary expectations are always brought up in an interview… sometimes they might ask you for a range, or just a single number. Always ask for more than you think you can get! Like, don’t go crazy and throw around numbers that’d make a Fortune 500 CEO blush, but be generous with yourself. You may not have an opportunity to negotiate, so take care! Add 20k to that salary ask! Make your single number, the bottom level of a range if that’s what they ask for. Nobody is ever going to pay you $120k/year, if you’ve told them you’ll be good with $100k – $120k.
Make sure I’m financially prepared to weather at least three months out of work! The obvious way to do things is to line up a new position before you leave your current one. However, for various reasons that’s not always possible. That said, it’s been my experience that finding a new job takes about three months. I’ve been lucky a few times and only had to hunt a few weeks… but it’s safe to assume that won’t be the case. Finding a new position with a company you really like, for the kind of money you want, in a role you are a good fit for… isn’t something you can rush! Don’t get stuck in a situation where you have no choice but to take the first offer that comes your way due to financial concerns!