November 15, 2014

HR is broken - the recruiter honeypot

It is an old claim of mine that the employment business is broken. Not broken in the sense of cryptography -- down from 256 bits of strength to 255, the horror! -- but broken in the human, social sense. ROT13 broken. A complete facade, a level of reliability that even bankers would find troubling.

To prove this total brokenness, here's some great informal research with some awful findings.

The Recruiting Crisis

In late 2009, my desk was piled with JavaScript resumes. Our homegrown JavaScript framework edged us over competitors but maintaining our technical advantage meant carefully crafting a lean, delta-force Web team. Though I averaged two interviews a day, we had only grown the team by three-four engineers each year.

However, in 2010, that had to change. It was our first year with a real revenue target and also the first time we planned to pivot from our original IM product. We charted our end-of-year goals, quarterly milestones, and eventually backtracked to our team and hiring priorities. To meet our 2010 goals, I needed to double the JavaScript team in just one quarter. If I didn't, innovation would stall and without revenue, our business would be in serious jeopardy.

To summarise, a founder of a startup got frustrated with recruiting Javascript programmers, and in one mad regrettable night, created a false identity as the very image of the geekly god of code she wanted to employ. She then watched what the recruiters did with the perhaps noble intention that she would employ the best of those very recruiters to help her.

Didn't quite work out that way. Here's her findings in a nutshell:

  • LinkedIn is the *only* channel for recruiters! Anything else was worthless for garnering their attention. Only LinkedIn got attention from recruiters. While great for LinkedIn's stock holders, it is a sad sickening result in and of itself; it evidences a monocultural blindness that bespeaks of disaster for the employment business.
  • Her own company did not use LinkedIn. They had recruited a great team by all sorts of other methods. Which matches what I recommended a while back: when you discover a trend, do the reverse.
  • All the recruiting approaches were the same. There were mild differences between the general categories of Large & Startup, but within those archtypes, the approaches were cut & paste. Best Practices has become Monoculture has taken root with a vengeance.
  • Every recruiter she had used in the past broke the contract. There was no love lost with recruiters' clients, they all tried to poach her false god of code. This is the endgame in a broken employment market, "I poach because I can't think (of anything better)"
  • Every recruiter used white lies such as "I've been referred to you by ..."
  • Who was best at recruiting? The ordinary manager with no recruiting experience, training or bias.
  • Finally, out of 382 recruiters, only one checked the facts and tried to get a real contact with the person. And found out the person didn't exist! So when you think you are paying these people for reliable information, you are deceived. Recruiters provide no checking on anything, in general.

That's the quick read. If however you are a company founder interested in recruiting, you should definitely read the entire thing. It's off the wall, very counter-cultural. But that's what it takes to defeat a monocultural failure -- fresh approach.

Posted by iang at November 15, 2014 09:26 AM

This was the last straw for me. I've just shut down my linkedin in account. My linkedin number was 5454 and I joined on May 23rd 2003. Linkedin has provided no value to me at all. It's made me a target for recruiters and charlatans.

Posted by: Graeme Burnett at November 15, 2014 06:39 PM

Recruiters are scum of the earth and shall be on the B ark along with the telephone sanitizers and middle management.

Posted by: bm at November 15, 2014 07:23 PM

> Javascript engineer

Excuse me for seeing a contradiction in this poor mix of words.

Anyone using Javascript is pressing (atrociously designed) ready-to-use buttons, promoted by BigCos whose business is about making others so unable to operate that they have no choice but to 'delegate' their customers' data, business and future in *their* Cloud.

Any serious 'engineer' will vomit if you mention Javascript, Java, or C#.

Why the hell a startup would elect to use broken design, crippled by a constant stream of bugs and security breaches while all these 'innovative' languages (and all compilers and Operating Systems) are still written in plain old C?

C is the most widely ported and used language by an industry trying to convince users that they should *not* use C.

Any bell ringing?

This story is reflecting how bad the situation is - and how wrong those who think they can emit a diagnosis can be.

Posted by: Paul Mordoc at November 17, 2014 10:08 AM
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