Software Engineers: Do You Know Where Your Recruiter Is Sending Your Resume?

Where does your recruiter submit your resume?

Not a good model for submitting software resumes.

I think there many things about software recruiting agencies that don’t work well, and near the top is the tendency of some software recruiters to be very mysterious with their candidates about where their resume will be submitted. I don’t think this helps engineers seeking better job opportunities, nor does it help hiring managers striving to attract the best and most competent fits for their teams, and it’s not the way I do business.

If you conduct your job search with me at Oculus Search Partners, my commitment to you is that you will always know up front where I’m going to submit your resume. It will only be to places that you and I have discussed openly, where you know the name of my client company, and we mutually agree that pursuing that particular opportunity will be of benefit to you. Period.

Why do recruiters try to hide this information? It’s simple: FEAR.

What are they afraid of? Most contingency agencies don’t have exclusives on software engineer job openings, nor do the vast majority of recruiters at these agencies have any kind of deep relationship with the hiring decision-makers at the client companies. So, often times what they do is send an engineer’s resume to a company, thereby getting credit for referring that candidate first, waiting for interest from the company in interviewing that candidate, and only then telling the candidate about the opportunity, and trying to convince them to take the interview.

How backwards is THAT?

Of course, most good software engineering candidates hate this. Virtually all of the top engineers I’ve represented in job searches want to check out the company’s website, do a little research on the company, see who the investors are, see who they might know there. Maybe it’s a place they’re already interviewing, or a place where they rejected an offer last week, or got turned down a month ago. Maybe the new company shares common investors with the candidate’s existing company, and we need to know that up front to handle things discreetly.

So, if candidates hate this practice so much, recruiters must keep doing it because the client company likes it, right? WRONG. My experience has been the exact opposite, both from speaking with hiring managers that are my clients, as well as being a “consumer” of recruiting agency services when I used an agency to hire recruiters at my former company. Hiring managers don’t like it when a candidate is presented who doesn’t even know what company they’re being presented to. They want to know that the candidate has legitimate interest in the company and what they’re doing. VPEngs and other hiring authorities don’t have the time to waste.

Granted, there may be times when a search is truly a confidential one (typically a company trying to replace a person who’s still on the job and doesn’t know that he or she is about to be replaced, or a stealth-mode development effort), but those are special exceptions, and shouldn’t be the normal way of doing business.

I value my relationships with engineers, hiring managers, and the whole software community very much. I think it’s a privilege to work help match up these phenomenally talented and creative engineers with these amazing, fast-growing companies, and I try to always think about what’s best for all of those people.

The thing is, when I keep their interests first in my mind, things tend to work out pretty well for me too.