Another Year, Another Reason to Hate Technical Recruiters

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Another Year, Another Reason to Hate Technical Recruiters

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Here it is, almost 2009 and I’ve gone nearly the whole year without ranting about recruiters but I just can’t take it any more. Way back in 2006 I penned an Open Letter to SharePoint Recruiters, begging them to stop trying to combine a developer and architect into a single position. A bit later, my good buddy Adam Buenz shot some arrows at the general recruiter community for not understanding anything about the positions they are trying to fill. Sadly, it seems that most recruiters have completely ignored our pleas and have actually managed to make themselves look even worse by completely ignoring the general business rule of "know your product before you try to sell it".

Here’s a case study to illustrate what’s got a burr under my saddle today. This little gem cropped up in my daily email alerts from Dice (please note that I’m am NOT linking to the original job post in order shield the recruiting firm from the scorn and shame that they rightfully deserve):

Job Description:

Play the role of Subject Matter expert in the Clients SharePoint COE team

* Solid knowledge in the MOSS capabilities & integration wih third party technologies like SiteMinder
* Experience with SharePoint permissions and permission level
* Experience establishing and managing technical governance
* Interacting with the Client and translate business requirements into SharePoint solutions
* Experience with Nintex workflow tool is a plus

Required Qualifications

* Developing Custom Master Pages and overall branding / customization, Custom Site Definitiions / templates, List Definitions, Site Columns, Content Types
* Advanced search properties
* Custom web parts / web controls
* Feature Stapling
* Event Handlers
* Event Receiver Assembly Features
* Solution Deployment packages (WSP)
* MOSS / WSS Object Model
* InfoPath forms development
* Custom Workflows using SPD as well as VS.Net
* Dual Authentication using AD/LDAP
* Thorough knowledge of ASP.Net / ADO.Net preferably using C#
* Moderate knowledge of SQL Server

Sigh – where do I even start? To begin with, the post title reads "SharePoint Developer…" and the first six items have nothing whatsoever to do with development. Experience managing technical governance? From a developer? Does this person even know what "governance" is? That’s an Architect’s job, not a Developer’s job – proving that they never read my original post on this topic (which isn’t hard to find – Google "SharePoint recruiter" and it’s the first link).

Furthermore, it’s obvious that whomever gave the list of qualifications to the recruiter was throwing in every SharePoint term they ever heard of without any real knowledge of what they were asking for. just what is an "Event Receiver Assembly Feature" as opposed to an "Event Handler", I wonder? Or "Dual Authentication using AD/LDAP"? And could someone explain to me how "Advanced search properties" is considered a programming skill?

But wait – it gets even better. The real coup de grace comes when I scroll down and read the pay rate – $45 – $53 an hour for a 1099 or W2 contractor. Ok, for the love of all that is good and holy, even if you are technically incompetent, shouldn’t you at least know what the market rate is for the type of position you’re trying to fill? Isn’t that what recruiters get paid for?

I would like an itemized explanation of exactly what the client is getting in return for whatever ridiculous fee they’re paying this scam artist. They don’t know anything about the technology, they don’t know the market, and they don’t know what position they are hiring for. Where is the value add? Where’s the ROI for the 25%/30%/WhateverInsanePercentage these fools are charging?

I get calls from recruiters all the time who get offended when I tell them I won’t do business with their ilk because they don’t understand our sector. Well, tough – the truth hurts. If you’re going to play in this market, start by trying to understand what it is you’re selling. If you want to make money shifting SharePoint people around, I would think that your first step would be to get some familiarity with the product. There are all kinds of workshops, seminars, and community events that offer free information – take advantage of them and go learn something before you waste everyone’s time. I would never think of entering any business without learning something about it first – isn’t that just common sense?

Worse, these morons make our jobs even tougher and do damage to the SharePoint community as a whole, not to mention the disservice they are doing for their clients. Somebody should have told the customer that they can’t get what they want for $45 an hour before putting that post on the Internet. For Pete’s sake, help your client by educating them on the market so they have reasonable expectations – don’t send them people who fit the salary range but don’t meet any of the qualifications. They won’t appreciate it and they’ll never do business with you again. And now I have to be the bad guy and tell these people at user group meetings that you, Mr. or Mrs. Recruiter, sold them snake oil and they can’t get what they want at that price. That’s not my job, it’s yours – you get paid for it so do the right thing for once.

To be fair, not all recruiters fall into this trap; I know some stand-up people in the recruiting business that are willing to tell the customer how the cow eats the cabbage. I’ve given lunch-n-learn seminars to recruiting firms free of charge who have an honest desire to do the right thing – if you want help, it’s out there (in fact, if you buy me a good steak I’ll talk to your people until their ears bleed so be careful what you ask for). But there are so many resume flippers out there that it’s becoming an epidemic. Please, do us all a favor, if you don’t know SharePoint then stay out of this business – you’re a parasite leeching off the lifeblood of the community.

Great, it’s not even noon and now I need a drink. Sheesh.