How to get a job at Lunatech

05 August 2010

by PeterHilton

How to Get a Job at Cloudera is an excellent article that explains to job candidates how to be more interesting than just a CV in the mail, and why going through a recruitment agency puts you at a big disadvantage. You could just read the article with Lunatech in mind, because the same things are true here as well, and because we are also interviewing people for our Java EE developer vacancies at the moment. However, it is worth re-telling the story from our point of view, which is what this article is." ---

Recruiters from our point of view

Lunatech either gets a CV direct from the candidate or via a third-party - usually a recruiter who is trying to ‘place’ the candidate, for a fee. The candidate is worse off when a recruiter is involved. Cloudera sum this up pretty well in their article:

Contingency recruiters get paid by the hiring company when the candidate they introduce gets the job. The amount they get paid varies a little bit, but is generally a quarter to a third of the annual salary of the person they place. That means that a software developer who earns $80K a year shows up with a $20,000 price tag, minimum, due and payable to the recruiter, up front. If you are that software developer, you need to be not merely as good as the rest of the candidates we are looking at. It is not even enough to be a little bit better. You need to be so astonishingly good that you are worth our writing a fat check to a third party on your very first day in the office. And, honestly, if you are that good, how come we do not know about you already?

This matches our experience exactly. For example, a year or two ago, a recruiter contacted us about a candidate. The candidate, who I shall call ‘Tom’ (his real name), was a Java developer working for a large IT company in Rotterdam and was ‘looking for a new challenge’ and ‘very interested in Lunatech’. This sounds great, but there are a couple of problems.

Candidates who cost more

First, the recruiter’s €10000 - €15000 fee would have made hiring Tom very expensive. This is not out of the question, especially for large organisations whose human resources departments spend a lot more than that to hire each new employee. Lunatech, on the other hand, is a small agile organisation where one of the senior developers manages recruitment directly, with very little overhead.

Tom would have to have been exceptionally good to justify the recruiter’s fee on top of the usual risk of hiring a new employee, but we never found out because we could only justify the cost if we had a good chance of putting him on paid work shortly after starting, and we did not need someone for a project that month. After all, Lunatech is a small company and does not start many new projects every month.

Candidates who go elsewhere first

A second problem is the notion that Tom was ‘very interested in Lunatech’, given that he did not contact us directly. There are other explanations, but the most likely is simply that Tom had never actually heard of Lunatech or found out anything about us, and that the recruiter was telling the same pitch to every software company in Holland.

Furthermore, even if we suppose that Tom really was specifically interested in Lunatech, why did he not contact us directly? Perhaps it is just easier to use a recruiter, from the candidate’s point of view: the recruiter does the work of making contact and the initial pitch, and someone else pays.

These possibilities are not the biggest problem: even if it means that recruiters’ candidates tend to be somewhat indifferent, lazy or shy, the candidates could be so good at writing code that it would be worth interviewing them.

Misguided candidates

The biggest problem is the possibility that candidates are looking for jobs via recruiters because they (wrongly) believe that this approach is more likely to get them interviews. Lunatech does not have a special relationship with any particular recruiters, and there is no up-side from our point of view. Candidates who believe that a recruiter is more likely to get them an interview at Lunatech have just been talking to more recruiters than hiring managers.

Tom’s situation, meanwhile, would have been different if he had contacted us directly. We would have invited him for an interview at the earliest opportunity, and might have offered him his ideal job.

A sellers’ market

At the moment it is a candidates’ market, and we get fewer applicants than we would like. Instead, a good candidate can reasonably expect to be invited to interviews at several companies, and choose between a choice of job offers. The smart candidates are therefore interviewing several companies, at the same time as being interviewed themselves, to find out who they want to work for.

However, this does not mean it makes sense to be lazy about applying for jobs: the lazy or less smart candidates are effectively screening companies on how much they spend on recruitment, which are not necessarily the best places to work as a programmer. Let’s face it: the more a company spends on job adverts and recruiter fees, the less likely they are to make sure that each developer has a seriously powerful workstation with enough monitors.

Conclusion

In reality, if you are a ‘Tom’ (or in fact the real Tom), then we would love to talk to you about jobs at Lunatech, to find out whether we are each other’s ideal employee and employer.

Just to be clear, we do not hate recruiters - some of them are really nice people. It’s just that a recruiter is a sales person with a slick pitch who would sell you her grandmother if she could. Even if her grandmother is a Visual Basic programmer who still codes ActiveServer Pages web applications in VBScript. Besides, the economics of the situation work against recruiters.

As a job applicant you are welcome to give your CV to a recruiter and see what you end up with, but if you want to get a job at Lunatech, it is far faster and simpler to send your CV to employment@lunatech.com.