Apr 04 2017

Head Hunters … I despise them

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 23:14

For the following two months I will be replacing my manager, so I’ll do less code(he hopes none at all) and more people/project managing. I’m scared like hell, but I’ll do my best to fill his shoes and make sure all the projects will be stable and maintainable in his absence.

While he in on parental leave, apparently I should hire two more people in Frankfurt. Until now, the way people are hired here was a mystery to me. And I was quite confused how some people ended up working here when they seemed quite .. unsuitable for the job. It’s not a critique, it’s an observation. The bigger the company, the bigger the chances some people do not fit their role, and even bigger the chances for nobody to notice it. But I digress. So, this company is using a head hunting company to find potential candidates.

I hate head hunters. Even the term “head hunter” seems aggressive and sends me into defensive mode. I’ve been “hunted” on LinkedIn and it always felt like an invasive process. It’s a weird sensation, because they seem amiable and diplomatic, almost likeable, but pushy in a way. They push you for a meeting, they push for an answer and so on. They are oblivious to the kind of person you and they do not seem to care if you are going to fit in an existing team or not. All they care about is the technologies you know and the number of years you have in the field. If you worked for a renowned company, even better. These are they details they flash in front of their clients and they push them too for a contract, because the commission for a successful interaction is about two salaries of the person they delivered. So yeah, I guess they are quite motivated.

Unfortunately, head hunter companies are useful in a big city, with busy people with no time to maintain a LinkedIn or Xing account and no way  for companies of verifying their credentials. Head hunters are for people, what real estate agents are for houses. They are mischievous and elusive because they want to sell you something that you might discover later it does not fit you. It’s like a shop keeper selling you pants two sizes small and with a no return policy.

They are despicable indeed, but you, the professional that do not want to invest a little time in your career are to blame for this. Wrong people will get a job and wreck projects, and drive other people to desperation and  onto other jobs. Because you cannot find it the motivation within yourself, if you are not satisfied with your job, to invest a little time in creating  a proper LinkedIn or Xing profile. Or a personal site, why not do it if you have the expertise?

The “Iuliana Cosmina” brand was not born in a day. It is the consequence of more than 10 years of work. But Google knows who I am. Of course, Google only knows what I want it to know. There is no need for a head hunter to hunt me or convince me. There is no need for a company to hire a head hunter to “get” me. They just have to send me an email, or a message on LinkedIn or Xing. Because I am currently at a certain level in my career that allows me to choose my employer. I will do this based on a set of criteria. Money is important as long as it provides a comfortable lifestyle in the job area. But if I do not like the project, the team leader and feel like I do not fit the company culture or the team, I will never say yes to a job. Interaction through a head hunter is unfair, because I cannot meet the team I would be working with, I cannot test the chemistry, the “feel”. And this is important for me, because people are “feeling-based” creatures. And the difference between feeling comfortable and uncomfortable in a team, shows its teeth in a person’s productivity.

So dear head hunter, if you want to create a brand for yourself as a competent professional and be sought for your services, allow the people you propose for a job to meet the team without asking for money. Pretend that you actually want for both parties to be satisfied with their arrangement. Dear head hunter, I know you have to survive too and pay rent. But if you play the game right and build a reputation of integrity you will win much more on the long run.

And reputation gets you really-really far. And sometimes you can learn things from movies too.

“When I propose a candidate for a job I don’t do it because the person in question is the best but because he is the one the client will employ. I provide them with a head that is good enough, placed on a body they want. […] The world is full of people who pay serious money for bad pictures by good artists. And mediocre heads on tall bodies.”

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