Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by John Dennehy, founder and CEO of Zartis.com, a site that helps companies find and hire great people without using recruitment agencies.
I’ve been a founder or co-founder in tech startups for the past 13 years. I’ve hired over 100 people in that time. I’ve hired a recruitment agency once; we were desperate and needed the talent. I’ve been to a recruitment agency twice; I was desperate and I needed the money.
My first time at a recruitment agency was in Sydney in 1997. I told them about my dreams and aspirations and all the good things I had learned. After fifteen minutes I was asked to do a typing test. I walked out and found a job teaching HTML a day later. My second time was in Dublin in 1998. I had returned from Australia and in my meeting I told the recruitment agent that I wanted to work in Internet development. I’ll never forget her response: “The Internet. That’s a hobby, not a job.”
Based on those experiences as a candidate I did not become a big fan of recruiting agencies. A couple of years later I came to believe recruitment agencies offer an even less pleasant experience to an employer.
I got an email last week from a recruitment agency that “specializes” in Internet startups. They were proposing that if they help us recruit somebody on $50,000 they would charge us a mere $17,500. We charge our customers $9.95 per month to advertise up to 3 jobs. Their fee is equivalent to about 2,000 customers on that price plan for a month. That’s a lot of wonga.
Top 10 Reasons Tech Startups Shouldn’t Use Recruiting Agencies
- They are too expensive.
- Many don’t even bother vetting candidates.
- The best candidates would never use a recruitment agency.
- Unscruplous agencies will try to poach candidates back out of the company they placed them in. It’s a double dip win for them.
- Agents are essentially coin-ops. They get paid for placements. It’s the wrong motivator. Long term fit is of little concern.
- Most agencies couldn’t care tuppence about startups. They make the lions’ share of their money from lazy HR managers in big companies.
- There are plenty of great alternatives.
- 150 million professionals have their work details on LinkedIn. Go talk to them.
- Most agents don’t come from within the industry and usually can’t measure technical competency or culture fit.
- Employee referrals cost less and deliver a better class of candidate.
If you want to work for a startup think about this…going to an agency and getting placed in your dream job is going to cost the cash-strapped founders at least 15% of your annual salary. Bad start.
Even worse: walking into a new job, greetings your friends that work there and there’s a somebody in the background thinking he just paid a recruiter £10,000 for introducing you. Really bad start.
If you’re any good at what you do, do yourself and your future employer a favour: apply for a job directly. Try their web site. Connect with them on Twitter or LinkedIn. Make a phone call. Whatever it takes.