Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  Experience with recruiters

    Posted 02-13-2019 04:18 PM
    Hi,

    I would like to hear about people's experience with recruiters in the engineering field - both positive and negative.

    I've only worked with a recruiter once after a year in the workforce.  That experience was double-sided, and I ended up finding a job outside their suggestions. On one hand, they did provide me with an interview opportunity and some valuable advice. However, they had strong connections with only a few companies, and tried to pressure me into giving a 'yes or no' answer to those companies even before an offer was provided.They also seemed to foster guilty feelings for conducting my own job hunt outside of their suggestions.

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    Natalya Sokolovskaya PE,MASCE
    Wynnewood PA
    (323)382-6176
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  • 2.  RE: Experience with recruiters

    Posted 02-14-2019 01:00 PM
    Hi Natalya,

    Early advice I received from Employment Canada job hunt seminar was shortly after I arrived in Canada, a long time ago, was that recruiters were not the best choice for professionals. The best two ways were walk in/blind applications with large numbers, or professional contacts through people who know you and are willing to take responsibility for introducing you to their employers (this is not favoritism). As a newcomer to this country, I had only the first option. I sent hundreds of applications and followed up on them. The job hunt was like a full time job. It worked; I got a job soon in spite of that recession. And for several years after that I was getting phone calls from some of those firms.

    When I needed to do a job hunt, years later, I followed the same way but with shorter and more targeted list.

    Good luck.

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    Neil Kazen, M.Eng., M.Sc., P.Eng.
    FASCE, FCPCI, FEC,
    Retired Structural Engineering Manager, Transportation Division, SNC-Lavalin
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Experience with recruiters

    Posted 02-14-2019 04:09 PM
    I have been on both sides of the use of recruiters.
    The recruiter typically works for the employer, and placing the recruitee is how the recruiter typically gets compensated.  Many recruiters have standing agreements with a handful of employers. There are recruiters who specialize in representing the person looking for the position, which is better for both the recruitee and the employer.  These recruiters typically get paid by the employer also.
    Look at the recruiters credentials and ask for references, both from recruitees and employers.  Also, ask for a list of employers that the recruiter typically works with. Talk with colleagues about what recruiters they have used in the past, and who they would recommend.
    It may sound like I'm recommending how to buy a car: there are a lot of similarities! 
    Also beware of a recruiter who wants an "exclusive" right to represent you.
    It is your future, so take your time.





  • 4.  RE: Experience with recruiters

    Posted 02-14-2019 04:40 PM
    I've had contact with independent recruiters in two situations:
    Situation 1 - A recruiter contacted me (unsolicited), asking if I would be interested in a "great new opportunity".
    Situation 2 - A recruiter contacted me (again unsolicited) because there was a job posting where I worked and they had "the perfect" candidate.

    In situation 1, the one time I said yes out of curiosity, they would not tell me which company or the location of the company when I asked. Instead, they asked if I'd be willing to have a phone call with someone at the company of the "great new opportunity". I did, and it turned out that the position, although an interesting one, wasn't even in my area and I would have needed to relocate (which was a dealbreaker for me at the time). It was a gigantic waste of time.

    In situation 2, the deal was that the firm where I worked would pay the recruiter something like 10% of the new hire's salary if the recruiter brought us a candidate who was hired. This was cost prohibitive, and I expect it would be for many firms unless they were either large or had a critical need.

    There are some engineering companies that have a reputation for working employees as much as possible, resulting in very high burnout and turnover rates. In my area, it seems like these are the sorts of companies are the ones most often using recruiters.

    So, in my opinion, using recruiters should be approached with caution. If you are job hunting, you are much better off figuring out where you want to work and being proactive in contacting people there to find out about potential jobs. Do your own legwork, set up meetings with people there, and negotiate a higher starting salary or better benefits (since no one had to pay for a recruiter).

    In talking with other engineers over the years, the few that admitted to having been contacted by a recruiter also had a negative experience.  I am curious to hear if anyone has had a positive experience with one.

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    Stephanie Slocum PE, MASCE
    Founder
    Engineers Rising LLC
    www.engineersrising.com
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  • 5.  RE: Experience with recruiters

    Posted 02-15-2019 07:44 AM
    The best recruiters know the profession.  It's even better if they specialize in a niche or discipline.  You will meet them at conferences... was seated next to one at the ASCE OPAL awards.  And trade shows.  They can also be found in the back of professional and trade magazines/publications.  These recruiters tend to be respectful of your time and theirs.  They will not bother you with opportunities that are not a good fit.  These recruiters are known throughout the industry (in my case AISC/steel).

    Be careful who you send your contact information and resume to on linkedin.  They will use this information to gain market data and may even sell it to third parties.

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    Chad Morrison PE,MASCE
    Greenville RI
    (401)231-4870 EXT 2207
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  • 6.  RE: Experience with recruiters

    Posted 02-16-2019 10:49 PM
    Great topic. I, myself, am leery of recruiters. During my 50-year career I only applied for two positions. Both were as Executive Director of highly regarded utilities. In both cases, I applied only after being sought after by well-known recruiters. I was assured by both that the respective boards were definitely looking for successful outside candidates with fresh ideas, yada, yada. I specifically asked if there were well placed in house candidates. The equivocal answer was no. I was not selected for either position. Both boards selected well placed in-house candidates.

    Recruiters of such positions get judged by their ability to bring in respected candidates, and will go to great lengths to lure them. Even lie to them if necessary as in my case. I have obtained all my career positions through networking in organizations such as ASCE or AWWA.  Or through my successful interaction with other professionals while working with them on projects.

    I'm sure that there are ethical and useful recruiters in the business.  I'm sure many have placed professionals in well matched positions. I would recommend that anyone who relies on a recruiter to find a position do some due diligence on the recruiter first.

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    Bevin Beaudet PE,MASCE
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL
    (561)373-4442
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  • 7.  RE: Experience with recruiters

    Posted 02-16-2019 02:12 PM
    Thank you for your input, everybody!
    I've since replied to the two recruiters who have contacted me, and both jobs ended up not compatible with my resume (that was available to them). It looks like, as with many professional services, we have to do some research if we expect it to work - the time that may be better spent directly pursuing the jobs.

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    Natalya Sokolovskaya PE,MASCE
    Wynnewood PA
    (323)382-6176
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  • 8.  RE: Experience with recruiters

    Posted 03-02-2019 03:50 AM

    My first job was through a recruiter. The pay was low, and the benefits included only a minimal amount of paid vacation time (accrued in chunks, not as a rolling tally!) and a non-matching 401k that was discontinued during my first year (I had to roll over into an IRA). I got laid off after 14 months and eventually learned to know better.

    To be clear, that was my best experience with a recruiter. They helped me get my foot in the door at a job related to my major, and as far as I know they didn't do anything unsavory other than make money off of me as unnecessary middlemen.

    It took me nearly 2 years out of college to learn not to deal with these people. The following is a list of things that happened to me back when I still entertained opportunities from recruiters:

    • Got sent to an interview for a CAD technician position in spite of being an engineer with only one CAD class under my belt at the time. The job title was vague enough that it could've been either an engineer or a CAD technician, but either way the description made it sound like I didn't have enough drawing experience, and I expressed my misgivings to the recruiter multiple times. The employer was definitely expecting a technician. We had a good laugh about it, and they probably never did business with that recruiter again.
    • Had my resume "improved" on my behalf. Or at least I suspected so. It definitely has happened to other people. Some recruiters tell you to "make sure you send your resume in [Microsoft] Word format so we can fix any grammatical mistakes (sic) that we catch." I since took to only circulating my resume in PDF format. Not that PDFs can't be manipulated, but I don't think most of these guys are tech-savvy enough to figure that out.
    • Got solicited for opportunities in the wrong engineering field. And not in an "engineering is engineering... you'll do fine!" kind of way. In a "we searched 'engineer' on Indeed and spammed solicitations to every hit without actually reading past the contact information" kind of way.
    • Got solicited for positions that I was definitely not experienced enough for. At the time, I had 0-1 years of experience. I was chronically a "great fit" for positions requiring 3-5 years of experience. I know there's some wiggle room when it comes to job descriptions, but there's a big difference between someone just out of school and someone's who ready for their PE license. I think this may have had to do with the old sales trick of showing one mediocre product next to two pieces of garbage to convince someone that they're getting a good deal. I probably went to a couple of those interviews as a way to convince employers just how slim pickings were and how they'd better just settle on the recruiter's best find already. By the way, that CAD technician position mentioned above was also targeted to someone with experience out of school.
    • Had "free parking" advertised very heavily to me as a perk. For a job that paid exactly as much as I was already making except that my current job was much closer and I could get there easily without even owning a car.
    • Was never, that I can recall, offered more than than about 80% of what an entry-level state or federal government job would pay. Except that government jobs have, you know... benefits?

    I'm not really sure what their business model is supposed to be. They try to make it seem like they're offering a service to job seekers, but of course that's nonsense. Used car salesmen do the same thing. They don't seem to be able to match candidates to employees any better than a 2-year-old with access to Google, so that's out. Maybe they are supposed to provide some sort of legal or financial insulation between their clients and the job seekers or to serve as ad hoc HR departments for firms too small for dedicated staff? But even if that's the case, any legitimate demand for recruiters is clearly outstripped by the supply, and they have to result to sneaky tactics to make themselves appear useful.



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    John Ragan
    PITTSBURGH PA
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  • 9.  RE: Experience with recruiters

    Posted 03-02-2019 10:02 PM
    LOL, glad you posted your experience, John.
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    Neil Kazen, M.Eng., M.Sc., P.Eng.
    FASCE, FCPCI, FEC,
    Retired Structural Engineering Manager, Transportation Division, SNC-Lavalin
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    ------------------------------