Hackruiter to sidestep Silicon Valley Tech recruiters

Hackruiter is exploiting the low regard most have for recruiters, but a review of their service doesn't indicate the company is much different.
Written by John Hazard, Contributor

"Most recruiters are hacks. We're hackers."

That's how Hackruiter introduces itself to the world on its homepage to separate what it does from a typical job board---and the Silicon Valley recruiters being sidestepped. Hackruiter is exploiting the low regard most have for recruiters, but a review of their service doesn't indicate the company is much different from those it calls hacks. But the promise of access and connections to startups and small firms that rarely deal with executive recruiters could be a differentiator especially among young and ambitious hackers.

Hackruiters raison d'etre is based on the notion that only fellow coders can really know how to find and land a job in the industry.

We help smart hackers find jobs at great startups. We're programmers so we won't make you deal with the bull normal recruiters do -- no paperwork, no crap jobs, and we definitely won't confuse Java with JavaScript.

From the TechCrunch post this morning that served to announce Hackruiter to most of the world.

...founders Bergson-Shilcock and David Albert are actually the ones doing the recruiting(!). Having engineering backgrounds gives them a leg up on other recruiting services like Top Prospect and Pursuit because qualifications that sound arcane to non-technical recruiters actually mean something to them. They're not just matching up words on a resume to words on a job description.

Says Bergson-Shilcoc, "We are hackers ourselves so when we talk to people they're not just a bunch of buzzwords or key words, we can actually do an intelligent [job] match."

Is that very different from a standard recruiting agency? Not so much.

Most IT recruiters are well-versed in their subject area and many are former practitioners of the craft themselves -- "Those who can, do; those who can't, recruit," according to an old line shared in jest by many recruiters who stopped coding to start recruiting.

Recruiters in Silicon Valley live and die by their access to industry insiders to get the drop on openings and the lead on hackers looking or willing to jump on an opening.

Yes, to find candidates and openings, those hacks comb databases and rely heavily on the buzzwords and keywords, to which Berhson-Shilcoc refers. But they bring more to the table, including an understanding of the strategic roles attached to those buzzwords, contacts within the hiring structure to move a hackers candidacy and an understanding of the hiring process including how and when to position your candidacy and negotiate salary and benefits.

Some of the advantages Hackruiter promises---relevant recommendations to other companies and matching candidates to a good fit---are things any reputable recruiter should be offering already.

Startup access

Where Hackruiters appears to have an advantage is in its contacts and access to small startups. The firm promises it has networks and contacts at small firms and startups often ignored by traditional Silicon Valley recruiters.

"Big companies like Google and Microsoft can go to colleges and recruit. Small startups don't have the budget for that," says Albert.

Small startups typically don't have the budget to use recruiters at all. Executive recruiters can be prohibitively expensive for small companies. The typical recruiter engagement in Silicon Valley will cost the hiring company 25 to 33 percent of the new hires first-year compensation package. For a $100,000 hire, the hiring company must budget layout $133,000 for the first year. That's hard to swallow for many. Some recruiters will work on a retainer, which can be cheaper, but not by much and typically not worth it for a small firm.

Most startups manage recruiting themselves, with the founders pounding the pavement at industry events, social networks and Meetups, evangelizing as much as selling the firm to prospects.

If you're running a startup and you're not actively hunting for the best talent, you're screwed, writes Ben Yoskovitz on Instigator.

...look everywhere. The more aggressive you are at sourcing the better chance you'll find the diamond in the rough, the person that's sitting in a dead-end job but isn't quite sure what to do. You're the one that's going to find that person, connect with them and pull them out of there.

To deliver on the promised access to the people and companies Yoskovitz describes, Hackruiters must be operating a different engagement model from the typical 25- to 33-percent-contingency model. I reached out to Hackruiter's Bergson-Shilcoc to ask how the company intends to do that.  If it can do what it promises, that is a true advantage. If not, Hackruiters is just another group of hackers turned hacks in Silicon Valley.

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