A LinkedIn push notification comes onto your screen. You think, ugh, not again. Sure enough, you open your profile and see a message from a recruiter:

Hi! I see you have some great experience using programming languages! Are you looking for new opportunities at the moment?

Does this happen to you 10 times per week? Looking for a way to stop the madness?

I know, first-world hiring problems.

But it can be genuinely problematic. You’ll have to deal with a constant influx of friend invitations, messages, emails, and calls if you’re an experienced IT professional. There’s a way to minimize unsolicited emails, and we will show you how, but beware, they’ll never go away completely.

But how do you best work with recruiters when you are actively trying to find a new position? Do you hire someone to look for opportunities for you? Do you go on the job search alone? If you choose the latter option, you’ll still run into recruiters throughout the hiring process.

How to Work with Tech Recruiters

Here are a few tips to consider so you don’t lose your mind dodging recruiters or finding the right ones to represent you.

Minimizing Recruiter Outreach

You’re happy in your position. You work on a great team. You love your projects.

That’s fantastic.

But you’ll still get bombarded with unsolicited invitations from recruiters. Here are some easy steps to help you sift through the junk.

First, let’s get your online footprint in check. Make sure to remove the tech resume you may have put up on public domains like Monster, AngelList, ZipRecruiter, and CareerBuilder. If recruiters target you via LinkedIn, change your privacy settings so you only get “messages from members and partners.”

Secondly, make sure your company does not have your details posted on its website. Many recruiters cherry-pick potential candidates from company websites. Recruiters from larger agencies tend to focus on specific geographic locations. The closer you are to their region, the better they get at finding you. They’ll go directly to the source, and once your email or number is on the company’s website, then you’re in for a world of invitations. Take some preemptive measures here.

If the damage has been done and recruiters somehow have your contact details, you’ll have to go into full combat mode. Answer their calls and tell them you are not interested and want to be removed from their database. This assures you that no one from the agency will contact you. The same goes for emails. Respond back as soon as you can and cut the connection. Otherwise, they won’t stop contacting you.

Note: Do all of this politely! After all, recruiters are just doing their jobs. And there may come a time when you need their services

Now, let’s say you’re on the prowl and don’t have time to invest in doing the job search alone. Can recruiters help? Sure, but there are a few things to consider.

The Drawbacks of Using a Tech Recruiter

Across all sectors, recruiters have a bad reputation for not knowing their clients’ needs. Being in tech, you’ll have it much worse than others.

Say you get an email from a recruiter working to fill a position at Amazon. You see the subject line and think, fantastic, I wonder what the position is. You open the email and it says the following:

Hi, I saw your programming experience and it seems to align with some great positions available here at Amazon. We’re looking for a full stack end developer.

Sigh.

Most recruiters can’t speak your language. How can you work with them if they can’t understand your basic needs here? A good recruiter would make their level of tech literacy clear to you before they ask you some technical questions. But most don’t know enough about the industry. Even worse, if they represent you and your skills to an employer, how can you be sure they are able to translate this information to them in the best manner?

That’s the main problem with tech recruiters. They don’t always understand programming principles. These principles are language independent. Recruiters are pattern matching for languages on a resume. They look at hundreds of resumes per day. They need to see that your technical skills match to the position. If not, they pass you right up. If you go the route of using a recruiter, then make sure you explain this to them in an easy manner. Or choose a respected recruiter that others in the industry have worked with.

How to Find the Best Tech Recruiter

You’re actively looking for a new position. But you have a full-time gig. You don’t have the time to go through the application process yourself. You’ve heard the horror stories, but you think it’s worth a shot. How do you find the best tech recruiter?

It’s true you have some great skills. You are wanted in the job market. But don’t go into the process thinking that your recruiter is your personal talent agent. It’s the No. 1 misunderstanding people have. You’re not off the hook in the application process just because you have a recruiter. But you can minimize your time by finding the right tech recruiter.

Find a person or agency who specializes in the tech industry. As recruiters go, this will be hit or miss. Larger firms like Winter Wyman have technology divisions that have a focus on the industry. They’ll know the language. They can better assess your fit with a company before presenting you with openings. And they make sure you know about the company without having to do initial research.

Reach out to your networks. Ask if anyone has worked with a good recruiter in the past. Some might be well connected with the best companies in your industry. You want to build a partnership with a recruiter. You don’t want someone who is trying to make a dollar and pass you on. Thankfully, you are in a booming industry with many potential landing spots at high pay. Recruiters will be begging to work with you based on the commission they will receive. But be cautious about who you let into the process. Your network is pivotal here.

Not Convinced? Go at it Alone

Not sure if a recruiter is your best option? Try to go at it alone. Use your same network and ask around about openings at other companies. The tech world is a tightly knit group, so odds are you know the companies you want to work for. And if you are getting constant hits from recruiters when you are not looking for a new position, then odds are your skills are in high demand on the market.

Referrals from friends bypass most of the red tape recruiters make for you. Recruiters aren’t paid to write or rewrite your resume. They will not draft your cover letters. An agency will not overhaul your materials. The responsibility is all yours. If the opportunities are there, and you are the one crafting your materials, then go ahead and apply without using a recruiter. Chances are it will show the potential employer you sought them out specifically.

This post was written by Roger Maftean, a career writer at Zety. He specializes in tech and the workplace. In his spare time, he works on perfecting tacos to enjoy while watching Korean zombie movies.


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