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A note to startups – how to make recruiters stop calling!

I was inspired to write this by Ben Summers recent tweet about recruiters that call, when a job ad says not to:

The story begins just over a year ago. We held an LJC event, in which Trisha Gee, Ben Evans, Martijn Verburg and Richard Warburton reported on some awards we’d won (shameless plug) at JavaOne. At the time, we had our eyes peeled for any companies that may be recruiting. The event was held at MongoDB’s (then 10gen) offices, which happened to be directly opposite a company called Shutl. Shutl had a sign on their door saying “we are recruiting developers”, bingo! Our researcher was tasked with finding some more information on them… but what came back was infuriating.

They had a “note to recruiters” on their site explaining their rules on working with recruiters. This included the fact that they would “never sign any terms and conditions” – ridiculous! And that “under no circumstances” were we allowed to call them. How could we seriously build a relationship with a company that we could not speak to and wouldn’t sign terms? It was bitterly disappointing to be a business in an industry that tolerates clients dealing with service-based companies in this way – imagine a software consultancy trying to operate in an industry in which they were unable to speak to their customers, and their terms were dictated to them. No relationship, no trust, nothing… but… on reflection, there was genius behind their approach.

Certainly, we wouldn’t change Shutl’s mind on their approach as it was clearly set in stone. It’s almost certain that a great deal of other recruiters have felt the same way and if recruiters do call, Shutl could avoid the unpleasant calls and simply divert them to the site. Rather than the recruiter lying and cheating to get the hiring managers name, then trying to convince Shutl to sign terms, they terms are already agreed and in plain site. Rather than the recruiter trying to convince the hiring manager to let them send a CV, this agreement was already in place. Genius! Also, being fair to Shutl, the terms are not overly unfair and far from the worst we’ve seen. A quick Google search shows that a lot of startups are now following suit with a “note to recruiters” –  rather than diverting recruiters away, they are dictating terms to them, in a way that says “If you don’t like our terms, don’t work with us, we don’t mind either way!”  There is even a github project on this from Vzaar: https://github.com/vzaar/note-to-recruiters Far from hating Shutl, we came to be very impressed by them.

While we are impressed, we would personally never work with a company in this way, nor would we encourage any of our team to. Recruitment partnerships are a two way thing, the client must trust the recruiter and vice versa. We always prefer to work exclusively with our clients where possible – it leads to a much stronger level of service. The same is true in working with candidates. We would never send our best candidates to a company that was not prepared to give us some level of commitment. Will this approach entice good recruiters to send their very best candidates? Possibly not, but if the point is to do away with all of the unwanted calls and emails, then this seems to be a great solution.

As recruiters, we appreciate why there is a place for this, it does leave us disappointed that we exist in an industry in which “we will never sign terms” is tolerated. It is yet another sign that tech recruitment is broken and needs fixing. We will keep pursuing our mission to fix the tech recruitment industry using the power of community.

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