Recruiters at Big Companies

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I’ve been in California this week for Strata, and I’ve gotten a chance to talk to a handful of recruiters about things from their perspective. This post is about recruiters that work full-time for big companies, I’ll get to those that work for Agencies and small companies in future posts. First up are a few examples of what I think are great “First Contact” e-mails.

Before Strata, I got a LinkedIn message from a recruiter at Amazon that I’d give a 9/10 to. Nothing particularly targeted to me other than the fact that I’m going to a conference, but that counts!

Happy New Year from Amazon! I’m writing to let you know that if you’re planning on attending the Strata Conference in Santa Clara, Amazon will be speaking at the event. We’ll also be setting up informational interviews to discuss our exciting career opportunities and it would be great to connect with you at the conference. I’ve included a link to some of our job descriptions to give you an idea of what we’re working on and we’d love to see you there!

If you’re interested in learning more, please contact me and we can arrange a time to chat one-on-one. Be sure to stop by and say hello at booth 729!

The link she included was to a “Job Posting” entitled: “Come Visit Amazon at the Strata Conference” which I’ll paste here in case they “fill” that position:

Job Description: Our mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company and we’re looking for Earth’s most talented Data Scientists, Software Developers, and Technical Program Managers to relentlessly pursue this mission with us.

Basic Qualifications:

  • Work with massive data sets
  • Guide the optimization and efficiency of a market-leading program
  • Directly influence Amazon’s core business strategies
  • Solve complex technology problems
  • Work with world-class marketing and technology teams on creative analytical solutions
  • Significantly impact Amazon systems, businesses, and most importantly, our customers
  • Stretch your business and technical skills working with developers, data scientists, and business teams to design and implement game-changing features

Preferred Qualifications

At Amazon, understanding extremely large sets of customer data is paramount to our success in providing a seamless customer experience across all platforms. Make an impact working with world-class marketing and technology teams on creative analytical solutions, guiding the optimization and efficiency of market-leading programs, and directly influence Amazon’s core business strategies.

Fun, to the point, and not trying to get me to commit to anything. I’ve gotten similar well-played communications from other big companies like Google:

I hope this message finds you well and I hope you’re having a good day!

I wanted to reach out to you as I came across your information while researching candidates for a variety of engineering opportunities here at Google. Your experience could be interesting for a number of teams I work with.

Though I realize you might not be actively searching, I thought it would be beneficial for us to connect and possibly discuss Google in more detail.

Can we schedule a quick informal conversation in the next couple of weeks?

How can these recruiters be so friendly when most of the e-mails you get are terrible and for jobs that are obviously not a match for you? It’s because the incentives for these recruiters work differently, which causes their jobs to work differently.

The recruiting terminology for sending out these ‘cold calls’ is ‘Sourcing’ and from the people I’ve talked to, its their least favorite thing about their jobs, but a necessary part of recruiting. Recruiters at agencies typically have quotas to meet, and almost universally their pay is dictated by how many people they hire. If you take a job through an agency, your new employer pays that agency some percentage (typically 10-20%) of your annual salary if you stick with the job for a few (typically 3-12) months. This doesn’t come out of your salary or make your salary any lower, it’s simply a cost your employer pays to get new talent.

As for recruiters that don’t work at agencies (like the ones I talked to this week), their salary isn’t directly tied to head counts and hire salaries. Most of them don’t even get bonuses for hiring tons of people and/or expensive/cheap people. They do have goals for positions they are trying to fill or number of hires in general, but they aren’t incentivized to place you somewhere where you would be a poor fit.

These recruiters love their jobs and love making the perfect connection between a ‘candidate’ (thats you!) and the right ‘opportunity’ (your sweet new gig). Some of them got their start with Liberal Arts degrees, while some did something technical. Some have technical work backgrounds too, while others have experience like coordinating volunteer efforts at non-profits. All of them love working with people, traveling, managing events, and connecting people to great jobs.

Companies like Google and Amazon have very high standards for hiring (and even have specific processes in place to continue to raise the bar for who they hire), and these standards apply to the recruiters they hire too. They can quickly understand who you are, what you do, and what might be a good job for you at their companies, and direct you directly to the people you’d need to talk with to find out for sure: specific managers, directors, VPs, engineers, etc.

A recruiter from a big company should be able to pull off a good “First Contact” e-mail, and is someone you should consider talking to, even if you aren’t looking for a new job. I’ve gotten to speak with people that I wouldn’t have met any other way about company culture, how hiring works, how career development works, and plenty of other things, all of which will be useful to me in the future. Knowing what is going on at other companies, especially ones that have a lot of smart people putting a lot of thought into it, will help you at your current job or help you figure out what you want to do next.

Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly / @ckdake

Curator of The Recruiter Project