Tuesday, 7 February 2012

TIME TO HANG UP MY HAT

Those of you familiar with my blog or my Hacker News rants will be familiar with my inherent hatred of the Tech Recruitment model in its current format which is slightly oxymoronic given the fact that I've spent the last three years working in the heart of the industry. Well, enough is enough. As of the 6th of February, I am no longer a Tech Recruiter, in fact, I am no longer a recruiter full stop.
Over the last twelve months I've been working very closely with an outstanding Digital Agency, Make it Digital, in London who progressively became one of my most prolific and by far my favorite client who relied on me to provide them with everyone from PHP Developers to iOS & Android Developers. The reason they were my favorite client wasn't because of the money I made from them (which is the number one preference for most recruiters) but because I had built a sincere professional relationship with the Directors, Jay & Graham. They took the time to get to know me and gave me an opportunity to prove I wasn't 'just another recruiter' who can't tell the difference between Java and JavaScript (more common than you could even begin to imagine). The more I got to know their business, the more they trusted my input on job specs, budgets and importantly, how they planned to grow their team and their business in the long run.

RECRUITMENT HIGHS AND LOWS
The best part about being a Tech Recruiter in the City of London is the variety of companies and people I got to see and meet. I had the pleasure of working with some incredibly exciting start-ups as well as intimidating yet vastly impressive FTSE 100 organizations. A typical day in my life could go from meeting with a board of directors in the morning who believe their antiquated and blatantly broken recruitment process is simply flawless to a lunch meeting with a start-up founder who's in a panic as he (or she) needs to hire five people as of yesterday as their product has exploded and they haven't the first clue what to do next; to an evening of telling some people that they were rejected for their dream job and telling the chosen few that they start their dream job next week! So yeah, highs and lows and that's just a typical Monday.
My thought process in terms of how and why I feel the recruitment industry is broken is spelled out pretty clearly in previous blog posts and I will be posting one more recruitment related post which will dish enough dirt on the recruitment industry as a whole to warrant the front page of some of the seedier tabloids.

HACKER NEWS
One of the best things to come from my foray into the recruitment industry (aside from my dream job) was my discovery and subsequent adoption by the Hacker News community. I was 100% convinced that there was no corner of the internet untouched by trolls and over excited teenagers and to this day I'm stunned by the quality of discussion on Hacker News despite the growing argument that the quality is declining.
My presence there was initially as a naive Tech Recruiter who had a sincere interest and passion for technology however I quickly discovered that I was spending the majority of my time fighting fires and defending the recruitment industry. It was Hacker News that truly opened my eyes to the hypocrisy and underhanded nature of the recruitment industry and it was Hacker News that prompted me to actually stand up and see if I could single-handedly do something about it. Talk about optimistic.
The Hacker News community gave me an immense platform to make my voice heard and I was rewarded by a number of clients and candidates coming to me via HN asking for my help. Some of which I had a big impact on, some not so much, some none at all. I learned quite quickly that I was never going to have an impact on the industries poor reputation whilst working for someone else and I was legally restricted from creating my own product to tackle said industry thanks to a severely restrictive IPA at my last organization.
The final straw for me was trying to justify to my clients on a daily basis, a price for our services that I couldn't even begin to comprehend myself. The best and only honest answer I can give in response to our fee's is 'well everyone else charges the same price and we charge slightly more as we are slightly better'.

MAKE IT DIGITAL
Whilst working for my previous company, I got wind of an opportunity at Make it Digital that would give me the chance to leave the recruitment industry behind once and for all and join a young, exciting organization who work with some incredible technology and work with some serious clients.
The fact is, I'm not even remotely passionate about the recruitment industry. I am passionate about technology and building cool things and the fact is, life's too short to tolerate a job you can't stand. Make it Digital are taking a risk with me and they know it. They have hired me as their first Senior Project Manager based exclusively on their interactions with me over the last twelve months and observing how I handle my clients and organize my workload. I know their company better than most of their own staff (half of which I helped to place in the business), I know their customers just as well and I know their products and services like the back of my hand so the transition is almost seamless (famous last words). There's a growing consensus on Hacker News that there is such a thing as a project manager who is too technical, an ethos Make it Digital tend to agree with and they are known for having a unique developer culture and want to cultivate the same culture within their project management staff and the only way to do that is with a blank (yet highly experienced) canvas. Those of you reeling in horror at the idea of a Tech Recruiter becoming a Project Manager should keep in mind I wasn't always a Tech Recruiter and I have a lot more technical strings to my bow!

NO SURRENDER
I haven't given up on disrupting the recruitment industry, I'm working with a gifted Ruby Developer and close friend Jon Gilbraith on a service that will hopefully make a lot of Tech Recruitment agencies quite angry. I've alluded to it on a few occasions in the past and I will remain as vague and elusive about the service as I have done in the past until our Beta is ready but for those of you who want to keep track, stick your email in here: http://www.hackerjobs.co.uk
In the mean time, I may be leaving the Tech Recruitment world but I'm certainly not leaving the Tech World. I owe too much to Hacker News and am far too addicted to simply ignore the community and I will continue to put my point of view across except in future I'll be significantly less diplomatic!
To those of you who came to me over the last year seeking help finding decent developers, thank you. I sincerely feel privileged having worked with some of your organisations. I hope I've left some of you with a glimmer of hope that not all Tech Recruiters are useless.
To those of you who came to me over the last year seeking help finding work, thank you. I've met and spoken to some incredibly gifted developers, seen some amazing tools and services being crafted and learned more about technology in the last year than I did in my four years of University.

So long... for now. Stevie Buckley