Andy Crouch - Code, Technology & Obfuscation ...

Recruiting Technical Team Members Part 1

Coffee Cup On Table

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So I have recently gone through a surprise recruitment round for a Full Stack Web Developer. It was surprising as I was not expecting to be hiring a new developer to replace my new developer less than 3 months in. There you go, no one ever said managing a team was easy.

In the next couple of posts, I want to lay out some observations about the recruiting process. They will cover recruiters and will contain some useful information for prospective candidates.


This post will focus on recruiters, how to tell the better ones from not so good ones and tips on dealing with them. This is all from a hiring perspective.

Let’s get one thing straight, recruiters have targets. It’s become nothing more than a sales job for the vast majority and they could be selling anything. In fact, some should be selling anything other than the candidates’ career.

Tip 1 - Don’t use recruiters

To start with I want to contradict the subject of this post and suggest that you do not even use a recruiter. There are two better approaches; use your network and do it yourself.

If you can hire out of your network with someone that you have worked with before you are winning. You know the developer, you wouldn’t ask them to apply if you didn’t want to work with them again. You would have seen how they operate and the quality of their code. This is by far the easiest route. It also save’s you recruitment fees which you can offer as an onboarding incentive.

If you have no one in your network you would want to hire then you can do the work of a recruiter yourself. There are many great job sites and discussion boards to advertise on. Over the years I have had great results advertising on Hacker News “Who Is Hiring”. There are also many remote working and general purpose IT recruitment sites available.

The negative of using these sites is the amount of time it will take to build a good candidate pool. It requires a manual effort on your part to advertise and liaise with candidates. It also costs in the majority of cases and you have no idea on the return for your money until the end of the process.

Tip 2 - Get recommendations

Do your research. All IT recruiters have great looking websites and are good at marketing. Is it hype or is it backed up with a good reputation?

If this is the first time you are hiring developers or technical staff then reach out to your network. Ask mentors to get recommended recruiter names. Once you have asked a few people you will notice a group of repeating names. These are the recruiters you want to approach first.

Tip 3 - Be clear on you requirements

This may sound odd but you should write down exactly what you want from the recruiter. This involves not only the job description but also the terms you are willing to work to.

Terms vary from recruiter to recruiter. I will not agree to pay more that 16% of first year salary the first time I hire through a recruiter. They will tell you that they will need to get that OK’d by their CFO but I have never had one not agree. I usually get payment terms and rebate terms based on my probation period length as well. This is usually a lot different to their 4-week terms. A recruiter that wants to build a long-term relationship with you will have no issue with any of this.

As far as the job spec goes you need to be clear and firm about the expected skills and experience that you want. They will send people that have different skills and experience and tell you that they would be a good fit. You know what you are looking for both technically and personally. Being bullied into making a hire will not allow your team to succeed.

Tip 4 - Make them work for their money

This sounds harsh but even on the lower terms I outline above the recruiter will make about £8,000 on your hire. Make them supply a good candidate pool. Size and variation within your requirements is sensible. Make them arrange interviews. Make them chase references. Make them do their job.


I do not want to make it sound like I do not like recruiters. I do like some. I like ones that show that they are building communities of developers. I like ones that help developers expand their networks. I like ones that call up every so often to build a long-term relationship with the company and you. That look to hear about the growth of the company and what they can do to help that.

As in with many things not all recruiters are equal.