SPUG: Re: Recruiter Survey

Richard Anderson starfire at zipcon.net
Wed Jun 21 15:30:02 CDT 2000

Isn't this going to threaten our non-profit status?  Has anyone checked with
PerlMongers (who is providing our mail list server) about whether this is
legit or if they have to get a piece of the action?  I feel uncomfortable
with this idea.

For what it's worth, here is my contractor agency "whitelist".  I also have
a blacklist, which I don't feel is appropriate to make public. I suspect
that NONE of the firms that have approached Tim are on this list, as these
firms are well-established and don't need to solicit user groups.

In general, I recommend staying away from any firm that calls itself a
"consulting" agency. Consulting firms have higher overhead so their
contractor rates are lower than contract firms and consulting firm's
benefits are inferior to those offered by contract firms.  If a firm does
not have a 401K or has a initial qualification period of more than one month
before you can contribute to the 401K plan, this will cost you about $5 /

Recommended contract firms:

   ACS 425.462.0085
        401K enroll on the first of any month

        Good rates, preferred firm for Boeing or U.S. West contracts

        Very professional, 401K

   Staffing Options and Solutions 425.774.7671
        immediate 401K, paid holidays, paid vacation, completion bonus, full
        medical coverage

        immediate 401K, paid holidays, paid vacation; preferred firm for
Microsoft contracts

   Watson Group (425.806.8343)
        immediate 401K, discloses bill rate (70-30 split)

The horror story that Tim posted (below) doesn't sound nearly as bad as some
I've heard.  When working with contract firms I recommend setting clear
boundaries about what you are and are not willing to do.  Here's my list:

1.    Q:  What is your status?  A: I am currently able to accept a contract
2.  Q:  Are you working?  A:  I prefer not to discuss my current situation.
I am currently able to accept a contract offer, and I can report to work one
week after getting a written contract offer.
3.  Q:  Do you have any pending opportunities, interviews or offers?  A:  I
prefer not to discuss this.  I am always willing to consider multiple
4.    Q:  When are you available?  A: I can report to work within one week
of getting a written contract offer that is acceptable to both parties.
5.    Q:  Will you relocate?  A:  No.
6.    Q:  How many years of experience do you have in ____?  A:  Please see
my resume for this information.
7.    Q:  What is your rate?  A:  This depends on the location, the client,
the type of work, number of billable hours per week, pay rate for overtime,
availability of a 401K plan, length of the qualifying period for the 401K
plan and whether there are any paid holidays or vacation days.  If you can
provide me with this information, I can quote you a rate.
8.    Q:  Can you meet with me to discuss this contract?  A: I am not able
to meet on-site with contract firm agents until I have interviewed with the
client and there is a written offer.  If a face-to-face meeting is
necessary, I would be happy to meet you for lunch near my office.
9.    Q:  Will you accept an offer for full-time ("permanent") employment?
A:  No.  However, if I receive a good offer from a client that I have a
current or former contract with, I will give it careful consideration.
10.  Q:  Can you provide references?  A:  Not initially.  I can provide
references after the client and I have done an interview and expressed a
mutual interest.
11.  Q: Can you fill out a form or written questionnaire?  A: No.
12.  Q: What were the  lengths and terms (W-2, 1099) of your previous
contracts?  A:  I prefer not to discuss this.  My contract agreements with
my clients are confidential.
13.  Q: Will you consider contract-to-perm?  A:  No.

Richard.Anderson at unixscripts.com
www.zipcon.net/~starfire/home (personal)
www.unixscripts.com (corporate)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tim Maher/CONSULTIX" <tim at consultix-inc.com>
To: <spug-list at pm.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2000 10:58 AM
Subject: SPUG: Recruiter Survey

> SPUGedelics,
> SPUG has been approached by several recruiting agencies who want to
> offer us finder's fees for helping fill Perl programming positions.
> Due to my long and extremely distasteful experiences with this industry
> (see below for an account of a "Perl Porting on the Night Shift"
> position I took a few years back, which really turned out to be "Shell
> Programming on the Day Shift") I'm very reluctant to have SPUG enter into
> a relationship with any agency without very good recommendations about
> their past performance.
> So I'm asking those of you who have had contract programming placements
> through Seattle-area agencies, which are the good ones (didn't lie to
> you, gave you a fair share of your billing rate, kept their promises
> about benefit plans and future contracts, etc.)
> The idea is that we'll identify a few really top-notch agencies, that
> have clients who hire Perl programmers, and give them special access to
> our Email list, in exchange for revenues that we'll use for parties,
> speakers, field trips to the Experience Music Project, etc.
> -Tim
> *========================================================================*
> | Dr. Tim Maher, CEO, Consultix       (206) 781-UNIX/8649;  ask for FAX# |
> | Email: tim at consultix-inc.com        Web: http://www.consultix-inc.com  |
> | CLASSES; 6/12: Int. Perl  6/15: Pat. Matching  8/14: UNIX  8/21: Shell |
> | DAMIAN CONWAY Seminars;  Adv. OO Perl: 7/6,  Parsing with Modules: 7/7 |
> *========================================================================*
>     An Unpleasant Experience with a High-Tech Recruiter
> Tim Maher, 2/2/97
> The Job was described in a Usenet newsgroup posting as "software porting,
> 2nd shift."  The name of the Recruiter handling the account was given.
> Over a 5 day period, I sent the designated Recruiter several Emails
> & FAXes with Resume attached, and one voice mail, asking repeatedly
> to be considered for the position.  I never received any response.
> I eventually got through to the Recruiter by phone, 6 days from posting
> date, and he told me he hadn't heard from me and that he couldn't find
> a copy of my resume.  I FAX'd it to him on the spot.
> I asked the Recruiter the specific hours for this 2nd shift position,
> and he said "4pm - 12."  I asked if he needed to check with the Client
> to be sure, and he said "No."
> I told him I preferred to work on a 1099 rather than W2 basis, and he
> said no problem, they could arrange that.
> I told the Recruiter I wanted $50-$60/hour, but due to the benefits
> of the 1099 arrangement, I'd accept a minimum of $45/hour.  He said
> that sounded very high, and that he'd have to check with the Client for
> approval, but given my impressive resume, it might work out.  (I later
> learned from the Client that not only was no "checking for approval"
> ever done, but in fact, no discussion of my exact fee ever occurred).
> With my permission, the Recruiter FAX'd my resume to the Client.
> He then called to tell me that the Client had approved the $45 rate,
> and had requested an interview.
> I talked to the Client (who turned out to be old acquaintance), and found
> that the job was not 2nd shift, there was no porting involved, and that
> the Client had never discussed my fee with the Recruiter.  The only
> fee they had discussed was what the Client would pay the Recruiter,
> which was set at $60 from the start.  (NOTE: 60/45 is 33% markup)
> I met with the Recruiter, and asked to see the contract they use for
> 1099 arrangements, but he said it was my responsibility to provide that.
> I expressed surprise, and asked if he was sure they could really work on
> the 1099 basis (wondering how they could obtain approval from their legal
> advisors on a case-by-case basis for contracts submitted by contractors).
> But he insisted they do it all the time, and I should just send him my
> own contract.
> I told the Recruiter that I had been offered the position, but that I
> was anticipating additional offers for other higher-paying positions
> in short order.  I proposed to forget about the other offers and accept
> this position if I could get $50/hr, and I asked him to make the pitch
> to the Client.  (NOTE: 60/50 is 20% markup)
> The Recruiter left a voice-mail message for me saying that he had asked
> the Client for my higher rate, and that "Client says he wants to split
> the difference, at $47.50/hr ".  I was disappointed that the Client would
> "nickel and dime" me like this, and said I'd think about it.
> I called the Client, who said Recruiter had talked him into increasing
> his payment by $5 to $65/hr, which he was willing to do to make me happy,
> but that was as high as he could go.  He denied ever offering to "split
> the difference", and was surprised to hear that the Recruiter was keeping
> half of the $5 increment for himself.  (NOTE: 65/47.50 is 37% markup)
> I called the Recruiter, and told him the Client couldn't go any higher,
> and asked him to please reduce his markup to provide me the $50/hr
> I needed to commit to the deal.  After a very long silence, and then
> lengthy consideration of my answer to the question "When can you start?",
> he reluctantly agreed.  (NOTE: 65/50 is 30% markup)
> My background, as detailed on my resume, made it clear that I was a
> shoo-in for this position!  Yet if I hadn't persisted in trying to get
> this Recruiter to read his Email or FAXes for a period of nearly a week,
> I doubt that I would ever have had a chance for the interview!  This is
> surely not indicative of an active, organized, professional campaign
> fill the position!
> Furthermore, in addition to this apparent lack of competence or diligence,
> if I assume that the Client has been truthful with me, which I have no
> reason to doubt, I must conclude that almost everything the Recruiter
> told me was either factually incorrect or deliberately falsified.
> He had even gone so far as to fabricate fictitious conversations he'd
> supposedly had with the Client, with the obvious intent of diminishing
> my share of Client's payments through deceit.
> Although this is the only Recruiter, and the only search agency, with
> which I have had this much interaction in this decade, in retrospect I now
> suspect that all the others I talked to during this 3 week job-hunting
> period (at least seven) were playing the same games as this guy (e.g.,
> pretending to forcefully lobby the Client on my behalf to get me a higher
> rate, when in fact they probably never even made a phone call; ).
> Moreover, I now regret excluding from my consideration many job
> announcements that contained one or two words that put me off; judging
> from my recent experience, I now suspect that many of those descriptions
> were probably extremely inaccurate, and I may in fact have liked the real
> job descriptions, as opposed to the ones posted by the Search Agencies,
> very much!
> What an industry!  I'd much rather have my sister marry a used car
> salesman!
> I'm wondering what comes next, now that I'm at the paper-signing
> phase with this totally unethical and borderline-incompetent bozo of
> a Recruiter.  I have a sinking feeling that he is going to suddenly
> discover that he cannot pay me on a 1099 basis after all, and try to
> (bait and) switch me over to W2.  (Of course, as I told him on Day One,
> I would have wanted $50-$60 for a W2 job, and was only willing to go
> lower for the benefits of the 1099 status.)  We shall see . . .
> Epilogue:
>    Everything worked out okay.  The last time I was in their office, I
> overheard a conversation in which the big-boss was telling my agent
> that they had to find a way to "turn resumes around faster", because
> most placements went to the agency that would submit the resume first
> to the client.  He told my agent to stop reading the incoming resumes,
> just to FAX them ASAP to all the clients with open postions.  I'm not
> kidding!  I sure hope this agency is either out of business by now,
> or behaving more responsibly.
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