Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

For nearly 18 years I have been an independent programmer consultant. What I find now is that, there are scarcely any IT contract jobs to be filled but there is absolutely no shortage of recruiters. None of the recruiters have a clue how to place anyone, they are merely word-matching acronyms in your resume. However that does not stop them from becoming middlemen so you may wind up working for the recruiter on a W2 or a much reduced rate and sign with them a non-compete clause for 2 years. Why do hiring managers involve staffing companies? Don't they have any search skills at all? The new age recruiters are all in the business of collecting resumes online, they require you to upload your resume to their own website. Once a resume is posted to any of the myriad career sites that have sprung up, emails promptly announcing “Urgent requirement” are sent out to prospective consultants. It does not mean that the requirement needs to be filled urgently. It only means that the recruiters urgently need your resume so they can be the first ones to submit a resume to a client. The news networks are silent about this recruiter invasion, despite an article I sent to them for publication. I am glad, I can voice my opinion on a forum here.

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Oh my God is Algomod!

About 6 years ago, I put in my resume that I had written software that interfaces with SAP and Siebel via e*Gate. I otherwise have 0 knowledge about Siebel or SAP. But Algomod's records show that I can program AND administer Siebel. I used to get frequent notifications of opportunities for eGate development -- don't know how to do that either. Sometimes I want to point out their obvious ignorance, but then I think about how I might need them one day...
At $employer-1 I was employed as a sysadmin. From March time through to the beginning of August I was left working alone whilst my boss was pulling his hair out trying to get another sysadmin. Stupid thing was we were seeing plenty of posts on certain e-mail lists for UK sysadmins, but HR was insisting on using a recruitment agency who would send resumes from the must inappropriate people you could imagine.

Given we were managing freebsd, solaris, debian and ubuntu boxes, we kept getting what Brits nickname "Purple Shirt Brigade", people that work for a certain UK retail computer store where employees have purple uniforms, a bit like CompUSA here I guess. People who at best would have been dealing with Mom and Pop's Windows laptop or computer, with absolutely no *nix experience whatsoever.
HR insisted despite all the evidence we could show of good people looking for jobs that "there just weren't the right people out there" and the agency we were using was "the best in the field."

In the end my boss (with his bosses permission) used a proper technical recruitment agency with a decent reputation who returned us several very good resumes. Within a couple of weeks of contacting that agency for the first time, we had a new sysadmin ready to join the team. HR hit the roof and nearly point blank refused to go employ him until they were over ruled.
A lot of companies don't like to hire contractors on a 1099 basis because of the risk of them being classified as employees by the IRS and the employer being on the hook for back benefits and taxes. So from an employer perspective, contract shops that provide contractors with w-2s provide a layer of protection. For larger companies there is also the issue of dealing with too many vendors. They like the consolidation a body shop can provide from a paperwork perspective.
Lawsuits against corporations from 1099 contractors is so rare as to make the news every time it occurs. What is more likely is that if a highly paid consultant hung in there for any length of time the company usually makes them an offer to become a full time employee (happened to me several times) to save money. And it is not hard to do an S-Corp so the engagement is Corp to corp and not a 1099.

The argument that less vendors to deal with involves less paperwork or accounting headache is hard to swallow. With every entity down the sub contractor chain there is more paperwork, more delays in communications and the consultant usually gets paid very late. On at least one occasion I have had to fill two time cards one for the "recruiter" and one for the client. One online and the other not online but requiring my signature and the supervisor's approval signature. Remember, every expense for each consultant has to be scrutinized carefully even if it came consolidated from one vendor.

What I am trying to draw attention to is that recruiters have somehow got the "inside exclusive connection" and using that to the fullest extent to reduce the consulting rate that winds up in the consultant's pocket. If the recruiter pocketed $10 / hour which is very common then at 160 hours a month that is $1600 each month from just one contractor. Place 10 people and you have a steady stream of $16000 / month. This has to be a housebody's dream to become a recruiter riding on that one "inside connection". And a $10 per hour markup is very conservative. Quite often it is higher than that.

The other day a recruiter asked me what is Ruby on Rails. Well it is certainly not someone wearing expensive jewelry taking a train ride. We can only urge companies to advertise their jobs inviting applications from "principals only, no recruiters please"

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