Two Tales of Tech Recruiting

In an industry that has had (and continues to have) persistent problems when it comes to how it hires and treats black people within its ranks, few things are worse than a black woman announcing on social media that she short-changed a candidate of $45,000 because “I personally don’t have the bandwidth to give lessons on salary negotiation”.

I’ve worked with both contract recruiters and full-time recruiters in 10 years as a manager staffing software engineering positions on multiple teams and none of them low-balled any candidate I chose to extend an offer because I intended to keep those folks for as long as I could. The alternative–losing good people to companies that can poach them simply by offering more money–meant not just losing their skills, and having fewer people to divide the same amount of work between, but my employer incurring costs trying to backfill the open position. Especially in a market where the competition for talented people is more and more challenging, the last way any company should start a relationship with a new employee is by undervaluing them from the moment they join.

A position I only filled a couple of weeks ago had been open for two solid months before that. Rather than risk losing a good candidate over $10,000, I requested an exception to offer a larger signing bonus. With the exception granted, we made a best and final offer that he accepted. The onboarding process is going smoothly, and since we’re paying him what he’s actually worth based on the geography we’re in and what our competitors are offering, he will be harder to poach with just money.

Fortunately, there are good examples of recruiters doing well by the people they recruit.

Unlike the first Johnson, this one probably built a significant amount of goodwill and trust–not just between herself and the candidate, but between the candidate and the company she will be working for. In an industry where software engineers are encouraged to switch jobs every couple of years, this company has a good chance of growing this junior software engineer into a senior software engineer–perhaps even a engineering leader–because a recruiter put their best foot forward.

As is sometimes the case on Twitter in cases like this, someone tagged the company Mercedes S. Johnson is recruiting on behalf of–and someone responded requesting a DM with more information. The tweet that actually led me to this whole story was about doxxing and how Ms. Johnson shouldn’t lose her job over the post. I’ve written about at-will employment and cancel culture before, and people have definitely lost their jobs for less than what this woman bragged on Twitter about doing. As of this writing, she was still defending her action.

If you work in tech recruiting and the opportunity presents itself, choose to be a Briana instead of a Mercedes. Both the companies you hire for and the candidates you recruit for them will thank you.