Tiffany Dyba, a 39-year-old recruiter in New York, thinks about a job she used to have at a luxury-fashion designer when she has a long day at work, which is most of the time these days.
People were so eager to send her their resumes back then that a young woman once looked up Dyba’s photo on LinkedIn and then waited outside her office on Madison Avenue to catch her on her way to work. When Dyba was talking to a possible new employee, she mentioned that she liked toffee. The next day, beautifully wrapped toffee showed up in her office. People she hired back then were hungry and ready to work. The place had flowers. Thank-you notes that were carefully written. Those were things a recruiter might not expect but might sometimes enjoy. A recruiter felt wanted.
But Dyba finally went out on her own, and when she did, the world changed. With this massive digital shift, Dyba, a psychology major who was briefly scared by her iPhone’s “merge calls” feature, found herself working in technology recruiting. This field is so popular that it is attracting more and more people like her.
Tech companies fresh crisis hiring:
These days, people who work as recruiters in technology don’t get candy, flowers, or thanks. The recruiter is lucky if she can get someone to talk to her on the phone, or even if she gets an email back. No one needs to go to court for tech workers: Tech workers will be remembered as one of the most important things that were in short supply during the pandemic, along with microchips, toilet paper, and Covid tests. Estimates say that the unemployment rate for tech workers is about 1.7%, compared to about 4% for the whole economy.
For people with skills in cybersecurity, the unemployment rate is more like 0.2%. Tech workers have grown tired of recruiters’ attention, the friendly hellos on LinkedIn, and the cold calls (which Dyba does not make). Dyba said of her prey, “They think we’re like used-car salesmen.” As a tech recruiter, you’re in high demand by companies that hire people, but you might feel like a nuisance, like an important piece of gear that makes a loud, annoying noise.
In late January, Dyba, working as a contractor for a tech company on the West Coast, sent out a mass blast on LinkedIn. It was meant for data analysts, so it didn’t have any of the friendly, conversational fillips she would normally add (“Your LinkedIn profile looks great!” and “I hope this finds you well!”). Data analysts just want the data, that’s all. Dyba wrote, “Hi, [name],” in the message. “We need a talented Data Analyst who can look at huge amounts of data, build predictive models, and help us grow. I thought you might work well.” She listed the job’s selling points in the ad: the business was growing by 400% a year, it was backed by a famous venture capitalist, employees could take as many vacation days as they wanted, their health insurance premiums would be covered in full, and they could work from home or in the office.
Dyba thinks she sent the job listing to about 75 possible hires, but she only heard back from about five of them. Three of them just said “no thanks” or ignored her InMail message. A “declination” on LinkedIn means “Please stop sending me all these jobs where the employer pays for my health insurance premiums and I can take as much time off as I want.”
Recruiters are in such high demand that there aren’t many of them, so their rates have never been higher. Daniel Wert, who works at a small executive-search firm in the design community, thinks that salaries for tech recruiters who work in-house have gone up by about 30%. Companies that need help filling cloud and cybersecurity jobs have raised the fees they pay to recruit services to as much as 45 percent of the first year’s salary, says Ryan Sutton, a district president in charge of technology recruiting at the staffing firm Robert Half. Dyba says she has more work than she has ever had since she started doing freelance recruiting in 2018.
Dyba’s problems, and the problems of most tech recruiters, go beyond just finding people. Recruiters are the ones who talk to potential hires, so they have a big-picture view of how fast the market is moving. They need to explain this to hiring managers without making it seem like they’re trying to hard sell. Dyba recently texted a kind of recruiter haiku to an executive who was hesitating to make an offer on a candidate who was slipping away:
Recruiters often have to tell executives who are used to having the upper hand in the market or founders who are sure their business is more innovative than Apple and has better snacks than Facebook that a candidate they wanted to hire flat-out turned down an offer.
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