I know, first we hang all the lawyers. But soon after that, maybe when the telephone sanitizers have stopped kicking (a little mission creep never hurt anyone, right?) we line up the recruiters and introduce them to a little high school physics. F=MA and G=Mm over R-squared something something and you can’t push a rope. Oh, and when you meet the Big Guy, you should know that we made a couple of minor changes to your resume, so just go along with the modifications, okay? It’ll be totally cool, don’t worry, nobody ever checks that stuff.

But . . . I know, you’re a /good/ recruiter, right? You never cold-emailed an employer and said “I’ve got a bunch of super red hot engineers” and then started pimping knuckle-draggers incapable of spelling ‘C’ without looking up the answer on The Google. No, you’re not one of /those/ recruiters, and that makes me happy because you are special and sure, we’ll work with you. Let’s see some of your best clients.

And suddenly it’s like that sequence in Mrs Doubtfire where Robin Williams is faking calls from various inappropriate prospective nannies in order to nail the nanny job himself, except that the people on the other end of the phone are a lot less funny than Robin Williams.

“Print the numbers from 1 to 100? Sure? First we fill a table with numbers 1 to 100, then we run SELECT on the table. Easy!”

“This is like code, right? It’s been a while. Let’s see. Um. FOR. No, IF. Wait, I know this. PRINT 1 TO 100. Okay, that was easy. Next question?”

“Here in Havenukeistan we have many fine count. You relocate, yes? Then I write count for you, best you ever see.”


This works in the other direction, too. 30 years ago a recruiter sent me to the hinterlands outside of Minneapolis, and in that flat desolation surrounded by wheat fields was a small brick building with a bunch of workers in it. I walked in, introduced myself as the candidate, and spent an hour laughing with someone while we tried to figure out what my recruiter figured a game programmer and systems guy would do at a company that made sewing machines and that didn’t even have a computer on the premises. (A couple of later start-ups I was at made me wonder if bolting together light machinery and sleeping in a cow barn would have been a good choice of career change).

Ever wonder how those little bobbin things work? Fascinating, now /there/ is genius we should all aspire to.

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7 Responses to Recruitering

  1. We are looking to fill a position in our group at the moment and, in looking at the resumes that our recruiter is giving us, I can only assume she is evaluated solely on the quantity of candidates she finds for us. If we don’t hire any of them, it is probably our fault for being too picky.

    Of course, she isn’t helped by the fact that job listings at our company can only be written by the secretive “compensation committee,” to which there is no appeal. Not that I could appeal, as I have no idea who is on the committee. They insist on having one standard job listing for a given position, and while they understand that there are half a dozen or more different positions in accounting or HR, there is only a single software engineer role, and the job description lists out every possible technology or language such a person might have to deal with, plus a few bogus ones, like “C+”. However, I need somebody who knows Python, and Python isn’t on the list.

    Still, it is better than the time I needed somebody fluent in Spanish. Spoken language is not an attribute of software engineers.

    • MikeA says:

      “Spoken language is not an attribute of software engineers”

      You haven’t worked with enough FORTH users.

    • Miguel Farah says:

      Spoken language is not an attribute of software engineers.

      Damn well it should be. If nothing else, it’s a requirement for some of them, so they can defend their awful code and worse documentation when I summon them for that purpose.

      (and don’t let me get started on the absurdly high number of times I had to say “Don’t explain this to me. Write it into the javadoc for everyone’s benefit!”)

  2. Zeev Tarantov says:

    “Here in Havenukeistan we have many fine count. You relocate, yes? Then I write count for you, best you ever see.”

    Russian, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan. Which one did you mean?

  3. Joshua Drake says:

    But if we get rid of the phone sanitizers we may die of a plauge!

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