Builders Build Startups. Recruiters Don't.

April 21, 2014
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We built with one idea in mind: to remove agency recruiters from the startup hiring equation. We’ve got nothing against traditional recruiting, but for many startups, that business model is out of whack.

Some candidates don’t know this, but an agency recruiter typically costs anywhere between 10-30% of a successful hire’s full-year salary. That’s right. If I hire you through a recruiter and you make $100K a year, I have to pay a recruiter $10-$30K on top of that.

Another way to think about that number: if my startup raises $1M in seed money, I have to pay 1-3% of the entire raise to a recruiter for a single hire. And while the rest of the startup world thinks about vesting in terms of years, most recruiters get paid for placing a candidate who stays for only 1-3 months. This seems obvious, but a startup’s bank account is everything. Paying 1-3% to someone who doesn’t directly build the business feels wrong.

Not only that, but ask a hiring manager if he/she secretly expects more from an individual who has been hired through a recruiter - often times, there’s undue and unspoken pressure associated with recruiting hires because of the added cost. That is, unless the hiring manager deliberately offers a lower salary to offset the cost.

What about from the candidate side? Most devs will tell you - it’s maddening to be bombarded by recruiters. They are often careless and relentless.

As people in charge of hiring, we’ve seen agency recruiters send multiple messages to our own developers, only to turn around and attempt to play nice the minute our company puts up a job post. You can’t play both sides with a smile on your face.

Try asking a recruiter about an engineer's skillset. Some are great. Others don’t know the difference between CoffeeScript and coffee.

We realize that complaining about recruiters is a lot like complaining about airline travel. It’s so Seinfeld-esque ("what’s the deal with recruiters!?"), it’s almost passé. Still, we think that adds some weight to the argument that the recruiting model is messed up. Either way, this deserves more conversation. Startup money, which is often VC money, which is often retirement & endowment money, deserves to be spent in more efficient ways.

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