There’s no question the software industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and with it comes a need for top software talent. As a result, the recruitment industry has grown dramatically, and over time, has come to require more complicated tools (from the likes of LinkedIn and more) that make it easier to track down candidates. Yet this evolution has become a double-edged sword, as it has created an industry plagued by non-technical “headhunters” who rely on “spray and pray” techniques to find the needles in the haystacks.

Sounds peachy right? Well, maybe not for one important side of this equation. Today’s technical talent is faced with a barrage of unsolicited, unpersonalized and poorly targeted emails that seems to be pissing them off. Some report up to 12 emails and voicemails a day, and others are even contacted through their work phones– all by headhunters they have never talked to, and seemingly don’t even take the time to look at their CV.

If isn’t always as easy as it sounds

“I currently have no desk-phone in my current role. This is deliberate. I do not want to be cold-called by recruiters. And yet, that doesn’t work. They continue to wheedle their way through our receptionist (“being discreet”) trying to get hold of me. Including one fishing for more information by pretending to have a package addressed to me that needs to be delivered at a specific unspecified time.

This continual harrassment is the same as spam. Unsolicited commercial approach that only benefits the sender. And so in my eyes, these recruiters are no better than spammers. Just more annoying because they don’t limit themselves to email.”

So while your company may be working with a recruiter, there’s a big question of whether they’re actually attracting or repelling the best talent, all while representing your company. There are however a few like Scott Ruthfield who do seem to get it, “Any success we’ve had recruiting in Seattle has come from building long-term relationships with candidates and companies, doing deep technical and culture-fit dives, and listening closely, not just talking.” The recruiters that seem to attract developers actually cultivate relationships, but they still need better technology because while today the divide between supply and demand is bad, tomorrow it will be worse.

With such a lack of efficiency, it’s not hard to imagine that the recruiting industry could even be largely displaced by 2020 by more effective means. “Social recruiting” is a hot topic today, and many companies focus on media channels such as twitter, facebook, hackathons and blogging. Perhaps more potent is another strategy in this vein where companies reward their employees for actively recruiting talent to their company through their own social channels. The idea that you could pay $3k to an employee for finding that candidate rather than $30k to a recruiter is not lost on companies today, nor is it lost on a few startups actively trying to create structure around this interaction. Not only is it more cost effective, it’s widely known that the best filter for candidates is existing developers, both for their technical and cultural analysis. The trend across the board appears to be that creating environments in which technical talent is actively engaged with the process.

My prediction is that as the signal to noise ratio recruiters and developers face will worsen, and their relationship will continue to degrade unless the talent discovery and targeting software evolves to become more effective. Tomorrow’s recruiting industry will be run by fewer, more efficient recruiters with a personalized touch and technical background. Their discovery and targeting will be powered not through algorithms processing stale information from passive candidates, but by services that talent actively engages with to indicate interest in problem spaces and companies. As for the recruiters sullying your company’s good name and ticking off the talent? They’ll be long gone. Maybe then our developers’ inboxes and phones will finally be safe.

Be sure to also check out Social Media in Recruitment – How Far is Too Far?

Manny Medina is the CEO of GroupTalent, a platform that matches employers and developers. Follow Manny on Twitter @GroupTalent.

Image: Shutterstock

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