3 things to learn from NYT’s article on tech hiring

It’s the time of the year when the New York Times Magazine publishes its “Future of Work” issue, and this year’s edition features an article titled Tech Companies Face a Fresh Crisis: Hiring. It tells the story of the current tech job market from the recruiter’s point of view.

It also contains three things that you should learn if you’re on the job market…

#1: It’s a tech job-seeker’s market, and 20 times more so for cybersecurity.

The article reports the following unemployment numbers:

  • For the general economy — that is, all work in all industries — the unemployment rate, which has been trending downward over the past year, is about 4%.
Graph from Trading Economics.
  • If you limit the unemployment rate to tech workers — the article doesn’t specify what counts as “tech” — the unemployment rate is less than half of the general rate: 1.7%.
  • If your area of specialization is cybersecurity, the unemployment rate is about a tenth of that for tech: 0.2%.

#2: Be nice to tech recruiters; it’ll make you stand out.

In a world of remote work and (hopefully temporary) reduced in-person contact, having good relations with at least a handful of recruiters can extend your reach and bring new opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have.

At the same time, I’ve seen that people tend to ignore recruiters as long as they have work, and come running to them once they need a job. As the article puts it:

Tech employees today tire of the attention from recruiters, the friendly hellos on LinkedIn, the cold calls (which Dyba does not make). “They think we’re like used-car salesmen,” Dyba said of her quarry. To be a recruiter in tech is to be an in-demand commodity for those companies doing the hiring but to feel like something of a nuisance — like an essential gear that emits a loud, irritating noise.

This tendency to treat recruiters transactionally won’t endear you to them, and doesn’t give them any incentive to stand up for you when you really need them.

Many recruiters who reach out to techies get answered with silence or one of those LinkedIn auto-replies:

Want to make an impression on a recruiter whose help you might need in the future? Reply to their message, even if it’s just to say “Hey, I’m happy where I am right now, but let’s stay in touch in case things change.”

Here’s something that’s worked for me: Go through your inbox and look for recruiters whose messages went unanswered and answer them. I’ve done this and emailed recruiters that I forgot to reply to. They often see no response at all, and they appreciate it when someone gets back to them.

#3: Wait until asking “how much?”

There’s a lot of advice to hold off on answering questions about your salary expectations. There needs to be more advice about waiting to ask about how much the job will pay, if these excerpts from the article is any indicator:

“If you wouldn’t mind kind of talking me through your background, I would love to hear a little bit more about you and what you’ve been doing,” she said. The young man on the other end of the phone was lovely and polite, with a Master of Science degree in business analytics. Dyba [the recruiter featured in the story] was immediately charmed, if only because — unlike so many tech recruits — he didn’t start the conversation by asking, within the first six minutes, what the compensation was.

Another recruiter said that when she sends out mass blasts, she often gets back emails that say only three words: “Rate? Remote? Client?”

One reply on “3 things to learn from NYT’s article on tech hiring”

Definitely feel fortunate to be in the industry where we’re frequently sought after, so I really are to treat them with some baseline of decency! You know, I could have sworn one of the auto response answers was quite polite, but it’s something along the lines of “thanks for reaching out I’m current satisfied with my current position “ or something.

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