Talent introductions in tech

Jessica Rose
Jun 23, 2018 · 4 min read

I do a lot of introductions between talented technologists in my network and trusted companies or (more rarely) external recruiters. I recently got some feedback that greater transparency in how I connect people would be useful. Please enjoy (and help me refine!) my current process, as well as some thoughts about how I plan to change this process in the near future.

Why I do it

I began doing introductions as a follow up from doing open 1:1 career advice calls for technologists. Calls often touched on toxic workplaces, being underpaid or feeling underappreciated. As I’ve been lucky enough to be able to build a great network in tech, directly introducing talented people to potential employers seemed like a reasonable next step. From there I’ve had more and more people get in touch via word of mouth or after seeing me seek employer leads on social media channels.

I find helping people into better paid and better suited roles incredibly rewarding. Helping place happy, productive technologists in good workplaces also helps me extend the reach of my community work. The only request I make of folks asking for my help is that they try to help someone else, when they can.

The current process

At the moment, my process for introductions is very informal. If I know of trusted employers in my network looking for similar skills to the person approaching me for help, I’ll introduce them. I always check with both employers and the talent before each specific introduction.

If I don’t know of existing trusted opportunities in my network, I’ll often present an anonymized summary of the talent’s skills on social media, asking if anyone wants an introduction. Ex: “I know of a midlevel Java dev with some devops looking for a remote role, message me for an introduction”.

I will occasionally connect talent to trusted agency or freelance external recruiters. When I do introduce folks to recruiters I will generally have them working with only one at a time. This is partially to prevent being pitched the same roles multiple times, but also because I rarely have more than one trusted external recruiter in a set area or niche.

Before I make any introduction, I ask that the company or external recruiter assures me of several things.

  • They will treat the person I’ve introduced well and with respect
  • They will not knowingly place the introduced into a toxic workplace
  • They need to give me feedback, so I can better support and prepare the people I’m introducing

I don’t make further introductions to external recruiters or companies who aren’t able to meet these requirements.

I often do additional work to support or prepare people for the conversations and interviews they’ll be having. This sometimes involves my husband working with folks who need CV or cover letter help, or wants interview practice.

Do I get paid?

I have never gotten paid for sourcing or introducing talent to companies or recruiters. For well established companies I may ask that they make a small donation ($200-$500) to a tech nonprofit of their choice, in hopes that the small cost will encourage them to value my time. This happens infrequently (2–3 times in the last year). I have also had an employer pay for a train ticket to meet with them, so I could better prepare someone I had introduced for the interview process at a cost of £29.50.

In the past I have done paid consulting on issues that touch on talent and hiring. This has included helping companies with writing and sharing role descriptions, crafting interview processes and helping build internal process for talent. I do not introduce people to companies that I’ve done paid consulting work for to prevent a conflict of interest.

Problems with my current process:

The current way I work with introductions is time consuming and isn’t being tracked or managed well. I’m not currently able to provide high quality, trusted introductions to the wide range of talented folks who reach out to me. It’s not as transparent as it could be.

I’ve also encountered some friction between the expectations of companies or external recruiters and my own process. For companies dealing with multiple external parties helping them source talent, it’s easy for them to forget that I am unpaid and do not work for them. This often leads to demands on my time or labor that I find unreasonable.

Improving the process:

As I’ve repeatedly encountered some friction due to mismatched expectations from employers or recruiters I’ve connected talent to in the past, I’m looking to develop deeper knowledge of how formal recruitment processes in tech works. I’m not looking to move into recruitment. My goals are to get a clearer understanding of best practices to better support talent and better understand the expectations and needs of the companies and external recruiters I’ll be interacting with.

I’ll be reaching out to some trusted contacts working in the talent space in coming weeks to ask to shadow them in their work.

I’ll also be talking with companies in my network about how they generally work with talent sourcing, so that I’m better able to meet or manage their expectations.

While I prefer working direct with trusted companies, I’ll also be exploring the development of a more formal network of trusted external recruiters, so that I’m able to more quickly and efficiently pass talent ready for a new challenge onto someone who can help move them into their new role.

I’m interested in hearing what other steps I could take to better support people who ask for my help and ethically scale up my efforts without burning myself out. If you have any tips, tricks, advice or critiques I would love to hear them!

Jessica Rose

Written by

Technology's den mother. Made @opencodeclub, helped make @trans_code & sometimes @watchingbuffy ❤ asking questions.

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