Not to bore you but (like so many times before) it is 9:30pm and I am in my fav place at LAX…Chilis…again, working on my column! I plan on finishing this in the Admirals Club where I will “sit” until my flight leaves at midnight.
I just left one of my favorite small conferences, DVCon. It is the small show that gets a terrific turnout. Everyone going there has a purpose; they want to know what/who has the latest/greatest in verification tools. This show was no different than previous years except nearly 100% of the people were very optimistic about EDA and their business. For me, I picked up more new job reqs than ever and confirmed what I predicted in my Jan 2011 column (archived on our home page)…that the tide would shift and there would be more jobs than there are qualified candidates to fill them, (which is opposite of the many years past). Companies are hiring like crazy and what used to be a flood of candidates looking for a few opportunities is now clearly the opposite.
While this makes our job more difficult, it also makes us more necessary. So what does a recruiter bring to the table?
Aside from the obvious, (jobs to candidates, candidates to companies), a good recruiter brings perspective and information to both. For example, here is a discussion I have had many a time…”what’s better, hiring less experienced “cheaper” help or hiring more experienced, more expensive help”? Over the years I have learned there is no contest: a great hire pays you back the difference in dollars many times over…a much better ROI (return on investment). A bad hire costs you in so many ways: the least being slower or poor productivity and the worst, wasted time when they leave or you ask them (nicely) to leave. Lost time, lost productivity, money spent with little or no real return, that is a rough pill to swallow. Reality is, money should be the small part. The right candidate can enhance your tools/product and make it sing like Barbara Streisand- If tools could only do musicals. The small (usually like 10-20%) difference that you end up spending will usually pay you back so many times over.
Candidates, on the other hand, know that when it comes to their job search we will give them companies that work for their specific skill-set. We will talk reality to them, like it or not, even when they think they are a fit, when clearly they are not. It is that type of advice to both sides that makes a recruiter so valuable to a company. A good recruiter filters resumes to meet company requirements. Companies we work with know that when they get a resume from someone like us, it is worth opening and reviewing because those candidates will be 80% of the way there.
I always tell my clients that they would be fools to pay me a fee if they could find an equal or better candidate on their own. The flip side is a company would be a fool NOT to pay me if my candidate is better. The right employee (as I showed earlier in this column) making the right contribution can sometimes make all the difference in whether or how fast a company accomplishes their agenda. Paying a fee just might be some of the best dollars you have ever spent.
When choosing a recruiter make sure he/she has implicit industry knowledge and experience in the exact area you specialize in. Make sure he/she has contacts in the industry and an underlying understanding of the various companies and positions. He/she should know (in the case of EDA) who does Digital, who does Analog, who does front end tools, who does back. A good recruiter should understand the companies he/she represents and be able to properly discuss the company (opportunity) with you.
I always tell both the company and the candidate that, while the company pays my bill, I try to represent both parties 50/50. Hiring in this industry should never be one-sided. The process should be comfortable to both sides. After all, most start-ups are small and having the right experience with each other makes for a better long-term relationship. When both sides agree on responsibilities, salary, etc they both approach the relationship with satisfaction that their choice was the right choice.
When you really need good people, waiting costs you money and hiring the wrong candidate because you have to settle is even worse. It does not cost you a dime to work with us unless you decide that you like our candidate.
Another thing I have learned is that interviewing, no matter how thorough, does not always yield the intended results. So many companies are positive that they have the best formula for interviewing. However, from my experience, those are the very companies whose confidence can sometimes lead to passing on hires that should have otherwise been considered. There are other factors as well. In my opinion more companies have to realize (ESPECIALLY IN EDA) that interviewing (ESPECIALLY) engineers, who for the most part are from different cultures, may very well know the subject matter but have issues in conveying that knowledge while being interviewed by a group, even worse over the phone. Remember, different cultures have different interpretations to questions. Unease and nervousness can distort answers and confidence and stating correctly what they know is not always conveyed. Foreigners can be incredibly difficult to understand-both the interviewer, as well as interviewee. Trust me, I deal with it everyday; communication sometimes is not so easy, even when asking basics. Comprehensive phone interviews frequently rule out candidates that would do much better one on one, not to mention more easily understood.
I met Magma’s Rajeev Madhavan, CEO and founder of Magma some dozen years ago at a party during L.A. DAC. He was a gracious guy then and our paths crossed a few times over the years. (I used to work with Magma then). On my last email send-out to all my LinkedIn contacts, Rajeev wrote back “pl remove my name from the list”. I smiled when I read it and thought that while I believe we have not seen the last of Rajeev, for now he needs some well-earned time away from EDA. I can certainly respect that. Hope he is enjoying spending all that money.