Technical Recruiting Firms: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

good bad tech recruiting firmsIt may have been released in 1967, but everyone knows about the movie, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” But, just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Wikipedia will summarize it for you; “The plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold amid the violent chaos of gunfights, hangings, American Civil War battles and prison camps.”

On the surface, it doesn’t appear as if looking for the right technical recruiting firm is quite the same as gunslinging cowboys fighting for gold. But is it really any different? No. At the end of the day, you’re looking to strike gold and find the technical recruiting firm that will get you the best possible contract. So how do you hit gold? You need to know the markers of a good recruiting firm. Below, we’ve broken technical recruiting firms into the good, the bad, and the ugly so you’ll know what to avoid as you find a recruiter.Cue the music.

The Good

An agency that it looking our for your best interests will understand that their success is dependent upon your success. To ensure this mutual success, they’ll want to know a lot about you:

What are you good at? (Then they’ll test you on it.) Is that what you love to do?

– If not, what do you really want to do?

– Do you know how to get there?

– They’ll then suggest ways as to how they think they can help you get there.

What’s most important to you?

– Are you a relentless workaholic that just wants to smash anything that stands in your way?

– Are you a family-centered person that only punches the clock to provide for your family?

– Are you somewhere in between?

– What do you do for fun?

What do you want in a work place environment? And why?

Do you like the opportunities found in a large corporation, such as

– Do you like the anonymity found in a large corporation?

– Do you want to feel the sense of ownership that you would with a small company?

– Are you looking for a steady paycheck or are you hoping to the hit the homerun (stock options)?

– Are you risk adverse or a risk seeker?

Where do you feel your skills are in terms of market rates?

– A thorough screening process, combined with a knowledgeable recruiter, will get you an accurate picture of what the market bears for a person posessing your skill-sets.

This line of questioning will paint the recruiter a quick picture of who you are as a person and, ideally, help them gain an understanding of how they can help you be succesful professionally.

The Bad 

Bad agencies are looking to make a quick buck will only want to know if you currently have, or have ever possessed, the skills (key-words) that they see on the job description they have in front of them.

They will simply look to align key-words in your resume with the job description.

– No screening questions or tech tests/screenings. They’ll just ask you, “Do you know this?”

They may only ask how many years of experience you have.

– In our experience, years of experience can be a poor indicator for determining competence/skill level. This is not to say that fresh college graduates can out-code the 12-year veteran. However, there are certainly folks with 3-5 years of experience that run circles around people with 15 years.

They will find out how much money you want to make and move forward if that fits the requirement.

– This can be a set-up for failure, particularly in consulting opportunities where billable rate and expectations are inseparable. If the agency is billing you out at more than your market worth, you are destined to not live up to these higher expectations.

Completely lacking from this ‘conversation’ is any talk of your desires or what makes you happy/what makes you tick.


When the ‘bad’ companies are done with this rapid and shallow line of questioning, they’ll know little about you and you’ll know little about the opportunity. With such little information shared, how can this agency be looking out for your best interests and long-term success?


The Ugly

The worst of the worst will just call you  or e-mail you, find out if you’re available,  check  to see if you have the right key words, and submit you at your desired rate.


You’d have more success looking for a black cat in a coal mine.

choosing good tech recruiting firm

 Because that would be fun, no?

If you carefully evaluate how your technical recruiting firm interviews you, you’ll know whether or not you have a good one. Be aware that the good ones will want to know as much as possible about you while the bad and the ugly will only want to have a quick conversation that involves little screening or answering of your questions. Stay away from the latter if you want a good technical consulting experience. Best of luck and happy trails as you search for that golden recruiting firm.


What’s the best or worst experience you’ve ever had with a technical recruiting firm? Tell us your story below or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Thanks to Wikipedia, JordyBoy321, ytang3 and puuikibeach for the use of their respective information, music and images.