After running a post looking for contract and permanent developers in the UK, Damian blogged about his experiences with recruitment consultants and I’ve become so incensed that I feel the need to rant, hence this post.
I know that when I feel a very strong reaction to a particular topic that I have some emotional baggage associated with it, and as such I have a lot of unresolved anger towards recruitment consultants. I’ll try and be balanced, and brief, and share some of my thoughts.
I would almost never recommend to any of my clients that they use recruitment consultants. I would in fact only ever recommend it if they were absolutely desperate. The reason for this is threefold:
First of all, managers of developer teams need to be very hands on with the recruitment process. Outsourcing this work, because that’s what you’re doing with recruitment consultants, is a bad idea. Yes, you may get a thousand really, really poor CVs through the door of which only one is gilt-edged, but personally I would rather go through them by hand than rely on an untrained professional to do this. (Remember, a development manager probably knows about a thousand times more about software development than a salesperson who happens to be working in the software development field.)
Why? Because I know what I’m looking for given the big picture. If advertising for a senior C# developer and I get a CV come through for someone looking for a junior testing position, a recruitment consultant would instantly dismiss the junior candidate. I may not want to employ him for the senior role, but if his CV stands out for whatever reason (i.e. my intuition is telling me there’s something interesting here), I might want to meet with him, see what he’s about and bring him into the organization in some other fashion.
Recruitment consultants are only any good at matching keywords. “Here’s a developer with six years Smalltalk experience, and he’s built some open source VB .NET projects in his spare time. Uh, well my client is looking for C#, so let’s throw him away.” Riiiiight. So here’s a developer with shed loads of OO development experience, who happens to do .NET projects in his spare time. . Sounds like someone I’d like to meet. However, a recruitment consultant would never let me have that chance.
Secondly, recruitment consultants only find people who have degrees. Why? Well, because if they say, “must have a 2:1” they can instantly cut down on 50% of the CVs they might otherwise get. That saves the poor little lambs work!
The best developers I’ve ever met have not had degrees. I’m happy to admit that might be a weird anomaly, but I don’t want someone really good getting filtered out just to reduce the operating costs of an recruitment consultancy.
Thirdly, recruitment consultants cannot find really good people. For me, a really good developer is the kind of developer who has a passionate interest in community. They can either contribute to the community, or they are just part of that community.
A recruitment consultant can’t find people in a community. If I’m interviewing someone and she reels off a list of ten people who’s blogs she reads every week and I’ve never heard of them, or she tells me about some great stuff she read in Chris Sells’ Windows book I am about ten times more likely to hire her than someone who doesn’t give a damn about the community. I mean, I guess everyone reading this knows how important I think community is (I’m an MVP after all), but it’s absolutely essential that any developer in my employ has an attitude of learning. A strong interest in community is great evidence of this. However, you can’t put “I read blogs” or “the top 10 books on XP I read over the past year” on a CV, therefore the recruitment consultant chucks this potential hire on the “reject” pile, even though she’s probably exactly the sort of person that I’d want to hire.
Worse than this is that a recruitment consultant can’t find people who contribute to the community. Imagine how I’d feel interviewing someone who gives talks and writes books and has a blog and runs a Web site? I’d probably hire someone like that in a shot. However, a recruitment consultant only gets paid if I hire through him. If I can find the person directly and hire them directly, I can save myself several thousand pounds.
This used to happen to me all the time until I worked out what was going on. If you submit your CV to a recruitment bastard (I told you I was angry!), they strip out everything that can help their client find you directly. Written a book? Well, that’ gets deleted because you can go find the author and from there, invite him to come into the interview directly, saving you 40%. Written a magazine article? Gone. Gave a keynote at a developer conference? Gone! If you take all that stuff out of my CV, it looks pretty anemic. I’d only hire me if I could see the big picture. And I, if I do say so myself, am a pretty good developer.
As a final point, recruitment is a continual process. If I meet someone in the course of business, I keep their contact details safe just in case I need them for some reason. The same should be true of potential employees. Recruitment consultants don’t work on this principle – they are reactive to a manager’s immediate need for developers. If the right way to do this is to always be looking for potential hires, ipso facto, recruitment consultants are of little use in this way too.
I feel a bit like I’m the angryCoder writing this, but well, I am angry! I’m fed up with good people not being able to find good work because for some reason we’ve managed to construct our world such that untrained salespeople are blocking our access to the most vital resource we need… developers, developers, developers!
A number of my clients dotted around the UK are looking for contract and permanent developers.
If you're interested in jumping ship from where you are now for pastures new, please send me your CV together with a covering letter detailing information about yourself, what kinds of projects you enjoy, etc.
This is 100% recruitment consultant free. I'm not a recruitment consultant, my clients aren't recruitment consultants, I can't stand them and I'm sure you can't either.
The e-mail address is: email@example.com. Please indicate if you're looking for contract or permanent work.
Matt Reynolds - .NET 247/WinFX 247/Visual Developer MVP
Mattias Sjögren writes on .NET 247 how you can hack the VS .NET debugger to show more useful information about an object in the Watch window. I must admit, it bugs the life out of me that some objects give you a decent bit of info, whereas others just tell you what they are.
Apparently, you can hack the VS.NET\Common7\Packages\Debugger\mcee_cs.dat file such that you can instruct VS .NET to automatically expand objects. It can only dig into properties (i.e. no methods). Googling around, I found http://blog.applicationblocks.com/PermaLink.aspx?guid=72eb29b8-06a4-4b12-a576-f15a3960f10b and http://mark.michaelis.net/weblog/2003/08/20.html. According to the first one (Shannon Braun), VSTweak (part of PowerTools for Visual Studio .NET 2003) gives you a (rough) IDE to do this.
There's an intriguing post on .NET 247 saying that the “ms” in “mscorlib” doesn't stand for Microsoft anymore:
out of the book 'Applied Microsoft .NET Framework Programming':
When Microsoft first started working on the .NET Framework, MSCorLib.dll was
an acronym for Microsoft Common Object Runtime Library. Once ECMA started to
standardize the CLR and parts of the FCL, MSCorLib.dll officially became the
acronym for Multilanguage Standard Common Object Runtime Library.
I haven't tried this yet, but apparently you can get the debug symbols for the Framework that all you to step into calls in the BCL. At present, I tend to use Reflector to decompile the types and step through it in my mind, but this sounds cool if it does work.
From .NET 247: http://www.dotnet247.com/247reference/msgs/39/195989.aspx
“I want to step into the methods of standard library calls (for example into the SelectedNode property of TreeView), but it won't allow me to step into the .Net library calls.
When I was doing C++ programming I could step into the MFC libraries.
How do I achieve the same thing in C#?
Using Developer Studio .Net 2003 with C#.
...and the reply from a Microsoft support engineer:
In order to do this you'll have to get symbols for the .NET framework. You
can get symbols for the .NET framework by following the instructions at:
Thanks! Robert Gruen
This posting is provided "AS IS", with no warranties, and confers no rights.”
Something I do regularly is add new folders and classes to VS .NET projects. Up until about two minutes ago, I'd done this manually, via the mouse.
However, I've now remapped my keyboard to allow me to do this with a single key combination. You can do this to, using Tools - Options - Keyboard.
“Show commands containing”
...project.add gives you things you can add to a project,
...project.newfolder gives you the ability to add a new folder.
Another favourite of mine is wiring Ctrl+/ to Edit.CommentSelection and Ctrl+Shift+/ to Edit.UncommentSelection.
I'm a monopolist first, geek second... probably an entertainer third..."
Wernham Hogg's managerial genius that is David Brent has been employed by Microsoft to train its staff in personal development. Although the character's creator Ricky Gervais has previously shunned such work, it appears the opportunity to work with Microsoft was too much to turn down and the comedy star has put together a video entitled I'm back - and this time it's personal development.
A spokeswoman for Microsoft told the BBC: "We can't provide information about Ricky Gervais' project at Microsoft. It is an internal thing and not something which we like to publicise. It is something we do for staff and staff only."
Anybody who witnessed David Brent's truly awful dance routine in series two, episode five, here, and has also seen Steve Ballmer's crowd pleasing repertoire of the grotesque, here, may find it difficult to choose between the two men, but we believe Brent has the edge... just.
Someone has left this priceless comment over at Neowin: hope someone leaks this, it will be better than a new longhorn build.
Scott Watermasysk asked me to add a couple of additional features to SourceBrowse so that he could use it to host the source for .Text.
You can now:
- Mark particular folders as "not browsable", e.g. all "bin" and "obj" folders.
- Mark a specific folder as "not browsable".
- Download files directly from the "view" page.
- Show SQL scripts with T-SQL syntax colouring.
- Customize keyword lists.
The source is not available on GDN. I plan to move it to vaultpub.sourcegear.com as soon as.