The Role of Recruiter with Lena Mills

Soulbound by Bethany Adams available on Amazon

“Java is to JavaScript as Car is to Carpet”

This week Will and BJ invited their friend and the only recruiter Will works with to join as a guest host as they discuss the role of recruiters in finding the right position for developers.

Lena Mills is a senior recruiter at a leading provider of technology professionals for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support.

Lena has been recruiting for more than two years and specializes in sourcing talent in the following areas: Applications/Web Development, Business Intelligence, Data/Database Management, ERP Integration/Customization, Programmer Analysis, Project Management/Business Analysis, System Integration.

“I think that building relationships is the number one thing and that’s the top tip I give to both junior developers and senior developers.”

Episode Breakdown

  • 9:44 Why Talk To A Recruiter

    “You can optimize a system if you know the input variables, but if you believe the variables are different than what is actually coming into the system your optimization is always going to be wrong”

    Many developers have deep misunderstanding of how recruiters work in the development ecosystem. Unrealistic expectations and ignorance of how the economics actually works leads to surprise and suboptimal results.

    Lena offered to take some time to help developers better utilize the resources that recruiters provide.

  • 11:45 The Recruiting Process

    Recruiting is broken down into recruiters that work with developers and account managers that work with companies in the area that are seeking developers. While her office does have a database of developers and she is active on LinkedIn and other job boards Lena gets most of her business through referrals and networking events.

    Account managers will see jobs posted online or through networking with companies and human resources departments. The recruiter knows the developers available and looking for a postition. Then they find the developers that match the job posting.

  • 14:20 Working With Multiple Recruiters

    “I never tell people not to work with multiple recruiters or agencies, I just say it’s always a good idea to keep track of everything”

    Keep a spreadsheet of who you are working with and where they have submitted your resume. Will prefers to only work with Lena so he doesn’t have to worry about being submitted multiple times to the same position.

    Junior developers like BJ looking to get into the market benefit from working with multiple agencies or recruiters. It is important to find recruiters that you feel comfortable with and can trust. They should be willing to help you by giving you advice and helping edit your resume.

    “Commodity products have advertisers and luxury products have agents.”

    At some point you want to make the jump from commodity to luxury product. Otherwise you get limitted on the roles you can find and keeping up with the spreadsheet becomes tedious. As a junior developer saturate the market as much as possible to help find the person you trust and want to work with exclusively. Will made the transition around the 4-5 year mark. Part of this is the maturity in knowing how the system works and another part is finding the person you know and can trust to place you in the best position.

  • 19:40 Developers as the Client

    “One thing I’ve heard Will say is that Devs can’t consider themselves the client.”

    Lena considers the developers she works with as her clients just as much as the account managers view the companies hiring developers as the client. While it is the company that is paying for the service if the developers are not happy they may leave and find another job or may lose trust in the recruiter.

    “You’re not selling a developer, you’re selling a developer’s skills”

    A lot of this boils down to the developer’s mindset of themselves and their skills. The developer’s skills are the product and developers benefit from the view of themselves as a product owner in this situation.

  • 22:10 A Typical Day for a Recruiter

    A recruiters day starts with a morning meeting to discuss the goals for the day and the positions that are needing to be filled. For Lena mornings are spent making phone calls, sending emails, and checking job websites like LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, or Dice. In her afternoons she meets with developers either via Skype or in person at lunch or coffee meetings.

    “I meet with all of the candidates before submitting them to the clients”

    When a recruiter requests to meet with you as a developer it is to get to know you so they can better advocate for you to the clients. As developers this benefits us in knowing who is representing us when we are seeking a job. It boils down to marketing and the better the recruiter knows the developer the better they are able to place them in the best job.

  • 26:30 How Developers Are Marketed

    When a position comes up the recruiter will send the company the developer’s first name with a few bullet points from their resume. If the company is interested the recruiter then contacts the developer to see if they are interested in the company before proceeding. This avoids multiple submitions for the same position by allowing the developer to tell the recruiter if they have already been submitted for the position.

    Many companies will completely disregard a submission of a developer if it comes from several sources. This is the importance of keeping a spreadsheet to avoid to track where you have been submitted.

  • 29:15 How Recruiters Get Paid

    “To us it appears that recruiters get paid to make calls like a call center.”

    Recruiters are paid by placing developers with companies. By working with a recruiting agency the client companies do not have to pay the costs of hiring and screening full time employees. When a developer is placed with a company they are on what is called a “working interview.” This benefits the developers because they will get paid for the work they do even if it the company doesn’t pay the agency.

    “If I’m in the contract to hire phase I’m an employee of the recruiting agency and then I get converted to being an employee of the client.”

    When a company pays the recruiting agency the first to come out is the developer’s pay and cost of employment such as benefits. When talking with developers recruiters may ask what they are looking to make or what their minimum requirements are for pay. This is not to get them the minimum but instead to not bother the developer with opportunities that are not willing to pay in the range the developer is able to afford.

  • 36:15 Keep Your Recruiters and Resume Up-To-Date

    “One thing that frustrates me is that I get 5-10 emails a day for senior positions but I’m a junior developer.”

    When a recruiter is reviewing a resume they will not have time to read through all the bullet points. Make sure your top skills are listed prominently on your resume. If your resume isn’t updated regularly recruiters may have an older version and contact you for positions you qualified for years ago.

    Conversly as a junior developer if you are receiving emails about senior positions reply to the recruiter to let them know that you are a junior or mid level developer. That will start a conversation so they can get to know you and your strengths as well as provide them with insight into the types of positions to send to you.

  • 38:10 Referral Bonuses for Developers

    “I never block sender because it’s good intel.”

    When a recruiter spams your email don’t get upset at the recruiter but use that information to your benefit. If you have a recruiter you prefer to work with then you can take that position to them and have that person submit you for the position.

    “The difference between a pile of poo and fertilizer is how far you spread it.”

    Have patience with recruiters, they are working to get you work. Don’t let your temper get into your responses to emails. If you are frustrated wait a few days before responding. You may be getting emails from a new recruiter.

    If the position is one you are not qualified for or if you are not currently on the market you may know another developer that is qualified and looking for a new position. Many agencies will provide referral bonuses to developers if their referral gets placed by the agency. The amount varies by agency so ask the recruiter or recruiters you work with if they offer bonuses and how that works for their particular agency.

    “Look at these as things that actually have value rather than annoyances, it will shift your perspective in a way that is effective.”

  • 44:42 Win, Win, Win

    “I like to think how am I going to get this relationship going so we can both have a benefit. How can it be a win, win, win.”

    The biggest goal when working with recruiters should be to build relationships and network. When working with developers the recruiter is looking to build relationships that lead to a winning situation where the developer wins a new job, the company wins new talent, and the recruiter wins when both of them are happy.

    “If all you’re looking at is the bottom line, this increases your bottom line.”

    A defining feature of successful business models is that you have multiple winners in the situation. It may be difficult to percieve of multiple winners in a scenario but that is what successful business does. There are multiple levels of the producer/customer model within a business.

  • 48:10 Meeting Recruiters

    “You’ve got to understand how the sales cycle works at a recruiting level in order to be recruited.”

    Developers don’t always want to meet with recruiters. Companies want to move quickly when looking for new talent. If the recruiter has not already met with you then that puts you as a developer at a disadvantage. One of the benefits a company gains from working with recruiting agencies is that the recruiters have met with the developer and will know if the developer will fit into the companies culture.

    “As a developer you want to build that relationship so that when a position comes up you are top of mind.”

  • 50:41 Put Projects on Your Resume

    Many self taught junior developers have a deeper knowledge base than their resume or job experience shows, especially looking for the first postion breaking into the career. If you don’t have the job experience place projects and work you have done prominant on your resume. Focus on the skills you have developed that the company is looking for in a new developer. Put what you’ve done on your resume and possibly links to the projects.

    Find a few recruiters that understand your experience and are willing and able to “go to bat” for you. Send them links to your projects or portfolio to show to companies.

IoTease: Project

Build Your Own Micro-Forge

This week’s project is less of an IoT project and more of a DIY setup that may help in future IoT projects. The forge was designed by Len Cullum, a woodworker specializing in Japanese style gardens. He built it to create around 500 special nails for a project but it can be used for any small forging needs. In total the materials cost around $30. The process is fairly simple and he divided it up into seven steps with directions under each step.


Firebricks are very soft and easy to cut so drill slowly and wear a dust mask.


  • Thread Rod
  • Firebrick
  • Nuts, Washers, Bolts
  • Aluminum Plate
  • Aluminum Angle
  • Finishing Nails

Steps to Build

  1. Drill the brick.
  2. Locate and drill the 3/4″ flame hole with comes in from the side.
  3. Build the frame.
  4. Align a piece on the 4″ edge of the aluminum plate.
  5. Assemble the forge.
  6. Stand it up and add the brick.
  7. Fire in the hole.

Tricks of the Trade

Know the typology of how your money comes in either with recruiters or companies. If you are working in a sales focused organization you need to know how the money comes in to the company. Figure out the larger scope beyond your development career to understand how the system actually works. It’s very easy to have a narrow focus and be incorrect about how the pieces all fit together.

Editor’s Notes:

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