Why SharePoint Recruiters Are So Bad

From time to time, I’m approached by a SharePoint recruiter looking to get my help in hiring the perfect candidate for a position. You may be surprised to hear this, but finding and hiring the right candidate isn’t all that hard if you know what you’re doing.

If you’re such a recruiter however, chances are high that you have no idea what you’re doing, so I’m going to point out some of the mistakes you make so you can fix them.

It’s Not Low Hanging Fruit

One reason why the market to recruit SharePoint people is hot is that SharePoint people are generally paid very well. Recruiters work on commission, usually a percentage of the salary the employee gets.

That’s why it is very tempting to hire a $100K a year employee rather than an average support chump who is more than satisfied making $30K a year.

It’s human nature to seek the highest reward for the least amount of effort, but whereas understanding the reward is easy, many recruiters are incapable of understanding the effort.

It’s SharePoint, right? How hard can it be?

As common as it is to see a high reward as a tempting target, it is equally common to ignore some very basic logic. If it was easy to make three times the reward, you’re not the only one who realizes this. If people are still not hired, it’s probably because there’s more to the story than you think initially.

Recruiting people to SharePoint positions require a great deal of understanding. If you have that understanding and do the right things, you can find people that are suitable for a job fairly quickly and you reap the higher rewards.

If you don’t, you’ll make all the same mistakes that everyone else does and you’re wasting everyone’s time and money.

Your Ad And Why It Fails

Let me examine some of the mistakes I see in job ads and approaches to hiring SharePoint people.

“Great Salary!”

The worst possible line you can write in a job ad is that the position offers a great salary without any specifics.

First of all, if you don’t understand the business,  how can you evaluate the salary and call it great? Second, if you don’t know who you’re hiring, how do you know what they consider a great salary?

The problem is that when you say that there’s a great salary, or even a competitive one (which is even worse), you’re building expectations that you have no idea whether you’ll meet. I may think $200K is a great salary but you think that if you make $80K a year, you’d be set. Thus, when the time comes to negotiate a contract, I’ll be disappointed. That’s never a good way to recruit anyone.

If you know what the position pays, even if it’s just in a range, just tell me. You should know enough about the business to know what such positions pay.

No salary information is actually better than trying to tell me that I should be satisfied with what you think is great.

“Must Be Willing to Relocate”

I understand the value of team building. Having someone nearby to whom you can walk and ask questions, give tasks, or get feedback is awesome.

However, I’m already living in tropical paradise. I have the world’s biggest pool less than 30 feet from my door (it’s called “The Pacific Ocean”). I have wild macaws flying over my private rooftop terrace daily and monkeys call at me less than a mile from my living room. I love this place.

If you demand that I, or anyone, break up their current way of life, you need to offer something that is more valuable. I would consider moving from here for an additional $75-100K, which means that what you previously thought was “a great salary” is now up to $275-300K.

This tells you something important; I value my current way of life at a certain sum. Are you or your client willing to pay that sum or is the value too high for the convenience of having my stunning personality in your office?

Today, it’s easy, convenient, and moving towards completely normal to work in distributed teams. Perhaps it’s better to move with the times and see if there are cheaper and even better ways to accomplish what you want? Heck, it’s cheaper to fly someone across the country once a week than it is to relocate someone and pay them for the inconvenience.

“Here Are The Tools You Must Use”

If an evaluation of what you think is a great salary is the worst single line you can add to a job ad, the worst possible paragraph you can add is the tools you expect someone to use to solve your problems.

I’ve written about this extensively in the past, but as a recruiter, think how you’d react if your client comes to you and demands that you use only paper letters to contact potential candidates, or that you cannot use Google but must use Bing to search for resumes.

Would that make sense to you?

You’re given a task to do something which you possibly know very well how to do. You have your way of working, using tools you know very well, and processes that you’ve proven over years of experience.

Why would a client, who is not a professional, tell you how you should work and which tools solve the problem? If they know so well how to do your job, why aren’t they doing it themselves?

Now, take the previous two paragraphs and flip it on your potential candidate and see if it makes more sense. The correct answer, in case you cannot figure it out, is “no”.

So, stop telling people which tools to use. Instead, tell them what they need to do. “Build us an intranet that solves these problems” or “Replace this legacy database with something that adheres to these requirements” or “Reduce the time and overhead of managing projects by 25%”.

Note: Feel free to read up on Paul Culmsee’s article and especially the f-law #3 to understand more about how to set intelligent goals.

Understand the Business

The key thing you must do as a SharePoint recruiter, however, is to understand the SharePoint business. It’s hard work, I know, but without it, you won’t find the right people, and even if the right people are staring you in the face, you won’t know how to recognize them.

Understand what it means when you ask for a “SharePoint developer” or a “SharePoint administrator”. These terms do not mean what you think intuitively, and when you don’t understand them, you look for people that have the completely wrong set of skills.

Understand where the community is heading. Unless you interact with and understand at least the basics of how the SharePoint community works, you won’t be able to reach the right people. As an example of how effective this is, a recruiter who is well-known in the community recently sent out one single message to the right channel and landed resumes from highly qualified professionals within minutes.

Understand where SharePoint is headed. SharePoint is changing, dramatically. You can’t recruit people for the tasks of yesterday and expect them to cope with the tasks of tomorrow unless you also expect to give them the proper training. Oh, and yes, you’ll be paying for that training, whether it is in having incompetent people a year from now or it’s actually giving the employees the resources they need.

Intelligent recruiters know how to work with the community. Some of them approach community members to learn, seeing that those that make it reap huge rewards.

Others think that they can just apply their skills at hiring burger flippers at Mickey D and get the best SharePoint professionals in the world.

It’s up to you, really.


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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

3 thoughts on “Why SharePoint Recruiters Are So Bad”

  1. Nice post! I have had many of the same thoughts, especially about providing the salary range up front.

  2. This will make you laugh or cry depending on your state of mind 😉 I received this from an agency today out of the blue:

    “We have just had a role come up but before I run it past you would you be able to confirm what the minimum hourly rate you would consider is?”

    Er…..hello…..chicken…..egg……..flashing light of desperation.

    Where do they find these people 😉

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