Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Recruiters... *sigh*

Rant intro

In any type of job, it is difficult to be paid what you're worth. They say you need to "advertise yourself". Wow! Advertising myself? I'm a technical expert, not an advertiser. If I had been an advertiser, I would probably be snorting cocaine and getting drunk on champagne with a couple of ladies in the Jacuzzi of a penthouse. But since I'm no advertiser, I only spend time on the internet with my oversize laptop following the latest IT & Telecom news, discovering the latest products, strategies, programming tips, communication failures of Microsoft, and the latest scandals about self-proclaimed democracies that spy wholesale on all of their citizens.

They also say that you need to know what you're worth. Well, ok! I know what I'm worth. But there's just a couple of problems with that. First problem: recruiters do not care anymore about what people are worth. They only care about how much they're paying for freelance meatbags to sit on a chair. And the amount they're ready to pay has dropped by an insane 40% in the past 5 years. Were they overpaying contractors before? No! All costs included, 5 years ago, contractors used to cost (in Europe) 15% more than a permanent employee. Plus the recruiter benefited from not taking risks with paying a person during pregnancy or medical interruption of work, extra flexibility to interrupt one's contract without compensation, no participation of the contractor in workers' unions, etc. So that's it for the first problem. The second problem is: it's useless for me to know what I'm worth if the recruiter doesn't know what I'm worth. Unless I'm a natural-born advertiser in which case I can let him understand how formidable I am and how lucky that recruiter is to ever have met me... but in which case I would be working in the advertising sector anyway.

The real rant

It probably exists in many industries though I don't know about other industries. But in the telecom sector, you frequently see recruitment ads where they're looking for Superman and they promise little (if anything) as a reward. So today, I found an ad, which I'm not going to link, since it's not nice to point the finger. They're looking to recruit a Superman. And by this, I mean the candidates need:

  • to have worked on one vendor's 3G for 7+ years: let me translate this for you. The candidate needs to have worked on some of the first networks in the world that introduced 3G, either Europe or Japan.
  • to have "advanced knowledge" in some protocols and the 3GPP standards. In other words: not just your usual senior engineer but a true expert who does read tons of technical documentation at home
  • to have knowledge in IP and managing IUB/IUR/IUCS parameters. Alright, so at this point you expect the job to be about transmission.
  • to have "extensive" knowledge of software OSS. Hmmm... not fishy yet, but they're looking for someone with experience in more than 1 type of activities. So ok... looking for a kinda rare sort of person.
  • knowledge of using some software that matches previous requirements. OK.
  • "Extensive" (again) knowledge in applying parameters to small, medium and large scale of the RAN. Alriiiight. So now we're talking about datafill for the Radio part of the network. At this point, they're already looking for a super-rare bird who is an expert (not just a casual engineer but someone with "extensive" knowledge) in 3 domains: transmission, OSS (from the "usage" side of the OSS though), and datafill.
  • More specific requirements on the domains mentioned above. So be it.
  • Knowledge of Radio optimization. That's it ladies and gentlemen! 1 requirement is a professional. 2 requirements is a seasoned professional. 3 requirements is a jack-of-all-trades. 4 requirements is a Superman.
  • More specific requirements on Radio optimization in terms of theoretical and practical knowledge
  • Traces analysis... not an entirely new domain but definitely a rare specialization among radio optimizers
  • Indoor planning and optimization. Here comes our 5th domain of experience. At this point, Superman should not even bother applying. A SUPER-Superman is needed.

And guess what? In front of the word "salary" of that recruiter's form, there is no indication at all. Of course this is a RANT and this is a blog. So my opinions are strongly in the way of objectivity and my interpretation of what this means for salary is subject to caution and YOU SHOULD NOT TAKE ANY OF THIS TOO SERIOUSLY... so here it comes: When there is no indication of a salary range or value, this is what you can expect:
  • if you are currently between jobs, you can be pressured to accept less salary. Because you're in a weak position so you can be taken advantage of.
  • if you are currently on a mission, you can be offered more salary. Somehow, you get rewarded for ditching your project, your colleagues and your manager in the middle of something. So if you have no consideration for other people or for being loyal to your commitment on a mission, congratulations! recruiters think you deserve more money, and they don't seem to realize that you'll backstab them as soon as a recruiter from another agency (or maybe even from the same agency) will hire you for yet another mission, which will reflect poorly on their agency from the point of view of the client.
  • if you are coming from a poor country, you'll be offered less money. That's the way it has been since the dawn of telecoms. You don't get paid according to your skill... anyway, serious technical interviews are rare nowadays... it's all about the budget, regardless of actual proficiency. True stories: I have already met a consultant who didn't know how to insert a picture in a Microsoft Word document, and a member of another team didn't even know how to power on/off a PC and I'm not even talking about copying a file from one directory to another. So if you're coming from a developing country, you could be an actual Superman but you'll still get a 15-20% discount on the salary you're offered, compared to someone of equal skill holding a first-world passport.


So OK, recruiters! you receive requirements from the operators or vendors and you're very busy. But if you took the time to read the ads you put online, you might want to modify them a bit to look more serious. When I see the ad described in this article, I feel that this recruiter is a clown. The title of this ad is "senior 3G Radio Optim", so a really professional recruiter should instead emphasize strong requirements on optim and mention all the rest as being advantageous. But the SUPER-Superman does not exist and it will encourage people to lie on their CV, in order to match the position advertised. Oops! I broke the story: a lot of people lie on their CV. I don't, even though I often thought that I should, just so I was not disadvantaged compared to most of the others who do. Encouraging people to lie and recruiting liars is not good for you, it is not good for your client, and it is not good for contractors (except maybe the liar who got a job he didn't deserve).

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