Recruiters: recruit!

Since having changed my main business title on LinkedIn away from Shoe Designer, I got my good share of recruiters contacting me whether I’d be interested in the best data scientists and engineers I’ve ever encountered.

At GoDataDriven we’re always hiring so my standard answer was — initially — “Yes of course, send the profile over”.

However what happened next was always more or less the following:

  • I get a bunch of profiles in my inbox;
  • As everyone wants to be a data scientist or data engineer, the profiles are chock full of buzzwords and it is really hard to see if someone if the real deal or not;
  • After having lost north of 10 minutes per CV, googling various company names, technologies, and institutions, I made a list of people I wanted to talk to. Maybe 1 to 2 people every 20;
  • Talking to these people took at least 45’, probably 1 hour including planning (I didn’t have somebody to manage my agenda);
  • During this chat, I often found out glaring flaws that the recruiters should have caught, such as unwillingness to relocate, very different salary expectations, CV not being 100% honest, etc.

This means that every time a single recruiter would send me 20 CVs, I would lose 4-5 hours, scattered among multiple days. If I include a generous context-switching time lost of 2-3 hours, that meant that every recruiter interaction meant a whole day would be wasted.

I should add to this the frustration of not winning: I did not hire a single person in months. And it wasn’t for lack of clarity on my part. I onboarded each recruiter with a 30’ call explaining in details what kind of colleagues we were looking for.

Certainly something had to change. I introduced a recruiter “policy”. The policy was very simple and I would send it as soon as someone contacted me:

  • You can send a maximum of 4 CVs, all at the same time;
  • If we don’t hire anyone from this first batch, we terminate our relationship.

My inspiration was something that I believe Atlassian published1. I loved this policy because it shifted most of the work from my back to the recruiters’ back2.

The full day of work was reduced to 2 hours in total3 — if I didn’t hire anyone: otherwise they could send me all the CVs they wanted.

Most interestingly, lots of recruiters stopped before sending me a single CV: a strong indicator that they didn’t want to do their job and rather wanted to continue their volume game with some other fool.

How many recruiter agency did we end up working with? Just one, comprised of a single person. We love him, and kept using his service until we hired our first internal recruiter.

So next time you think you’re overwhelmed by the amount of CVs recruiters send your way, try shifting the work


  1. I cannot find the page anymore, so I am not 100% sure anymore that it was Atlassian. [return]
  2. You’d expect this to be obvious, but believe me it’s not. [return]
  3. 30’ recruiter onboarding, 20’ CV scanning (as they were of higher quality), 45’ to talk to usually a single person, and some 30’ of overhead. [return]