need a head hunter
December 13, 2010 9:11 AM   Subscribe

How do I find a good technical recruiter in the Bay Area? Of course, the catch is that I want to maintain my confidentiality due to current job.

Some facts:
-Recent college graduate, majored in computer engineering
-Currently live in San Francisco area
-Work as software developer
-Enjoy and experienced at mobile software development

I'm looking to see what options are available to me, but have no idea about how to do this while employed full-time. I have been an outstanding performer in my current role (I go above and beyond, have produced some impressive work outside of my day-to-day job, overall I have a pretty high profile for such a new and young employee), but am frustrated with the compensation (mid-50's). In the next few months, I am going to ask for a significant raise (20-30 percent) in my performance review, but am not hopeful I will actually get it.

I'd love to join a start-up and see job postings on sites frequented by 'hackers'--but I'm weary of just replying to the ad. I'd like to stay in the Bay Area, as this is the perfect place to find work as a software developer.

So, my question is: how do I find a good/qualified technical recruiter (same thing as a 'head hunter'?) to find positions I may qualify for? Obviously, my current employment is at risk if my employer finds out, so keeping everything confidential is important to me. How do I not make a huge mistake while doing this?

I realize this post may come off as sounding like I'm naive (or being unrealistic), but I work very hard and am dedicated to my career. In 10 years, I'll probably have a follow-up AskMe about what I've done with my life ;o)

Thank you! Throw away email:
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
LinkedIn is probably the way to go. Do some research on various LinkedIn groups devoted to networking and job searching in the Bay area. Usually there will be at least one or two recruiters active in those threads.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:22 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Head hunters generally recruit senior level executives.

Recruiters generally recruit lower level employees.

That having been said, there are tons of professional networking groups in the Bay Area for software engineers. You can work with a recruiter, but honestly, most people, especially in that industry, will find jobs via networking.

As for your salary expectations: be aware that if you go to work for a small startup most of your compensation will be in the form of equity, not cash.
posted by dfriedman at 9:28 AM on December 13, 2010

Small start ups also typically do not want to pay the 15% fee of a typical recruiter. Your best bet is to get out to events where you can chat informally with start up founders, etc. My impression of the Bay Area (from the other side of the country) is that there are about 10 of those events daily in SF. So go forth and mingle.
posted by COD at 9:40 AM on December 13, 2010

Why bother with recruiters? Find the companies you want to work at and contact them directly. Most have job postings. Just hit a few VC sites (e.g. KPCB), check out their portfolio companies, then check out the jobs section of the websites for startups that interest you.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:46 AM on December 13, 2010

Mod note: From the OP:
I am also interested in working for any of the large tech companies in the Bay Area--not just startups. This is my first post-grad job and I can't afford to burn any bridges. I am well liked and regarded as high potential (whatever that really means), and this is important for me to maintain even if I do move on.

I guess the core of my question centers around how to make contact, the standard operating procedures surrounding confidentiality, and how I can explain my accomplishments and prove my successes while ensuring my privacy. My bosses and people in my office are connected to the tech scene and I would not want them to find out by word of mouth.

I've been doing some basic networking but it's a difficult transition from
"I like what you guys are doing..." to "Lets talk about how my skill set and experience can help you...oh, let me prove it by putting you in touch with my boss...". That's the part I don't really "get".

Thank you for all the answers so far!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:19 PM on December 13, 2010

You aren't job hunting. You are networking. It's a well established business practice. Nobody in your office will think twice if they see you at a happy hour event with a bunch of other techies. The secret to making a good impression without whipping out your resume on the spot is the questions you ask. Ask a couple of intelligent questions about what they are doing and you immediately put yourself ahead of the 80% that will start pitching themselves without learning a little about the other side. Get some personal business cards make up so you can say something like, "Your idea /product sounds really interesting, and I love the way you are using Rails to do X. Next time you are expanding the team I'd be interested in talking to you" as you hand them the card.
posted by COD at 12:32 PM on December 13, 2010

There are no head hunters for techworkers like you think there are for executives. You'll do fine as a start to post your redacted resume to Craigslist, or going to local user groups, or Meetup events. You're trying to find a good match, so, like dating, it's a numbers game.
posted by rhizome at 1:25 PM on December 13, 2010

There are absolutely recruiters for developers, and it's definitely a great time to find a job as a software developer in the Bay Area if you're talented. As someone who is in the process of hiring developers, I've been very impressed with the recruiters at Jobspring, and they work with both junior and senior level developers.

You might also try going to Meetups - there are various ones for all kinds of technologies, and they're definitely well-attended by people looking to hire.
posted by judith at 3:34 PM on December 13, 2010

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