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  • Rushing into Rails

    chris

    Written by Chris Walek, Practice Manager of Jobspring Chicago

    After studying why Chicago companies are choosing rails, what I'm realizing is that not everything is being considered. Making a decision on the initial technology and tools for building your product is a huge choice, so why not make an educated decision? A lot of companies don't, but then again it is difficult to find full information on this stuff without a consultant like myself.

    Rails is GREAT for startups, right? Let’s evaluate: it’s cheap (linux is free and it's open-source), it’s supported (amazing community - especially in Chicago), it has lots of great built-in features within rails like an ORM, and tools/gems like capybara, RSpec, etc. It's also easy to read, so if someone leaves your company, someone else can pick up right where the former employee left off, and a lot can be done in small, agile teams with full-stack engineers. While these are all great reasons, companies often forget to consider what it’s like to hire for ruby.

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    Rather than just choosing the best tool for the job programming-wise, companies need to consider the culture and market for hiring that comes with that decision. Ruby on rails is by the far the biggest technology written remotely. When a company chooses ruby on rails, they must also choose to operate a virtual environment and let people work remotely. If not, in the world of hiring on-site, full-time rails employees, you will probably lose to the Bigs who offer personal chefs and unbeatable benefits (oh, and $150-200k). That's the other thing about hiring for ruby that people tend to forget - it's a free market; there are a lot of choices. The people that choose ruby go through the hurdles of learning a new language (ruby isn't easy to pick up) and they do so for one reason; supply and demand. When the supply is low and demand is high, price goes up. Just think about how many new training programs for ruby and mobile (iOS/Android) there are. None of these programs teach you C# or Python, so that should say something. Ruby engineers are very expensive, so while it may look cheap, it's not.

    You will also need to hire me to find the talent you need, so that's another cost. Not to mention, turnover is 1.5 years in the market, so you need to use me over and over again (yes, I have a ton of tips on how to keep your employees there and my clients do this very well, however that's another article). Ruby engineers already have jobs. They're looking (passively), but they have a job and don't need to leave for something slightly better. What actually happens is that they assess things they dislike about their current environment and convince themselves to take a few interviews and find an improvement on these non-tangibles (culture, commitment to quality software, commitment to best practices, growth within an organization). While money isn't the initial catalyst for them to look, it will be for them to leave. It’s something almost everyone can wrap their head around: You’re comfortable in your seat but a new company wants you. They add an extra $5-10k to your salary. Is that $5-10k really worth the hassle of putting in your 2 weeks, dealing with upset boss/colleagues, doing a huge knowledge transfer, then getting sped up in a new environment, etc.? Most people would say no (plus after taxes, that extra bit isn't a new Ferrari by any means). While money isn't a driving force behind why a lot of people stay at their jobs, or what most people complain about, it IS the catalyst for getting them out of their current, comfy seat and going through the hassle of changing a job. It will also buffer against them getting headhunted easily in the future, and against counter-offers.

    These are just some facts about the current market. But every engineer knows things can and will change. The best are diversifying their skillsets to be in demand when the next wave comes along—perhaps functional languages? Only time will tell.

    (Sources): I work for a nationwide technology recruiting firm which has individual offices in every major city (pending Dallas and Austin, but that should change) and have studied the consistency of these facts. Chicago, by far, does the most ruby on rails placements and thus sees the most transactional data on it.

  • Artificial Intelligence: Should All Wishes Come True?

    Article by Patrick Tafua, Practice Manager in Jobspring Orange County 

    My fascination and curiosities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) began at Disneyland. It was my first job and I worked on attractions in Tomorrowland, the futuristic themed area of the theme park. While working at the resort you really gain an appreciation for the innovative or ‘magical’ mind of Walt Disney. One particular favorite innovation of mine is Audio-Animatronic figures throughout the park. Audio Animatronics is a form of robotics animation. These robots move, make sound that is generally recorded and are often fixed upon whatever supports them. Although the movements and sounds of the robots are prerecorded it brings these figures to life for its audiences. I feel that this innovative technology sparked the wishes of engineers to make AI more of a reality and a part of our lives. Which asks the question; should all wishes come true?

    AI has the potential of making lives easier by understanding our desires or driving our automobiles and more. If uncontrolled though, the technology could be a serious threat to society. At least that is what many of the top scientist and technology leaders in world, such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, are proclaiming. A letter written by Musk, Hawking and other prominent scientists, stated that, "Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.” Also stated was that these systems should be controlled to do what we want them to do and add benefits to society. Stephen Hawking had gone further stating that AI development could “spell the end of the human race”. So where do you stand on AI?

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    It seems that there isn't much you can do at this time to stop AI developments from happening if you were opposed. This battle to bring AI to the hands of consumers has been in motion for long time. Recently we are seeing developments of robots to be personal caregivers. For example Robear, a high-tech teddy developed in Japan with a mission to help make elderly care much easier. There are many other technological advances being made in AI. These robotic figures do not have prerecorded audio or movements like those at Disneyland. Some of these machines can process regular spoken language and not only recognize human faces, but also read our expressions. It only seems fitting to discuss what AI will become in the workplace.

    Zeynep Tufekci of the New York Times wrote that computers do not just replace humans in the workplace. She states, “They shift the balance of power even more in favor of employers. Our normal response to technological innovation that threatens jobs is to encourage workers to acquire more skills, or to trust that the nuances of the human mind or human attention will always be superior in crucial ways. But when machines of this capacity enter the equation, employers have even more leverage, and our standard response is not sufficient for the looming crisis.”

    AI could have machines doing our jobs well enough to make it cheaper for employers and easier to control than an employee that would have their own opinion on work matters. Certainly, engineers in technology may not have to worry about their job security right now because of the high demand recently in our county for engineering talent, but these engineers may create the reason they are out of a job in the future. In Orange County, there isn't much AI development being done, but we still have Disney’s Audio-Animatronics to inspire local engineers to come up with the next big AI. It’s just - do we really want to make these dreams become reality?

  • Are we in the midst of another tech bubble?

    Written by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager at Jobspring Silicon Valley

    The NASDAQ, traditionally a strong representation of how the market generally values tech companies, eclipsed the 5,000 mark for the first time since 2000 just last month. Thus, it’s logical to ask the question: are we in the midst of another tech bubble? As someone who does technical recruiting for a living, I sure hope not! Since I started with Jobspring in 2010, the demand for engineering talent has increased year over year. In fact, we set several company wide records in terms of performance just last month. The economy and unemployment rates have clearly bounced back from the most recent recession. We’ve seen angel investors and venture capital firms shelling out billions of dollars as well as a wave of tech IPOs over the last couple of years. On the surface, we should be optimistic for the future and hopefully there is more growth and prosperity to come. However, I think there is a general sense of cautious optimism as it was just 15 years ago that the tech bubble burst. So, the real question we should ask is: what happened in 2000 and how is it similar or dissimilar from what we are experiencing now?

    The climate in the late 90’s was one in which investors were willing to overlook traditional metrics, such as P/E ratio and instead focus on things like technological advancements with a hope that companies would turn future profits. Things began to unravel in 1999 when the Fed raised interest rates, which slowed the economy and halted growth for Internet startups. The big players such as Microsoft were slashing financial targets, which led to investors becoming weary of these new Internet companies. Shares fell in 2000 as earnings and sales expectations became too high for a lot of the dot-coms to meet. According to the University of Maryland and the University of California San Diego, “by the end of 2004, 52% of dot-com startups that sought venture capital were no longer in existence.” The 90’s were a time in which many investors neglected to really look at companies on an individual basis and got caught up in the whirlwind of the new Internet age. Simply having a dot-com in your name meant you could expect a big IPO because of the excitement around all tech companies at the time.

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    Fast forward 15 years and things have definitely changed in 2015. According to data compiled by Jay Ritter, a finance professor at the University of Florida, “while median valuations have been rising since 2008, firms are coming to market at a fraction of the levels seen during the dot-com period. IPOs were priced at a median of 30 times sales in 2000, compared with 5.2 times last year.” Valuations during the last bubble were abstract, as companies didn’t have significant revenue and earnings. Companies going IPO today are more established and have a track record of revenue and earnings reports that allow banks to make more accurate fact-based valuations. According to Ritter’s research, “businesses backed by venture capital or private-equity firms were on average 12 years old in 2013 when they went public, compared with four years during the dot-com era. The median revenue for companies going public in 2000 was $17 million compared with $109 million in 2013, adjusted for inflation. The average number of IPOs of small companies – those with less than $50 million in annual revenue – declined 83% in the period between 2001 and 2012.” What we are seeing is that startups these days are able to delay IPO by receiving additional funding from investors. “You want to make sure you have a company of reasonable scale before you go public, which ensures much more certainty in the planned financial results,” said Doug Leone, who is a managing partner at venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.

    So what do those in Silicon Valley have to say? In an October 2014 article, several folks who made Fortune’s 40 Under 40 List weighed in on the matter Here are some of the responses I found interesting:

    ·         “It’s not a tech bubble. It’s the biggest wave of innovation in the history of the world. It’s a combining of unbelievable forces of cloud, social networks, mobility plus connected products.” - Marc Benioff - CEO, Salesforce.com

    ·         “It’s all cyclical, right? Just take a look at the stock market over the last 60 years. There’s a cycle involved. But we’re not in a tech bubble because companies are making revenues. And I think that was a major difference between what’s happening right now and what’s happening 14 years ago. Companies today are making real money.” - Joe Gebbia - Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder, Airbnb

    ·         “I do think we’re in a bubble. There are too many companies with no business model or no sustainable business model. I’m proud that we have one, but I think there’s going to be some kind of correction.” - Jess Lee - CEO & Co-Founder, Polyvore

    ·         “I believe there’s a lot of optimism in the market right now. Whether there’s a bubble or not a bubble, I believe people are just optimistic. Look at the fact that the PE [price-earnings] ratio is the highest it’s been since 1940 with the exception of 2000.” - Jay Simons - President, Atlassian

    So are we in the midst of another tech bubble? It’s hard to say. There are experts in tech, finance, economics, etc. on both sides of the fence. Personally, I think there is a ceiling that we may be encroaching on and I do agree with Joe Gebbia of Airbnb that the market is cyclical. About every 10 years you can count on an economic downturn. Surely, there are some companies right now that are grossly overvalued. Snapchat’s $15 billion dollar valuation comes to mind, but hopefully I’m wrong. I think there will be some sort of market correction in the near future, but probably for not at least a couple of more years. I also don’t think we will see the level of implosion we did back in 2000. It seems companies and investors have learned a lot from the dot-com bubble and are doing their best to avoid making the same mistakes as before.

  • The Automotive Future

    Written by Adam Salk, Practice Manager in Jobspring Boston

    It’s in your pocket, it’s on your television and computer, and now for the first time it’s coming to your car. That’s right; I’m talking about everybody’s favorite mobile operating system, iOS. Finally, after a late 2014 announcement, automobiles are rolling off factory floors with Apple CarPlay ready to marry Siri and all her hands free capabilities with your car. 

    Instead of dangerously fumbling with your iPhone to switch Pandora to the perfect Summer Hits of the ‘90’s song you will now be able to turn a knob or tap a huge screen built into your dashboard. If you want to call mom, just tell Siri and keep your eyes on the road. And for those directionally challenged you can finally have the latest GPS systems integrated into your car’s dash.

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    Name brand automakers are building iOS into their entertainment systems including Ford, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes and even Ferrari. And for those who don’t have the extra dough or a need for new wheels there are plenty of aftermarket options to install in place of your current stereo without looking like you just rolled out of Pimp My Ride.

    For those anti-apple fans out there worried about another missed out opportunity, fear not; Android has introduced a competing offer simply known as Android Auto. This will bring all the same features but in its familiar android operating system. The setup will make it easier than ever to get this operating system integrated into your daily commute—simply plug in your phone and then push information to the large display in your car.

    While everyone has their own opinion on which operating system they prefer—both have the same mission with their automotive advancements; to offer the technology you want while keeping your eyes on the road.  No matter which option you choose it’s a fair bet that the automotive future is directly tied to technology.  

  • Why Your Tech Recruiting Vendors Service Your Competitors Better

    Article by Del Crockett, Regional Director in Jobspring Washington DC

    If you are one of the many tech hiring managers or HR managers out there right now, being tasked with hiring niche-specific technology professionals (i.e. Software, Mobile, Security, DevOps and Front-End Engineers among the most popular), there is a good chance you are utilizing recruiting agencies.

    Congratulations, that’s typically a necessary first step for most companies outside of Google and Facebook!

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    Unfortunately, many of you are still not getting the attention you want from your vendors. As The Regional Director of our entire Washington, D.C. based tech recruiting operations, I am here to give the inside scoop on why your vendors are not servicing your accounts the way they do some other companies.

    #1 – Communication Is Everything

    Anyone who has been in a relationship knows it all starts and ends with healthy communication. I often find it perplexing that company representatives (HR and / or hiring managers) want to limit the communication with recruiters.

    Using a recruiter is like hiring a consultant from the Big Four – you are bringing on a specialist to provide a service that cannot be fulfilled by internal staff. So why muzzle that consultant? Isn’t the purpose of hiring a consultant to get their perspective and expertise on how to solve the problem at hand?

    In a relationship where both company and recruiter have the same goal—namely, getting the position filled with the best applicant in an efficient manner—you would expect a healthy amount of interaction is expected.

    The truth is that the best recruiters have deep networks, which means they are getting multiple requests from companies on a daily and weekly basis. Like everyone else, his or her time must be prioritized. When companies minimize or even restrict recruiter communication you can ensure your position will get minimal to no attention. Like anyone else, we find the lack of communication to be a major turn off. Our time is better served where company representatives see value in building a relationship.

    The real truth is that the companies who have high communication standards with their vendors typically get first dibs on the best referrals and the best overall quality of service! 

    #2 – Great job Negotiating Your Vendor to Lower Terms than the Industry Average, But…

    Listen, we get it! Every company and department has a budget and paying less when possible is the logical method to running a business. The problem is that in the tech world, demand grotesquely outweighs supply… and then some.

    With tech department’s livelihoods dependent on the talent within their teams and the ability to retain and grow staff, handicapping your growth by negotiating below average terms isn’t doing your company any favors. Here’s why.

    All respectable agencies know their worth and minimally know what the market standards are for recruiting services. Those standards are in place because a high majority of companies agree to those terms, if not higher. So to come in below those standards in a high demand market where companies have minimal leverage because of the demand is a very ineffective strategy to capturing consistent, high-end referrals from good staffing firms.

    Obviously, tech recruiting is a for-profit business and no respectable sales organization is going to discount their services without a great reason. A trend that I have found to be more often true than not, is companies who pay below average vendor fees typically pay below average salaries—and this is a common viewpoint among those who work the industry. Again, this is not an ideal strategy for capturing talent.

    In my experience working with companies across the nation for the last nine years, the most attractive companies to work with and work for don’t blink when paying industry standard vendor rates (and employee salaries); and most, pay slightly above to ensure vendors give them top priority when considering where to send their best of best referrals!

    #3  The interview - It’s a Sales Job… for you, the Hiring Manager!

    Simply put, this is a candidates market; the best in years for technology professionals. Unless your strategy is to wait for the next bubble, by now you should have realized an adjustment is necessary in the way you approach interviews with job seekers (most of which are passive and currently employed).

    Some of the most successful companies I have worked with constantly evolve their interviewing practices with a focus on impressing the applicant, not solely just screening them. On the other hand, I often see companies overcomplicating the hiring process. Many of these same companies struggle in the communication department with vendors as aforementioned in the first section. The companies that lack proper communication and overcomplicate the process tend to make the same mistakes.

    The most common mistakes?

    Managers just screen for technology and culture… and forget to sell themselves and the company: If you want to hire good technical talent, your hiring manager needs to be impressive. Nowadays, it takes a manager who can really sell him or herself, their leadership, vision and management style to capture talent. How good are you at selling yourself? If you have to think about it, then it’s a good idea to put yourself in the position of the applicant and evaluate how the opportunity is presented from the interviewee perspective.

    Asking applicants to take a test—especially before 1st round technical interviews: The truth of the matter is that most technical tests, especially the ones created by internal team members simply do not work. They screen out way too many candidates, many of which end up being great additions to other companies. One of the biggest common mistakes is when companies use Google style test to screen for talent despite not actually being Google. Just a reminder, your company is probably not Google, so copying their interview tools may not produce the same result for your company since Google can sell their opportunity on brand alone. Additionally, asking senior level professionals to take a test is almost insulting. Instead, invest time in human interaction first. Otherwise it gives off the perception that you don’t have the internal resources technically to confidently screen for good talent.

    Both mistakes not only deter candidates from wanting to work for your company but also deter your vendors from sending you good referrals early and often. If the vendor thinks it is a waste of time because candidates can’t get interested in your opportunity then you can bet your account is not getting the attention it needs to be successful.

    Overall, in order to get the best service possible from your vendors, it's important that everyone focus on the end goal. This means leveraging the expertise of your consultant(s) to put your company in a position to be successful hiring the best talent available. It's a competition for talent right now... don’t forget that. Get all the help you can get!

    Looking for ways to get more out of your current vendors? Addressing these few pointers should start returning better results almost immediately.  Have questions? Feel free to contact Del Crockett at del.crockett@jobspringpartners.com.

     

  • Salary Inflation in San Francisco

    Written by Andrew Slepitza, Division Manager in Jobspring San Francisco

    With the first quarter of 2015 already behind us a couple things are certain about the San Francisco tech industry; there are a lot of new companies, it’s hard to find candidates, and salaries are increasing. It’s been a well-known fact for a while now that San Francisco is a candidate’s market with new companies popping up everywhere. However, the trend of salary increases is relatively new and is adding fuel to the fire during hiring processes. Just in the past 12 months alone San Francisco wages have gone up almost 5%. This is the highest in the nation just ahead of Dallas, TX.

    Why is this the case?

    It’s hard to find talent. It’s no secret that this is the most competitive hiring market that San Francisco has seen in years. There are a lot of companies hiring, but not enough candidates for the positions. Most of the high caliber candidates that Jobspring works with have anywhere between 3-5 offers that they are choosing between. It’s causing companies to get into bidding wars and go above their budgets for positions. 

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    On the flip side, candidates know that it is a good market and they are taking advantage of the situation. This is causing an increase in job changes and even some candidates going onto the market simply because they can. These candidates are looking at salary increase as their top priority. 

    So, what can companies do? The bottom line is to be patient. Don’t be afraid of missing out on the candidate that it will take an arm and a leg to get on board and definitely don’t be afraid to walk away. That candidate is going to be hard to keep happy and may not invest his time fully to his commitment in the company. It is important to remember to look for quality candidates that want the position for the right reasons. Also, live by “A duck is a duck.”  If it looks like a duck and walks like one it is one.  I see a lot of companies over looking senior level candidates that have short job history.  They are overlooking it because of hard it is to find talent and because they do have a really good skill set.  They think that their position and their culture will be the position they stay at. If the long term fit is what you are looking for then you’ll only be disappointed when this person leaves a year later after the project you hired them to do is finished.

    Additionally, they can take a chance on mid level candidates. Looking to mid-level candidates will allow companies to spend less time in the hiring process and instead using that time to focus on training a candidate with slightly less experience. Instead of spending valuable time in a bidding war for a candidate that may not take the job in the end, look for candidates who may not have as many offers and shape them into the employee you need for the role.

    Lastly, remember that culture is key. Look for candidates that are interested in your company for the role and the culture. Conduct interviews that will get candidates excited to work for you and look for the ones that will make a good fit long term. If a candidate feels your office is the perfect fit for them, they are more likely to take an offer at a lower salary than your competitors and will likely stay longer.

    With a strong increase in salaries the tech industry continues to boom. Candidates are experiencing a hiring process unlike any they’ve seen in the past. With this shift companies are being forced to change their hiring strategies to get the talent they need. However, with creative thinking and focus on the end goal, companies can acquire the top talent they want. 

  • How to be Successful as a Young Manager

    Article by Alston Chiang, Practice Manager at Jobspring New York 

    Jobspring Partners is a staffing agency that only promotes from within, and moving from an entry-level employee to a manager can happen quickly, or it can take some time. In my case, it happened within a year and a half. The stages of growth are exciting and at times overwhelming as the job functionalities change drastically.

    A year and a half ago I moved from San Francisco to New York City in nine days to open up a brand new recruiting team focused on UX, UI, and Product Management. I had to hire a sales team, train them, build a pipeline of business, and recruit candidates in a completely unknown market in a town that was foreign to me. My biggest insecurity was managing a staff that was my own age, and possibly even older than me. How would they respect me if they knew I was the same age as them? Could we have a relationship that went beyond peer to peer contact? Would they be motivated to perform?

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    To facilitate this process, I came up with a few simple guidelines to ensure success:

    1. Set the example – Sales is all about numbers. If you’re team is going to perform, you need to set the example on your own desk. This also means coming to work prepared and showing them how you want the job done. No one will take you seriously if you roll into work 15 minutes late with your shirt untucked.

    2. Implement structures that are easy to follow – Hold them accountable for the goals that you set together. Make sure you and your team are actively tracking and discussing progress. Give feedback using concrete facts as opposed to generating feedback that comes from a personal or emotional place.

    3. Empathize with your staff – You might be their age, but remember that you have more experience in the field. Use this experience to help guide them while using your age to relate to them on a personal, yet professional level.

    Since implementing these guidelines, which actually weren’t that different than the guidelines that my first managers used back in San Francisco, I have been able to find success. Growing pains are common and normal being a new manager and the road certainly hasn’t been easy—people have come and gone just as stress and doubt have ebbed and flowed.

    I’ve come to understand that age really is just a number, and that experience is what actually matters. Experience is what gets you promoted and age is an unrelated signifier. Success comes from vision; specifically, your vision to see goals, how to achieve those goals and build confidence based on experiences. Anyone who aims to succeed in their career listens to their mentors. A good mentor guides staff to inspire them to hit their goals.

    Above all, I’ve discovered that success is relative. Some days success might mean that your team is dominating the competition, but other days it may mean that you accomplished a simple task. And that’s okay. As a young manager, I’m going through my own growing process and perhaps that has been the biggest success of all.

    To this day I’m proud of myself for taking a huge cross-country leap to start my team here in New York. Never be afraid of an opportunity – especially an opportunity to challenge yourself.

     

  • The Importance of Job References

    Article by Adrian Lopez-Obespo, Practice Manager at Jobspring Los Angeles 

    Hunting for a job in technology follows more classic job search trends than most people in the field tend to think! Many people in technology fall into the assumption that their skillset or an application they developed or designed is enough to get them a job at the company they are interviewing with. While those things are definitely enough to get an interview and develop high interest, rarely is it enough now to secure a new position.

    Companies are hiring aggressively for the top technical talent but this isn’t to say they aren’t being strategic! People hire people, not resumes. As recruiters it’s our job to help highlight the things that your resume doesn’t always show. One of the best ways to do this is to provide references and to do so early in your search.

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    The unfortunate stereotype with providing references to recruiters is that we are going to badger your friends and colleagues and ask them if they are hiring, looking for work, know anyone else who is looking, etc. To be clear, this is definitely not the focus when recruiters receive your resumes. Below are the purposes that references do serve and what recruiters look to get out of speaking with them.

    1. Highlight Strengths - Recruiters want to place people; plain and simple. References allow us to talk to people that a candidate knows in order to highlight their strong suits or to ask about skills that may be important to the job. Ideally, a good reference will put the candidate in the best possible light.

    2. Address Concerns - Hiring managers want to make sure they know as much as possible about the people they are bringing on to their teams. Even more specifically, they want to make sure there are no red flags. Most of the time, recruiters will know the concerns that a hiring manager has and therefore can address these with the references. References tend to want to provide positive insight and will typically shape any concerns in a way that shines well on the candidate.

    3. Measure the Quality of the Reference - Many candidates tend to provide the most recent people they’ve worked with and not always those who will give the most positive reference. Since recruiters talk to these references first, they can report back to a candidate when they probably shouldn’t use a certain person as a reference.

    Again, recruiters want to make placements and will do their best to set candidates up for
    success. A good reference can be the deciding factor in turning an interview into a new job. 

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