I just got off the phone with one of the premiere temp agencies in Chicago and my blood is boiling.

We were discussing a part-time position to redesign a small website for a local company. It sounded like a good gig to bring in some extra cash and meet some talented people. When I asked about the rate, the rep offered me $40 dollars per hour, since I accepted that same rate last year for a similar job.

Well, one year has passed and by today’s standards, $40 is exceedingly low–I regularly charge clients as much as $85/hour for design and development work. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that recruiters deserve to get paid too and it is by no means fair to expect the same rate when getting a project through a recruiter. I do, however, believe that I deserve more than what was offered. I countered, asking for $50/hour, which was still more than 40% below my standard rate and well within the client’s budget.

Her response: “I’d feel more comfortable paying you $45...a $10 dollar per hour increase in one year just...seems like too much.”

Did you catch that? It seems like too much. What exactly does that mean to someone who regularly charges more than double what she offered? As far as I can tell, her sole determining factor for my livelihood was whether or not my rate offended her sensibilities.

This outraged me. Not because I feel self-entitled to more cash, but because it proved what I’ve always suspected: too many large, corporate recruiting agencies aren’t looking out for their talent, they’re looking out for their margins.

Before digging deeper into the implications, I want to clarify that I fully recognize that $40/hour is several times more than millions of people make around the world. It is a privileged income–even without the benefits that are associated with salaried positions. My objection is not with the amount of money, but with the allocation of the money. The recruiting agency that I spoke with was using their unchallenged bargaining power to siphon into their corporate coffers an unreasonable percent of the client’s budget. In other words, had I held my ground at $50/hour, the very nice but stern woman on the phone would have simply called up one of a hundred other contractors willing to take my job.

This is exactly why I started the Chicago Developer Network, which I like to consider the “compassionate” recruiting agency.

I cannot handle large, corporate recruiting agencies who do 10% of the work but snatch 80% of the earnings. CDN values its talent and recognizes that they deserve the majority of the income. Not only do we let our members set their own rate, but we also let them negotiate alongside the client to guarantee full transparency and satisfaction.

We do all of this while also providing one of the best screening services in the industry:

  1. Instead of lightly vetting hundreds of candidates and sending our clients a pile of resumes to review (and then charging an enormous fee for hardly any work), we focus on an array of factors for determining the success of a candidate.
  2. Although our screening focuses on cultural preferences, work ethic, leadership potential, and personal passions and hobbies, we also screen each candidate with senior-level industry experts who guarantee our candidate’s technical prowess.
  3. Unlike other corporate recruiters, our goal is to place someone who not only does the job well, but elevates everyone around them while doing it.

Our screening process costs us hours of extra work and hundreds (to thousands) of extra dollars. We don’t do it to earn more, we do it because we believe it’s the right thing to do.

I will be the first to admit that I am new to the recruiting space. My background is in everything but recruiting. I’m a lawyer who works in product and design–not sales and certainly not recruiting. But my experience working on the opposite side of the aisle is exactly why I feel emboldened to take on the antiquated Chicago industry.

People like me need a corporate partner who’s on their side. They need a new teammate who’s going to balance their bargaining power and push forward a shared interest. They need a way to find clients without sacrificing their earning potential. They just need to be treated fairly.

Although CDN is a fresh face that has a lot of growing to do, I hope that we can help contractors avoid the experience I had today. With us, I truly hope people feel like they’re in good hands.

That’s it. Rant over.

Thanks for reading.

Published on:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

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