I recently had the combined misfortune and good fortune to look for a new job. It was bittersweet to leave my previous company, because we were in the middle of building the platform that for almost two years I had been dreaming of building. But I was excited to hit the market for software engineering talent in New York City in 2013, which by all accounts (including my own as a startup hiring manager the previous two years) was white hot. Everyone told me I would end up with something great, colleagues, hiring managers I interviewed with, my wife, the CEO of the company I was leaving.
But how did I really know it was a good market? Recruiters. I changed my LinkedIn profile, starting working my network, and within days and over the next six weeks or so (until I accepted an offer) I had an ever widening group of recruiters contacting me and hustling me. Well-meaning but empty assurances are fine: “I’m sure you’ll find something great.” But recruiters were actual demand for my supply.
I have observed among my peers here in New York City over the last several years many expressions of disdain at being pursued by recruiters. In casual conversation. All over online comments and in Meetup group discussions. On Twitter. Lamenting “ignorant” recruiters “wasting my time” without even “bothering to do their homework.” I’m guilty as well.
But no more. All it takes is a sliver of perspective to realize how entitled this attitude is. Perspective like, say, losing your job and knowing you still have to pay for mortgage and co-op maintenance, food, health insurance, car and car insurance payments. For a family of four.
A sliver of perspective is all it takes to realize how lucky we are. Real unemployment in the US has been around 15% since the world economy tanked five years ago. National economies are collapsing and being bailed out. And here we are in one of the world’s great cities being chased by recruiters and employers who want to pay us a very comfortable wage to do interesting, satisfying, creative work that offers a great degree of autonomy and requires us to keep getting better at doing what we love to do.
So the next time you catch yourself bitching about spending 15 seconds deleting an unsolicited LinkedIn message from a recruiter, take a half step back and let Louis CK remind you what it means to completely lose perspective.
May recruiters bother me for the rest of my working life. That would be a good problem to have.