Technology · Women

The Female Touch in Tech Recruiting

Normally, what you get when taking the call of a recruiter is a sales pitch about how great the past and present of their company is and that right now is the perfect time to join for this or that reason, oh and let’s not forget about all the great initiatives about diversity and inclusion! The more serious recruiters will have had a look at your LinkedIn profile, asking for more details here and there to sell you on the job whereas the lazier recruiters will rattle off a list of questions about your tech background they need answers to. Afterwards, there is a round of jiu-jitsu where they don’t really want to reveal the pay range and you, obviously, do not want to be the first to throw out a salary figure either. If you talk to enough recruiters, pattern recognition will kick in, turning this into a bit of a game. Somehow, I think that PUAs of yore had such scripted interactions in mind when they were writing their fan fiction about picking up women.

Recruiters tend to follow a script. Some give it a bit of a personal spin about how great their company culture is and how well it resonates with them. Others bloviate about all the good their corporation does, seemingly while accidentally making money on the side. Yet, a few days ago I got a genuinely strange call. In a nutshell, I got the most female spin on a role imaginable. It began innocently enough with the usual sales pitch. Yet, we entered bizarro world when the question of the location came up. The company is in a second tier city, to which the recruiter had to say that I’d find “one of the largest concentrations of singles in Europe”, “fantastic nightlife”, “great nightclubs”, and a “plethora of restaurants”, and would (tehe) “surely have lots of fun there”. She then repeated that she “couldn’t believe at first that there are so many singles here”. I did not comment on the singles issue, even though I was close to asking her why she assumes that I’m unattached. Yet, I can easily explain why this is part of her routine. After all, techies oftentimes do not do well with the ladies on a more visceral level. Only the female post-party crowd seems interested in them.

The next comment she made was about the owner of the company. I was told that this guy was “genuinely impressive”, had “piercing eyes”, a “captivating personality” and is “one of the richest men in Europe”. Be that as it may, I don’t think I ever cared about the multi-millionaire or billionaire owners or shareholders of the companies I worked for. Yet, this may all be very important for her. If I hear that some dude is getting rich off the back of a 1000+ people company, my first question would be how high CEO compensation is in relation to salaries. You can find some genuinely wild stories online about companies that barely break even, employees being paid below market rate, and the owner-CEO rewarding himself with solid eight figures year after year.

This was not the end of this conversation, though. Going into more detail, she told me about the people I would be reporting to in this new business unit. She made it sound as if those were known names in the industry. I looked them up later, which made it rather obvious that they are anything but well-known. The CTO was an ex-McKinsey consultant who specialized in “digital transformation” and probably never wrote a line of code in his life, and for the VP of Engineering of this business unit I could not find rhyme or reason why he was in this position. The only plausible explanation was nepotism. Needless to say, both were “fabulous men” and “a real joy to work with”.

Drinking the Kool-Aid is one thing, but going out and thinking that you can bullshit others is quite another. To give this female in-house recruiter some credit, maybe she simply got banged by every male in her reporting line in the company, from the CEO down. Otherwise, I can’t imagine what has gotten into her.

On a final note, I think I can generally say than male recruiters bring up status aspects and the career trajectory of the role they are pitching. In contrast, female recruiters seem to invariably work with insincere flattery. Some try to be flirtatious or even playful. This may work while they are young but once they have hit the wall, it is genuinely surreal.

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