Once or twice a week, I get the following inbound phone call:

Joe, my name is [name] from [company]. I was referred to you as the vice president of engineering. I saw on your website that you’re hiring, and wanted to tell you about a great Java engineer coming on the market. He is architect at [another company], and based on your job description, is a perfect fit for your team. Can I send you his resume?

There are a two problems with this pitch: 1) I get the identical call weekly from multiple recruiters at multiple agencies, and 2) a two minute look at our website would reveal that I’m not hiring any Java engineers, much less a Java architect. ;)

I’ve been around the block enough to know the cycles of recruiting. During job growth, we see an influx of new recruiters, typically twenty-somethings for whom this is a first professional job. At this phase, many of the less reputable recruiting agencies become body shops, with little time to add value in the hiring process. The boom is often followed by a bust, where the easy money vanishes and fair-weather recruiters leave for other pursuits. In this phase, recruiting returns to being about relationships and adding value to both the hiring company and the candidate.

Over the years I’ve worked with a handful of quality recruiters. But more and more, the old-school professionals are being lost in the cacophony of noise from the new recruiters. LinkedIn has replaced the personal network for sourcing candidates, trolling company websites has replaced business relationships, and hurried emails have replaced the personal service provided to a hiring manager. But yet with all this technology and new talent in recruiting, hiring in Boston is not much easier than it was 10 or 20 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very successful at using every available means to hire without incurring recruiting fees: personal networks, job boards, direct email, internal referral fees, LinkedIn, Twitter, blog posts, online ads. I've even tried and failed multiple times to source candidates through an AdWords campaign. At the end of the day though, there always has and will be value in being provided qualified candidates by a trusted source.

So in the age of social networking, pervasive mobile, cloud and crowdsourcing, I have to wonder: when does recruiting enter the 21st century?

I must confess to also having worked with a few highly unreputable recruiters over the years. My personal favorite still works Boston, utilizing multiple aliases to minimize detection of her questionable methods.

Related Posts: Top 5 Ways To Know If Your Recruiter Sucks, The LinkedIn Search I Wish I Had