Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gatekeepers to my Clients


Yes, it's been a while since I've written anything of anything of any consequence lately. But something has been bugging me of late - the "gatekeepers", those hired by increasingly indolent HR personnel whose first question, without having read my CV, is "What is your lowest all-inclusive rate?" and their second question is immediately, "Is there any room for negotiation there since that seems a little high for this position?" Now, remember, these gatekeepers are keeping about 40% or more for themselves when they used to keep only 5% (this was 10 years ago when Maxim and TekSystems were the "biggies") of the payout from the client.

Also, in the "Golden Days of the Programmers and Designers" the real recruiters actually screened the potential candidates rather than being "body shops" and they delivered actual workers who could deliver "the goods" for the clients. Today, what gets delivered to the client just happens to be a cousin or an uncle from the gatekeepers village or home town who can spell Java or BRMS that gets the chance to get the job. And all that the person has to do is to know a few "buzz words" to impress the poor manager that has to hire "someone to fill a slot."

The "real deal" guys who have devoted their lives to the industry to learning the technology for 10 or 20 years? Well, you don't stand a chance. First, you cost too much; or so the "gatekeepers" say. Secondly your rate has to be "all-inclusive" at $60 per hour. $60 per hour when it costs about $35 to $45 per hour to fly in and out of town every three weeks (not weekly like 10 years ago) rent a car by the month, rent a room by the month, pay for food and incidentals, pay for laundry and/or dry cleaning because you are there for a month at a time, etc, etc. That leaves the worker bee (you) clearing about $20 to $30 per hour (before taxes) working out of town when you could stay home and make $70 per hour (or much more) working for a local company if you are in a town like Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco, San Diego, NYC, etc.

My advice? Set up your OWN corporation - it can be done for about $200 or less. Hire a CPA (about $500 per year or so - and they will save you way more than that) to be sure that everything is OK with the IRS and local government agencies. Stay the heck away from Dice, Monster, and other major head hunter swamps. Now, just network with your friends and the major companies that you used to work with in the past; let them know that you are still available and maybe at a lower rate than before since you can now work direct rather than going through head hunters. Work with a GOOD local designer and make up some GREAT brochures that tell an HR and an IT guy what you can do for them. Make some cold calls on major local Fortune-500 companies and leave lots of those brochures and business cards around. Work with HR and get your company on the "Approved Vendor" list. (You might have to take someone from HR to a nice place for lunch a time or two but it will be worth it in the long run.) Be your own boss and forget about the "gatekeepers" who take all of the profit out of a job and do absolutely nothing in return for that small fortune except send for more relatives to employ more gatekeepers!

Oh, one other thing: If at all possible, make sure that you can do training for their personnel on whatever subject you are going to work, whether Java, C#, C++, Unix, BRMS, whatever... That will really impress them. Be sure to have the training materials, programs and software; they'll have the rooms and laptops.



Anonymous said...

James, couldn't agree more. The "Gatekeepers" are ruining the IT industry. You can see it in every modern application in the way it is slow, bloated in size and usually unstable. This is in large part due to the cheap labor that 1) doesn't care how good of a job they do 2) doesn't know the depth and breath of the technology they are working with.
You would be amazed at how many people working in java have no idea what a scope modifier is, nor can name all of them let alone explain how they work.
The Mayans may have been correct, at least for the IT world, which is the driving force behind the US economy and why we are in such economic troubles now. Let the hi-tech jobs fall, and you loose the innovation, mind trust, creativity and quality of your world. Would anyone have accepted a phone that crashed and had to be rebooted 10 years ago... no, but you will happily pay 300$+ for one today.


Great blog,Thank's