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Jobs board policy on recruiters?

It was only a matter of time before the new job board got it's first policy violation: a recruiter posting a job without disclosing the name of the company that it was for.

The reason we require a company name, as opposed to a recruiter's name, is because I think that job seekers are sick of looking at generic lists of seemingly anonymous companies. The reason recruiters don't like to post company names is because they don't get a commission unless they refer the employee, so they don't want to take any risk that the candidate will go directly to the company and cut them out of their commission. Also, once the recruiter establishes a relationship with you, they can convince you to apply to all their other jobs, further increasing the chance that they'll get a commission. And they want to build up their resume-files so they can do they job well in the future.

There's a place for recruiters; many of them are very ethical and do great work for their clients on both sides. However, I think there's also a place for a more open market where people can look directly at jobs, then jump to the company's website and decide if that's the kind of company they might want to work for. As I wrote earlier, top developers have a choice of where to work, and they're not very enchanted with the prospects of working for a "leading developer of software products" that needs a "C/C++/XML/HTTP/HTML" to fill a slot.

This is something of a dilemma. I'm prettyy sure that job seekers have no interest in a seeing list of pseudo-jobs that are often nothing more than invitations to call a headhunter. On the other hand, headhunters are probably the biggest single spenders on job boards, so I might be antagonizing my biggest potential audience of customers.

What should I do?
Joel Spolsky Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Give recruiters their own board.

Thursday, September 07, 2006
And charge recruiters more. :)
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I think the jobs board is an excellent idea.  You have a great differentiator - people that want to work for fc-type companies come here (or are convinced that's what they want.  Your instinct to keep this differentiator is dead on.

However, who wants to turn away business that both sides are interested in?

Make the recruiters check a box in their profile.

Allow people to view those jobs too if they desire.

Bankstrong Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I'd Second that.

Specifically make sure recruiter jobs are not shown up randomly across site (degraded performance) and charge them higher than the regular jobs You want a cut from their commission don't you?
Sajid Khan
Thursday, September 07, 2006
What should you do? Easy.  Decide if you want to compete with the other job boards out there or not.  If the answer is yes, you need to allow recuriters.  If your goal is to compete in a niche market, then don't allow them. 

When I was last looking for a job, I was frustrated by the recruiters.  I tried not to deal with them but there were many postings on Monster, Dice etc, that LOOKED like valid companies but turned out to be recruiters.  When I would call them, they ALWAYS told me the job had already been filled (even if it was just posted an hour ago) but there was another position available that I might be interested in.

Another beef I had was when they wanted me to come in for an interview with the recruiter.  I had a limited number of sick/vacation days and I was searching without telling my empolyer (I searched for about a year).  I wasn't willing to waste my valuable time interviewing just to fill their resume database!

-Scott Frye
Scott Frye Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Just differentiate which posts are via recruiter and which are not.  The tough part is the company name.  Many recruiters simply will not divulge that.  I like a separate listing within each section, just for recruiters.
Sassy Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Recruiters present too large of a business opportunity to overlook ...but if there are too many very generic job posts (i.e. expertise in .NET/J2EE/HTML/XML job descriptions) that can alienate job seekers.

A poster above suggested allow recruiters to have a way of marking their posting - this will give the job seeker the chance to view recruiters or not.

I like sending my resume to good recruiters and build a relationship - I am not usually tempted to send a resume to a fishing type job description placed by a recruitre.
LosGatos Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
You don't need +95% of the market to be successful, you only need the best 4%.

Let the recruiters have their place, you can't win their game anyway.  Go for the few companies that know the value of the really great developers.
Peter Speck Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Why not just require company names? This could lead to the aforementioned short-circuiting of the commission.

What if you just posted a note along with recruiter posted ads stating that this is how recruiters make money and by cutting them out, the candidate is doing no favors for anyone?

There isn't really a technical solution, but if you explain it just as you did in your post, I think that most people would willingly oblige.
Joshua Gooden Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
In your situation, I might compromise by charging a great deal more to those who want to place adds that don't appeal to the community. Charge extra for information omitted (Joel Test, company name, startings salary) or categorize the ads by cost. (This might have the bonus effect that some people improve the quality of their ad to save money, but that's probably marginal.)
Jesse Millikan
Thursday, September 07, 2006
A good idea is to include an item to the submission form for the referer's name.  Say on the bottom of the page it saids

"This job is for XYZ company and has been made aware to us by Jim Smith" 

That way when the applicant goes into the area they can say that they saw the post made by Jim Smith on your job board.  That way the recruiter will get the commision and your board is going to get a plug with someone who may or may not know about it.
Coldguy Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Joel, you've already stated quite clearly what makes your *niche* job board different.

By definition, a niche product doesn't serve the whole market. Ergo, recruiters that don't provide the name of the company are not your potential customers.

Presumably great recruiters, that are a huge help to both the hunter and hunted, have a great reputation - enough to entice applicants to contact them. After all, I don't go to a restaurant because I didn't realise I could get the food cheaper at a supermarket!
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Joel on Tuesday: "A niche job board has modest goals, no grander than to bring a dozen or so companies that are great places to work together with a dozen or so great programmers."

Joel today: "headhunters are probably the biggest single spenders on job boards, so I might be antagonizing my biggest potential audience of customers"

What have you done with Joel?
Al Lang
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Require the recruiter to disclose the company.  You offer a service that they value.  Top candidates read your site.  They benefit from that by having a filter in place that provides them with candidates that are likely to get hired, thereby increasing the chance that they will make the commission.  So you get to set the rules.  Call it truth in advertizing.

On the other side of it, appeal to your job seekers sense of honor that, after looking the company over, they go through the recruiter rather than make the contact directly.  That's fair to both sides.
Neil Makar Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Make the recruiter's name be the company name and indicate that they are a recruiter by including "recruiter" in brackets in the company name field.

So "Java Developer at " ends up being "Java Developer at Bob Anderson (Recruiter)"

Further, you should probably have a moderation feature that allows the user community to rank a given company posting.  So if you're getting posting spam from Crappy Company A, then you can moderate them down really to obscurity.
James Birchall Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Joel, keep your site just for professionals, it's what attracts them to here. So, don't jeopardize your principles. I understand that it's a rough road to
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Yes, please just have an indicator of whether the poster is a recriter or not.

Additionally, it may be nice to have a checkbox "Don't display recruiter posts" (with default unchecked).
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Allowing recruiters in will make you just another job site. You need a differentiator and cutting out the recruiters sounds like an excellent one to me.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
As something different, is of interest to me.

As with less jobs, it is worthless.

Many recruiters do a wonderful job. I'm guessing those that wish to advertise via this jobs board are missing the point, and not from the deep end of the clue pool.
John McAleely Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Allow recruiters to post specific positions that meet your requirements.

If they want to post a general broad feeler category, create another job forum, charge them 2x as much and offer no refund.

By keeping your job board tied to actual positions, you will keep the quality of people looking at the board high, and this will provide value to both your paying customers looking for new employees as well as the unpaying ones looking for a job.

Personally, if I saw vague general applications from headhunters start appearing, I'd be much less likely to use the job board. As it is now, all of the jobs I've seen are  pretty specific, so when I'm in the market it'd be real nice to go through the list and pick out the ones I want and be confident I'm not wasting my time.
Josh McFarlane Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Joel, you're leading a revolution in progress.  Lead on!  I hope you succeed!  Everything you've written is right on target.  Let recruiting move to the Open Source world!  If the recruiters really have long-term value, that will be recognized by the market - just as high quality packaging, polish and support of free software has market value.

You've set rules for your job board.  They came from careful thought, not just whims, but genuine, important values and principles.  These are principles that build a happier and richer world for everyone who applies them.  Don't let a whiny chorus of "that's not what we used to do!" convince you to back down from your standards!
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Your differentiator is to cut through the crap.
That means only real companies and real jobs.

If the recruiters provide value-add, like meeting you at the airport, providing lodging, or explaining the company to you, etc, it would take a very mean programmer to work to cut them out.

To improve on differentiation, you could aggregate feedback from interviewees, and once you have enough responses post them as a trust metric: the job was as advertised, the company did have windows and offices, the people were happy. Make the developer/company relationship more equal.
sengan Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Don't disallow recruiters.

Just charge more for any ad that doesn't have the company name filled in, and default the listings to not show those submissions.

And add an easy to use 'report this submission' button for the inevitable few who will falsify the name of the company. (I don't need to tell you there should be a no-refund policy for those cases, do I?)
CatMoran Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Although recruiters may represent a large chunk of the market, I think you need to be very careful with 'your' community. You claim to not completely understand the popularity of JoS, although you did at one point lay out a few basic theories (no registration, etc.).

Those theories (and many of your business theories) are about simplicity and transparency. That suggests to me that you should require recruiters to identify themselves as such. The good recruiters with good contacts and current listings will be proud of the service they offer and proud to identify themselves as such. The pond scum will go elsewhere.

Someone on another thread asked why we keep coming back to JoS. Most of the comments can be distilled into a simple "high signal-to-noise ratio." I think risking a lower S/N is, well, risky.
Ron Porter Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
What about disguised posts from recruiters? 

If I was a recruiter trying to get around the ban on posts from recruiters, I'd probably use a fudged company name, possibly with a fudged skeleton website to back it up... the site can be vague enough to not make it immediately obvious that it's a recruitment site. 

(Don't laugh: I've seen websites for real, non-recruitment technology oriented companies that are like... three HTML pages at most.  Typically these kinds of sites belong to consulting firms whose bread is buttered by longstanding relationships with a small number of clients. Thus they have no need to advertise themselves on the web.)

How would the Fog Creek team deal with this kind of job listing?  It would take some legwork to investigate these firms.  Of course, at $350 a listing, Fog Creek could easily dedicate some low-cost (possibly outsourced) labor to this task.

Having said all that, I think this new Fog Creek jobs board sounds fantastic.  You're doing something unique.  Go ahead and dedicate some manpower to investigating those listings.  Your only other alternative, besides shutting down, is to roll over and accept listings from recruiters... at which point you're no longer unique.  You certainly can't hope to compete on the basis of your sheer number of listings nor low cost, so uniqueness and high quality are all you've got.
John Rose Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
You want your job site to be different.  If you want to be different, don't let the recruiters spam your board with junk.  Stick to your guns, require that the add can be for a specific company.  The recruiter can still add their email and phone number instead of the companies so that they will be the one contacted by the candidate. If the recruiter doesn't like that, tough.  Both the recruiter and the candidate will probably have their presense on Monster anyway.

I haven't looked at your current policies, but adds should be required to come down when filled.  That way candidates can complain if they hear "sorry that's filled, how about..." and you can find repeat offenders and ban them.

If you let the recruiters post whatever they want, I don't see how you are going to be any different from Monster, only smaller and lesser known.  So only let them play if they follow the rules.  I don't like the idea of two tiered pricing.
Keith Wright Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
recruiters are already all over and  for your board to be useful it needs to be different and useful and must satisfy a need.  there is a need for a open board.  there isn't a need for yet another board filled with recruitment agencies.

alexkreuz Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I loved your policy requiring the name of the company. 

Those recruiters are ANNOYING ANNOYING ANNOYING.  I have an excellent job at an excellent company, and I was contacted by a recruiter for another company.  The message he left on my voicemail was "I have a project I've been told you'd be able to help me with.  It's kind of time-sensitive so I'd appreciate if you'd call me back."  After receiving several of these calls and accidentally answering one, I found out he was a recruiter.  I could NOT get him to tell me the name of the company or how he got my name.  Finally he revealed that it was Google--and he said he was a Google employee.  It sounded so shady it made me not want to work for Google.

I applaud your efforts to keep these sorts of things off your job boards.  You did mention that you may be alienating your largest source of revenue, which perhaps is true.  I guess I was under the impression this was sort of a "side job" for you and you were more concerned about quality and perception than revenue.  If this is true, I say stick to your policy.  As someone else has said, though, if you want to compete with other job boards I guess you'll just have to take everyone.

I like someone's suggestion of allowing potential applicants to choose not to view ads that have no company name, if you really must take them.
Maria Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I have to admit I'm guilty of putting my resume on in the past and it's littered with these "head count" agencies that just want to add another name to their resume database with no specific job to offer.

I make it a point NOT to return a call to these people unless there is a specific job they are offering me.  In other words, if they don't even say "we have a job offer out in Springfield, MA" or whatever, I already know it's totally bogus.

I applaud your policy of keeping mindless "head count" people off a useful job list.  Another reason why I've been recommending some fellew devs to check it out.
Travis Owens Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Implement a Digg/Reddit type system whereby dishonest adverts have less visibility in some way as decided democratically by the job board audience. Could be a fun enhancement for an intern to build using either RoR/Lisp or Wasabi... ;-)
John Topley Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Keeping the recruiters out will make your board special; job seekers will value that, and companies might actually be willing to pay more knowing that the seekers are more interesting.

Keeping them in will make your board just another board, and make your site just another blog with ads.

Which one do you want, Joel?

I think you're fully entitled to make a buck or two with your often brilliant and enlightening blog, but I think you should apply the same high standards to that board as you do to the rest of the site. Both visitors and advertisers will value that.

Good luck :-)
Boudewijn Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Stick to your principles.

Refund them and cancel/deny the ad.

Joel, even when I think you're wrong, I know you're principled and not after the quick buck.  Continue with this practice and you'll see the board grow faster than you can ever hope.
KC Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
If it's possible, I think that it could work to allow recruiters but 1) require that they post actual job openings instead of generic "jobs", and 2) mark them as being a recruiter.

Like others said, maybe you could also have a checkbox in the searches so we can search for jobs that aren't by recruiters, but alter it so that if the recruiter fills in a real company name, the post is still listed in the main set?  So it'd filter "anonymous company" vs. "company listed" -- that would give the recruiters a pretty good incentive to fill in the company name, I'd think.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Personally I say give 'em the boot... if someone's looking for a recruiter to get them a job finding those guys isn't difficult, and honestly I'd rather pick my recruiter as well than trust my career into someone who spends their time spamming job boards.  Especially this one, given it's goals.
Dave Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Stick to your guns!  There was a reason you started this board, and I'm guessing it wasn't (primarily) for the money. 

Consider this:  Of all the job posts in your brand new board (quite a few in such a short time), only ONE has violated this policy.  It's not like half of all the posters there are threatening to pull their postings, forcing you to say "This just isn't working."  Generally speaking it is bad to make policy decisions on the margins.  It seems to be working so far for everyone else. I also second the the idea that those of us interested in these jobs act in good faith and not circumvent those that identify themselves as recruiters.

I say, request they ammend their posting with the primary company's name, or kindly refund their money and pull it.  The job board will be better for it.
SAS Guy Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The Head Hunters are coming here to get names.  Not to post for a job. 

Who is your target audience? The people looking for jobs? or the people looking for employees?  Cater to who ever you decide. 

If you cater to the companies posting their openings, I'm going to look for my next job elsewhere.

If you cater to the great people looking for great jobs then make it obviously so.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The really good recruiters I have worked with don't hesitate to disclose the company name, and they don't hesitate to give my contact information to the company.  If the recruiter is providing a real service -- trying to know both the company and the candidate well enough to predict that it's a good fit, and to educate both the company and the candidate on why it's a good fit -- than neither the company or the candidate will want to go behind the recruiter's back.

Make them disclose the name.
Jacob Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Don't allow the recruiters.  What will make (in my opinion) the job board valuable to me is a good signal to noise ratio.  Job postings without companies?  More noise through which I have to filter, which would increase the chances of my unsubscribing.
Aaron Jensen Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Allow recruiters, but stick to your guns: they have to specify the name of the company. If not, position deleted, money returned, recruiter banned.

Do you want this to be just another job board? Or do you want to stand out?
Ervin J
Thursday, September 07, 2006
No recruiters (shouldnt this be a Poll?)
Bob Herrmann Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
As others have pointed out, plenty of other job boards already allow unidentified-company recruiter postings. Please keep your job forum "principals only" as a differentiator. Otherwise, it's just another on-line job board, and a brand new one with lower visibility, to boot.

If you really want to have your cake and eat it too, allow recruiter postings, but please have them filtered by default (from both browsing and searching). This fulfills the goal of not exposing useless job postings, but lets you earn money and lets those who for some reason want to find recruiter posts find them. I'm sympathetic to wanting to make more money--it's not like you should run this forum for your health.
Andrew Ho Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
This would defeat the purpose of having a "quality" job board in the first place.

If I'm going to visit the Joel Board it's because top flight programming shops know about it and want to advertise there.

Thursday, September 07, 2006
Don't clutter the board with no-name entries.
Matthew Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I vote for "real" jobs only, no recruiter ads.
Bill R Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I agree with those who have asked for greater incentives to post the Joel Test. I think reading the Joel Test for a company says much more to me as a developer than which company it is. Companies should be encouraged to post the Joel Test in their ads.
Mitch Tenderson Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Tiered pricing.  Posts with the company name remain $350.  All other posts are $35,000.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Just say no to recruiters not willing to share company names.

Thursday, September 07, 2006
First of all I am not sure how this board will be used by great/good developers only.
If good companies start posting here, soon all people will figure out it and once word goes out to not-so-good programmers, most of them will know about this board and start visiting board if not whole site.

So in first place I am not sure how can you help companies which post here to get only good or better resumes!

Or how can you stop lame programmers from applying to postings here!
Thursday, September 07, 2006
No recruiters they can start their own board. They will devalue you board. I'd like to trust that there is a real job for every posting.
Steve A Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
If you want to remain a the top tier board for developers, don't allow recruiters.  If you're ok with being a very good board allow recuriters, but a) charge a small percentage more and b) mark them differently/filter them.
Stephen Rylander Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The recruiting lies can be said the same way by a headhunter or directly by the company. You need to identify and educate or remove the liars:
* track the recruiter (with a big subscription price), create a recruiter ranking: high rank for lots of hired, small rank for lies; put some big penalties to the recruiters with bad ranking, give credits to the high ranked recruiters
* ask the job seekers to assess the companies/the recruiters: a. they were lied, b. the job description is ok even if they don't fit, c. they got hired; try to make some cross-verifications; create a special relation with the job seekers, give them some good incentives for this, the geeks like your books or some t-shirts "hired through Joel"
Mihaï Onofreiciuc Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Not putting the Joel test on a job ad speaks volumes so I would have thought it should be totally voluntary.

Unless Joel wants to be the next (and I can see the potential to cash out and make lots of money does have its attractions), keep the recruiters off and differentiate from the competition that way. Don't let it detract from the rest of the 'joel' experience.
markee Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
One more thing: Remember your goal of creating a company where great programmers want to work? Same here. To get a quality board, create a board where programmers want to apply. The ads should be formatted to the programmers's liking, not to the advertizers. If this turns into Just Another Job Board (tm) the value of having a community is lost.
Mitch Tenderson Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Forcing the company name should be required.  If you find out about bogus or missing names, refund their money and ban them from the site.  Who wants a job from a sleazy recruiter who won't follow the rules of the site, anyway?
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I see no reason to include recruiters.  I would stick by the original rules: must post the actual company name (and therefore hopefully post an actual job that needs to be filled).  Otherwise, this is just craigslist, and we already have a craigslist.  If this job board sticks to its original intentions it could be a good resource for small companies that need something better than free and cheaper than some recruiter's small (large) fees.
Dave Copeland Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The needs of a recruiter are not well served by a job board--and this results in frustration both for the job hunters and the recruiters.

I think the best way to approach this is to view it as an opportunity: create a separate board that caters to "great recruiters" and help them get in touch with the great developers out there. That way, if a developer wants to manage his/her own job search, then that person can go to the job board, but if they'd rather have the help of a recruiter, then there's somewhere else they can go.

If the recruiters have a site that serves them better than a job board, then they'll be much less likely to spam the board.
David Mitchell Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I think you should continue to require company names.  Without them, there's just not much different about your job board.

Recruiters should be allowed, but must provide the (correct) company name.  Dishonest postings (like faking a company name) should forfeit the fee.  You can have a "report this listing" button or something similar.

I don't think I can emphasize enough how nice it is to see a list of clear, concise and correct job openings.  I think you need to keep this or you'll lose the attraction your board has (including your current customers who are playing by the rules -- that's why they're here in the first place).
Daniel Reese
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Require the company name.  Remind applicants that this is how recruiters make their money and it's bad manners to bypass the recruiter who posted the job.  Just today (in your recruiting series) you stressed that good programmers have a strong sense of justice; most of us aren't out to stiff anyone because that wouldn't be just.  Play to that.

As someone else said, a jobs site that differentiates itself is valuable to me; a smaller is not.
Monica Cellio Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
In general, I like to go as high up when dealing with a company as I can. Recruiters, by and large, simply don't know what they are looking for.
If I can sit down and chat with a project manager or a senior dev along with the HR people, I'm that much more convinced it's a good company and can really know what the job is about.

A recruiter (not in general, of course, but in many cases) just knows buzzwords and looks for them. Having someone blather out "C++!" "Java!" "UML!" in an interview without anything intelligent to say about it doesn't necessarily make for a good hire - just someone who can play the system.
Conversely, if I've read the posting from the person I'll be working under, if I'm talking to them and get their own words on company culture, work environment, realistic expectations, I'm that much more inclined to think fondly of the company.

I would vote no recruiters, or at least no recruiters that are just spewing out buzzwords (there's a blurred line for ya...). I need to know the company name. I need to know what I will be DOING, not just that it will be exciting. If you are recruiting more as a case worker for that job position rather than just throwing resumes around in hopes of getting your commission, I'm more inclined to talk to you.
Stefan Mohr Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Another vote for no-recruiters.

The audience for recruiters is bigger, sure.  But does that mean that Mercedes should start making cheap econoboxes just because more people will buy them?  (sorry, car analogy alert)

The value and purpose of posting on your job board, both for employers and candidates, would be extremely diluted and reduced if it turned into a recruiterfest.

Employers are paying for differentiation and specialization.  Job-seekers are coming to you for quality offerings.
Marco Arment Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Is there a win-win?

You say most recruiters are ethical, so let's make this better for them too.

1- Encourage people to go through the recruiter
2- Have a link to other positions they are recruiting for
3- Post information on how to best use recruiters, and link it on every job ad posted by a recruiter.

Generic ads which are designed to fish for resumes should be banned. In some cases there may be very good reason to keep the name of the company secret, so it's a tough balance to strike.

There's a lot of knee-jerk ideological responses, and some suggestions to build entire platforms with fancy algorithms. Ack! Too much work for a small board.
Daniel Haran Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Company name required.

So far, the Joel job board appears to be attracting high quality positions.

I'm just waiting for the first senior .NET developer tele-commute posting and I'm out of here! :-)
Mike S Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Raise the fee on unnamed company. Waterdown the refund policy of posting that doesn't name the company.
Hai Liu Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I don't think this is about principles, it's about why you can charge $350 when craigslist is free.  It's because, among other things, job seekers know the name of the company when they look at a posting.  I was excited about this list, but once you allow these anonymous ads, you are no different, I'll just go back to CL to look for jobs where at least I can  search by location.
ech Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Going back to the purpose of the board: Connect the type of programmers that read JoS with the type of companies that read JoS.  Provide high-quality job listings with high quality candidates.

It's a lofty vision, though, and the simple fact is that regardless of what you do, you cannot keep the recruiters out.  You'll be fighting fires all the time.

So make sure it's a good revenue source, and dedicate a little extra time on it to make it difficult for dishonest recruiters to use it.

I believe the best you can do is provide a box for "listing agent" which may be the company itself, a recruiter, etc.  Require that the company name be part of the listing.  Provide a "flag" option with a text input so  job seekers can report on the experience they got when they applied - when a listing is flagged it is reviewed by a human.

Any other technical measures will likely be circumventable by the enterprising individual.  So make it as open as possible, then rake in the dough and hire a babysitter.
Adam Davis Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Take them out!

I don't care if a "leading provider of business solutions" is seeking "Senior J2EE Object Oriented Engineers".  I don't know anything about the company, their workspace/work environment, their vacation policy, their project, their technologies, the people who work there, their salary/benefits, and the recruiter doesn't know anything either.  Usually.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Make a separate board for recruiters, with separate policies and fees.
Steve Hirsch Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The problem is an institute of recruiters in a time of the Internet seems clumsy!
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Stick to your guns. The job board will be more valuable to job seekers if it lists real companies which the job seekers can check out first.
Jeff Bloom Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Let me start with a story.

A friend of mine worked for "Company A" gave his resume to a recruiter that called about a job with a particular "Company B". He told the recruiter NOT to give his resume to ANYONE else and not to send the resume to any other company with out first talking to him about it. In fact, my friend also specifically mentioned he didn't want is resume sent to several companies.

Recruiter posted the resume in the company computer system, another eager recruiter [might have been a different office] sent the resume to another "Company C" WITHOUT asking. "Company C" was a company on the do not contact list!

"Company C" happened to be in a partnership with "Company A".  My friend worked with closely with employees from "Company C". In fact, "Company C" was looking to hire another person for this project! Luckily the position his resume was sent for was not for this project. Still, the end result was not a good one.

A job may sound great as written, but I may have no interest in working for the company offering it. Military projects, Cigarette Company, company test on animals, etc… Maybe I'm a recovering alcoholic (I'm not it is just an example) and don't want to work for a beer distributor. There could be many reasons why I might not want to work for the company. Before I give my name I want to discuss the position and no who I am going to be working for.

A separate board [or filter] for jobs posted by recruiter is a must. Maybe I don't want to deal with a recruiter.

With recruiters more than a board is required. A process where the candidates resume is sent to the recruiter anonymously [personal information withheld]. Just like the job is metioned with out the company name, the candidate is mentioned without the name. If the recruiter feels the candidate has the right qualifications; the right person for the job, click a button to offer to have the candidate call them to discuss. Both parties have an agreement keeping themselves anonymous. Of course, this requires work on Joel's part to manage such a system. Maybe it could work though. Best jobs, best candidates. Sucess on both sides. 

If a recruiter violates any of the board rules, such as calling the candidate and saying "that job isn't available anymore [maybe it never really was], but I have another you might be interested in….", the recruiter, should be band [publicly?] and severely fined. If the recruiter doesn't agree with the board rules, they should not use the board.

Here's another issue. What if two recruiters are posting the same job? I think the system should require the company name and only one job is posted. It wouldn't be fun seeing 10 jobs that sound very similar and come to find out it is all the same job.

Recruiters have good jobs to offer. A company wanting to find a specific candidate is paying the recruiter to find that candidate. I know of some bad experiences with using them. I also have had good experiences as well.

Sorry for the length.

Thanks for reading.
Brian Chirgwin Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Every commenter up to now currently has a job. I don't. I've been looking since June.

If you asked me in July about recruiters, I would have said what's the harm. Don't charge them more. Simply have them reveal that they are recruiters.

A few months later, I now know the pain of dealing with tech recruiters. The pain of a job posted on Monster or CareerBuilder that I was qualified for and then later learn it was a tech recruiting company. I know the pain of a recruiter calling me with the promise of an interview, asking me to rewrite my cover letter, resume, and build a skills matrix with the potential employer in mind -- and do this in 30 minutes; I never heard back from her. I know the pain of dressing in my suit on a 100 degree day, getting to the recruiters offices early, and then having to wait for the recruiter (up to 45 minutes late once). So far, only one recruiter interview was helpful. No job, but at least now I understand why I wasn't getting hits from my resume and cover letter.

I vote no on recruiters.
Scott Smith Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Recruiters: NO WAY!

We want quality on the job board, not quantity.
Bill Rushmore Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
No, you must require the company name. I'd also advise advertisers to publish a salary range.

Anybody can put up a job site; make this one stick to certain rules so your real customers, the programmers, use it. If you get the best programmers you will get the ads. The employer/recruiter is in fact only nominally your customer. The real customer to keep happy is the guy applying for the job.
Stephen Jones Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Allow them with Higher Fees and Shorter Period.

Plus, allow anybody who contacts the recruiter thru this job board to rate the recruiter.

"n" strikes and the recruiter is out.
Sai Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Just say "No."

The way I see it JOS is an asset you leverage to sell fogbugz.  Now you are using it for the jobs board and there is some revenue there but you could be monitizing JOS already with adwords or other annoying things.  JOS would still be popular but it would not be as popular.

Having the jobs board without recruiters is sending a message to developers.  It makes the job board more valuable and more part of JOS.  i.e. it makes it less of a cash grab.

Now, of course, you built the asset, you can use it for a cash grab; but, I think long term maintaining the quality JOS is more important and will result in greater income promoting your software which is the biggest revenue generator.

BTW, please show us the chart for copilot (without axis).  You did this before and the trend was very strong.  It would be interesting to see how it worked out in the end in terms of scaling up.

Thursday, September 07, 2006
If you want to do the job board for money then allow the recruiters.  If you want to make a nice place for good developers then don't allow them.
Brett Huff Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Do a test.

Allow recruiters to post and identify that in the posts. Create a button/checkbox named "Ignore recruiter postings" that, if checked, hides all the recruiter posts.

Analyze how many people check the button (for, let's say, a week - I believe that after three days the results should be clear). If most people (a leave the percentage to you, I'd propose 60%), click the checkbox, then your users doesn't like recruiters. That means you'd just have annoying posts for your users (putting them away), reducing the importance for your clients (their posts will be shown to less people) for no money (you did say that you'd offer a money-back warranty for no answers to a post, didn't you?).
João Miguel Neves Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
No recruiters. Please.

Also, while you're at it -- can you ban people from putting useless crap like "*** L00k!!! hOt CODE MoNkEeZ WaNteD!! *** as the job title? Or at least give us a way to vote them down/off the board.
Rob Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Require the Company Name
Cube Dweller Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Mark the recruiter's entries as such and let the developers decide for themselvs. I for once will prefer companies identified by their real name, but you should not decide for me...

Thursday, September 07, 2006
The jobs that recruiters post on job boards are not worthwhile, even if recruiters themselves might provide a helpful service.

Don't allow recruiters to post jobs. No postings without the company name.

If you want to provide a service for recruiters, set up a board for them to advertise _themselves_ -- not some bogus job offer. Let them tell us who they are and why we should use their services.
Michael Quinlan Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
When it comes right down to it, this potentially could become a reflection on you. The reason I read and visit your sight is that you have described and talked about issues that great developers are tuned to. You have built up a trust and relationship with your readers, take a look at that relationship and determine what its built upon. Do you think this would be a good reflection on what your site has been trying to accomplish?
At least on this particular site, who is your target audience? If the recruiters are, then go for it and let them in, otherwise I would say no, I personally wouldn't monitor it once I knew recruiters were posting.
Bill Miller Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I agree with the recommendations to allow recruiters to place ads with unnamed clients, under additional criteria:

1) Charge more for "blind" ad placements.
2) Perhaps make a portion of the blind ad placement fee non refundable, and/or denote a non refundable portion that goes to some specified charity.
3) Put the ads in their own subcategory under each job type category.

I don't think a "hide recruiter ads" user setting would fly if you charged recruiters more. But I DEFINITELY believe they should be dinged an extra amount.
Bored Bystander Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006

My 'best' job experience was found through a contractor, so while I find the constant phone calls during work ("Hey, I found your six month old resume on you still looking?") very annoying, I no longer dread getting up in the morning or constantly whine about how little I'm paid.

My recruiter does not get a fee for referring candidates. My recruiter hires you under their name. You are sub-contractor to the actual employer. After six months, if the employer still wants your services, the company that recruited you releases you from contract and allows the main company to hire you.

They don't make their money by placement. They make their money by finding successful hires. Every employee that they place ends up generating them revenue for the next six months.

I could see you allowing companies like this, as a compromise, but I feel that you should really disallow recruiters. Let companies "in the know" look here first. I'm sure some successful Y-combinator companies will eventually need to hire someone they haven't met yet, and this could be where they post their openings. Likewise, if Y-combinator start ups do not do well, this is where they could look for a "safe/stable" job.

Treat your job board content like you would your code. Focus solely on quality. Keep growth organic and manageable, and the board will mind itself.
Christopher Wilson Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
What should you do indeed? Negate the very reason you started the board for money or stick with your original idea?

There is a place for recruiters in the market. I'm not sure that it's at though.
I don't think potential employees who find this board will want to see recruiter listings.
Robert Jeppesen
Thursday, September 07, 2006
My sentiment is that the original requirements for posting to the Joel board made it very unique and valuable.  As others have mentioned, if you allow recruiters to post anonymous jobs then this will become another Monster or Craigslist.  You may loose some revenue in the short term, but in the long run the board and this entire site will have much more respect from your core audience: the developer community.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
If you keep recruiters off the boards you'll keep the job-seekers (especially the good, non-desparate type) happy.  If job seekers are happy they'll use the board and spread the word about it, thus the board will grow.  Once the board hits critical mass of "the only place you can seek jobs knowing the employing company" it will be the premier job board.  Once this happens it will grow at a rapid pace.  Once it is large enough it will be worth it for employers to pay more as the audience is larger and somewhat discriminating and thus you make more money from both volume and price.  Its much like having no ads on craigslist.
Brent Castle Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Do you want to be Ray Croc or Escoffier? Recruiters are definately the former.
Alexandre Carmel-Veilleux Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006

Aside: I don't like most recruiters, on a personal level. I don't trust them. Most of the recruiters I have met have the "Glen Garry Glen Ross" aura (sic: you are the money you earn) and are gold chain punks.

Having said that: I believe that you SHOULD allow recruiters in, under a higher fee schedule.

Why: it may do someone's career good here to connect with a recruiter who has an open position.

I think differentiating those ads with a unique subcategory would be sufficient to maintain the open culture. Everyone would know that they paid extra in order to be secretive.

The main beef I have and everyone else has with recruiter ads is that many are placed with no position open - they are just trolling for more resume inventory. The placement fee for job ads discourages that purpose to an extent that I don't think they would be polluting the commons.

Main point: I think allowing recruiter ads could be a good thing for someone who is looking.
Bored Bystander Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Tell the recruiters to shove off.  Exactly as you said, I'm tired of pseudo-job posts.
Leif Wickland Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
A lot of people feel recruiters should be charged more.

But as Joel has pointed out, recruiters, if allowed, are going to be the major user block. From a design standpoint, the largest base of users is your 'base case' that you would want to optimise. Therefore, wouldn't you want to optimize for recruiters? Wouldn't that mean charging them less, since they create more traffic?

Obviously, people aren't sharing that mindset. Which leads us to the logical conclusion that the intended target audience of the Joel Job placEment Extravaganze (J2EE, for short) is not recruiters, but job seekers.

Maybe a better compromise would to create another site where users can post resumes for headhunters to browse and contact. That way, users who feel headhunters are a useful service (and need one) can get in touch with them, but the majority of the site is company-to-prospective-hire.
Christopher Wilson Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
If you want to become the next, allow recruiters.

If you plan to continue as a respected software company, give them the boot or provide a way to filter them out from the list.
MBJ Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Meh thinks Joel wanted to see how much of a response he could get on the topic....

I've read a few articles that Joel has posted and they *all* have the message that the character is more important than the money.  In fact, one of the listed items for landing a Great Developer was "Build the Community".  I find it highly unlikely (and unwise) that someone spending the effort to build a community (and admitting it is a hard thing to do) would squander it for some additional cashflow.  He could have sold out long ago - he didn't.

But I do have one dour comment on the subject - If recruiters are added, some quantity of great developers will no longer use the job board.  And - eventually - someone else will build a community and offer a recruiter-free job board.  Being first is important (or so I read here).  It would be unwise to squander that lead.
_Jon Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I say no recruiters and no U.S. Military listings.
Zach M.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
As others have pointed out, the ethos behind your board was that of uniqueness. Your site attracts people who want to be excellent developers and people who want to be excellent develoment managers.

Your board should hook the two up without the pimps getting in the middle.

I've been recruiting heavily for the last year. I want to find a solution that works and doesn't have the agents in it.
Mike Jervis Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Personally I see the job board here as a place to find companies that employee people who are knowledgable and interested in advancing themselves enough that they are part of the Joel community.  A recruiter does not fill that definition at all. 

Worse case make them do the checkbox thing and let us filter them out I guess.
Shane Courtrille Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Torpedo the headhunters.  They are a bunch of bottom feeding scum suckers anyway.

Thursday, September 07, 2006
I'm an excellent developer.  And I will NEVER be interested in recruiter postings.  I will never look/post at, because 99% of the job postings there are for anonymous jobs with anonymous companies in anonymous places that I'm not interested in.  Those jobs are also ones that, almost by definition, are too blah for the company to have filled either with excited internal people or by directly recruiting specific outsiders who would be intrigued.

I already have a list of companies that I am interested in working for, and I know how to find their job listings.  That said, I will come to the Joel jobs board if I'm perusing other opportunities that I don't already know about.  Why? Because you've claimed you want to create a space where good developers can go to hear about good jobs.  It's like a club for self-selecting great employers and talented potential employees. 

A developer (or other potential software employee) that is really as great as the ones you claim to be targeting will never waste their time with a listing that offers no detail about the larger picture of the job.

So list the recruited jobs in a different section, if you must, or offer a filter, but know this: the act of including such posts makes a statement about the caliber of your readers that makes me sigh and think I might not belong here the way I thought I did.
ben Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Take the money, but please give us a way to filter them out as others have suggested.

Unlike some people, I don't hate recruiters across the board.  I've met several good, ethical ones and have landed interviews that resulted in offers, but as you said, it *would* be nice to see the company right away in the ad at times.
Crimson Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Screw the recruiters.  There are plenty of other resources for recruiters to get jobs announcements in front of people who are trying to find recruiter job announcements.  Monster, etc. serve that role totally adequately.  What the developers and companies need is a job board without all that crap.  Serving the recruiters needs in this case can only be done at the clear expense of developers and consequently, hirers.  PS-- I'm psyched about the JOS job board, we have had awesome results with the 37S one.  If you're going to allow recruiters to have company-less posts, then you might as well just 301 jobs.JOS to, seriously.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Recruiters are fine. Who cares who shows the joelonsoftware audidence where the great jobs are.

Hiding company names, however, isn't fine.

Recruiters very possibly should have to disclose that fact in the posting as well, although this is less important.
Michael Langford Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Joel, recruiters don't add much value they will just increase noise to signal ratio.

You've managed to get ~33K in sales so far (just in a first nine days), so don't get gready.

Also apart from banning recruiters it would be nice to have a feedback from developers who actually got the jobs: whether those companies are really that they describe themselves as.
Dejan Gribo
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I already said that you should get rid of the recruiters.  My theory goes that cluefully companies will employ jobs.joel.  Unclueful companies will employ a recruiter who will use jobs.joel.  In my mind and from the impression I got from your piece introducing the board, jobs.joel should help great developers select great companies.  Allowing clueless companies a back door through the selection process is like letting a employee-referred job candidate to skip not only the initial phone screen, but nearly all interviews along the way.
Leif Wickland Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Here's why a hypothetical investor in Joel's business should vote NO on the recruiter postings.

First:  I love Joel on Software. Love Joel's books.  Love Fog Creek.  Love Joel.  And in order not to creep Joel out too much, let's say those are ranked in descending order of magnitude.

But understand this: there are only 2 reasons that this job board might be above average - and to understand those better, let me sidebar to the newspaper business, in an anecdote laid out initially in "The Warren Buffet Way".

A newspaper (at least they used to) make most of their money off of classifieds.  The rate they could charge for their classifieds had to do with how many people read the paper.  And here's the kicker - how many people read the paper had a lot to do with the signal-to-noise ratio of quality content vs. advertising (sound like Google, anyone?), i.e. classifieds.  The papers with the best content attracted a bigger/better audience, and thus could raise classified rates, and thus reduce the number of classifieds, and thus draw more audience... You get the idea.

Enter  Joel's site is remarkable because:

1. Because it's on the Joel site, it attracts better candidate eyeballs.

2. Because Joel has a better signal-to-noise filtering algorithm/policy than other job sites, he attracts more interesting job postings, which feeds back to #1.

#1 exists now - basically because initial readers trust the Joel brand enough to believe that he wouldn't bother doing something if it weren't a step above in quality. But that will dissipate if #2 doesn't hold.

This jobs site can't compete (at interesting profit margins) with the biggies if it does the same thing they do.

And they post a *LOT* of anonymous "just call me" recruiter postings.

So if I were the board of directors of Fog Creek, I'd vote NO.
Jon Sweet Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I've dealt with a few recruiters who seemed like decent people, so I won't advocate a "shoot on sight" policy.

However, you need to consider your bottom line first and foremost.  If you allow the ads from recruiters you're in the same market as Monster or Dice.  I'm gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that you can't win in that market: the big players have kind of sown that up.  That leaves you with the niche market of "no recruiters, no stinker companies".  That market is underserved, so I think you'll be a lot more successful there.
Clay Dowling Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I think the differentiator of your jobs board is quality.

I don't use Monster or Dice because I consider both of them to be a cesspool.  Your jobs board will succeed insofar as it is a place where smart employers and candidates can find each other.  How many companies that can pass the Joel Test would use a recruiter?

The word Joel has become a brand name for excellent software development.  Don't risk tarnishing it.
Eric Sink Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Who are your customers? Companies hiring and people looking to get hired.

Recruiters enter the picture because companies don't want to/don't have the resources to recruit for themselves.

Therefore, you'll have to develop an easy way for good companies with limited resources to find your board and post to it.

That should take care of the recruiter problem...
Brian Haines Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Allowing recruiters is fine so long as:

- they post the actual hiring co.
- there's a mechanism in place to blacklist recruiters who post phony jobs as part of a "bait and switch" scheme.

Other than that, there are plenty of other places to get undisclosed jobs from recruiters. 

Your best chance of making this successful is to keep the signal-to-noise ratio as high as possible.
BillT Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
First, let me state that I'm a corporate recruiter, recently having traded in my "Agency Recruiter" nametag last year.  I left because I felt that , although I was successful and had alot of meaningful relations with my contractors, there was this push to "put cogs in the machine" That said, PLEASE people, don't generalize. There were one or two people who started with a story - good route to take.

I agree with many people about making agency recruiters pay a bit more, or to ban the "no company listed" post. In 6 years of recruiting on the agency side, I NEVER, NOT ONCE EVER, put out a posting without saying who I was and that the person would be working for our client. Obviously , due to legal issues (read: co-employment) we cannot give out the name of our client on the job boards. But EACH AND EVERY SINGLE person I talked to knew within 60 seconds who the client was. Yes, of course, it's easier for me now be able to say "yes com work at comScore"  for a myriad of reasons, but I was just doing my job within legal bounds.

To end the rant, do one of three things:
1. Charge more for 3rd party recruiters  OR
2. Ban no company name ads
3. Or some combo of those.

I think this is a great niche site and many recruiters have never heard of it. Obviosuly not doing their due dilgence and talking to their in house software gurus.

Keep up the great work here, it's a gem.

And everyone, please please don't generalize. Some of us work very hard and take very personally our work/craft/passion/calling.

-Pete Radloff
Pete Radloff Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
How do I know that the companies are as desirable as you would wish?  How do advertisers know that applicants are qualified?

Some trust measures are in order.
James Norman Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Your recruiters aren't your target customer.  Recruiters go where the developers are, developers go where they're mostly likely to get good results.  Cater to the developers and the recruiters will follow.

Analogy: Google could have inlined paid search results within regular search results for more $$.  Instead, they catered to their search users.  As a result, they drove more traffic and the advertisers followed.
Neil Mix Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006

Allow the recruiter to post with no hiring company name after clearly stating to them that they are agreeing that their post can be filtered out by a single click.

Oh... one more thing.... they agree to pay 50% of the entire commission paid by the hiring company to the successful applicant.
David Taylor Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Allow recruiters to post in their own category, or at a higher cost in the same category with a easily identifiyable indicator that they are a recruiter.
Mark Lyon Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
1. Delete the job offering.

2. Rethink from scratch about an information model & process for offerings from headhunters. (Should they have to reveal somthing about their customer - and what?). There are a lot of good thoughts in this thread. Personally I think the most important is that they should be easy to filter out & that you should charge (substantially) per listing regardless of success in order to keep bulk posting away.
Fred Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
It's not the hidden or anonymous jobs recruiters post that bohters me. It's the non-existant ones. All recruiters, and I do mean all, will post broadly vague job requirements whether they have any or not just to keep their resume stack up to date on the possibility that they can get a client to open one. They need to tell their clients they have scads of good prospects just sitting in the wings with bated breath or they'll never get an exclusive contract. Even if they don't have an exclusive, they'll want to be able to respond more quickly than anyone else in a competitive field.

So I always suspect recruiters, moral or otherwise, are posting empty promises and I have seldom dealt with any in the past (and since I'm close to retirement age, won't have to in future either).
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Keep recruiters off your job board.

Recruiters have flooded the computer jobs on with their posts. I used to have a public resume/CV on but I had to take it down given I was getting so many emails from agencies.

I'm sure some recruiters are good, but a lot simply get in the way between employees and employers.

As soon as recruiters get a hold on your site, it will become no better than
Martin Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
As a job seeker, the value of this board thus far has been twofold -- 1) lack of noise resulting from recruiter posts and 2) quality of individual posts.

For the board to maintain a low noise level, I believe that you're going to have to continue the company name requirement.  I suspect that you may even have to keep some of your fee as a security deposit after rejecting their posts to keep repeat offenders at bay.

The commissioned recruiters are making a lot of money for each position they fill.  If you want them as customers, focus on providing them a valuable service.  If they turn this job board into another dice/monster/etc, the service is no longer valuable.

I suspect the most value you can provide to honest recruiters (the kind who don't spam everybody) is allowing them access to high quality candidates.  If you had a way to normalize resume claims, you could probably charge a lot of money for both 1) browsing anonymous resumes and 2) individual contact information.  Perhaps there is an opportunity to partner with a recruiter who would do initial screening in exchange for a portion of those fees.
Ben Rogers Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Charge recruiters much more to do company confidential, and put them in a separate and distinct part of the message board.  Keep increasing the fees to ensure that the company confidential posts are < 25% of the total posts.

My math says that you've got 110 takers since you put the thing up - what - this week?  And the Ad only stays up for two weeks, right?  $110*350 = 38,500.  * 26 is over a million dollars, and so far you've only had _one_ company confidential.

So if you give up on that market and have zero growth, you'll bring in $1,000,000 a year.  (1) I think you could live with that, (2) Having high-priced for company confidential could increase revenue by about 25%, and (3) you're a smart guy who will find other ways to make money on this ...

Really, A million a year isn't enough?

Good job monetizing JoelOnSoftware, by the way.  Amazingly enough, you started saying you wanted something massmarket (citydesk) and end up selling to the recruiting niche ...

Still beats using AdWords. :-)
Matthew Heusser Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I was thinking why cannot you charge great/good developers to view postings?

First of all as you mentioned great programmers is any way not looking for job, so they will any way not browse postings. They do not need to become paid customers.

Good programmers with any experience of real working will have money to pay to get to see list of quality postings. And they should not mind paying some money for not wasting their time with recruiters.

Lame programmers may not pay and will stay out and you can have combination of great/good companies posting and great/good programmers browsing.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Absolutely, positively not.

When I saw that you had created a job board, I thought "Great! A place where (hopefully) all of the employers with a FC-style mentality will congregate!" I would even go as far to say that you should *require* all listings to post their score on the Joel test.

If I wanted just-another-job-board, I'd go to Monster/dice/friends.

While allowing recruiters may seem to allow you to boost your income from the board, it will fall on its face when we, the prima donna developers, refuse to use it. Help us to separate the wheat from the chaff and it will be our number-one resource.
David Dollar Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I like the 35,000 $ idea.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
It would be a message to your readers "Follow the principles, but for the sake of money you can avoid them."

Thursday, September 07, 2006
I am of two minds about jobbers. On one hand, my last two salaried positions were obtained through these "slave traders" – and they did a fine job convincing the client that I was the right guy for the job, and the salary I was asking for was justified. But on the other hand, I know they're not all that professional, and I agree with many out there that a more open job market can't hurt. After all, if a company only rakes in CVs via the Net and forwards them, they're not doing anything that can't be done by the candidates themselves.

I think, like others here, that two separate lists would be better. Or at least a checkbox to hide the indirect listings. And yeah, squeeze 'em.
Didier Barbas Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Keep the recruiters out.  While there are a small percentage of them that actually do good work, most of them are used car salesmen that will happily pass along a lemon without blinking an eye.

Make them post the company, many developers will not work for certain companies and do not want to waste their time applying for them. 

If the recruiter is concerned with getting cut out of the deal then perhaps they are doing their job wrong.

For the record, when I am looking for developers, I will not speak with a recruiter.  I know they will fluff up resumes and not bother with technical testing.  Why should I pay them a commission or an outrageous hourly rate when I still have to interview the candidate and test them myself?
Marcus S. Zarra Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I'm all with you Joel. I'm not interested at all in seeing yet another job at a "great, fortune 500 company!"
Rob Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
If they are a recruiter make them acnkowledge it (set a flag or something) and allow your user to filter out any recruiter jobs if they don't want to see them.  Let the market decide what it wants...
Jerry Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
"headhunters are probably the biggest single spenders on job boards"

The rules are the rules.  I'd say, keep it simple.  No special rules for headhunters one way or the other.  The company name must be posted.  If headhunters want to take the chance let them but don't deny your only differenciating quality.
Almost H. Anonymous Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I would stick with "must disclose company name" and if some recruiters don't want that, then they shouldn't post here.

Obviously, the ultimate answer is what this guy said:

>>> Who is your target audience? The people looking for jobs? or the people looking for employees?  Cater to who ever you decide. 

One data point to consder: this is local site with a good jobs board:

I find, and other people I know have said the same thing, that the posts from recruiters are a bit of a pain.  Sometimes the recruiters post for a specific job, other times there doesn't seem to be one, it's just a posting to get more candidates.  It's not hard to ignore them, but they don't add much.
Ward Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Another "No to recruiters" vote.

It makes this listing more interesting/useful.
IanH. Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Please keep recruiters with ambiguous template-style ads out of your job board. I believe that recruiters seldom add value, but instead simply add to the cost of employment. Having to deal with generic recruiters with trying to land a new contract position is a recurring pain-in-the-neck for me.
Steve McLeod Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Revenue is very important, but i thik it would be good to get an estimate of much much revenue would you be gaining/losing if you did/did not allow recruiters.

Depending on the numbers, i think it would be a good idea to make a decision.
Lets say you only gain 1000 bucks more each month if you allowed the recuiters. Then depending on your situation, you could stick to your principles and disallow the recuiters.
But lets say you stand to gain 50000 each month. Then again depending on your situation, you could probably allow those recuiters by making a separate board or something else.

Rather than make a yes/no decision outright, you could base this decision on the numbers.
Vivek Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
You've made your bed.  I suggest you lie in it.

If there is room for a recruiters board give it as much thought as the "company only" board.  For example a strongly-encouraged e-Bay style feedback on whether the recruiter had a clue, whether he lied, whether he really had the job advertised.  (That feedback almost certainly requires moderation / comment rating of some kind, cause there's always rubbish submissions.)
Mike Gale Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Keep it for non recruiters.

Yeah you don't make as much money, so make your money somewhere else.

An old time Wall Streeter, we're talking like 80 yrs old, told me, "If you can't brag about how you made your money to your mother-in-law then it's wrong."

What's the better brag to your monster-in-law.

You made a ton of cash off of IT recruiters <or> you made some extra cash helping people find good jobs.

Better yet you set up a board for people to find jobs, made no money but got a great idea along the way and finally shipped Falafel v2.0 better than you had hoped.

You're "Joel on Software" not "Joel on AdSense."
john parello Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
You need to require them to post the pay rate. I hate job posting that don’t.
Sammy A Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Keep recruiters away, they already have enough sites to bloat.

You may also add an entry in your policy to prevent the post titles to go wild. You already have a post for a " *** Lead AJAX Developer ***".

Thanks for trying an alternative.
Christophe Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I would suggest a separate board for each recruiter that are linked from a master recruiter board.  Each recruiter gets page space to give their name, explain what they have to offer to a job seeker, and an apportioned number of job listings.  Company names are optional on these listings.

The goal is to have the recruiters present themselves in a straightforward manner that doesn't clutter the regular boards.  They pay each month to keep their listing available and can add and remove jobs from their own listings provided they keep them beneath their maximum.
Tim Clemons Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
What's the goal - to make money on the job board, or to help developers find jobs?  And if it's the latter, are you going for breadth of opportunites or depth?  I think you have to look at your goals and decide what makes sense.

Personally, there are a lot of places these guys can post their openings already.  It's nicer to have depth of information at the cost of fewer opportunities.
Tom F Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Mihaï Onofreiciuc above mentioned, very astutely, that you have the same problem with shady companies as you do with recruiters.  Banning one or the other doesn't really increase the quality of the jobs posted (which is the major driver for the new job board).

So, you should focus on solving the issue of increasing posting quality and not on the distraction of "racial-profiling" various posters. 

In that vein, here's one other idea to consider...

Instead of accepting money from pretty much anyone (so long as they stick to the rules) and then having to figure out how to jig the rules so that you get good stuff, cultivate an elitist position and only accept postings that the FogCreek staff think are worthwhile and interesting.  From both recruiters, companies, universities, my pet hamster and anyone else with a good job to offer.  Handle scalability issues by increasing prices when the issue arises.
James Birchall Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Joel, I'd say resist the recruiters.  Now, I don't want to generalise...but I will anyway...

IT recruitment is the most dishonourable profession I've had the misfortune to encounter.  I'm sure there must be some decent recruitment types around, but I haven't met any of them.

A site that puts developers in touch with employers without having to acknowledge the existence of these parasites would be something to treasure.
Dan Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Suppose you had two canidates, both perfect for the job, but only one available position.  One canidate came through a recruiter and another applied directly.  Obviously, you would hire the individual who applied directly in order to avoid the recruiter fee.

Clearly, going through a recruiter decreases your chance of getting hired when both options are available.  How much it decreases it by is a matter of degree, but it's greater than 0.

Knowing this, a smart but slightly dishonest job seeker, given the option to bypass the recruiter, would do so in order to increase his/her chances of getting hired.
Kevin Jenkins Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Just say no. Delete the offending listings. If the recruiter asks for his money back, give it (at least the first time).
Jim Lyon Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Boot the recruiters off.  And boot off the outsourcing/consulting companies, too.  If they won't say where you'll be working, they're noise.  Too much noise and you chase the good programmers away, and now you don't have any justification for charging more money for listings any more.
Nicholas Shectman Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Seems like taking postings without the company name denies the entire premise.  Creating a direct link, then allowing middle-men?  It diminished the value to the REAL companies who pay to post positions.  They are as much victims of the resulting noise level as prospective employees.
RH Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I think it's imperious to ban recruiters outright.  I seriously doubt anyone here understsnds the Joel On Software eco-system well enough to predict its growth patterns; that is what makes it an ecosystem and not some bland social networking site.

It may be that Joel's site attracts smart people of all stripes -- including smart recruiters.  It takes above-average insight to understand that this is "the place to be" -- hence why the jobs board idea was good to begin with.

I'd take a "wait and see" attitude before making a decision.  Good recruiters serve a very valuable purpose; they are like VCs in this regard.  The majority suck, but the few good ones are golden.  Is there no chance that the jobs board could be a sink for good candidates, good companies, and good recruiters?

Let time and growth give us that answer.
indeed Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
There should be company name on posted job but recruiter should have an agreement with the company that company will hire for this position ONLY through this recruiter. This way candidate will know about the company and recruiter will get his commission.
D. C. Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
"On the other hand, headhunters are probably the biggest single spenders on job boards, so I might be antagonizing my biggest potential audience of paying customers."

I thought the point was to create a focused job board for its own sake, not to make money?  I think you should stick to the rules you set.  Re-read your own article.  It makes sense and I think it's the right approach.  I'm not in the job market, but if I were, I'd be MUCH more interested in any given job on the board if there weren't any obvious recruiters posting.  A single nameless "leading company" dilutes the value of every posting around it, too.
Xaprb Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I think salary range should definitely be a required field.  While pay is not the only item important to the great ones, it is important to know upfront before investing time in submitting resumes, interviewing, etc that the range is within the applicants requirements.
D Porter Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Require the company name. It makes your job board so much better than the generic ones, that it's a no-brainer.
Rob... Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
From craigslist "We offer a young, fresh, forward thinking, innovative, and creative work environment with tons fo smarts and talent. Our ideal candidate is an outstanding programmer, but also has creativity, a sense of humor, the ability to multitask, great organizational and people skills, and drive to innovate and be cutting edge." Compensation: 30K+.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I don't know if this will get read since it's so far down in the replies listing, but here goes anyway.


Don't give in to the recruiters.  If your original intention was to allow developers (like me) to directly get in touch with the actual companies they'll be working for, you should stick to your guns.  Most job ads contain at least 1 of the following bad things:

1.  Recruiter or recruiting company's name instead of real company's name.
2.  Meaningless buzzwords in the company description (a leading provider in synergistic paradigms).  Just tell me in a short layman's-terms way what the company does and what you want me to do.
3.  Conflicting or outrageous technical requirements.  A Java/.Net/C++/Perl developer (pick one please), or 10 years experience in Ruby On Rails (hasn't been out for 10 years and more importantly what you want usually doesn't require 10 years experience).

Personally, I HATE recruiters.  There may, in theory, exist actually good recruiters, but I haven't had the pleasure of being one of their clients.  The recruiters I've had either don't really know the tech business that well (and they shouldn't have to because there should be no need for them), or come off like a stereotypical sleazy used-car dealer that wears a suit to "impress" and will say anything to get you a job and could care less if you're happy with whatever job they've got you working at.

In your "Field Guide to Developers" article, you say that programmers hate it when an argument is decided on anything other than technical merit (in other words, the correct argument should win).  You're absolutely right.  So why decide to allow recruiters on your job board when the point was to see if programmers connecting directly to real companies is more effective than the recruiter route? and company are full of the recruiter stuff and they generate the 1000 resumes full of unqualified candidates.  Not allowing recruiters will pay off in the long run, and if it doesn't, there's always FogBugz, CoPilot, etc. to fall back on.

If the real purpose was to make money, say so (in an article) and then give in to the recruiters.  That way, I can stay far away from your job board.
Michael James Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Please exclude recruiters. There are so many job sites out there which provide a venue for that sort of thing. The sort of people who come here looking for top developer jobs don't want to deal with that bullshit. You're not trying to compete with (Right?!) so provide an alternative to all that crap.
Matt Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Please don't allow recruiters.  Some may be ethical, many are not.  You lose the power of your idea if you let them in.
Thomas David Baker Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I'm not currently looking, but I would absolutely forbid recruiters, personally. If you don't, then you should require them to disclose the percentage that they get. (And make sure they use a specific formula that you create for figuring the percentage. For example, if the position pays the developer $100/hr., and the recruiter is making $150/hr. off of it, you can say the recruiter is getting 150% of what the developer is getting, or you can say that they're getting 60% of the total being paid for the job.) Or just require them to share what the full amount being paid by the employer to both recruiter and job seeker will be, and let the developer figure out what the percentage is.

But you really really shouldn't let recruiters in at all. They're going to seriously lower the quality of the jobs offered, the amount developers can make from them, and the overall experience of using the board.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Screw the headhunters! (umm... and the profits I guess)

I can get tons of job leads like that.  If this site is just another source of the same old job leads, what is the point?
Brett Martensen Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Joel, you can use all these messages for your next bestseller "What top-notch programmer thinks about recruiters" :-)))
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Recruiters just want resumes.  They aren't posting jobs.  So charge recruiters a monthly fee and give them links on the side.  If an applicant wants to submit a resume to a recruiter he can.  The actual jobs postings won't get dilluted that way.  Everybody is happy.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Real company names please.

I've had more than a few bad experiences with recruiters and phony job listings on monster/dice, including some that when you arrive at the "interview" turned out to be an MLM seminar. With a real company name, these scams should be minimal.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Today I went to the job board and I saw some really good companies advertising.

Google, Apple, MySQL AB, and a few more

Right away you could see this wasn't the typical job board.. ahh.. not here.. Here is were the cool companies hang out.

I think there is no place here for recruiters.
Alejandro García Fdz Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I don't know how you change the perception but a head hunter is not neccessarily the bad guy. They certainly aren't altruistic and they definately want their commission (I was a recruiter for a outsource company and I ate very well when I put people in jobs whether they or the client were happy or not...that's why I quit). But that doesn't mean they are against the people looking for great jobs.
A headhunter is an agent. And, as in all things, there are good agents and bad agents. If people didn't have such a bad experience with headhunters they wouldn't find out the company and then go directly to the company....the company isn't going to pay you more or less whether you come from a recruiter or go directly. If the recruiter is good they have some inside information and some tips on how you can get the job.
So to your question, I think the solution of giving recruiters their own board is the right one. If they show up on the non-recruiters board...kick them off and keep their money and show a little picture of their sad company logo (Volt Systems or Tritontech Technologies, Ltd or whatever) impaled on a spike to warn others.
But ultimately recruiters should be able to disclose the name of the hiring company AND STILL get the candidates to submit their resumes through the recruiter...I don't know that people get that the hiring company pays the recruiter NOT the candidate in 90% of the business models.
Will B Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
As a person who is currently going through the grueling process of job hunting in the California Bay Area, Joel's job board was a breath of fresh air. Well, actually, let me start over; I'm looking for a dream job. Basically, I'm fully employed but searching for a perfect match for my skill set and desires. I do not apply via Monster or other large entities but it seems every niche type job site becomes inundated with head hunters like worse than crab-grass. Or other crabs for that matter.

In an in-depth search such as this, I need to know the company. I have programmed for banks before, for instance. So, if a head hunter is representing a bank, it's a waste of time to phone screen with me when I will turn down your client hands down.

Ian Patrick Hughes Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Hi Joel,

If you were out there looking to join the next Fog Creek, would you rather browse a few decent, real job ads on or trawl through screeds of dubious listings elsewhere?

There's a lot to be said for helping good people find good jobs.  They're not likely to forget in a hurry...and think of all that good karma heading your way.

Maybe you'd also consider listing academic or non-profit ads at reduced rates or even free?
Mike from Edinburgh
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Kill the BORGS!!! :)
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Please stick to the original principle of having to specify the actual employer. Quality over quantity, that's what differentiates this board.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I think you've found your Unique Selling Proposition:

"Our job board is better because unlike those *other* boards, we don't accept recruiter listings. Our Joel Test Methodology (TM) ensures that applicants and employers have a common understanding of what makes a good developer and a good enviornment."

I vote for no recruiters - they already have plenty of outlets for generic ads and database building.  g.
Dave C
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I just want to see if you remove the post.
abcdefg Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
It would also be nice if you stomped on this sort of behaviour

*** Lead AJAX Developer ***

The postings should all stand on thier merits and unlikey joel test score, number of stars in title is not a merit.

Actually tacking a closer look that whole posting looks suspicious...
also: C++, C#, ASP.NET and MS SQL
E-mail your resume to and
Gordon Wrigley Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
From What I have learnt, A majority of Job recruiters are like telemarketers - People who have no clue about the product they are selling, and are more intersted in selling stuff than adding any value.

I for one would not like a telemarketing call sticking on top of your website OR on your feeds.

Joel, Please Don't be evil :)
sriram pons
Thursday, September 07, 2006
There's about a billion generic recruitment websites out there already. If you're not going to do something special and different, why bother?

Bland HR drones aren't short of outlets for finding dull people to do dull jobs. If the rules scare them off, then you may have fewer job ads, but they'll be higher quality - and that's good.

Thursday, September 07, 2006
What are the recruiters offering for you?

If their primary product for the job applicant is the name of the company, then obviously they can't just give that away (along with $350) on the job board here.

However, if they are offering services such as screening, top-of-the-slush-pile access, etc, then, well, what do they have to worry about?  A job seeker taking the company name, going to the web site, and emailing Joe Blow at Company X is not as likely to succeed in finding their ideal job as the job seeker who checks out the company to make sure they aren't wasting everyone's time then contacts the recruiter for his assistance in getting in the door and getting noticed.

The way I see it, if the recruiter offers no service other than telling a job applicant that Company X is offering a job .. well, Joel, isn't that what your job board is for?  Why add an additional middle-man for no benefit to anyone but the recruiter?

BTW, I've used several head hunters in my job searches across my career, and I've come to the conclusion that there are a good number of useless losers out there (just like in any service industry), but also a good number of genuinely helpful agents (and, frankly, that's more what they act as:  agents, not job-locators; do writing agents disguise the names of the publishers they work with?  Of course not!).

IMHO, I'd start any new job search by searching the job boards of companies that I want to work at and contacting friends I'd want to work with, then expand to targeted job search boards for small no-name companies that sound like they might be a place I'd be willing to work, then, if all fails, start searching for a recruiter with a good track record and industry contacts.  Nowhere in there, IMHO, is there room for "C/C++/TCP/SQL position at leading software developer!" recruiter spam postings.  If they want my business, they'll tell me what they'll do for me, not give me often-misleading clues about who they might be recruiting for.
Tom Dibble Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I agree with your policy to require the job name.

From the recruiter's point of view, the worry that the potential new hire will go straight to the source and cut them out is much ado about nothing.  The new hire isn't paying for the recruiter's commission, so why would the new hire care?  Personally, I'd much prefer to use the recruiter to get my resume in front of someone's face rather than "go straight to the source" and submit my e-resume into that company's /dev/null bucket.  The only reason I would cut them out of the picture is if they weren't helping matters in the first place.

From the candidate's point of view, who I work for matters.  If I'm going to look for a job as a software engineer, I want to work for a reputable company that is growing and making money.  So I want to know which company I'm applying to before I get too far down the road.

Requiring the company name is better for the candidate and really shouldn't do a good recruiter any harm.  Keep it there.
Matt Ryan Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Shady recruiters have already ruined every other job site out there.  Yours could be something different and new -- and very much needed.
J.D. Falk Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Stay the course. The company's identity is a key element in the decision on whether or not to apply, much less work at a company.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Stand strong Joel.  (I can't believe that I'm trying to give you a pep talk.)  One of the main reasons that I keep coming back to this site is that you have decent principals and you stick to them.

1- How does compromising on this help build a better jobs site? 
2- How does it help developers find great jobs?
3- How does it help companies find great developers?
4- And in the end, how does it make Fog Creek more money?

(Ans to 4):  The same way that buying a cheap chairs would make Fog creek more money.
Mory Lucas Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Don't compromise - no recruiters, no option period. If someone wants that they have plenty of options already.
not on market
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I have a slightly different opinion.

Like Joel said, good, ethical recruiters do a good job.
I like deaing with good recruiters (both as an employer and employee).

*But* If all they're doing is acting as a middle man for a job they don't understand then they're useless.

So, job ads from recruiters == OK, if they follow the same rules as the other ads (because really in that case they're just an outsourced HR dept, which while not ideal, is a reasonable thing for small IT shops to do)

But of more value are recruiter ads. I want to see recruiters actually advertising themselves. I want to find a recruiter that knows what the Joel test is, has a reasonable opinion on it, understands that a resume with 10 years of Smalltalk and 5 years of Java, with a good knowledge of UML probably does know something about "Object Oriented Design".
Finding a good recruiter who will actually help you find the right job for you is hard. And when your skills are somewhat specialised, a good recruiter can be very helpful.

I figure there's maybe 5 jobs in my city that offer me what I would want (if I were looking, and I'm not, so don't send me email offering me jobs). I don't have the time to track down those 5 jobs myself. I want a recruiter that can (and will) do that for me.

So, create a separate section on the board for "recruiters who want to add you to their books" and hold them up to a similar standard as the other ads.
I want to know:
 * What you specialise in (and, by definition, you *cannot* specialise in "everything".)
 * What sort of companies you represent
etc. etc.
Tim Vernum Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Loads of replies already and some very good ideas.

I would be happy to vote for having recruiters ads on the site provided they were at some remove from the ads that told you the name of the hiring company. That way, most of us can choose to ignore the no-name ads but leave the door open to recruiters to work the way they like to work.

My experience of recruiters has been 50:50, some good, some bad.

I have had exactly the same experience with prospective employers. I find that smaller companies tend to have more focus on finding someone that can do the job and fit in. Larger companies, in my experience, tend to follow some kind of hiring procedure which means HR (who usually know bugger all about hiring staff) gets involved way too early.

Diatribe mode ON

HR departments, evolved from payroll. So they know a lot about how to count things; holidays, pay, sick, etc. Just don't expect them to know a lot about valuing people.

Diatribe mode OFF

Whatever you do, you need to keep the no-name ads as very obvious second-class citizens on the site. Eventually, the recruiters will get the message and either give up, or start coughing up company names.

BTW, the usual deal that [quality] recruiters do when filling a real job is that they get a commission whether the candidate comes to company via themselves, or via another route. When compaines engage a [quality] recruiter, they use that recruiter to do the filtering. Quality recruiters are not CV providers, they are providers of quality candidates for interview. So, don't think that approaching a company directly will get make you more attractive because the company will not have to pay the recruiter a hiring fee; that will (typically) still happen.
Gordon J Milne Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Having worked for a zero out of ten on the Joel test software company producing software for the recruitment industry I recomend you kill the recruiters with sticks.

On the other hand you could consider the choice, do you want to be yet another hand in the recruitment cash jar (and it's a really big jar) or do you want to offer a service people will respect you for?
Stephen Jones Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Never dilute the brand.
robert booth Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
No recruiters.  Their interests do not coincide with those of this board.

You are making a market.  The value of the market to its participants is precisely the selectivity.  Recruiters reduce the value of the market because they are not selective.

Also, recruiters already have plenty of places to go.  They don't need another.  And, you don't need to think of Monster etc. as "competition."  Different animal.

Ref the Eric Sink post of a couple of days ago.  Identify a homogenous market of manageable size.  Then make a great product that serves its needs, one its members will passionate about.  Then get 100% of that market.  "A homogenous market" == "people involved in/intereted in the software industry that read Joel."

That is precisely the asset you are leveraging here.  The interests of recruiters do not coincide with this asset.
Mark S. Weiss Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Great decision on keeping the recruiters *out*.  It will keep make the service so much more useful to everyone.

Your interns are smart.  Keep up the good work.

- Iowa Greyhound
Iowa Greyhound Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006

Definitely keep the anonymous recruiters out. Also ask the developers to pay to apply for jobs. This will keep the casual lemme-try-my-luck applicants out. People will send in their resume only if they're pretty sure the job is the right one for them.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Great decision!
In my oppinion this is meant be a different kind of market, based on trust on each other (employer vs. employee).
A possible employee knows what the company is all about (he can google it by its name) and well..the companies can benefit by the fact that they hire someone who is aware of their processes/requlations. Worst(for both) is to hire someone and after 3 months he is leaving because he doesn't like to wear a suit. This is frustrating for the company and for the employee.

I also think about the "money back quaranteed" idea that is awesome and it just fits the whole idea of
Cristian Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
I'm late to the bandwagon, but:  antagonize them.  I'm happy to work with recruiters; they often hear about opportunities I wouldn't hear about on my own.  I've also worked with them enough that I know exactly how they earn their money, and I want the good ones to stick around. 

An end-around would be stupid and harmful, so I'm not gonna do it.  I *strongly* prefer working with people who believe that, and treat me like a responsible adult. 

Also, I have ethical standards about where I work, and will often decline to apply to a fantastic job, if it's at a place I know I won't be happy in.  (Made that mistake too many times already.)
Sam Livingston-Gray Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
You should make them put the recruitment process on as well. That way we'd know up front that it goes something like "our naff programming test, the intermediate agent's naff programming test and only then do we let you talk to the hiring manager and find out what the job involves" or "Caution; this job requires nine interviews."

Because those ones are quite annoying as well.
Katie Lucas
Friday, September 08, 2006
No recruiters; keep this strictly a one-to-one board.  As others have pointed out, there are plenty of resources for them and, while they do have their place, those of us in the guru twilight don't need them any more than the companies who need gurus.
Matt Lavallee Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
Me too!

It might take a week or two to put together scripts to run a simple job site like what you've got, plus bandwidth and ongoing maintenance.  I can completely see having something like this as a service to your readers - so as far as I'm concerned, set the bar even _higher_.  Require recruiters to be completely transparent, to indicate the company they are recruiting for, the specific position, that they are a recruiter, and the precise reimbursement they will receive.  If you find _any_ funny business, ban that recruiter immediately.

So they don't trust me to not cut them out of the loop?  Who cares!  I'm not out here to make nice with recruiters, and if they don't trust me, why should I trust them?  If they want the comfort of a salaried position, they should go work for some company's HR department.

Put it in engineer terms: If I'm out working for some early-stage startup, I'm not bitching and moaning that they aren't paying me competitively.
Scott Hess Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
Please keep the requirement to have the company name, it's one of the most important factors. It gives you more information about the job, so you don't have to apply to find out. At least let us filter out jobs without company names
Friday, September 08, 2006
Recruiters are _not_ the only problem, how about companies deliberately exaggerating their Joel Test score?

For example.. Mercury in Yehud, Israel does not in any way provide a quiet environment for their programmers unless you consider enforcing a 'shhh!' rule in the cubicle-space a quiet environment. Yet amazingly, they claim to in their joel job board listings.

Which brings me to a missing joel test question: Do you provide ergonomics for your programmers? (chairs, wrist-pads, trackball).

I apologise for the semi-anonymous post, but I can't afford to have a Google of my name show up 'negative former employee feelings' on my behalf :)

Note that this message is only semi-anonymous because you can still click the link to my blog and find out my name, further my eMail is available through this site if you need proof of my claim.
T.R. (former employee) Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
"No Recruiters" is your USP.
Alexander McCabe
Friday, September 08, 2006
Generic job ads posted by comissioned job recruiters that might not even exist are not pro-developer.  Job recruiters will continue to post on  You'll gain more customers by sticking to your principles than adopting the principles of the least principled of your possible customers.
Matthew Martin Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
There is no reason to clutter the job board with "recruiters". It will only make your page useless, unreliable and deceptive. 

You are a man with principles, are you not?
Friday, September 08, 2006
I'm confused at your question.  Did you want a ton of paying customers?  Or did you want a quality product?  Sometimes that's the same thing, but in this case, not so much.  Your big time money slingers are not your target audience.  Your target audience is very specifically, as you set out in your original post, smart developers and good companies.

It's a similar decision to what you've done with FogBugz.  You refuse to put in oft-requested features, even at the expense of alienating potential clients.  But in doing so, you maintain a high-quality semi-niche product.  If you didn't you'd have yet-another-bug-tracking-software, undistinguishable from the rest and one that, by your own assertations, would languish unused.

If you allow paying recruiters to advertise on the board, you run the same risk.

One solution might be to give the recruiters their own board.  At the very least it tells me that this is a guy who know enough to know about JoS.  Another might be to allow the recruiter to post, but to post what he is actually selling: himself.  He can't mention specific potential jobs, just that he offers a service.

But, in all, as a person who (a) has already asked his company to post on your board, and (b) would immediately go to this board if I ever lost my job (which I love), I would say that both those things would no longer be true if it were full of random recruiters, like

Peter Risser Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
Good decision to disallow no-company recruiters.  Other jobs sites already boast the most ads everywhere (of high and low quality), so unless you want to compete with them, you need to differentiate.  "All ads feature employer name" is a good differentiator: useful and easy to verify.

Friday, September 08, 2006
Did someone say recruiters on the job board? All I heard was a big sucking sound.
Joe Smith Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
You may be forgetting the other problem with allowing recruiters to post anonymous (no company name) jobs on your site: Often you'll find 10 different recruiting companies all selling the same job.  It's frustrating for a candidate to sort through the junk and find the good job.

I think the good recruiters will see the benefit of your site, and that this requirement differentiates your site from other sites.  The bad recruiters will be the ones who try to finagle their way onto the board, ignoring the requirements, and you don't want those people degrading the quality of the board.

I'm actually quite surprised at all the suggestions here that say "you should allow recruiters, just make them check something that says they are such".  My guess is that most of those suggestions are being posted by recruiters, not by the "excellent" candidates you seek.
Nathan Sandland Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
I think the question is... Are you doing this really for money?...or just offering a good service?

Money, Yes.
Service, No.
Mike B Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
"A niche job board has modest goals, no grander than to bring a dozen or so companies that are great places to work together with a dozen or so great programmers."

Why get all wishy-washy now?  Why do you care suddenly what masses of headhunters think?  As commentor Mike B. said, if you're actually just doing it for the money, then you shouldn't have to ask what to do.  If you're doing it out of principle, like you seemed to be, then you shouldn't have to ask what to do.
Michael H. Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
As Google say, "take care of the user experience and the revenues will take care of themselves". Don't turn this into another Good luck!
Kevin Ruston Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
You can not complete with the big boys by doing what they do, therefore keep to your rule.

Anyway your are not in this JUST for the money you can make from your job board, think of all the user’s of your board that will become customers for your software.  An agent free job board that has critical mass WILL get talked about.

Maybe include google adds on the side of your pages and point out to recruiters that they can buy space var google.
Ian Ringrose Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
Stick to your guns!  A job board that only lists for companies and leaves the recruiters to the Monsters is perfect, to my way of thinking.  We all know where to find the recruiters, if that's what we're looking for.  A board that lists legitimate job postings for real honest-to-god companies is a rare gem.
NancyA Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
Stick to your policy:  no posts from anonymous companies - recruiters be damned.

There's a million other places that recruiters can post - Monster, CraigsList, HotJobs, etc.  There's not a million places for the type of job board you described.

Plus, you're not planning this to be a money-maker; you're trying to fill a niche and provide a unique services to the community.  (Or at least that's the reason you *said* you were starting this.)  So who cares if recruiters leave.

Besides, if you stick to your guns, it'll attract the kind of people you want (both job posters and job seekers) and  you *will* start to get the kind of job posts you want and the service will be successful - and on the terms you want.

Recruiters pushed into every nook and cranny in the job hunt - including places they really don't belong, like LinkedIn.  (I must get a half dozen recruiters each week contacting me by having weaseled my name out of LinkedIn.)

Create an alternative, Joel.  If you build it, they will come.
DAR Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
The recruiters have Monster, Dice, etc.

If you let the recruiters post, how are you different from Monster or Dice?  Can you compete with Monster?  Do you want to?

I have started to read the job posting on your board even though I am not on the market.  If there are recruiter postings there I will probably stop (I already get a weekly email from Monster).
Victor Lewis Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
Wow, the traffic on your site over the years has just exploded.

But I have an idea. Keep to your guns and require a company name on 99.999% of the listings.

However, once a week have a "recruiters" special. Yes, this will work! Each week have an auction for the next week's "recruiter" posting. Let the recruiters bid for the spot.

At first, your "special" spot will not command a high price, but as the recruiters in the market find out that when they post a software position on your site that they will get 100 qualified responses in a day. At this point they will start bidding up the cost of that posting.

I think eventually, the recruitersm will be paying 1000-2000 bucks for the "recruiters" special posting spot.

Worth a try?
Herschel Horton Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
Don't disallow recruiters, but require that they state the company the job is at. I'd even be for disallowing recruiters altogether.

Otherwise, you'll be just like any other job site.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Stay the course. 67 jobs @ $350.00 a post; is 23,000.00 dollars; not enough to make a profit; but why ruin your reputation for profit.  Say you need $200,000.00 a year in revenue to break even on the site; that's only 571 jobs a year; with 67 in the first 30 days (assuming that's correct), you'll break even at 8 months.  The rest of the year is profit.
John Sharpe Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
Recruiters on the board are like herpes: Once infected, you have them for life.

Keep your virginity, Joel.
Charles McGuire Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
Keep doing what you are doing?  The job board will either fail or succeed.  Either way it is an interesting social experiment.  I for one am sick of recruiters emailing or calling me with:
"Hi! I am with ABC Executive Search.  Recently, I have reviewed a copy of your resume and it looks like your qualifications matches a Security Manager position in Hometown, NJ."
Khurt Williams Send private email
Saturday, September 09, 2006
  Caveat One:  I have not looked at the board, just followed a link on your site that looked interesting on a rainy Saturday morning.
  Caveat Two:  I have been a developer for over twenty years with the same governmental agency, and now am the most senior developer.  While my situation is not ideal, the "Golden Handcuffs" make it usually worthwhile.  I am not actively looking.
  Caveat Three: While not actively looking, if the right opportunity presents itself, I will move.  Everyone is a mercenary at some price.

  Now that the point of my departure is known, here is the set of observations:
A. The company name requirement is an absolute.  It is like Fair Trade Coffee or Eco-Friendly Mutual Funds, those of us who value such will gravitate in your direction, be we individuals or organizations.
B. Recruiters must self-disclose, failure to do so is a one-strike-yer-out crash landing, resulting in blacklisting.  Do this except for the most unusual circumstnaces, which, BTW, is "your own, comes with the turf", un-appealable call.(From every rule, spring exceptions, just keep them in the four sigma and higher range.) 
C. I would further ban or limit "cattle call" types of postings.  If an HR person or outsourced HR (e.g. headhunter) is so clueless to try to do so, you risk alienating your highly exclusive eyeballs.
D. Use feedback mechanisms for each posting to build your own private ranking system for your internal use.  Why?  Because everything can appear to be the best to both the prospective employee and the employer, but it just doesn't work out.  Sour grapes should not put the hex on an company or individual, and a formal tracking DB for feedback will help you stay consistent, and not be swayed by a really sad story.  The feedback should also be for both sides of the coin, as I aluded to earlier.
E. Keep your options open.  The whole thing is still too new to make early, potentially lamentable decisions.

  Just my two cent's worth of opinion.  Howsoever, I know my new first online visit if I have a need sometime before retirement.....

Hal "Ray" Smith Send private email
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Hi Joel,

Recruiters accept resumes. most company sites have that anoying generic application system that for some reason or another turns everyone and everything into a keyword and takes away a bit of self expression you can have with a recruiter.

Omar Salix Send private email
Saturday, September 09, 2006
[con't from above]

some of us are not satisfied when a recruiter who says things like "its a great little company ... etc" we want hard facts and names before we go out there, take a day off, and have to put up with a wasted day of getting a tie on. i judge a recruiter by the quality of their clients, and also vice versa. maybe you should apply your measures of how you view resumes to this.

Omar Salix Send private email
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Do you want to create another, or do you want to try to change the market? You are becoming the recruiter, Joel, don't lose heart. You're wasting your creative effort if you're just trying to create another useless job site. I'm sure you can "monetize" your considerable traffic, but it'll be better to invent something new.

Don't stray from your policies. Enable search on the things real development hirers look for: good schools, previous experience at well known companies, etc. Ban keyword searches.
Sebastian Good Send private email
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Summary: Allow recruiters in, but apply sensible measures to weed out bad practices.

Two lesser quoted reasons why recruiters have a right to existence (and by extension a right to play along on this board):

A) Good companies may very well work through recruiters exclusively. Even direct referrals from personal networks, etc, could be redirected to go through a recruiter hired to do the legwork involved in selecting candidates.

B) There are real benefits for an applicant in having a long(er) standing relationship with a recruiter, especially in contracter or project-oriented type jobs.

I would vote for these policies:

1) Rather than a flat fee, charge a fixed percentage of what recruiters get. As an alternative, determine a reasonable average of that amount and use that as the 'recruiter' fee. Business is business, egalitarianism has no place here.

2) Have the recruiter disclose enough information to the board administrators to convince them it does involve a real job opening. Do spot checks. Pay the person you need to maintain this from the fee you charge the recruiters. At well over $350 a go, you should have your costs covered fairly quickly.

Put another way: provide a mechanism for recruiters to buy the right to earn trust. (note the WHOLE sentence; trust can not be bought outright!)

3) Make it possible (but not easy to fake) for recruiters to advertise purely themselves. Maybe involve ratings, referals, whatever, but basically make it OK for them to say 'I am great to have as a professional contact. Allow me to put you in touch with job openings that I have not even heard from today.'

Open another discussion thread for people to state their requirements for even considering to accept such an invitation to get an idea of what you can/should ask of recruiters in return for the privilege. (in addition to--at least--the standard $350, off course)

furthermore, not specific to recruiters:

4) have job listing filled out in boxes as much as possible/sensible. Use that to create the job titles. (in order to prevent loud, marketing-y, non-sensible and overall useless titles. Also to allow for granular searching further down the road)

5) Have a few things mandatory. Others will have more ideas, but personally, I will save a lot of time if I can filter on address (at least roughly, so that I can gauge travel time or relocation) and salary range. Make it a wide range, include disclaimers, I don't care. Just do not say 'competitive'.

Last, here is a truly novel idea:

6) have a comments facility with the job postings. Allow people to ask questions (anonymously, even) and require answers from the ad poster. That alone will weed out much of the crappy behaviour from companies and recruiters alike. Advertise beforehand that there will be a fairly strict policy to remove (or disallow) off-topic posts, rants, mud-slinging, etc.

This can even be reactive:
- set a timer on anonymous message posting, so that there is a delay.
- allow the ad poster to request a post removal from the board admin; posts stay delayed (or removed) until admin action has happened.

That way, the post removal rules are driven by the only party that has a big stake in it and it is guarded by the board admin, preventing abuse.

All in all, great experiment (though you might not think of it that way... :)
Peter Smulders Send private email
Monday, September 11, 2006
Without reading the other comments on this thread, let me answer your original "What should I do?".

There are lots of existing job boards that list anonymous jobs from recruiters. You're not going to out-Monster Monster. So take the road less traveled for the sake of product diferentiation. The fact that it's what your initial instincts suggested clinches it: you should require company names. Period.
Michael Chermside Send private email
Monday, September 11, 2006
In your follow-up post, you say:

"Recruiters can use it if they post the name of the company that is actually hiring. This, I think, will only be of interest to recruiters doing exclusive searches (also known as "retained searches")."

If this is going to be niche job board for high-quality developers and high-quality employers, I don't see why this doesn't also create a niche for high-quality recruiters. 

I can understand why a majority of bottom-feeding recruiters would assume most candidates would try to cut them out of the transaction (it's exactly what they themselves would do in a similar position).  The quality TECHNICAL recruiters who understand great software developers might recognize that many of them aren't that mercinary and wouldn't try to cut a decent recruiter out of their commission. 

It seems like this job board would offer an avanue for some quality recruiters to make good money matching up great software companies with great software developers as long as they're willing to take a chance by posting the company name.
M. Collins Send private email
Monday, September 11, 2006
+1 Recruiters can post if they post the name of the company. The whole "hide the company" thing is ridiculous anyway. (a) It usually takes about 30 seconds of googling to find the comapny name based on the job description, and (b) it doesn't make sense for job applicants to bypass a well-defined communication channel through a recruiter.

Joel, you may want to ask job seekers to please go through the recruiter when applying for the job listed on your board. That'll go a long way...
Monday, September 11, 2006
Some recruiters post jobs ads for vacancy that don't exist just hoping that someone will bite so they get a lot of CV to send _real_ offers in the future. Having the company name listed reduces the risk of having recruiters post fake job ads.

This will be also good for "ethical" recruiters.
Lorenzo Bolognini Send private email
Monday, September 11, 2006
I would have a filter to allow recruiters to post and prospects to filter them.

It's easy to combat the fraud aspect of recuriters using fraudulent company names; just require they post the company's EIN number and check it.  All US companys can be looked up online with their EIN codes.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Company Name Required on Job Board,
I have to agree with a lot of other people, I dislike seeing the anonymous postings with no company Name
Jon Schlueter Send private email
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Leave them alone - they are not where you want to be. To allow recruiters would blow out the size of your board, and it would just be like the rest - worthless. A niche is a niche is a niche, and Joel Spolsky is nothing if not niche.

The value of YOUR job board is the promise of quality - something that recruiters will not generaly deliver.
Ric Hayman Send private email
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Not having an actual company name will attract recruiters fishing for CVs. Your job board will be no better than the rest if you allow them to post without the company name.
Brendan Send private email
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
What annoys me most about recruiter postings on various job boards is that quite often there is NO real job being offered at all.

Many times the recruiter is just trolling for resumes to collect in his or her file so that when a company approaches them with a real job opening they will already have a fresh file of resumes to match up with the required achronyms.

I'm not a fan of recruiters. :)
T.J. Patterson Send private email
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Absolutely not.

You have a reputation to protect, Joel. Do you want to mar it by associating yourself with sorority bimbos and used-car salesmen?
Jon Meltzer Send private email
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Don't allow recruiters, or if you do allow them to post an ad to a different page that requires their name and not a vague job description.  Looking at the jobs here is a refreshing change from Dice, et al.  I live in MT and would consider moving somewhere for a company I know something about and would like to work for, but I'm not going to give up snowboarding and hiking for a vague job description.
Lance Fisher Send private email
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I have personally boycotted recruitment agencies in my list of sources..

they're simply useless and having to spend 1-2hrs being "interviewed" by a recruitment agent who has absolutely no clue about the technology the job is advertised for, is beyond even my rather large bag of patience.

also, getting the typical spam mail from them:

"hi xxx, it has been 4 years since we last spoke and we would be very interested in you sending us an update of yoru resume...."

lately i advise a recruitment agency in Perth that i had asked them to remove my details from their system as i saw them as more or less useless for job seekers since they really only represent the employee/corporation. since i received the typical spam mail from them it was clearly obvious that they hadn't done that - this was asked in writing to them 5 years ago and confirmed in writing that yes they had indeed removed my details.

So, personal fetishes here is supporting not allowing recruitment agencies their own board or denying them access to the board unless they post the actual corporation/company/business that is hiring.
Brian H. Madsen Send private email
Thursday, September 14, 2006

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