How to work with recruiters according to Senior Recruiter Taylor Desseyn

How to work with recruiters according to Senior Recruiter Taylor Desseyn

For every sucky recruiter conflating Java and JavaScript (oh boy), there is a recruiter like Taylor Desseyn ready to listen to your goals, craft your resume, and help you land your first Junior Developer job. Yes, even new programers are eligible to work with a recruiter! In this episode, Taylor breaks it down step-by-step.

Who is Taylor? Taylor is a Senior Recruiter who has been recruiting since 2011 and has helped place more than 450 people land their dream jobs. He joins us today to share his best advice on how to connect with and utilize recruiters in general.


  • Introduction (00:00)
  • Recruiting is inherently broken (01:52)
  • Differentiate between agency and internal recruiters  (04:11)
  • How to connect with agency recruiters even if you are a Junior (05:38)
  • You wouldn't wait to go to the gym until you're in shape... (09:37)
  • 3 rules to write an impressive cold message (10:10)
  • LinkedIn is where it's at but do not discount Twitter and Polywork (14:57)
  • How to stand out on LinkedIn (17:50)
  • The tenants of a standout resume (21:37)


Alex Booker (00:00):
You have probably heard that recruiters have less than a stellar reputation among programmers. Fortunately, this recruiter is pretty cool. Hello, coders and welcome to the Scrimba Podcast. On this weekly show, I speak with successful developers and sometimes recruiters about their advice on learning to code and getting your first junior developer job. My guest today is Taylor Desseyn who is a senior recruiter and content creator.

Taylor Desseyn (00:29):
I'm trying to educate people to get away from the traditional way of finding a job, which is apply, apply, apply, submit, submit, submit, and doing the same daggum thing over and over again that you just become frustrated with.

Alex Booker (00:44):
One thing you're going to learn early on in this episode is the distinction between internal recruiters and agency recruiters. Once I learned Taylor is an agency recruiter, I thought it was a great opportunity to dig in deeper and learn specifically how new and aspiring junior developers can utilize agency recruiters to find their first job efficiently. Taylor and I discussed how to find and identify agency recruiters. And then Taylor broke it down step by step how to construct a cold message that is likely to get you a response or batter yet a phone call from an external recruiter.

Alex Booker (01:21):
Of course, this doesn't mean you're guaranteed a job, but Taylor's message is that if you can find an external recruiter, they might be able to help place you and connect you with opportunities so it's totally worth looking into. I really can't wait, so let's get into it. So yeah, Taylor, you've been all over Twitter helping so many developers I feel like both learn how to navigate the job market as well as actually helping them get jobs. What are some of the things that you think are not working about recruiting and tech and how are you aiming to fix them?

Taylor Desseyn (01:52):
How long do we have to talk about this? I mean, man, I have so many thoughts on the industry just recruiting in general. I mean, at the end of the day, recruiting is broken. And the reason why recruiting is broken is because we put metrics around people. And at the end of the day, people are not metrics. People are not numbers. People are people. Every person has a story and every person should be treated like their story, right. Should be treated with care. And I think that's where our industry messes up. Now. Now I say that I have numbers and metrics for my team as well, right? Like you can't just like hire a bunch of people and say, hey, just go make friends, because not a lot of people know how to do that. Right? And so you have to have guidelines. And I understand that.

Taylor Desseyn (02:31):
And I think Vaco does an amazing job with this. Vaco truly focuses on the candidate experience. Do you feel like a number with us? And we try to make sure a candidate does not feel like a number. That's kind of the biggest issue I have with the recruiting industry. And I think another thing too, with the recruiting industry, is no one knows how to operate us, like work with us. Like no one knows how we operate. You know, they hear about recruiters like making these huge fees and they're like, do they take it out of my salary?

Taylor Desseyn (02:58):
Does a company pay them directly? Like, do I need to sign a contract with a recruiter? There's so many intricacies of our job. So what I'm trying to do is I'm on a mission until I die, which is hopefully a while out to help educate individuals like you to CTOs, CIOs of companies on how to basically fix the entire hiring process. Because at the end of the day, hiring is broken. Hiring is flawed because it's a bunch of imperfect people hiring imperfect people. There's so much opportunity for it to be fixed. And so that's kind of my goal at like a super high level on what I want to do.

Alex Booker (03:32):
And we can dig into it as the episode progresses. I know you're legit because you put so much effort and energy into talking to the real people, the real candidates and the real employers, understanding what works and doesn't work for them. And then I feel like you're coming back to social media, you're coming back on YouTube, taking things like you do a daily podcast I think.

Taylor Desseyn (03:51):
Yeah, daily live show 9:30 AM Central every single morning. It's either me running my mouth or a guest. And so yeah, every single morning.

Alex Booker (03:59):
But you're learning from that guest every day, aren't you?

Taylor Desseyn (04:02):
Yep. Every morning.

Alex Booker (04:03):
And then you're applying that to the things you do.

Taylor Desseyn (04:04):

Alex Booker (04:05):
So one thing you taught me, actually, Taylor is the difference between like internal recruiters and external recruiters.

Taylor Desseyn (04:11):
I think if you can leverage a recruiter appropriately, which is why I'm so vocal about it, it could be a huge like cheat code to your career. I really think that. So there's two types of recruiters. The first type of recruiter is an agency recruiter like myself, right? So agency world think of marketing agencies, Mad Men, right? Work with a bunch of clients. That's kind of what we do. I mean right now with my fully remote organization that we're spinning up right now, I'm probably working with 15-20 clients right now, just across the country who want to use me and my talent pool.

Taylor Desseyn (04:44):
And the other side of recruiting is the in-house side. So if you want to go work for a Google or you want to go work for an Eventbrite, or you want to go work for Calendly, there are recruiters internally at those companies that also help find talent. I think you really need to build a relationship with agency recruiters because agency recruiters see so much more and that's not to knock in-house recruiters. But at the end of the day, in-house recruiters have a lot of other responsibilities than just recruiting. My job day in, day out for 10 years is to know the Nashville market, is to know the Raleigh market. Now, it's to know the national market. And so again, I think if you can find a good agency recruiter, it can really be an unlock for you.

Alex Booker (05:27):
And Vaco, the company you work with, how would a junior developer get in touch with... Is that even how it works? How does that candidate get involved with an agency recruiter like yourself?

Taylor Desseyn (05:38):
I posted this the other day and I kind of came up with this. I come up with a bunch of strategies, like literally, like I'm going to bed. And I'm like, man, I think this strategy could really, really help this job seeker. And so I like write it down and to make sure I can share it with people. But so I thought about this the other day. I think if you're a junior developer, what I would do or somebody wanting to get into tech or whoever, I would start your job search by going on LinkedIn, searching the word technical and recruiter, right? Little Boolean search, technical and recruiter in the city you're in and see what pops up on LinkedIn. Now I get a lot of heat when I say this. I got a lot of heat from my team because when I first rolled out this rule, quote, unquote, my team was under the two year mark.

Taylor Desseyn (06:18):
My team is amazing. Like we have the best recruiting team in all of Vaco, don't at me. We do. But my team was like, well, hey, you're saying don't work with recruiters unless they have more than two years of experience. And I don't have two years of experience. I'm like, I understand, I understand what I said, but that's super high level, right? That's like to try to get rid of 50% of the industry, because what happens is, is you really need to work with somebody in the recruiting industry for at least two years and at the same company for two years. The reason why I say that is because most recruiters bounce around every 18 months to two years. And so if you find a recruiter who's been at the same company for more than two years, they're probably pretty good. We're heavily commissioned. Most of my compensation is based off commission.

Taylor Desseyn (07:01):
And so if a recruiter is not really good at their job, they have to bounce around to make the base raise. Right? So what I would do, I'd get on LinkedIn, search that and just start DM-ing recruiters, right? It's known as faux pas, right? Well, recruiters should come to me. Well, no. Message the recruiters, build a relationship with them, have a Zoom call with them. If you feel comfortable meeting outside with them for a coffee or lunch, do that, build a relationship. And then what I would do after that is then I would send job leads that you see on the internet to the recruiters that you know, to see if they are either working on those jobs and or know somebody at those opportunities.

Taylor Desseyn (07:37):
So I don't know if you've noticed Alex, but everything I just said, none of it talks about applying to a job. None of it. Because I'm trying to educate people to get away from the traditional way of finding a job, which is apply, apply, apply, submit, submit, submit, and doing the same daggum thing over and over again that you just become frustrated with. And so I think the job search is about depth. It's not about width. And what happens is, is we are taught to submit your resume all around town. So it's all about width. We need to build relationships as job seekers and go deep in our relationships. Because I feel like if you can sit down and have an hour intentional conversation with one hiring manager in your job search, that is going to benefit you more than applying your resume to 20 openings.

Alex Booker (08:22):
If you are enjoying this episode of the Scrimba Podcast, please do us at Scrimba a favor and share this episode with your friends on social media. Word of mouth is the single best way to support a podcast that you like, so thanks in advance. Next week, I'm chatting with an inspiring young man who's username is Gandav. Gandav is a self-proclaimed Scrimba addict. I hope he was joking. And by following some of the advice on this podcast, he managed to get his first full-time developer job.

Speaker 3 (08:54):
I've tried learning code in like many different ways, but I guess at the end, Scrimba was the only way to kind of like tick the box for me. On top of that, I found out that you have to push yourself. It doesn't matter. Like the platforms have the job, right. And it will make things a lot easier, but you have to like push yourself as well. So I also knew how recruiters work and how the guys that actually need you on a job aren't the one-star writing these things.

Alex Booker (09:14):
That is next week on the weekly Scrimba Podcast. So make sure you subscribe so you don't miss it. Back to the interview with Taylor.

Alex Booker (09:24):
How do you know if you're ready to start talking to a recruiter? Maybe you're nervous you're wasting that time because you don't have the skills they're looking for. And secondly, with that in mind, what do you say? How do you make an impression of a recruiter?

Taylor Desseyn (09:37):
So let me ask you this. Do you wait to go to the gym until you're in shape? No. You go to the gym to get in shape. It's the same thing with networking. You should always be networking. Always. You should always be talking to recruiters. Hey recruiter, Mr., Mrs. Recruiter, who's hiring in our city? Who's doing it the right way? Who are some companies I should stay away from? Who are some individuals that I should be connected to? You should always be talking to recruiters. If I were you, I would probably try to talk to one recruiter a week. Even if you're not in the job search, just one recruiter make a new friend.

Alex Booker (10:06):
Not LinkedIn text box. What do you write? What is the right message to send?

Taylor Desseyn (10:10):
So that's very tactical and this is what I like, right? It's like not many people are talking about the tactical things you should ask or say or whatnot. So I'm going to go into my three rules on how to create a good DM. If anybody gets anything out of this podcast today, it's this right here, right. So if you're like driving, pull over, pull over. If you're walking your dog, stop walking your dog and write this down. Three ways to slide into a DM, which for the record, I should have known before I started dating, but I'm married now. So my DM game was pretty terrible. So first thing, admiration and flattery. For example, Hey Alex, listen, man, I see what you're doing at Scrimba, you guys are crushing it. Like I've been following you for a bit. What does that show Alex?

Taylor Desseyn (10:51):
That shows Alex I pay attention. That shows Alex I've been following him. And also let's be honest. It's going to make Alex feel good. Yeah, exactly. Pat yourself on the back, Alex. The next thing is a specific amount of time that you want to talk to them. Don't say five minutes, because five minutes means 15. So say seven minutes, nine minutes, 11 minutes, three minutes. And then ask the specific question that you want to ask. So Alex, I've been admiring you from afar with Scrimba, do you have seven minutes to talk about how you build community? Now I will tell you this. If Alex slides into my DM that way, I'm responding back to him. Yes, Alex, I will take three minutes to talk to you. Junior devs, I think what you should do is you should go around DM-ing every hiring manager in your town and saying, hey Mr. and Mrs. Manager, do you have seven minutes? I would love to ask you about what you look for when you're interviewing junior developers. Because guess what? If a hiring manager says, yes, guess what you just did? You got yourself an interview.

Alex Booker (11:48):
Admiration, set a time, ask your specific question. You got to prioritize in some way, otherwise you would be spending all your day talking to people. And so is it up then to the person reaching out to make it compelling to want to talk to them and how can they do that? Like what are you looking for as a recruiter when someone reaches out to you?

Taylor Desseyn (12:07):
I'm looking for those three things. I'm going to be honest with you. So the flattery, admiration shows that you did research. So that means you care. You inherently care about what I'm doing. The specific amount of time is like, I don't have time to do a lot of talking. I have not eaten lunch. It is 12:30 in the afternoon here in Nashville. Alex, what part of the, are you in England?

Alex Booker (12:28):
I'm in London. Yeah. It's 6:00 PM.

Taylor Desseyn (12:30):
That's awesome. So 6:00 PM. So Alex is like winding down his day. I haven't even eaten yet. Right? And so like, I ain't got time to have all these conversations. And so for me, I want you to be specific and intentional. I think what most job seekers have a problem with is they are not intentional in their job search and they are vague because they're too scared to ask. I will tell you this, the more comfortable you get asking for things, the more your career starts to take off. So honestly, to answer your question, I look for those three things. All I do is I just share what I want to see.

Alex Booker (13:05):
I like that a lot. Are you saying that it's like an interpersonal trait being considerate of your time and making it easy for you to say yes, that would probably represent a candidate who's got a good job of going further in the interview process. I'm imagining you can discern part of their interpersonal skill from that. But I suppose to me, kind of representing technical people, don't you want to see like a portfolio or a project or some indication of their sets of certifications or contributions to open-source or anything like that. Maybe that comes later.

Taylor Desseyn (13:35):
I think it comes later. So one thing that really frustrates me is like, I kind of wanted to start like another series called I'm Sick and Tired and just say all the things I'm sick and tired of. One thing I'm sick and tired of is people saying, well, I don't want to start my job search yet because I got to get my portfolio and website ready. And it's like, no, no, you start now. Is your resume ready? Yes. Great, go. Because at the end of the day, resume, LinkedIn, I am not all about paying for services, resume writing services. But like if you're going to pay for anything, your resume and your LinkedIn need to be written very well. I will also tell you this, there's a lot of bad resume writers out there. I've actually fixed a lot of people's resumes that they paid to do.

Taylor Desseyn (14:16):
If you want to check out a good resume template, go to my website, because I have my template I really, really enjoy on there. But all of those things are more on the hiring manager side. And honestly, in my 10 years of recruiting, I don't know if it's because the companies use us as recruiters so they don't really care about the GitHub because if we're sending them a candidate they've already been qualified, which is the reason why you use us. But I've never had a hiring manager go, hey, please submit their GitHub. Hey, please submit their portfolio. Never. 10 years. 10 years of recruiting. But I know hiring managers that are my friends who ask for that. So I'm not saying like, don't have it ready, but also don't let that hold you back from finding a job immediately.

Alex Booker (14:57):
Totally. Couldn't agree more. And so there is definitely a way to reach out to recruiters like yourself for junior developers, that's super encouraging. And I think perhaps where you described sort of building a talent pool, perhaps another part of that is then you looking for developers. And I'm imagining that a lot of that happens on... Well, you tell me. I would have guessed LinkedIn, but I also feel like Twitter is looking like an equally vast pool of talent these days.

Taylor Desseyn (15:21):
It's crazy. Like I think, and then Polywork has kind of like gotten in there a little bit.

Alex Booker (15:25):
Polywork, yeah.

Taylor Desseyn (15:26):
Here are my kind of thoughts on all of that. One, I think you need to be on LinkedIn the majority of the time. I still think LinkedIn is where it's at. I really think that LinkedIn is probably going to have a good run of it for a little bit. Right? I think LinkedIn is just getting started. They're perfecting their live streaming, they have that creator studio that some people have gotten that I've gotten, like they're iterating on a lot of things. And I think LinkedIn is here to stay. If you are wanting to get into the job search, I think delete all social media apps and just keep LinkedIn. Like seriously, like one of the things that I hear about is like Taylor, it's a full-time job to find a full-time job and I have a full-time job.

Taylor Desseyn (16:03):
Right? So what are you doing with your off hours? And I'm sure a lot of it's scrolling through TikTok because let's be honest, we can all lose ourselves in TikTok. And so delete that off your phone. I think the next thing is, is Twitter. Twitter's incredible. Twitter's an interesting platform. I can go on about it for a while, but at the end of the day, I think it is a good tool to use. I actually have an episode on my podcast on kind of how to get started using Twitter as a job seeker. I do think it's worth hanging out there. If you have lots of thoughts and you like blogging and you're terrible writing long form blogs and you like a lot of short content, that's the place to be. But I've met a lot of great people. I mean, Alex, I think I met you on Twitter, right?

Taylor Desseyn (16:41):
So, I mean, again, I think Twitter's a great place, especially if you want to put out content, I think Polywork is also a good spot. I think Polywork could be a great opportunity for you to be able to DM with people. So I'm all about attention grab, lane grab, right? So like, but I'm the opposite, right? So all these marketers out there, like you need to be on TikTok, the lane grabs huge. There's tons of organic reach, right? You need to be on this platform. I'm the opposite. You want to go to a platform where there's not a lot of people on it, so you can get direct access to hiring managers to DM them. So if I were you and you're listening to this, I would get on Polywork to literally just have the DM feature to DM people in your industry? Because 99%, they're probably going to respond back to you on Polywork than they are going to be if they have a hundred thousand followers on Twitter.

Alex Booker (17:25):
Yeah. I should take that advice. I need to go and Polywork. I haven't got around to it yet. Just to recap what you said. I feel like this may be two positivist. The first is LinkedIn, which yes, there's a content creation part to it. I'd like to hear from you how you sort of make your LinkedIn profile attractive. I think on Twitter, you can't get discovered unless you're getting engaged. Like it's not possible. I don't think. No one's going into that search bar and searching for junior developer. It just doesn't happen.

Taylor Desseyn (17:50):
I've given a two and a half hour presentation at a code conference on how to leverage your LinkedIn, right? So like I'm not going to sit here and not go over two and a half hours with the LinkedIn content. But I do want to back out real quick and talk about three ways to leverage social media to find a job. And then I'll talk LinkedIn real quick. So three ways to leverage social media to find a job. First off is content. I joke about this. Anybody who used to journal back when we were kids and they were all emo and hipster and you love journaling, like now's the time to bring that back. Now's the time to bring that back. You can post on LinkedIn. You can post on Twitter. You can post everywhere, just documenting your job search, documenting what you're learning at work.

Taylor Desseyn (18:26):
You can have a ton of success just posting the things you're learning. The second thing you do is engage, like and comment other people's posts and also the people who comment and like on your post. Build community, right? One thing you're doing great, Alex and Scrimba are crushing is community, right? I'm a part of your discord. I see the community you're building. Forget NFTs, forget Blockchain, forget Ethereum. You need to focus on your social currency because if you do not have social currency, you will always struggle to find a job. Now you're probably listening to this like Taylor, I don't have social currency. I don't really have a community. And I've been just fine finding a job. You know what? Great. So is my brother. My brother is as a product owner in tech. He's worked at some great companies. He has very little community and that's okay.

Taylor Desseyn (19:12):
You don't always have to have it, but I will tell you, you're better off with it. And then finally, the third way to really leverage social media is the DMs. Met Alex through the DMs, right? It goes down in the DMs. And then we already talked about three ways to create a good DM. To make your LinkedIn pop, there's really three types of things, right? The first is your profile picture. Make sure it's fun. Make sure you're well lit. Make sure you're not taking selfies in a bathroom. Some of y'all got some nasty bathrooms, right? So knock that off and make sure it's professionally done. I think it is worth investing in a professional headshot. Go pay a photographer a hundred fifty, two hundred, three hundred bucks to get a good professional headshot. I will tell you it'll benefit you like tenfold. The second thing is your banner photo, right? This is one of the most underrated parts of your LinkedIn.

Taylor Desseyn (19:58):
The top part of your LinkedIn needs to have some sort of way and some sort of information about you. So you can go check out my LinkedIn profile, have some sort of flare on it. I use Canva to do mine, but I do think your top of your LinkedIn needs to have some pizazz because that's the first thing I see when I land on your profile. The last thing and probably the most important thing is the title portion. The title portion is the words under your profile picture. They should be specific to what you do, right? So if you're a junior developer, it's like current code school, student targeting react and node opportunities, right? It needs to be very specific because when recruiters search on LinkedIn, we actually don't even open up your profile. We just read the title portion. And if we can't tell what you do off the title portion, we move on.

Alex Booker (20:44):
Awesome. I'll make sure to link your content on LinkedIn for people to dig a little bit deeper into in the show notes.

Taylor Desseyn (20:50):
If you go to my website, I had the wonderful opportunity to reach Egghead to [inaudible 00:20:55], to reach out to me to do a session. And so I have a session on how to build your LinkedIn on Eggheads. You can go check that out.

Alex Booker (21:00):
Sick. I'm going to link to that as well as your website and your resume template, which I checked that recently because funnily enough, I've never really had a resume in my tech career. I've always networked. And that's how I've managed to get in the door, which that what you will. But I have been convinced speaking to people like yourself, that it's worth having a resume. And so yes, link to your template, but yeah, on the topic of resumes, just with the time we have left, I know this is very interesting to people. What makes a good resume and should you use like a Canva template for your resume or keep it simple? Should you put a headshot? And what are the general tenents of a good resume, Taylor?

Taylor Desseyn (21:37):
Don't include your headshot on your resume. That is what LinkedIn is for. Now, I say that, I've had a lot of pushback, supposedly overseas, I don't know if it was like in London, I think it's more common for headshots to be on resumes less than in the states. Don't do it. It's creepy. It startles me. I don't need your headshot on the dang resume. Again, I know it varies on parts of the world, the parts of the globe and I understand that. But in the US, don't do it. Don't use Canva templates, right? Like I hate to say it. Your resume should be very plain. It should be boring. If your resume is boring, you're doing it right. In regards to design, very simple font to read, all in line, there's no dual columns, triple columns. There's no colors. I did an interview with a CTO on my podcast, Guidance Counselor 2.0 and he specifically says hiring junior developers, I don't even read the resumes if I can't understand what they do in the first 10 seconds.

Taylor Desseyn (22:29):
Colors take away from it. Headshots. I mean design, all of it takes away. Now, if you're listening to this and you're like Taylor, well, I'm a UI/UX person. I do pretty things. Great. Have a Behance, have a Dribbble site, have a portfolio. That's what those are for. At the end of the day, your resume needs to be plain. Now, some key things to put in your resume. One, if you are transitioning into tech and are not in the industry, you need to write your resume to where I can understand what you do in another industry. So great example I use all the time for me. I served tables at a restaurant for many years. If I wrote my resume and I said, hey, my responsibilities were serving tables, making sure customers were happy.

Taylor Desseyn (23:06):
Just say those two things, right? But what if I said, I served 50 plus tables a night when the average was 35. I worked for one of the busiest restaurants in North and South Carolina. They constantly finished top 10 in sales out of 500 restaurants. I hit my sales quota as a server 10 times. The average was three. Which one sounds better?

Alex Booker (23:28):
One definitely sounds better, yeah.

Taylor Desseyn (23:28):
Yeah. It's the quantitative, right? A lot of people are so vague or if they do write stats, there's no comparison. Reduce costs by 31%. What the heck does that mean? Like, did you go from $100 to $70? I think that's 30%. Or did you go from like 5 million in spend to like 3 million in spend, right? Like you have to make your reader understand what you did and what you accomplished as if they're not in your industry. So that's transitioning into tech. If you are in tech, I still need to see the same. I worked on a project that had a million plus transactions a second, or I worked on a project that saved the company $5 million. You know what I'm saying? So that's what needs to include in there.

Alex Booker (24:15):
You're setting a pretty high bar for junior developers listening I think.

Taylor Desseyn (24:19):
Sure. Again, at the end of the day, right, that's why I started with transitioning. But again, even if you're new in your career to your dev, you can still say like, I help support an application that did this. I think another part of a good resume is three or four bullet points for each project. It needs to be project based. The biggest issue I see with resumes is there is 10 bullet points with like a bunch of random tasks you did. And it doesn't tell a story, right? I want to know your top five projects, how you are responsible for delivering those projects and the main tech you used to do those projects.

Alex Booker (24:52):
Taylor, man. Thank you so much for joining me.

Taylor Desseyn (24:54):
Yep, absolutely, man. That was awesome.

Alex Booker (24:57):
That was Taylor Desseyn from Vaco. You can find a link to connect with Taylor in the show notes. I'm sure he would love to hear from you. Next week, I'm chatting with someone by the username, Gandav. You're going to love his attitude and passion towards becoming a developer. Just remember to subscribe so you see the episode in your feed and support the show. This episode was edited by [inaudible 00:25:21] and I'm your host, Alex Booker. You can follow me on Twitter. My handle is @bookercodes, where I share highlights from the podcast and other news by Scrimba. See you next week.