Opinion: A recruiter’s take on Atlassian’s hiring spree

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Opinion: A recruiter’s take on Atlassian’s hiring spree

Beware internal politics and hidden costs.

Australian Government Response to OECD 2009 Review of Regulatory Reform: Australia

Our story on Atlassian's online and direct recruiting campaign drew a strong response. Orson Saxon, director of recruitment company Open Resources, says recruiters make their customers look good.

My name is Orson Saxon and I am a professional recruiter with about 30 years of mostly IT-related recruiting experience. I would like to make just a few comments regarding your article on Atlassian.

My average fee for a hire over the last few years is about $15,500 and includes everything from support staff through to senior managers, but does not include contractors who are cost-assessed in a different way.

Charging full fees, I would have charged Atlassian $500,000 for all 32 hires. Given that the hires have taken place in one financial year, we would have applied discounts to multiple hires of the same role and a general client discount for their loyalty to us.

Bottom line is I doubt if we would have charged them more than $350,000 for the lot.

Hires to date

Of the hires to date, 14 came through internal referral. Whilst they are all of good character and should be good at their role, they also help to set internal politics, personal loyalty alignments and at worst, may have been referred for the reward and hired because somebody needed the money.

Over the years I have witnessed a sitcom worth of classics and corporate disasters created through this type of hiring policy, but that's for another year.

Atlassian have reviewed over 2500 applications so far which equates to three senior managers doing nothing but read resumes for four weeks or a use of three months of time which could have been spent actually doing their job.

Using a professional recruiter, we would have submitted no more than 200 resumes to fill all 32 roles -- and probably a lot less given that there are some multiple hires.

Professional recruiters take their time to send good candidates. Looking at ratios of 1:125 or 1:130 is the wrong way of looking at the statistic and is actually a reflection of how bad their recruitment has been.

A high ratio shows brand awareness and attracts people who want to work for the company regardless of suitability for any of your roles. This kind of marketing is best suited for broad scale consumer products like soft drinks or toilet paper and is cost wasteful for hiring specific roles where the candidate is looking to match their skills and future career interests against your vacancies.

The 2500 candidates who have now missed out on getting a role with Atlassian will now be disappointed, which has absolutely no positive benefits for Atlassian. It may have some negative impact, although this in no way can be measured. With a professional recruiter, an unsuccessful candidate is at least shown some empathy.

Atlassian's $5m 'recruiting spree'

Including salaries within a recruitment budget should never be done as it totally distorts real recruitment costs. If Atlassian is rolling their salary into this $5 million then they may as well roll in everything else including the increase in payroll tax.

They might also like to add in the other costs which would normally be picked up by other parts of the company as part of business as usual, but are easily hidden away from a recruitment cost audit.

Things like the full employment cost of all people who had to read, assess and respond to 2500 candidates, organise interviews, and manage the expectations of all parties. All salary costs to do with social marketing and advertising as well as the opportunity cost of taking those people away from their normal duties.

Failure to add in these real costs has been a time-honoured way of spreading the real cost over the whole company whilst claiming a recruitment cost-saving. Savings may appear to have been made but besides being an accounting sleight of hand it is also a real hit on productivity and could have massive opportunity cost to the business.

For some it may be fun to bag recruiters, but from my side, I provide a professional service to deliver quality candidates who in turn will make the company look good. On the way, these hires will make their manager look good, and with a little luck -- and a subtle reminder -- make me look good.

Not only does that lift the game, it helps to lift the bottom line.

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