Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Hiring IT guys? I can help.

Written By: Bob - May• 29•13

I’ve been in IT since 1995, starting out in tech support, then moving on to the wild early days of search engine optimization (SEO), and then I spent a dozen years as a technical writer and web developer. I think I squeezed in a little social media writing in here and there as well.

Recently, I’ve been offered an excellent opportunity as an information technology recruiter. It’s a 100% commission gig, with a company that has a great model for recruiting better talent than most IT staffing firms.

What makes us different? Nothing is hidden.

  • We always tell our consultants what their client bill rate is.
  • We always pay our consultants 78% of that client bill rate as their pay rate.

Why is it a better model? Because we offer the consultant a bigger slice of the pie than any other recruiter. This works out better for both the client company, and the consultants themselves.

Here’s why it works, by way of example.

As an experienced IT pro, would you rather work for old “T-Rex Systems” making 40%-50% or so of the hypothetical client bill rate, or would you rather pull in 78% of that? If I was a consultant offered the choice, I’d go with the company that offers the much higher rate for the same work.

Who wouldn’t?

Now, as an employer or in-house human resources person hiring contractors, I want the most competent, experienced guy I can get for the $50-$200/hr contract I have budgeted. Which kind of staffing agency model do you think is likely to get you the best contractor for your staffing dollar?

Do you think it is the staffing company attempting to lead you towards the guy who will work the cheapest for your bill rate so that they get a bigger cut of your budgeted money? They probably aren’t going to offer you the best resume they have. They’re likely to push the cheapest-working guy they think you might accept.

Or do you think the staffing company that pays their contractors a higher percentage of that same budgeted dollar will get your the most bang for your buck, since they attract the most experienced and competent contractors?

As someone looking to hire a contractor at $X an hour, most companies want the most competent and experienced guy they can get, who through our agency knows they are being paid top-dollar, and who won’t be job shopping/jumping ship in the middle of your project to chase an extra $5-$10/hour working for your competitor across town.

So here’s the bottom line.

I know a bunch of you work in companies with IT departments. If I may be so bold, I’d like a chance to talk to your human resources folks by phone or email, and compete for their contract staffing positions.

I don’t want a sure thing. I want a chance to compete against other staffing agencies they offer searches to, put the best resumes I can on their desk, and let the consultant’s experience speak for itself. If you can make that connection for me and we find your company a great IT contractor, then you’re a hero. If the resumes we send over aren’t a great match, then your company hires the best candidate from someone else. It’s that simple.

Once I can get my foot in a few doors and start having searches to fill, I’d like to start collecting resumes from those of you who are readers that I know are looking for work as well.

Ideally, I’d eventually love to pair readers who work for companies hiring IT staff with readers who need IT jobs.

You guys have given me so much. I’d like to give something back, especially if it benefits us all.

I can be reached via

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  1. Brian says:


    This is a pretty good idea, but I’m hoping that you have taken the example of the fence with a gate across the road in mind.

    That fence was built for a reason, even if you don’t currently know what it is.

    The current consulting companies pay the way that they do for a reason, and that reason is not because they are evil, greedy, SOBs. Have you been able to identify the reasons that reimbursement is structured the way that it is?

    Benefits, tax liablilty, liability insurance, paperwork, office and staff expenses, advertising?

    A consulting/temp company is constantly hiring people, and hiring people is expensive (back-ground checks, etc.).

    This sounds like a good idea and I hope that you can make it work.


    • Bob says:

      The company I’m working for has been in business since 1987 working with this business model, so it seems to hold up well.

      I’ve noticed that the proverbial “gate across the road” is there because someone wants to charge a toll. Whether the toll they charge is fair to all parties concerned is what is up for debate.

  2. blake says:

    I have a buddy who quit IT to start a pool cleaning service, and who discovered the field populated with cheats. He’s doing gangbusters just by being honest.

    Sometimes the gate is just there because someone put it up a section and everyone else copied it in a panic.

  3. Matt says:

    Are you doing any (IBM) mainframe stuff? Specifically, I have 20 years of experience in Mainframe automation programming, Mainframe data center management, and Mainframe operations. I keep hearing about “IT Jobs” which, alas, turn out never to be related to any true mainframe disciplines.

  4. Marvin says:

    This seems like a good idea. I did systems integration and management consulting in the SAP field for 12 years, including working for myself and working for some of the big firms (IBM, etc.) Your business model seems like a good one, I hope you get it off the ground. The pay rate/bill rate issue is a contentious one, and the cause of a lot of consultant griping.

  5. Other Matt says:

    Matt, not to take business away from Bob, but Wal-Mart is almost always looking for mainframe people. I spent several years with IBM on the WM account, and MF guys (and girls) always did very well.

  6. Akatsukami says:

    Now, as an employer or in-house human resources person hiring contractors, I want the most competent, experienced guy I can get for the $50-$200/hr contract I have budgeted.

    It is to laugh. The outsourcer who can provide three untrained off-shore “software engineers” for $20/hr each will invariably beat out your offer of Mike Cowlishaw for $100/hr.

    • Dandapani says:

      I work for a company that has sold it soul to the big TCS outsourcer. All our development staff is in Bangalore and we only keep our Subject Matter Experts as employees and onshore. TCS is constantly giving us untrained resources. There’s a name for them. They are call Freshers, fresh out of college. And they are cheap and enthusiastic. The problem is that new programmers make old mistakes. Over and over. My employer hasn’t figured it out yet what is the true cost of these cheap resources.