Developers, talk to a VC before a recruitment agency

The demand for software engineers in startups is higher than ever. If you're a developer thinking about switching jobs, you have the freedom to aim high with what you expect from your job:

  • Do you want to have more of a product focused role or a more tech focused role?
  • Do you want to be more of a specialist or generalist developer?
  • Do you want to deal with big data?
  • Do you hope no one expects you to call yourself a rock star, ninja, or guru
  • Do you favor equity or salary compensation? 
  • Do you want a job that lets you work on open source software on the clock?
  • Do you want to work at a company that allows some remote work?
  • Do you want a job that allocates an education/conference budget for each developer?
  • Do you want to get as far away from the finance industry as possible?
You might think that it's so hard to find startups that meet your criteria that it may be worth it to talk to a recruitment agency, spell out your requirements, and let them do the work for you. Unfortunately, recruitment agencies don't work for you, the job seeker. They work for companies that pay them 20-30% of what your first year compensation will be.

What happens when you tell a recruitment agency what you want? They simply don't care. Even if they care, it doesn't serve them directly enough to understand your needs, so they focus only on how you fit into the molds set by their clients (the companies). They see you as a pay check, as "talent that can't go to waste," I've been told before. They will do whatever it takes to push you into a company desperate for engineers. Their incentives are never going to be in your favor and are often against the companies' interests too.

How can you get around this and find a great opportunity? Ask a VC about their portfolio companies. VCs work toward the success of their portfolio companies, not a paycheck based on a single hire. They care much more about quality of fit than recruitment agencies do, and they aren't going to make you jump through hoops just to find out the name of a company that is hiring.

The are two strategies to mix when talking to a VC about jobs:
  1. "I love this specific company in your portfolio. I have a background in ___, and I'm interested in doing ___ for them."
  2. "I have a background in ___, and I'm looking for an opportunity where I can ___ (or that allows me to ___). Do you have any portfolio companies like that?"
Basically, you need to quickly convey your skills and what specifically you're looking for. VCs don't have much time to spare, but they will make time for developers who know what they want. 

Here are a few VCs with portfolio companies that are hiring developers and how to contact them (If you're a VC and would like your email listed here, just shoot an email to

When you contact them, include the word "developer" in the subject line.

About Hirelite

Hirelite is on a mission to put headhunters out of business. We host speed interviewing events using video chat where 20 job seekers talk to 20 companies for 5 minutes each. If you're looking to evaluate the software job market or looking to hire, check out We currently host web events focused on NYC, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, and Boston.