Using a recruiter to hire a WordPress developer



I was recently contacted by a large recruiting service on behalf of a client in my area seeking to hire a WordPress developer.

As a boutique agency owner — the struggle is real.

I’ll attend most opportunities if I think it will progress my business and my portfolio. Once I knew the recruiter was okay with talking to an agency owner and not a solo developer, we scheduled the call.

Here are three critical points that an organization hiring a recruiter for WordPress development should consider:

asking for estimates

1. Please understand the project requirements

The recruiter informed me that PHP, never mind WordPress, wasn’t something he was familiar dealing with. Normally, he recruits for Microsoft products and their development standards. With that out of the way, we moved on to the specifics of the project…which he had none of.

He asked for an average project price for “rebuilding a WordPress template.” To which I responded with:

  • How much content or pages are we dealing with?
  • Any idea on the amount of unique layouts or content structures the site uses?
  • Is it a marketing site? An e-commerce site? An intranet portal?
  • Are there unique mobile experiences we would have to be aware of? Phone/Table/Otherwise?

Needless to say, he didn’t have any of the details to answer the initial questions above.

So, if you’re heading out to hire a recruiter for your business needs, please provide them with the necessary information to ask and respond to informed questions. Agencies or even freelance consultants cannot (and should not) make estimates without a few breadcrumbs of detail.

Everyone kicks tires, but at least they get to see which car.

2. Your barriers create more barriers

“The problem is, the client hired a junior PHP developer and they didn’t get the site they wanted. It’s in shambles right now according to the client.” ~ The Recruiter


The problem is the client didn’t hire a true WordPress developer and they hired someone that didn’t care about the outcome of the project.


Barrier #1 – The client thought that a junior PHP developer would be an affordable solution for this website, 2 years ago. Rightfully so! After all, it’s just a website! #amiright

Barrier #2 – They are making the same mistakes again. Now they are seeking a better PHP developer, when in fact, they need to hire a firm that has the qualifications to lead a project, create a design that serves the project’s purpose, and develop a scalable & sustainable WordPress solution.

I can understand the need to hire a recruiter, especially if you don’t have the resources or lack the knowledge to interview, but do understand you’re creating a huge barrier — or gap — from the intimate process a great project requires.

Approaching the project as if it’s another line item from your marketing budget is fuel on the fire for both parties to not give a fuck about the outcome. At the very least, a hamster wheel of grinding out tasks — and not a goal-driven outcome oriented creative process.

Believe me, when the grind hits, shortcuts will be made on both sides which ultimately sets you back to square one.

3. No, you can’t have my employee resumes

This one goes out to the recruiters. Ahem…

No, you can’t have my employee resumes. Got it? Why? You’re a recruiter — do the math.

As my friend Chris recently wrote about, sharing your team profiles within a competitive technical landscape is not the best move you can make as an agency owner. I’m certainly not going to provide you with direct contact information and data needed for hiring your next job. Get real.

Your performance and capabilities are measured on the merit of your portfolio, your pitch, and your cohesiveness within the client v. agency interaction:

  • Are we a good fit together?
  • Are both expectations reasonable?
  • Do our values align?
  • Will we be good working partners for the next 90 – 120 days?

A single resume isn’t going to determine this — but the team’s collective output will.

Have feedback?

What’s your experience dealing with recruiters or corporate clients that introduce an indirect hiring process? Let us know in the comments below.

By the way, If you’re looking for a more than capable WordPress design and development agency, check us out at Slocum Studio.


5 responses to “Using a recruiter to hire a WordPress developer”

  1. In the past, I’ve been contacted by both in-house teams and recruiters for firms looking for WordPress developers looking for a short contract hire.

    In-house contacts usually have a much better grasp of project scope and requirements. Recruiters (generally speaking) rattle off a list of technologies, and have little to know sense of what the project is, much less scope or requirements.

    I get the sense that companies that hire recruiters to fill WordPress developer positions usually have a Marketing Director in place, but no one internally is savvy enough about web development to properly evaluate a WordPress developer.

    Budget may also be a factor. Many companies (at least in my area) that seek to hire WordPress developers internally offer a somewhat low compensation package, compared to what an outside consultant or agency would cost. In your case, your team is able to bring much more to the table than a solo developer could.

    Bottom line: if the recruiter doesn’t know any details about the project, all the risk is on the developer they are talking to. This is one of the main reasons traditional companies search so long and laboriously for development candidates.

    1. Yup!

      It’s just frustrating when neither party decides to qualify the whole ordeal. Customer just wants to solve a problem with a body at the most affordable price and the recruiting service just wants to make the buck. Neither care *really* if the problem gets solved correctly.

  2. Hi Matt other great post. I got more of an question then comment. Do you think this is link to WordPress being a open source i.e. being seen as semi “Free” would you have had a similar discussion if you would have been talking about iOS or Microsoft .net coding?


    1. The client’s original issue was they hired the wrong person out of the gate, so not so much a problem with WordPress’ branding. That said, it *may* have been related to their perception of WordPress as a piece of software. i.e. Here’s this php-powered blogging software, put a body on it, and let’s get it up and running.

      But again, that’s a problem with mismanagement of a project and goals rather than the software, IMHO.

      1. Matt thanks great reply I totally agree with you outlook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *