Why Your Generalist Recruiter or HR Can’t Fill Your AEM Role

October 31, 2019
Why Your Generalist Recruiter or HR Can’t Fill Your AEM Role

Having worked in AEM roles and the talent market for the past 6+ years, I know how difficult it can be to fill roles in that field. Because AEM developer jobs require skills that go beyond what the average developer knows, the candidate pool is very small.

As a recruiter, I’ve seen it all — roles staying open for months and others filled within a few hours. Throughout this time, there’s one thing that has become very clear. If you rely on your average IT recruiter or in-house HR person, you will struggle to find qualified Adobe Experience Manager candidates.

By the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll see why hiring a specialized IT staffing agency will get you the best results.

Generalist Recruiters vs. Technical Recruiters filling an AEM Role


As a hiring manager, you determine the job requirements and compensation range for your AEM roles. Recruiters are meant to offer valuable insight that can help you craft the role and attract the right candidates, which is vital at the beginning of your search.

However, consulting requires specialization. For instance, the underlying skills of the AEM platform are quite standard IT skills when looked at individually: Java, JSP, Sling, OSGI, etc. But as soon as you bring them together and add experience to AEM, we create something much more valuable than the sum of its parts.

Over the years, I’ve seen many managers look at the skills needed for an AEM role rather than the total package. They come to the incorrect conclusion that an AEM role developer is a Java developer or a front-end developer and thus should be paid like one.

The standard recruiter or HR partner will accept this and begin their search for an AEM developer at a much lower rate or salary than what they cost. What happens next isn’t surprising: Not only can they not find the people, but they can’t understand why. This delays projects, deadlines, and ultimately revenue for the business.

You wouldn’t trust a general practitioner for a tooth extraction or tonsil removal. So why not apply that same concept to your professional life? Instead, place the strategic hiring initiative in the hands of a specialized staffing agency that can ensure a level of expertise that you won’t find with a generalist recruiter.


Tackling the issue companies face the most: filling roles quickly. As a manager myself, I understand how time-consuming and taxing it can be to sift through resumes and oversee the entire hiring process. Recruiters and HR professionals are meant to help with that. However, this support can only go so far when it comes to roles like an AEM developer or author.

The truth is, the average candidate for these types of roles is only on the market for 7 days. As an AEM recruiter, I’ve forged years-long relationships with professionals in the field and have expertise in the market. This allows me to follow the steps that I know work and save a hiring manager’s time.

And the longer a role stays open, the more money it’s costing your company – $500 a day to be exact, according to Dice.com. When using a generalist recruiter, what typically happens is you’ll get resumes that don’t align with your needs or candidates who won’t commit. You’ll end up spending time — and money — trying to find answers that no one around you has.


An IT recruiter or HR partner hires for several types of roles that require different skills. So while it doesn’t negate their ability to recruit good candidates, it doesn’t translate well in the world of AEM.

AEM developer jobs have specific requirements. And the truth is, a general recruiter will struggle to determine who’s a great candidate and who isn’t the right fit for the role. As you know, screening candidates goes beyond matching resumes to job descriptions. Recruiters must assess the extent of the candidate’s knowledge and how they relate to the role at hand.

Furthermore, the AEM market is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. For every qualified candidate, there are 7 open jobs. So what will motivate them to consider your role? It takes way more than a few weeks to attract the right candidates, and most recruiters don’t have the expertise to build out that relationship.

How I Became an AEM Expert and CEO 

I entered the recruitment world close to a decade ago. Back then, I recruited developers for banks at SThree, Huxley Associates’ global staffing agency. A year later, I was tasked with finding an Adobe CQ developer (the former name for AEM before the rebrand).

I had never even heard of the product before, but I approached it like any other role — my first mistake. I struggled to find suitable candidates, and everyone I spoke to was happy in their current role and uninterested in other opportunities.

Once I identified such a big gap in the market, I committed 100 percent of my energy and focus to finding candidates no one else could find. That earned me recognition as a top global performer at SThree and allowed me to launch a new brand for the company. Today, I run Focus GTS, a specialized staffing firm that places qualified candidates for niche IT roles, such as AEM developers, data scientists, and business analysts.

So what does this have to do with generalist recruiters? Well, everything. Filling an AEM role comes down to three things: specialization, advice, and time.

If you are struggling to find quality AEM talent to fill an AEM role, contact our specialized recruiters.

1 comment

Join the conversation
    Dave Fox
    Alban Gérôme - November 1, 2019

    Hi Dave,

    Great article. I am a certified Adobe Analytics developer, architect and implementation expert. I was looking into getting more Adobe certifications and there are many for AEM. I have no Java experience apart from JSP which was 10 years ago, but I still code a lot. I have picked basic Powershell skills in the last year, and now Node with Redis.

    I was approached for an AEM role but all I can do is upload content and raise a request for someone to approve the content. I will be contracting from Jan 2020 but I had to decline the role because I am not N AEM expert. My network contact with that potential client sent me the link to your article and it got me thinking.

    If I wanted to embark on a quest to become an AEM consultant where do I start? I could leverage some of my earnings to buy training for the next rung up, get a slightly better paying gig, rinse and repeat until I’m fully certified with AEM and, why not, the whole Adobe Experience/Marketing Cloud stack? I am based in London, UK.


    A Gérôme

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