What Makes Us Different From Other Recruiters?

Someone asked me earlier today what makes as different than all the other recruiters out there.  I thought about it and here is what I told them:

We started staffmagnet, LLC in October 207.  Everyone else was (and pretty much still is) cold calling and using Dice or Monster while we were aggressively building our talent supply chain in our local market (Washington, DC, Montgomery County Maryland, and Northern Virginia (Alexandria, Arlington, Vienna/Tysons Corner, Reston, Herndon).

After spending a very brief period of my life recruiting for agencies that I can’t say that I was impressed with, I was recruited by a startup.  I personally did an extremely good job for that software startup helping them scale up after they had raised venture capital funding.  My role with them was as their head of recruiting, but it often involved a lot more than that.  After the economics of startup recruiting convinced me that I could achieve economies of scale and do a better job of recruiting I met with the CEO and COO.   W agreed that I should spin recruiting out into my current firm (staffmagnet, LLC).  Two other companies  became clients along with the startup that I had been working with, all in the same week that we incorporated.

The CEO of that first client has since told me that I am the best recruiter with whom he has ever worked.  A few other clients have said the same thing.  I believe the reason is that I came out of tech and that makes it much easier for me to talk tech with people working in the software industry. Even when I was agency recruiting, I was using things like the Facebook Query Language (FQL) to search for candidates and running targeted job ads on top 5 Facebook Apps and on profile pages while all other recruiters were only running job ads and searching their job board accounts. I had learned during my brief career as an agency recruiter that job boards were a terrible place for finding the best and brightest people (and for them as far as user experiences go).  It partly because recruiter spam on job boards was high and partly because once a person’s resume got into an agency database he or she would be subjected to years of calls about irrelevant jobs.  Candidate harassment was something that I had personally experienced after leaving my first agency job. I was called five different times by the same agency recruiter I had sat next to the week before about a job for which nobody in their right mind would have called me in reference to.  Today, if you post a job ad on a job board the experience is much worse than back then, so I just avoid using job boards except for an occasional test that I do with my resume to see what people experience. Developers often complain loudly about recruiters, and I want to know exactly what they are experiencing so I can convey to them that I completely understand their frustration and that I will not add to it.

My first three clients were quickly followed by a fourth. All of these were small startups that we helped grow into larger very successful companies through individually awesome hires.  One of those startup companies, a Web 2.0 consumer Internet startup, was acquired for 117 Million and another IPO’d.  The one that IPO’ed was in a hole-in-the-wall office with four people (pre-Series A, etc.).  By the time the fourth client came on board, I had hired two people to help me keep up with our frenetic efforts to help four companies that had just raised venture capital or substantial funding to scale up their teams.

We kept adding clients and staff to help keep up, but I started measuring what we were doing for our clients and realized that we were doing things that a computer could easily be trained to do.  This lead to me personally spending a solid chunk of my available time to build software that would automate repetitive tasks and increase our ability to scout and communicate with candidates and clients.  In 2009 we reduced our recruiting and administrative support staff and replaced them with a team of software engineers and a designer to take what I had been working on to the next level.  At this point I started describing what we do as something more like what sophisticated investors do with software than what recruiters do.  The goal of all of this software automation and process engineering was to make it possible for me to spend more time having high quality impactful conversations with clients and helping my clients to attract and hire potential candidates, and it really paid off.

Since that time, four subsequent startup clients were acquired.  Others will be acquired soon as well.  It turns out that if you build amazing teams you get amazing results.    

At the same time, the we (me, my team at staffmagnet, LLC, and our clients and many other partners in the community) helped build the city’s software industry and its reputation over a five year period by backing and underwriting (often in partnerships with clients) several dozen industry events and local conferences a year, by hosting the East Coast’s largest software industry product launch event that launched a few companies (more than $1 Billion raised), and by hosting executive and technical peer events. We earned endorsements and support from the regional venture capital and investment banking community, and I was personally recognized alongside of the titans of the Washington, DC startup and software industry in the news.  I could not have done it alone…my business partner, Juliana, a lot of very supportive mentors and friends in the community, a lot of local coffee shops, and clients who often turned the tables to provide advice to me all played major roles.

 

  

Brochure Website In The Rear View Mirror

After 30 days of extensive experimentation with the old website format we have decided to mix it up.  We are going to start providing more frequent updates to the blog and to the website to help our clients as well as startup and product teams who are asking questions that we have encountered.  Thanks to everyone for the help and feedback over the last few weeks.

  

What We Do Best

When I talk to people about what we do here at staffmagnet, LLC, people usually assume that we do technical recruiting and that is pretty much it. I guess that is because we have a really solid reputation for helping our startup clients identifying, attracting and hiring senior level software engineers, developer and engineering management from the lead to the CTO level.  I am writing this to provide a brief overview of what we do best in case you were wondering.

What We Do Best
1. What I like to think of as our strongest suit as a company is team scaling efforts.  This is usually a team build up that involves adding 20-40 people right after a company has raised its Series A, B, C or D funding round.  Sometimes this is because a company is changing out the leadership in the team and the new team needs to bring in people to move the company in the new direction, other times it is because the team took whoever they could find and now they need to hire really solid people to improve things all around.  Other times it is because a team enters M&A mode and they need to build a team to handle the M&A integrations, etc.  This usually involves hiring us to provide a dedicated or semi dedicated recruiter, or two depending on the quantity and complexity of the hiring needs of your organization.

2. When a company needs to hire a technology leader (i.e. Development Lead, Development Manager, Director of Engineering, VP of Engineering, SVP of Engineer, CTO.  We have a very unique relationship with a lot of founders who have been CTO’s as well as with CTO’s and other technology leaders.  Our network in this regard is very unique and unsurpassed. These searches are a lot of fun for us and we are really good at them.

3. Building a team up.  Sometimes this is a one off or a two off hiring scenario. We are really flexible about engagements with clients of this nature. If a team needs to make one or two hires we have very flexible hiring packages for earlier stage startups.  The first time we work with a team we require a two month retainer contract, but after that we allow for month to month contracts.  We know you are going to try to fill your jobs on your own and this allows you to take a shot at it before you call us.  A lot of the time people call us for the variety that we can bring to their recruiting mix.

4. Executive Coaching.  Sometimes a team has a sense that what they are doing is the right approach, but they want some reassurances.  Other times they are having challenges that they think will solved by hiring someone different to take the lead.  What we have found is that our knowledge of the software industry is extremely helpful to executives for planning, evaluating and making decisions.  In advisory situations like this we typically charge by the hour or by the project if it is something more involved.  We can bring nearly a decade of experience and eight years of data from dozens of recruiting client engagements to to table.  We can also leverage our network to research and validate assumptions without putting your team’s identity on the line.

5. Presence, Sometimes Known As Employer Branding.  We can help you make your career page really impressive and compelling to job seekers.  The career page is usually taken for granted and we can put our team of designers and developers to work for you to transform your career page into a game changer for your recruiting efforts.  We also create recruiting literature.

6. College Recruiting.  We have build college recruiting campaigns and advised on college recruiting strategy for efforts all over the country.  Our team has direct college recruiting experience at the top 10, 25, 50, 100, etc. computer science schools and colleges nationwide.  We have personally visited the top schools and even have experience advising quite a few of these programs on how they do their job so we know what we are doing.

7. Candidate Sourcing.  Recruiting is not the same as candidate sourcing. Sometimes you just want a list of people to reach out to.  We can help with that. For example: let’s say you want to identify 100 people who work with Groovy on Grails or AngularJS to reach out to.  We can help with that too.

What Technologies, Skills and Roles Do We Recruit?

Software Engineers & Developers: Full-Stack, Back-End, Front-End developers who work with one or more of these technologies: Mobile (Android, iOS (Objective C, Swift), Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, Java (Spring), JavaScript (AJAX, AngularJS, Bootstrap.js, Ember.js, jQuery, Node.js), Groovy on Grails, CSS/CSS3, HTML/HTML5, Database & Caching Technology (MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Redis, Memcached), Hadoop, Natural Language Processing, Semantic Analysis, Search (Elastic Search, Solr, Lucene, Crawlers), Version Control (Git, SVN (Subversion)), Apache, Nginx, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Proprietary CMS’s, CRM’s

DevOps Engineers & Systems Engineers & Systems Administrators: Windows (x.x-x.x (including server), VOIP, VMWare, Virtualization, UNIX, Salt, Puppet, Operating Systems (Mac OS X, Linux (CentOS, Ubuntu, Red Hat), Networking, Exchange, Chef, Ansible, Amazon Web Services (EC2, S3)

User Experience Designers, Web Designers & Graphic Designers: (Web, Mobile, Enterprise) Vector Images, Photoshop, Balsamiq, Wireframing, etc.

QA (Mobile, Web, Enterprise): Software Engineer in Test, QA Managers, Manual Testers

Project Managers & Product Managers: B2B, B2C, SaaS, PaaS, Lean Agile Methods, SDLC/Waterfall

Etc.: Internet Marketers, Marketing Communications/PR, Accounting & Finance, Office Managers/Executive Assistants

Is There Anything That We Do Not Do?
As a general rule we do not get involved in recruiting any of the following:
1. Microsoft Stack Developers (i.e. C#, C#.NET, VB, VB.NET, .NET (etc.), SharePoint)
2. Massive proprietary systems (i.e. SAP, Oracle *.* Systems (We do Database Engineers & DBA’s, just not oracle tool configuration people)
3. Jobs outside of the US or searches from outside the US. We have done some work in the UK, but was on a pretty limited basis.  If you need help there or elsewhere it is best to hire someone local who knows.
4. Older/legacy systems/hardware/software/etc. (i.e. AS/400, COBOL, Fortran, Mainframes, Turbo Pascal)

  

How To Work With A Recruiter

Do you have a company that has jobs that need to be filled? If your answer is yes then keep reading.  This post is about how to work with a recruiter.

If you have just one or two job openings then you probably do not need help.  If you are a member of the PayPal Mafia then you probably do not need help.  If you are a company with a board of directors and $5-10 Million in the bank from very recent Series A funding round things are probably a bit different.  You have goals, timelines and objectives that are going to hit you before you know it and you can’t afford to the baptism by fire route that many founders take.

You are probably talking to your lawyer and your banker and your friends at the local meetups and user groups that you attend about the job openings you have.  Whether you initiated it or your lawyer or banker initiated it their promise to be able to help you find developers, designers, etc. is 99.99% likely to be an empty promise.

You could hope that these folks are going to help you or that your young board observer or VC Associate will be able to, or maybe that GP, or better yet the network of your high level deferred billing attorney that that you can’t afford to work with one one one will have a junior associate right out of law school but with no pre-law school work experience that can help.  After all, they sold you on their network.  In the case of the high level deferred billing attorney they sold you HARD on their network.

But what happens when you try your friends, lawyers, bankers and investors and none of it works because their job isn’t to know developers, Internet marketers, etc.  That is when you start to think about hiring a recruiter to help.  You know deep down inside that you should have started talking to a recruiter BEFORE you raised that Series A.  It is time.

So you call up a recruiter that someone knows or that emailed you once a long time back before you quit your day job.  You tell them what you need like you have a grocery list.  This is your second major mistake.
A recruiter is a professional who is not a “buyer” for you.  A lot of people think of a recruiter in this way, but this is just plain wrong.  Temp agencies work this way, but professional recruiters who build teams for software companies and startups do not.  Sure, professional recruiters have networks that are really strong.  They are not storekeepers.

People come, go, and stick their finger in the wind to see which way the wind is blowing on any given day.  Recruiters are hunters, gatherers and gravitational forces but they are also some of the best researchers you will ever meet.  In my case, I was an collegiate NDT debater and a high school policy debater.  Applied to recruiting this may not seem to make a lot of sense but let’s just say that I spent more time in the library than a lot of librarians.  After a certain point things became more digital and then I spent more time doing online research than the average junior associate at a law firm spends reviewing documents.  Policy debates are often won or lost at the highest levels by one team knowing that there is an article out there that is 5 minutes newer than another or 5 days newer than another.  It requires a level of tenacity that most people simply can’t muster.

As a recruiter, I spend more time researching than most people could imagine.  I track hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of individual people.  If I talk to an executive from a company that is hiring a Go developer and there are not that many Go developers out there I usually start things of by learning to do a little coding in Go.  I did this with Ruby on Rails back in 2006 when I first encountered a Ruby on Rails job. I also read quite a few blogs, books and have more than a few conversations.  This helps me to triangulate the Go developer community but it also helps me to know a thing or two about Go so taht I can tell if someone knows what they are doing or if they are just able to say they know it.

As a recruiter, I do more than my fair share of networking. Some weeks I attend 8 meetups and have 10-24 coffee meetings.  I also write a widely blog for the local startup community on a wide range of topics and host my own events.  I attend hackathons, meetups and user groups, but I don’t just sit in the back of the room so I can leave a business card on the table. I join the group and play an active role in it.  If the group needs a Pizza sponsor I am there to help or get my client there to help so that they get credit for being supportive of the group.  Most recruiters can’t do this because they don’t feel comfortable in these groups or they are afraid that by giving their clients’ credit that they will miss out on a recruiter’s placement fee.  I am not that way because people know who I am and trust me.  I am also the guy who sticks around after the meetup or user group is over with and has conversations until late into the night.  When I am not doing this I host several job boards for the local tech community that thousands of people participate in.

It isn’t that you could not do this for yourself as a founder of a startup company.  You could.  It is just that if you did then you would not have time for the firehose focus that you need to do your job and meet your other key objectives.

Some founders I know think they can hire someone really inexpensive or random to get the job done.  My advice to you is good luck, have fun!  You will quickly discover that when you are going head to head with Facebook, Google, or a local startup that has a guy or gal who is a friend of the developer you really want to hire that you have arrived with a butter knife at the gun fight.  This never ends well. It takes more than the ability to send an email, schedule interviews and check references to be an amazing recruiter.

A great recruiter is like your CTO of People. You can hire someone and give them this title, but that doesn’t make them amazing.  I can tell you from experience that there are a lot of people out there who have worked at staffing agencies or who have an MBA in HR or an HR certificate that say they can do the job.  The problem is that these folks can’t do what a solid technical recruiter can do for you.

A great recruiter is also like your CMO of People.  You can hire someone to public relations or marketing communications for you, but you need someone who can get the inside jokes and who knows how to talk to them.  I can’t begin to explain how awkward it is for a non-developer to walk into a developer user group where everyone is speaking command line.  You just have to put yourself in the shoes of developers.  Certain things are best handled by professionals.

To answer the ultimate question that prompted this post, to hire a recruiter you also need to understand what to expect.  In my case, I work with companies two ways:
1. As a retained or shared recruiter who can help you do what you need to do just like I am a member of your team.  The price for this is a fraction of what you would pay for a standard recruiting placement fee.
2. As a contingent recruiter who can help you but who you essentially would pay a finders fee to if you get the person you are looking for.  If you come to me and have something that is really like mission impossible then I might suggest that we take this route.  Otherwise, I usually recommend against it because it is not in your best interest or mine.  Most recruiters either use this method or a similar method that is more like placing a temp or temp to hire contractor on your team.  I usually avoid that option with startups because I don’t think it works out well when you are hiring people to be a part of something that works like a startup.

If you get where I am coming from with this then consider sending me an email. I’m happy to schedule a free initial consultation with startups related to recruiting or community engagement or to have a quick discussion about where you would like to be post Series A.  If you have been funded and you need to hire some people then let’s talk right away. I am always looking for great teams to work with.

  

Some Really Bad Recruiters Haunt Job Boards, Don’t Judge One Book By Another

staffmagnet was launched in October 2007 here in Washington, DC. It was the result of an overwhelming demand from founders in Washington, DC, Montgomery County Maryland and Northern Virginia who read my personal blog and decided that I had a refreshing approach to recruiting.  Back then I was writing a lot about how terrible job boards were and how creative recruiting could accomplish a lot more. I have not used a job board since around early 2008 after I conclusively decided that job boards are where the terrible recruiters live and work.  I am writing this post today because yesterday I decided to test the current state of the job boards by putting my personal resume on Dice, Monster and CareerBuilder.  I know people who do tests like this using fake resumes.  Some even go so far as to apply for a job using a fake resume to see what happens. I don’t think this is necessary or a good idea.  The responses that I have started getting are overwhelmingly bad.  It is much worse than it was the last time I ran a similar test to see what the candidate experience is like.  After less than half a day I feel compelled to write about this and to ask job seekers everywhere one really big favor: It is true that some really bad recruiters haunt job boards, don’t judge a book by another’s cover.  I personally hate job boards and here at my firm we do not use them.

It could not be worse.  In half a day the recruiter resume that I posted has resulted in some pretty awful emails from recruiters, marketers and sales people. The honeypot email address that I used (only) for posting my recruiter resume to Dice, Monster and CareerBuilder has:
1. Been signed up for two newsletters unrelated to recruiting (with no opt-out option).
2. Solicited for a webinar related to insurance sales.
3. Been solicited for C++, Java and other completely random programmer jobs that do not even have keyword matches.
4. Been receiving invitations for Drupal developer jobs.

This is only the beginning I suppose, but really? Is it that hard?  The obvious answer is NO.

So, if you have ever put your resume on a job board and found yourself being harassed or solicited by people who should not be allowed to use an email account or who have zero common sense then please note that that was your lookout for singing up for a job board account not mine. I am not going to apologize to you in behalf of recruiters, marketers, or sales reps who are complete failures.

If you are a developer then you would have a similar problem if you hired someone that did something really stupid you would fire them.  You work really hard to avoid hiring bad peers and developers.  I am the same way with recruiters – I work really hard to avoid hiring bad recruiters.  I also work really hard to be the best at what I do.

Here are some examples of what came back for a RECRUITER’s RESUME with no mention of Java, C, C++, Django, Insurance, Data Scientist, Sales, Car Dealerships, etc.  No phone calls to the Google Voice number I used (YET):

“I saw your resume on Monster.com and would like for you to consider a sales position with Bob Bell Ford.  You may not be aware, but people with various backgrounds and career experiences can adapt their skill sets to enjoy a successful career in Automotive Sales.
Interviews will be held on Monday, September 15th but no later than Tuesday, September 16th between the times of 10:00am and 6pm.  During the interview, additional information will be provided including details on earning up to $75,000 in your first year.

 

“PLEASE REPLY BACK USING THE EMAIL ADDRESS PROVIDED”.

INSTEAD PLEASE REPLY DIRECTLY VIA EMAIL TO email@emailaddressremoved.com

The subject line should read: BOB BELL FORD

In your email please confirm which day you are interviewing, the dealership you are interviewing with and your contact information.” (note: sent at 12:36am)


I’m an IT recruiter at agency name removed, the nation’s premier IT resourcing agency. Our expertise in the industry allows us to match major Media, Finance, Retail, and Healthcare companies with top technology talent, and we want you!

There is immediate need for your expertise. One of our clients has an open position, and I think you could be a great fit!
Please review the job description below, and let me know what you think. Is this a role that you are interested in hearing more about?
If so, send me your most up to date resume in Word format!
Title: Program Analyst / Data Scientist

“I’m emailing you regarding a position in our Aflac office in Fairfax, VA. Your resume was selected because it includes words or phrases that indicate you have the qualifications for which we are looking. I am seeking self-starters, positive thinkers, and goal-oriented people who can define and implement a business plan to achieve top-level production.

I would like to invite you to our Open House so that I may meet you to see if this could be the right fit for you. I would love to find someone that wishes to be in a management position at some point in time. The person I am hiring will be responsible for making personal business visits to owners of companies in order to improve their existing benefit plans.
We are a Fortune 125 company, a worldwide leader in its field and one of America’s greatest corporate success stories. Aflac offers high financial potential, a stock bonus plan, awards and incentive trips, and strong team support. Training consists of continual education from Aflac University, formal classroom product-knowledge training, and practical field training.
If you are interested in attending an Open House and learning more about us, please use the hyperlink below to set up a time for you to attend an Open House.
Click here to electronically schedule an Open House.”

“Subject Line: Confirming Receipt of Your Resume

Body Text:
Just a quick note that we recently noticed your resume on one of the job boards.
We’re keeping our eyes open for positions that may interest you – now or in the future.
In the mean time, we encourage you to follow-us on LinkedIn which is our main communications tool for:

. Posting our newest positions – consulting assignments and direct-hire with clients
. Industry news about emerging technologies, marketplace trends, industry best practices
. Project One sponsored events, ie:  Executive Roundtables, Google+ hangouts, webcasts, open houses
. Quick polls and surveys to gauge what’s trending in the marketplace
. Networking opportunities for meeting & interacting with people that may assist you

“I came across your resume within our database at agency name removed today and your skill set appears to be a good fit for a Graphic Designer opening with one of our Teaming Partners in Arlington/Reston, VA. I have included the requirements below if you are interested please send me a Word resume and give me a call at your earliest convenience.

To keep abreast of what’s out there, follow us on LinkedIn”

“I just found your resume on careerbuilder.com and I was impressed with your professional experience. I would like to set up some time for you to come into the office to learn more about our company and the positions we offer.

Our job offerings may not be in the same market as your current experience, but if you are looking for a change – your skills may be a perfect match for our company.

A small group interview is a great way to learn more about the position, and to answer any questions you may have. If you would like to schedule one now, please do so using the link below.

If you would like to opt out of receiving emails about this position in the future click here.”

I did not know that signing up for a job board meant opting into someone’s spam, but I guess for this agency it does.

“My name is Megan, and I am a customer service representative with CareerBuilder. Based on your experience and qualifications, I thought you might be interested in this opportunity with Liberty Tax Service. Please click here or on the link below for more information.

Tax Representative – Liberty Tax School” (Message 2, Day 1)

“Based on your experience and qualifications, we thought you might be interested in this franchise opportunity with Liberty Tax.  Please click here or on the link below for more information.

Tax Business Owner – Franchise Opportunity” (Message 1, Day 1)

“Please allow me to reiterate that I chose to contact you either because your resume had been posted to one of the internet job sites to which we subscribe, or you had previously submitted your resume to Axelon. I assumed that you are either looking for a new employment opportunity, or you are interested in investigating the current job market.
If you are not currently seeking employment, or if you would prefer I contact you at some later date, please indicate your date of availability so that I may honor your request. In any event, I respectfully recommend you continue to avail yourself to the employment options and job market information we provide with our e-mail notices.”

“This is name removed- Sr. Recruitment manager and I reviewed your resume on JOB BOARDS and was in touch with your sometime back & feel you would be a good match for this job and it will be of interest to you as well.  Please send me your updated resume in MS Word format along with contact details, expected rate and the best time to speak with you. If you are already working with our organization then you can apply for this position only if your current contract is finishing.”

I recently found your resume online and would like to learn more about your background. We are currently recruiting for the position of Agile developer (python, java other skills) and your qualifications appear to be a good match.

An Annapolis, MD fortune 1000 is seeking C++ OR JAVA OR Python AGILE Developer(s).

Position involves: web application development and mapping, using open-source software, and object-oriented programming.

Requirements:

• Two (2) or more years of software development experience. • Strong object-oriented design background (Python preferred, Java, C++). • Working knowledge of Linux. • Database understanding **We are currently uses Django with PostgreSQL and Oracle). • Web 2.0 / AJAX skills, HTML 5, CSS 3, JavaScript. Desired experience: • Strong user interface experience, wireless-web application development, relational database integration, rapid development methodologies. • Working knowledge of relational databases.

To discuss this opportunity further, please send a word doc resume at your earliest convenience.”

“We found your resume and are currently seeking motivated professionals to work part time during weekends on both Saturday and Sunday from approximately 11-4:30 representing a technology product, at top a home improvement retailer. We are seeking professionals who are familiar with current technology and products, have a knack for customer service and brand advocacy, and are comfortable interacting directly with consumers.”

“My name is David B(removed), I’m an HR Coordinator for AFLAC. I came across your resume on Monster.com and wanted to schedule you for a time to interview with us. My District Coordinator, Elizabeth D(removed), is looking for quality professionals to help expand business in the Northern VA/MD area, and she would love for you to speak with us about the opportunities we can provide. I believe that your extensive recruiting experience could translate very well into our business. If you are interested please reply to this email address…” (not the first pitch from Aflac, do these people talk to each other or use a lead or candidate tracking system)

Day 2 Update:

“I came across your resume and I wanted to check with you if you would be interested in a contract opportunity in California with our direct clients.
The details are as follows:

Title: Developer
Position Type: Contract
Duration: 6 Months to start with.
Location: San Mateo, CA”

Note: This just goes to show that developers are not the only people who get recruiter spam.

“We came across your resume and we have the following Technical Team Lead Angular/ Mongo opportunity. If you are interested, please send me a Word copy of your resume.

Job Title: Technical Team Lead Angular/ Mongo
Location: Kansas City, MO
Duration:6months  Contract to perm

US Citizens and GCHolders only          

Job Description:

Great opportunity for a hands on Team lead or Manager. Current Web application is Microsoft .NET, SQL Server…”

“Bob,
I can get you directly in-front of the decision makers, if you are confident in your ability to perform in that meeting.  If you are ready for a change, let’s talk. Visit<snip> to request a demo of our Executive Talent Platform.  Information and the CV you submit there will come directly to me and I will review your credentials against the positions I have available and share the information with you through email or a phone call.  Looking forward to helping you secure your next leadership position.”

Wes Anderson
21 Years in Private Equity/ Venture Capital”

Note: The above note from Wes is an example of the use of Careebuilder for purely spamming job seekers.  This is an example of one of the worst things that happens on job boards.

“I came across your impressive sales experience and wanted to touch base because Liberty Mutual has an opening for an Experienced Sales Representative in the Rockville area.  Our sales reps are responsible for achieving sales goals by cultivating relationships and building a book of business with prospective policyholders and local businesses.”

Note: The above message included an unsubscribe link.  I am not sure where the confusion regarding the CAN Spam Act begins and ends with people like this.

“Greetings,
My name is Hafeeza and I’m an IT recruiter at APN Consulting Inc. Our records show that you are an experienced IT professional with experience in ______________. This experience is relevant to one of my current openings.

The opening requires ______________ in addition to the above skills. It is located in Alpharetta, GA.

Direct Client Requirement
Alpharetta, GA
ContractTechnical Expertise:

  • 10+ years development experience.
  • 7+ years core server side java programming experience.
  • Strong knowledge of Object Oriented Programming and common design patterns.
  • Experience designing and developing apis/web services, CXF, SOAP, JAXB Bindings, JSON, RestFul Services.
  • Experience developing in a highly transactional, multi-threaded application.
  • Able to understand logical and physical data models, and develop SQL queries.
  • Ability to analyze, solve problems and work with the team to identify and fix the root cause of the problems (be it programmatic or performance).
  • Have worked in an Agile environment such as Scrum or Kanban with experience in a Test-Driven Development environment
  • Working experience with source control management tools such as SVN and Git.
  • Comfortable developing in a Linux/Unix environment.

. Knowledge in _______ is a plus.
If you are qualified, available, interested, planning to make a change, or know of a friend who might have the required qualifications and interest, please send me your resume and contact info ASAP, even if we have spoken recently about a different position. If you do respond via e-mail please include a daytime phone number so I can reach you. In considering candidates, time is of the essence, so please respond ASAP. Thank you.
Sincerely yours,
Hafeeza <name removed>
APN Consulting Inc
Note: Please allow me to reiterate that I chose to contact you either because your resume had been posted to one of the internet job sites to which we subscribe, or you had previously submitted your resume to ………………. I assumed that you are either looking for a new employment opportunity, or you are interested in investigating the current job market.
If you are not currently seeking employment, or if you would prefer I contact you at some later date, please indicate your date of availability so that I may honor your request. In any event, I respectfully recommend you continue to avail yourself to the employment options and job market information we provide with our e-mail notices.
Thanks again.
Hafeeza
<company name removed>
Regards

Hafeeza <name removed>
Business Development Executive”
Note: the last one is quite possibly the best one yet.  Was this one from a zombie recruiter?

And all of this was AFTER having to go through fake ITT and Devry Technical Institute signup forms to get the resume in place on Monster.com.  It is almost as if signing up for a job board is like failing an IQ test.

  

How To Recruit Top Programmers

If you ask many recruiters and executives, the question of how to recruit top programmers is like a war for talent.  I am here to tell you that this is not the case at all even though sometimes it feels like it is.

4 Keys To Recruiting Top Programmers
1. Set reasonable objectives based on your circumstances, not the objectives of Google or Microsoft size companies.
2. Determine the current market salary range.
3. Assess whether or not your company is a desirable place for developers or if developers would be immediately turned off or tempted to bounce after they take a job on your team.
4. Recognize that developers people in your local community and not a commodity that you can juts pick up off the job board shelf.
5. Recognize what makes a top programmer.


Setting Reasonable Objectives

This is the most critical part of your developer recruiting game plan so plan on investing some time into researching before you formulate your plan.

I often get asked by executives who have just raised tens of millions of dollars from venture capitalists if I can help them take people out of Google and other large companies.  My answer is always that it is possible to do so.  Right after that I ask them why and there is usually one of two responses: silence, or something along the lines of …they hire the best people so if Google hired them they must be good.

Over lunch at the Googleplex several years ago a friend who works at Google told me that Google is a great place to work.  The only trouble is that it is also a place where good developers get put out to pasture to graze.  I asked him to explain what he meant.  He told me that while there are a lot of really smart people working at Google, many of them work on teams where they just mail it in.

My friend was an early hire at a company that IPO’d long before he left.  He told me that he felt a little guilty leaving the founder he worked for, but he felt like he made the right decision.  He is one of the really smart and talented programmers working at Google.  I have met plenty of people who work for Google who are the exact opposite.  They were hired because they could pass a Google style interview, but they could not hold their weight in other companies.  Google also hire tons of people who are sub par to work as contractors (think long term temps).

A better idea would be to invest in building a distinct company culture for your company and investing in your people.  I should also point out that to pursue out of state programmers at a company like Google is no short term proposition.  If someone can be had on a moment’s notice they are probably not going to be very good.  Additionally, you are going to have to face the fact that they might leave you and go back to Google.

Beyond where you look to hire from, you should consider how quickly you want to hire.  You could probably hire someone really fast who is not that good or you could plan a recruiting campaign over 2-3 months to identify, entice and hire people who are really good.  There are plenty of other factors that can affect your timeline including how in demand the skill set you are looking for is.

For example:
A search for someone who is using Golang or Go on a full time basis might not be a quick search.  It could be, but it might be a lot quicker if you tried searching instead for someone who is programming in Python that would be interested in picking up go or who has played around with Go in their spare time.


Determine The Current Market Salary Range

Often the biggest mistake the managers that I have worked with make is talking to a few developers and taking their preferences as the real time market conditions.  Most of the time this is a costly mistake, but it can even be a fatal one if your business depends on developers.

The Indeed Salary Tool (www.indeed.com/salary) is a great way to look for real time market conditions.  To get most accurate data you have to experiment a bit.

For example:  

A search for four related job titles shows today’s salary range for programmers in Washington, DC. (Source)
salarycomparison

Adding “Ruby on Rails” to the job titles helps refine the range a bit.  Notice the blue bar under the average salary changes. This is an indication of how many jobs there are for this particular skill set.  (Source)
salaryrangerubyonrails

Unfortunately, the Indeed Salary Tool can get it wrong too as evidenced by swapping out “Ruby on Rails” for “Python” or “Java” which takes the overall base from $94,000 to a level that is not accurate: the Python base range rises $132,000  (Source) and the Java base range rises to $109,000 (Source).

Subtract $15,000 to $20,000 from the low numbers and add $15,000 to $20,000 to the high numbers you you get from the Indeed Salary Tool and you should have the high and low salary watermarks in the current market.  I have been tracking salary information for nearly a decade now and while I can’t say that the Indeed Salary Tool is holds up for every category of job, it is can be fairly accurate for programmers.

It is important to recognize that hiring developers is not like buying something from a retail store.  Programmers have human factors to consider.  If you talk to someone who is the sole bread winner in a family of four they are going to have different considerations than someone similarly situated who lives in a different zip code.  You should not make hiring decisions based on factors like this, but you should understand that things are different for different people.

One really good example of how human factors enter into salary discussion is paid time off.  So many companies that I Know offer a stripped down paid time off plan and never consider the value of an employee being able to take time off to recharge after a really stressful or intense period.  This is especially true for programmers who are more prone to burnout than many other categories of worker.  By offering your employees an extra 5 or 10 days per year of paid time off per calendar year you might actually be able to entice workers to take a $5 or 10k less in pay.  This may seem like a huge loss in productivity, but to someone who is a coder it can actually lead to a boost in productivity. It can also boost your bottom line.

For example:
A programmer salaried at $105,000 per year is earning around $53/hr.  5 days of pay is around $2,120      before benefits.  10 days of pay is around $4,240.  If you provide an extra 5-10 days of paid time off in        exchange for $5-10k, you save $2,880-$5,760 and your employee will be more productive and have a        higher quality of life.  A smart employer could use that extra cash and turn it into additional employee benefits, training, conference budget, employee perks like free lunches and snacks or bonuses.


Company Desirability Considerations

There are a lot of things you can do or that you could do as an executive or manager, but you know that there is something better that you should do or that you might not think to do.  Think of this as a recruiting cookie jar discussion or better yet as your own personal marshmallow challenge.

1. If you are a startup or a small company, don’t hire people looking for logos.  A “logo” is a company that is so far ahead of you in the employer branding space that you will never catch up no matter what you do.  If someone has it in their mind that they need to work at Google or Microsoft right away to satisfy their ambitions then let them.  This is true for recruiting entry level talent and mid to senior career professionals.  Instead, focus on finding people who have are looking for a job where you are and who is local to you.  If they come to you then by all means, talk to them.  Just don’t waste your effort.

2. You could budget some extra money for more expensive hires or for other things that are not necessary.  Instead, set aside some funds to help make your workplace more attractive for potential job seekers and employees.

Some examples: Buy a couch and coffee table for a break area., upgrade the desks in your office, upgrade the chairs in your office, provide a weekly company meal where employees talk to each other, buy t-shirts for your employees that have a nice design, add a fresh coat of paint that is a warmer color to make the office brighter, buy some nicer monitors, or take the team out for a company event so they have fun together.  Take a camera along to take a few photos if you take the team out or when you provide the weekly meal.

3. Host a Meetup event in your office and get your employees involved in the event.  If you are a startup it could be a marketing Meetup or a developer meetup.  If you have a slightly nicer office or a nice conference room this is something that can go a long way to getting the word out about your office.  Do not expect to hire someone from the event, but expect to get some kudos and good karma from the community for doing it.  Hint: you do not have to be the organizer of an event to host one.  You can also buy pizza or a round of drinks at a Meetup that your team attends.

4. Stop listing your company’s jobs like they are a grocery list and humanize your career page.  People work at your company so show them off. If you don’t have group photos of people having fun or participating in something that looks like a happy team in the act of being one then read the examples from #2 (above).  Don’t stop there, your career page is a canvas not a file folder containing jobs.  Get some help designing your career page and make some positive changes to it.  If you want to hire someone you should imagine that they want to work with some people like you.  If your career page does not show who you and your team are then how will they know? Exactly.  Leave the guess work to someone else.

Think of it another way, you could waste your time chasing people who look at you as their level two backup option or target people who are more likely to prefer joining your team and create a more compelling experience for them.


Local Community

If you know there are good hires out there go out and meet them or hire someone to help you do this.  One of the cornerstones of community centric recruiting is word of mouth marketing.  You have to get out there and let people know who you are.  People talk to their friends so one way or another you are going to reach the right people.  Be patient, this stuff takes time.

For example:
A few weeks ago I attended the DC Golang Meetup held a nearby co-working space.  I had a really good conversation with someone who is very happy in his current job. He really liked what I shared with him about the client of mine that has a job opening.  The next time he has a bad day at work or the next time he is looking, he might apply for a job with my client.  In the mean time, he referred a friend and co-worker who IS looking right now to me within a week of our conversation.

Community engagement is really powerful.


Recognize What Makes A Top Programmer

I could write an entirely separate article on this subject.  Heck, I could write a book or several.  The basic idea here is that you should not be looking to clone your existing developer or the resume of someone who just left.  Every person is different.  You need to make sure that you set your sights on people who a) have the capabilities required to do the job (and not a bit more), and b) will be great contributing members of your team.

Don’t get too academic about it either. I can’t tell you how many times an over zealous white board interviewer armed with text book puzzles or questions unrelated to job has crushed a potential good hire by being over the top or by not talking to the person being interviewed like a human.

Whatever you do, treat people better than you expect to be treated based on your own experiences.

Email us (email@staffmagnet.com) if you would like a free recruiting consultation.

This article was written by Bob Neelbauer who is the Managing Partner of staffmagnet, LLC (www.staffmagnet.com).  You can read his personal blog at www.socialmatchbox.com.

Bob Neelbauer is a recruiting consultant based in Bethesda, MD who co-founded of four software startups and who has recruited all position levels for early stage startups (i.e. Seed, Angel, Series A’s involving less than $10 Million), and scaled teams and facilitated key CxO level hires after startups that raised $10 Million in funding (up to 37 hires in a short time frame) across the country.  Bob has also recruited for large quite a few well known larger companies.  Bob is also an advisor, mentor and coach to dozens of other startups. Six of those startups have had successful exits in the last two years.  Two were acquisitions in the $50-117 Million range.

What makes me a growth engineer?
I design and build websites, custom landing pages, and applications to achieve optimal product-market fit, conversion optimization (i.e. optimize them to attract and convert users, job seekers and customers), and business scalability. I code in Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, jQuery, CSS3, and HTML5. I am getting to know Go and Python, but those are just for fun right now.

What makes me a recruiting hacker?

I practice software driven recruiting which involves building and leveraging recruiting tools for finding, managing, marketing to, enticing, and analyzing niche and major talent segments as well as individual members of talent pool. I also develop custom parsing software, do boolean searches and leverage API’s.

  

Why Developers Hate Recruiters

I am a recruiter, but I am also a developer.   Today I want to shed some light on a the two-sided problem of recruiting spam and why developers hate recruiters so much.  This is as much for recruiters as it is for developers because we are all part of the solution or the problem depending on how we interact with each other.

Let’s start off by considering two definitions of spam:

1. SpamAccording to Wikipedia:

Spam is a canned precooked meat product…

2.  Electronic spam according to Wikipedia:

Spam is (sending) …unsolicited bulk messages…indiscriminately.

Let’s dig in to the problem area:  

There are recruiters who serve up a canned pre-scripted message and send it repeatedly to candidates which frustrates the hell of of many of them.  The same recruiters (and recruiting agency sales reps who often identify themselves as recruiters even though they are often not) also serve up a canned pre-scripted message and send it repeatedly to potential hiring managers.  This is especially true on LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is like the recruiting kiddie pool that a lot of recruiters get cozy in and never leave.

Post a resume to a major job board and and you will get recruiter spam.  Post a job and include your email address and you are virtually guaranteed to get recruiter sales spam.  Don’t post your resume to a job board and you still get spam.  Developers hate it unless they don’t which is usually when they are having a bad day.  Part of the ROI calculus for recruiters is that someone is having a bad day and another reason for a change and that the outreach effort is worth it.

The consensus is that this is spam and the reaction is almost universally negative, but recruiters still do it.  Why is that? For starters, it works. I doesn’t work all the time but it does work.

I can go through people that I am connected to on LinkedIn and tell you who it works on based on the recruiters  that they are connected to.  I am not joking.  There is a twist though.  These same candidates do pretty much the same thing that the spammy recruiters do.

These candidates apply to jobs without reading the job description at all. They see a title and they serve up their own flavor of canned pre-scripted message and send it directly to recruiters.

A few more sophisticated developers even practice spamming (at least according to one source’s opinion) because it works too.

So it spam works in some cases and it is worth the cost.  It makes our inbox feel like MySpace 2.0.

The problem is that the recruiters and developers who are spamming are the bottom feeders and any results they get are not worth it for elite software companies.

Spammy communications come at a price to all of us:

Opening your inbox and having to dig through a bunch of garbage messages is no fun and it a big waste of time.  It is also frustrating that people do not take the time to read your job ad or your resume after you put a ton of time and energy into creating it. But more importantly, spammy communications erode trust between recruiters and candidates as well as hiring teams and candidates.  This benefits no one.

Things We Both Hate The Most:

Fake Job Ads.  Sometimes this isn’t the recruiter, it is the hiring team.  I have had a lot of teams waste the time of recruiters by posting a job and then setting loose recruiters on it.  Some jobs are like a tombstone.  Maybe the team is justified because the don’t get a job applicant that is a good match for their job (ever), but I don’t think this is the case.  They are doing something wrong or they are not doing something right in this case.

Calling During Work Hours. Recruiters call developers during the day.  Developers are at work, often in pits where their peers and boss(es) are in close quarters with them.  It takes a lot of effort to concentrate on solving hard problems as a developer and distractions including phone calls from recruiters can break this concentration.  This is hard because recruiters work between 8am and 6pm.  I am not sure what the right answer is here, it differs for every individual.

Cryptic Behavior. Some recruiters roll along as if they are in a Soviet era spy movie.  They are not open and honest about who their job is with or about a lot of other details.  This is both very frustrating and counterproductive.  I previously point out that by posting a job ad you are essentially signing up for spam so overlooking that aspect, recruiters should be extremely forthcoming about the employer they are working with when they are talking to you.  Since job ads are 99.99% useless, let’s assume that cryptic job ads posted to online job boards are not that important.  Unfortunately, the same is true for recruiters. If you spend any time reading Reddit, Hacker News, or just talking to people you quickly figure out that developers can be just as cryptic and devious as recruiters.  Have you used X? Sure.  How much is the job salary? How much do you want to make? Etc. The answer is to to just find people are open and willing to be straight up and work with them.  Avoid the others.

In search of a solution:
There is no good answer. Recruiters exist for the same reason that developers do. Your company needs to grow and it has to be someone’s job to grow it.  There are a lot of ways to accomplish this.  Some companies, like PayPal, make recruiting something that they own in house and they do it so well that they do not need to rely on outside recruiters.  Others try, fail, then seek outside help.  Others focus on what they are best at – coding, marketing, sales, etc. and hire specialists.

My practice, staffmagnet, LLC was founded because founders and hiring teams came to me and asked me for help. The first team reached out to me after reading my blog. They wanted to hire the best people they could and they wanted to focus on making good product.  That team was Freewebs.com which later became Webs.com and was acquired by VistaPrint.com for $117 Million.  I helped them hire around 27 people.  A short time later the CEO of Razoo.com approached me at an event and asked for help hiring senior developers.  One thing lead to another and Razoo became my first on paper client, but only technically because Webs.com (then Freewebs.com) agreed to allow me to be a shared resource.  At nearly the same moment I had also been approached by another startup founder who had raised money and sent his co-founder to recruit me to help him at an event.  I had 3 clients all come to me at once.

Within a month I had a fourth client (Positive Energy), a company that recently IPO’d.  My business partner (who joined after three clients was enough to start stretching me thin with their heavy hiring load at the tim) helped them build their initial college recruiting program nationally and I helped them grow from 5 employees in a tiny shared office in the Courthouse section of Arlington, VA.

I helped these companies and quite a few others to hire some really good people who not only became good members of these teams but who also became close friends in many cases.  I can’t speak for other recruiters directly, but it is possible to have a good open dialogue with people that is not spammy and achieve a win-win situation for all parties involved (i.e. developers, hiring teams and recruiters).

  

Perfect Recruiting Pitches

As entrepreneurs we must believe in our company and in what we are selling even though more often than not there is duct tape hiding behind the polished image that we project to investors and customers.  The same should hold true for recruiting.  This article is an argument for taking the recruiting pitch as seriously as you take your perfect investor pitch deck that you are confident is going to sell your idea to Venture Capitalists or Angels and your perfect customer sales pitch: you should be delivering perfect recruiting pitches just as often.

I don’t know where the disconnect between pitching investors or customers and potential employees is rooted. I have been recruiting for nearly a decade as of the writing of this article, but somehow this remains a mystery to me.

My leading theories are:

1. Business leaders should work closest to the dollar which means that anything except for the time and effort that will result in the most immediate payout is a distraction.
2. Recruiting is a loss center where money is expended with very little value delivered.
3. Recruiting is a To Do list item that falls off the horizon and is forgotten soon after the task is done making it an administrative chore, not a core business function.

One thing is clear and it is the fact that market and category leading companies do not leave recruiting to chance.  Inside these organizations recruiting is not merely a chore for the administrative staff to check off boxes on.

This is not in any way a mean to lessen the role that administrative staff in an organization play.  Make no mistake about it, your administrative staff are recruited too.  I am talking about how the organization approaches recruiting pitches not who is recruiting which is a topic for another day and a role best performed by a specialist.

The challenge as an executive or organizational leader when it comes to recruiting is that unlike making investor pitches, you are not the person delivering the pitch every time.  If you are a small startup or small business executive then you may be on occasion or you may even be the final person to pitch a candidate on why they should work for you or your company, but there is usually one or several others involved in the interview process who have already pitched your company.

This presents a very unique challenge that is very similar to the challenge faced by sales organizations.  There is a company line that everyone should be delivering.  The recruiter is the front line, but what about all of the team members who get pulled into your interviews and phone screens.  Better yet, what are your employees saying about your organization when they can hide behind their browser taking shots on a site like Glassdoor or at a local happy hour?

A big part of the puzzle can be addressed by making sure that you have a distinct and very well socialized company culture.  People will often make recruiting pitches without even realizing it by talking about aspects of the company culture that they enjoy.  Have you ever wondered why Google provides free meals to employees or why Facebook has vending machines for getting power cords, keyboards and other gear?  Hint: The free food and the geek vending machines are not just about solving optimization problems to lower costs.

To take this point to the next level I just want to point out that if you want to make sure that you are hiring the best and brightest people the people you want are not going to buy what you are selling because of a .25%-1% difference in 401k Matching or because you have a casual workplace when they can find that just about anywhere or make up the difference another way.

For this to work you must make recruiting a priority.  You must also make sure that you do not allow recruiting to become yet another back burner to do list item.

Tips for ensuring that your recruiting efforts do not crash and burn:

1. Your recruiting pitch should be a company wide discussion and talent.  Everyone is the messenger.
2. Have literature and language dedicated to recruiting.  You should have well designed about us and career pages.  A list of jobs is not the same as a page with photos of your office environment and your team being a team.  Hint: Show your people enjoying being a team at something.  It could be at a lunch attended by someone with a camera with a good sensor or a meeting with people working out a challenging problem on the white board.  People sitting alone at their desks working is not what I am talking about.
3. Fake it till you make it.  You should not expect to perfect your recruiting pitch out of the gate, but keep working at it and you will get there.
4. Do not rely on the usual suspects from slash and burn staffing agencies to be your messenger.  Third party recruiters can be your allies and help you out a lot, but not all recruiting firms are created equally.  Having one good recruiter who you can spend time educating and getting to know is worth an army of recruiters who are out to turn a quick book.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck and have fun along the way.

Additional Reading
‘The Most Important Pith You’ll Make’ by Sage Wohns

  

Only Hire A Players And Other Recruiting Myths

Merriam-Webster.com defines a myth as “an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true.”  Unfortunately, the A Player is a myth.  A lot of hiring teams believe that they should only “Hire A Players”, but our experience suggests otherwise.  Here is a quote from an article on Entrepeneur.com that sums this up best:

 “Make sure you’re hiring only A-players.” Hire a few B-players, he said, and they hire B’s and C’s, and pretty  
  soon the whole  operation is going to pot.

People take phrases like this and interpret them as the law.  The only problem is that even laws require interpretation.  What happens the most is that people go out and look for people with a 4.0 GPA from the top ten schools and call it a day.

When you take a look at the data like we have over the past ten years a few patterns emerge.  The “A” players are conventional players. They are playing within a narrow set of rules and not innovating.  If you are looking for people to manage a call center or to be good accountants then hiring A players can work out really well.  However, our clients hire software engineers, designers, marketers and people who have to be creative in all of the things that they do.  “A Players” run into problems when things are not so well defined.

Case In Point
One of our client CEO’s best engineering hires graduated from a not so well known school on Maryland’s eastern shore.  The early career software engineer had been working for a small Internet service provider while attending college.  Aside from his experience at this college and a good, but not top of his class, academic profile this is someone who would be passed up by nearly every major software company and Internet company that recruits in Maryland.  Why? They skip the smaller schools and they look for the students with “A Player” stats.  In his case it was necessary to look beyond the schools.

The Odds Are Against It
Recruiting at schools that are not top tier programs would take a lot of time. Recruiting the best and brightest can be very challenging.  If you recruit at better schools the law of averages should apply, right? Yeah, it should in theory. The problem is that you must adjust for local variables.

At the top schools students are literally funneled by their advisors, faculty, and alumni into the college recruiting programs of the big companies that pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to.  It isn’t that you can’t compete or differentiate, it is that you are fighting the ocean of conditioning and expectations that form in peer discussion groups throughout college.  Students have classmates who intern at large companies and take jobs at large companies year after year which reinforces this.

It isn’t that colleges don’t care about your company.  They just care more about the money than they do about your company than they do about Booz Allen Hamilton or Lockheed Martin or Google or Microsoft or Amazon.  If you are a startup or a growth stage company with fewer than 250 employees you are going to have to work up hill all the way.

A lot of people have this concept of what makes  good prospective candidate or an “A Player”.  They think that GPA or SAT score is the best predictor.  I would argue that SAT score probably indicates that someone could perform better quantitatively.  But there is a breaking point beyond which none of this matters.  Someone’s SAT score or GPA ceases to become a differentiator when you hire someone who is motivated by money and you just can’t pay them more than Amazon or motivate them to work a little harder when the only reason they took your job was because they were staging for their next round of interviews.

Things can work the other direction too.  You could hire someone who is completely unmotivated or who is behind the times.  While this is truly a possibility, it should could just as well be true that the A Player that you are trying to recruit will only be motivated to study about your industry long enough to get the job.  You still have to make sure you do a great job of interviewing candidates for your job openings.

What To Watch Out For
There are a lot of students, especially at larger schools, who are essentially logo collectors.  They will look for the best collection of big well known company logos to add to their resume above all else.  They don’t mind being a low end manual tester for Microsoft or Amazon as long as they get the logo on their resume.  They are easy to spot – ask them what other companies that they are applying for jobs at.  If they say Microsoft, it is probably a good idea to move on. Some people just need to get this out of their system so let them.  It is that or lose them when you can least afford to because they act on their logo hobby.

There are other common variables, but you get the idea.  This applies with interns, entry level hires, and people who are well into their professional career.

Related discussion over on Hacker News

  

Exceptional Client Team Exits

Five software product teams that we have helped build from the C-Level down to the worker bee level here in Washington, DC and San Francisco have had successful exits in the last couple of years. Several of these were in the $50-117 Million range while others were not disclosed.  If you have an awesome team or startup dream and want to build the best team then let’s talk.  We prefer to work with exceptional teams and are always looking for new and interesting challenges.