Is Recruiting Suffering Due To Job Board Dependence?

As a recruiting agency owner, I trawl job ads every now and then for leads. I did this this past week and I found that one of the major staffing agencies is posting their jobs AS the employer when they are a) not doing RPO or retained searches (where they are hired to manage a search exclusively) and b) not disclosing any notion to the job seeker that they are an agent representing the employer. My first instinct is that this is legally fraud. I asked two national communities that I am a part of if this a standard practice and the answer was mostly silence with a few nods that it was? Maybe this is due to the growing backlash against recruiters who post their ads that get completely ignored by developers and software industry professionals, but I think it has more to do with something else: job board dependence.  So today I want to pose the following question and talk a bit about it: Is recruiting suffering due to job board dependence?

The irony is that my peers who own staffing agencies and the staffing industry recruiters nearly all agree that job boards are causing a race to the bottom that is not good for them either.  What happens is that a staffing company enters into a contract with an employer and that allows the employe to refuse to give credit to the agency if the employer already has that candidate’s name in their database.  If the employer has a the same job board account as the agency then it is a matter of who searches first in theory, but often the employers are using job boards as part of “their database”.  This is only part of the problem.

The race to the bottom essentially involves staffing agencies who do a search of job board accounts first thing in the morning for fresh resumes.  They all talk to the same candidates who just updated their resumes and then they race to get credit for submitting the same candidates to the their clients.  Problems arise when candidates get hounded via phone and email by agency recruiters including national and offshore call center recruiters.  These same recruiters add these candidates to their databases ensuring that future calls will happen.  Since it is literally a race to reach candidates, recruiters have gotten to the point where they just start calling people who were a certain percent match without even glancing at the substance of the resume.

Candidates stop taking the recruiting calls seriously and they say “sure” to a recruiter who asks them if anyone else has contacted or represented them to a client.  So what happens is multiple agencies represent the same candidate to the same employer.  Chaos, confusion, resentment (by all parties) ensues and fallout ensues.  This drives good recruiters out of the agency world into corporate recruiting and just fuels the intensity of the bad recruiter’s management teams’ efforts to win the race.  Nobody wins.

One discussion among agency owners that I was part of yesterday centered around whether or not this dependence on job boards is driving a race to the bottom which is where the inspiration for this post comes from.  I should point out that my contribution to this discussion is simply that the team here at staffmagnet, LLC stopped using job boards in early 2008 after we conclusively decided that job boards were a source of problems and problem candidates, not of top quality hires.  We supported this decision with data collected across a very active recruitment process outsourcing client base and have not looked back.  In 2014 we reluctantly eliminated paid LinkedIn from our candidate sourcing mix after the data conclusively indicated that response rates on LinkedIn had been declining rapidly for the past few years while top quality software industry professionals (especially developers) were closing their LinkedIn accounts faster than they were opening them.  Today I would classify LinkedIn as a job board just like Monster, Careerbuilder or Dice.

This creates a significantly different candidate sourcing process that we have developed internally using software that we created on our own.  So while other agencies look for cheap entry level or early career recruiters who do not ask questions about what is ethical or borderline fraud or just scorched earth recruiting we continue to innovate and evolve our process.  From what our agency peers and recruiting peers are telling me these days it is time for some AA for staffing agencies and staffing agency recruiters who are addicted to job boards.  Sometimes it is the first step that is the hardest.  Maybe it is time agencies to step away from the job board centric recruiting business model.

  

Do Most Recruiters Have Their Eye One The Wrong Ball?

Do Most Recruiters Have Their Eye One The Wrong Ball?  A couple of weeks ago I posted my personal resume on the major job boards as part of an experiment to see what the active job seeker experience is like and then I described my experience.  Developers who are angry with recruiters who haunt them may be disappointed to learn that even recruiters get recruiter spam, but there is a potential lesson to be learned here.  The lesson as I see it is that the vast majority of recruiters have been brought up as sales people, not recruiters.  The ones who get got at the job evolve, but along the way many of them just form bad habits and stick by them.

Here is my theory: staffing agencies are are essentially the breeding ground for recruiters.  It isn’t like you go to college and major in recruiting. Sure, you can major in business and get a concentration in human resources but that isn’t recruiting.  Let’s take a look at the traditional staffing agency model:

Staffing Agency Business People

Managers and Administrators
You have a branch manager or market leader who is essentially the sales manager and an administrative assistant or office manager.  The manager’s job is to hire, motivate, and fire.  Sometimes they will providing some training, but more often they will just be responsible for overseeing metrics and performance.  The manager is most often someone who was good at sales, not recruiting.  I will get to how this comes about in a moment.  The administrator’s job is to handle internal and external payroll.  External payroll is billable consultants (people placed on contract or contract to hire).

Account Managers
Then you have an account manager or sales representative.  While these folks often call themselves “recruiters”, they are sales reps 80+% of the time.  They have two obligations: 1) meet metrics that the company requires of them (and that the manager is responsible for at the branch level on an aggregate basis), and 2) drive revenue.  Most staffing agencies place a higher emphasis on recurring revenue than on one time spikes in revenue.  If you peel back the curtain long enough to see that this is how things work you begin to understand that a staffing agency sales rep is most concerned with how many hours are billed, not whether the right person is placed. Why? Simple: you can replace one billable person with another one more easily than you can place the right person.  This model works very well for body shop companies that work assembly line style or companies that want to have a workforce that they do not have employer-employee relationships with.  There are various motivations for this that involve corporate finance that I am not going to get into here.  For these sales reps to build relationships with candidates or to engage in recruiting would be inconsistent with their charter.  Some do it anyway because they want to make more money, but doing so is not the optimal model for staffing agencies.

Recruiters
Recruiters are considered to be scavengers in the same way that Google’s web crawlers go out and search the web in search of content to be served up by Google.  They are usually hired early in their career, but not entry level.  They are people who are willing to work for less than a sales rep or account manager and who don’t mind doing whatever they are told.  Why? That is simple: recruiting is driven by sales.  The sales team brings in a series of job orders that have a shelf life of a few days or a few weeks.  Priorities are shuffled according to the hot deal.  Agencies refer to this as “working closest to the dollar”.  So you get a team of recruiters who support one or more account managers and their job is essentially to be like a swat team for job orders brought in.  To impress a new client an agency will have a group of recruiters work fast to put bodies up.  This results in a scramble that is often frenetic and completely chaotic.

Take this email from a staffing agency recruiter that I received.  Note that I ONLY redacted the names and locations.  The email was sent out in such a hurry that the recruiter forgot to populate the form fields.

“Greetings,
My name is <recruiter name> and I’m an IT recruiter at <staffing agency name>. 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 <staffing agency city and state>.

Direct Client Requirement
<same city and state as staffing agency>
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,
<recruiter name>

Call Center Recruiters & Offshore Recruiters
In this particular case the recruiter might event be an offshore or national recruiter.  There has been a trend towards offshore and national call center staffing agency teams being deployed instead of local branches.  I will not even get into this right now, but it is something that is become more and more a fixture in recruiting.

These recruiting scrambles or swat team efforts result in a bunch of energy going out into the professional community.  Because the goal is to impress a client with a quick turnaround time and because the account manager an branch or market manager believes they can quickly replace the billable consultant that they are going to place it really isn’t a priority to find the best person.  The goal is to just find someone that is what is called the “most placeable candidate”.

The Staffing Agency Business Model

So what you essentially get is a flurry of activity from an account manager motivated by metrics and team of recruiters working who are all working closest to the dollar to find the most placeable candidate for your hot job.  Rinse, repeat, and start over ever time a new client comes in.  With this business model recruiters are like sprinters who do not have time to work on building ties in the community much less with candidates.  Worse, since a broad set of metrics govern account manager activity, billable hours are more important than niches which means that anything that is a billable hour is good for business.

This is not a problem if you are running a temp agency or if your company needs to hire people for simple repetitive tasks like installing computers or working on a help desk, but if you need to hire the best and the brightest in your area or a niche area then you are better off doing it yourself most of the time.

What happens most of the time is that recruiters get promoted into account manager roles or they leave and take jobs doing something else somewhere else.  They often take a job doing what they were recruiting people for that paid a lot of money or they get jobs working in corporate recruiting.  This essentially preserves the sales culture of staffing agencies and helps to ensure that companies value staffing agencies (in cases where agency recruiters go into corporate recruiting).

Recruiters Have Their Eyes The Wrong Ball

If you don’t have time to do a deep dive as a recruiter you can still help a company.  Staffing agencies traditionally try to resolve this by having divisions (e.g. temp and administrative, search (fee for placement which is more like taking a laundry list of candidates and marketing it to employers), accounting and finance, health care, legal, tech).  The problem is that you still have the same problems.

For example: A recruiter working to find computer installers, cash register printer installers, help desk technicians and ERP integrators is going to have a really tough time knowing the first thing about a particular JavaScript framework or other web architecture.

They will be looking for people like products at a retail store.

For example: I need to find a CSS HTML JavaScript AngularJS developer with a CS Degree.

The problem with this is that your scatterbrained recruiter (by work environment) is going to have no idea what any of these technologies are or what informs someone’s ability to use them.  It isn’t that they don’t want to, it is just that they do not have time to.

For example: To be good with CSS you should probably be a visual person who understands geometry and who has some fundamental art training that includes colors, design trends and how to use design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator.  You should be able to tell the difference between a portfolio full of brochure websites and web user interfaces that are dynamic (e.g. Web 2.0).  You also need to know enough about editors to know that someone using vi and Sublime Text is much more likely than someone using Dreamweaver or Front Page to be a good developer.  And that is just me getting started.

A quick study recruiter who is really smart could figure this stuff out, but only after burning a lot of candidates by having irrelevant conversations with the wrong people.  Agency swat efforts are not concerned with audience analysis or preparing your recruiting effort.  They are principally concerned with metrics.  You don’t have time to go out and study the subject matter.  Even if you did, the next job to hop in your lap will be something completely unrelated.

One of the organizations that is most prolific when it comes these sorts of activities has resorted to using alternate email addresses to send out emails to reduce spam flagging of their recruiter’s emails.

For example: They use firstname.lastname.B1@staffingagencyname.com (note the “.B1″ between the sender’s last name and the @ symbol in the address.

Another large company has literally created two separate by collaborating brand names that operate in unison despite pretending to the outside world that they are separate so that if one operating brand creates a bad impression or has a conflict of interest the other can step in with immunity.

I could not make this stuff up.  It is real and it is a real problem and the recruiting industry players are well aware of it and the backlash against it.  An this is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you are looking for recruiting help you really have to consider who you are working with and what it means for your business. Not only do these issues set you up for problems in the short term by netting you people that you probably do not want to hire and definitely should not hire even if you need someone really badly, but they also create a terrible impression of you as a company.  I will take this last aspect up in a separate discussing recruitment related audience engagement.

Seeking A Solution

The first step toward solving this problem is better management and recruiting silos.  I have seen this happening with a select few agencies, but not with the vast majority of them.  Silos like Technical Recruiting need to be broken up into more component parts than they are currently in.  Staffing Agencies with one technical recruiting team are simply out of date and should be breaking their teams up into more agile groups or divisions.

For example: A business unit that works with enterprise and ERP systems should not be attempting to recruit open source web application developers (e.g. Ruby, PHP, Python, JavaScript, Java).  Each of these business units needs to understand that recruiting Java people for Enterprise and ERP is going to be totally different from recruiting Java people for web application development.  Occasionally there will be some overlap, but more often than not these are completely different areas that require completely different people recruiting for them.

I am not optimistic that large staffing agencies will change their ways.  Their model works and will continue to make money for them.  This means that if you are an employer and you are looking for high quality help that is relevant to your unique needs or even your niche needs (e.g. finding a full stack Ruby on Rails developer, finding a full stack Python Developer, finding a Data Scientist, finding a front-end developer, finding someone to develop or enhance your business’s proprietary algorithms) then you need a specialist.

If you want the best, give let us know.  staffmagnet, LLC is the leading recruitment firm for consumer, mobile and B2B web application product companies.  staffmagnet’s recruiters specialize in early to growth stage companies and does not jump around every day.  We are invested in the open source developer community and even engage with it as developers due to our software driven business model.

For more information visit: http:www.staffmagnet.com, send us an email via email@staffmagnet.com, or give us a call at 202-330-3909 today.

  

How To List MOOCs On My Resume

This past week I have been really interested in MOOCs after nearing the end of one that I decided to take.  I signed up for a few additional courses this week as well.  I noticed that a lot of people were asking the same question: “How to list MOOCs on my resume or online profile?”.

Suggested Formatting:

Create a section on your resume that is part of your education section and call it “Continuing Education”.  Then list the courses out underneath it with information just like this:

EDUCATION
BS, Computer Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, December 2001
Activities:…

Continuing Education:
Web Application Architecture (Ruby on Rails), University of New Mexico (via Coursera.com), September 2014
next course here, etc.

For Listing Extensive Coursework
If you have taken more than 3-4 online courses that are not part of a degree program then you should not try to list them all. Instead, do this instead:

Continuing Education:
16 Computer Science and Math Courses Completed (via Coursera.com), September 2013-September 2014, For a detailed list visit http://www.mywebsite.com/continuinged

This way you can list as many courses as you want.  You can even create a tab or link on your website or blog to your online transcript and link back to the course pages.

  

Is It Ok To Put MOOC Courses On My Resume?

This article originally appeared on the staffmagnet, LLC blog HERE.  The Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) movement has lead many people to start adding MOOCs to their online activities.   With services like Coursera, EDx and UDacity you can take an online course from most top Ivy League and elite Universities (e.g. Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, UPenn, Duke, Rice University) as well as an increasing number of non-Ivy’s non-elite ones.  If you take a course on Coursera you can pay a $49 fee to get a certificate for courses that you have completed.  It isn’t long before you begin to consider whether or not you could substitute courses taken across different universities for actual degree programs.  So if you are like me, you are probably thinking something along the lines of: “Is ok to put MOOC Courses on my resume?” which would not be out of line.

The simple answer is that you absolutely can and should put MOOC Courses on your resume provided that you are not just bing watching watching MOOCs like you are binge watching House of Cards or Game of Thrones or The Good Wife. The reason being that you should be successfully completing the quizzes and exercises in these programs so that you master the material.  If there is outside reading required then you should do that too.  In other words, you should be able to treat a course on Coursera just like a live course.  After all, the only difference is that you are not in the classroom.  Sometimes the content may be a little watered down from the real classroom, but in my experiences taking classes from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business or from Princeton or from the University of New Mexico Computer Science Department the courses are rigorous and the exercises require a commitment to the course.

You may not find everyone will agree with me on this.  I personally would not weight a compilation degree involving Coursera degrees and a completed degree from a four year college or multi-year masters degree program equally.  There are differences in the overall experience.  The same is true with programs like the University of Phoenix or Devry or the ITT Technical Institute, but if I had to compare someone who learned Computer Science or Programming from Coursera or a four year college vs. a technical trade school like Devry or ITT then I would still substantially downgrade the certificate or “degree” from a Devry or ITT.  For University of Phoenix or Strayer or Kaplan University, or similar programs, that would be something that I would rate higher than a Devry or ITT, but much lower than a traditional four year degree program.

Much of the scale that I use for consideration of educational credentials has to do with who the instructors are, what the quality of the curriculum is, what the quality of the instructional materials are, and most important of all: what is the caliber of the peer group in classes.  For example: if you take a Coursera you really do not have a “peer” group.  If you take an course via Kaplan University or the University of Phoenix you are getting whoever was willing to respond to that free red Lobster ad in Yahoo! Mail or on a random website or someone who was a lead culled from other methods.  This is not always the case, but just can’t suspend disbelief long enough to consider someone chose KU or UP for the rigor or program quality just like I can’t for Devry or ITT Tech.  I am going to take someone who went to a traditional four year degree program more seriously.

BUT, what I do take more seriously than where someone took a course or earned a degree is what their actual capabilities and experiences are.  For example: if you are applying for a job programming in Python I am going to have an in depth conversation with you about that.  So if you took two MOOCs on Python and that helps you to have a discussion about Python then you are probably better off than if you had not.  Also, if you took those courses and can use Python as a result of them then you are better off.

Ultimately, your resume is a snapshot of who YOU are.  If you are improving your skill set and becoming a better professional by taking MOOCs then by all means share it on your resume.

Update:
Here is a question that I found on Reddit this morning:
Would a MOOC Course be considered in lieu of a undergraduate course requirement for graduate school?

  

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.   We 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 <company name removed>. 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.