Hiring the right people – how, when, why?

April 14, 2008

Business Card BoardImage by mtsofan via Flickr

The gang here at wediaup have been thinking about the not too distant future when we will have to hire a couple of developers. Now things start to get interesting – because all the theory and BS we’ve thrown around has to get a little more concrete. We talk about wanting the “google” atmosphere and all – but are we really ready to walk-the-walk?

I found a couple of good articles about how to hire and one theme seems to be the good hires don’t really need a resume:

There is no surprise then that only 1 of our 3 existing team members actually had to submit a resume to us, which we never read twice. All 3 were hired from our network of influence either because we worked with them previously or because they came highly recommended from people we knew.

As scary as that sounds – it’s more true than we think. The idea seems to be we need to really look for people where ever we can find – but reality says we’re not going to hire too far outside of our network. The risk just increases so much as we get further away.

Seth Godin has a great post at his site that says “Why bother having a resume?

This is controversial, but here goes: I think if you’re remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a resume at all. Great people shouldn’t have a resume.

The post goes on to say you need some more original that a resume, he gives examples:

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects? Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch? Or a reputation that precedes you? Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

But my favorite part is when he says some will say, “well, that’s fine, but I don’t have those.”

Yeah, that’s my point. If you don’t have those, why do you think you are remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular? It sounds to me like if you don’t have those, you’ve been brainwashed into acting like you’re sort of ordinary.

The other big opportunity is hiring talent from the inside via intern. Joel Spolsky of joelonsoftware.com is a big fan of this approach.

Numerically, great people are pretty rare, and they’re never on the job market, while incompetent people, even though they are just as rare, apply to thousands of jobs throughout their career. So now, Sparky, back to that big pile of resumes you got off of Craigslist. Is it any surprise that most of them are people you don’t want to hire?
Look for the hot new technology of the day. Last year it was Python; this year it’s Ruby. Go to their conferences where you’ll find early adopters who are curious about new things and always interested in improving.

So – at the end of the day (well maybe quarter) we still need to find that right person. How do you write that job description and where do you put it? I guess it still comes down to that network and conversation.

So I guess what I am asking is who wants to talk about developers?

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