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Skipping Traditional Recruitment, Going Straight To the Source 207

Posted by timothy
from the by-which-they-mean-the-source dept.
theodp writes "Out of necessity, reports Slate, tech startups are changing the way workers are screened and hired. Take database technology startup RethinkDB, whose old-school recruiting effort — job boards, external recruiters — yielded hundreds of resumes, dozens of phone screens, and numerous four-hour meetings with viable candidates, but no one who fit their criteria. 'They [recruiters] can't tell the difference between the competent ones and the stars,' complained Y Combinator's Paul Graham. Instead, the RethinkDB founders turned to sites like Github.com and stackoverflow.com to pick up six people (they're still looking), a mix of full-timers and interns, both senior and junior. 'You can see the code being written and how technically accurate they are,' explained RethinkDB's Michael Glukhovsky."
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Skipping Traditional Recruitment, Going Straight To the Source

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  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @02:30AM (#33401358)

    I've never used one/been contacted by one, I've gotten my jobs the old fashion way of knowing someone who works there :D. However a good friend of mine was recently out of work for a long time and talked with numerous recruiters (he used every avenue he could to get a job). He'd call me regularly to vent about the process. They were just universally stupid in the questions they asked. They did not at all understand the kinds of positions they were hiring for and had a very much "One size fits all," attitude. For example some of them just flat couldn't deal with his years of consulting. It was a legit business, actual company (consisting of just him) making money and so on. However they couldn't deal with the fact that he didn't have a boss, and that the company phone number was his cell. There was no conception that someone might have worked for themselves. That wasn't the only stupid thing, just one example of many.

    To me it really does seem like they provide little value to companies other than maybe to gather resumes, but there has to be a better process for that. Also, their process seemed like what it was most likely to get you was good liars. They didn't ask the right questions so someone who answered honestly wouldn't pass screening in almost all cases. So the candidates you would get would likely be the ones who were willing to just answer in the manner they thought was most likely to get them past that phase.

    Maybe he just had a really bad experience, but it has given me a really poor opinion of recruiting companies. Seems to me like this company is on the right track: Do your own searches for people you want, solicit resumes, interview potential candidates first round, etc. Don't think some recruiter will filter all but the best, unless by "best" you mean "People who will say what it takes to get past that step."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1s44c (552956)

      ...there has to be a better process for that...

      Linkedin should be that better process. Sadly people give out recommendations like confetti. I've worked with a sociopath and a lazy slimeball ( two people ) who both got good recommendations on there.

      If you can't even trust personal recommendations recruiting anyone will be a very hard process.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jedi Alec (258881)

        I've worked with a sociopath and a lazy slimeball ( two people ) who both got good recommendations on there.

        From each other, by any chance? ;-)

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @04:03AM (#33401636)

        The problem is that people view social networking as just some sort of big ole' party. Most people I know can't believe I won't accept any and every Facebook friend request. For me, it is someone I know that I would consider a friend, even if fairly distantly. For most people, the more the merrier. They just say "yes" to anything.

        Well that attitude spills over to Linkedin, even though it is supposed to be more professional. People just associate with whoever the hell they happen to know, regardless of how they think of the person. I know people who have "linked" with people they really don't like.

        The kind of recommendation I'd take is an actual, in person, personal recommendation from someone I know who's judgment I trust. Those kind of people would have trouble looking me in the eye and lying to me (that's why I trust them). That doesn't guarantee anything, maybe they don't know something about the person or have misjudged them, but it is a much better sign.

        In terms of more cold hiring I think companies just have to put in some more legwork. I work at a university and our hiring process is all our own. Does mean that you have to work more at it, the manager has to write up the position, HR posts it on the site (it can be posted/linked elsewhere is you like), resumes are collected and the manager has to review them, decide who to interview, etc. Not as easy as just telling some recruiter "Go find me a programmer," but you get better candidates. For example in the campus environment, we've found that hiring student employees to staff, if they are interested, works well. Pay is lower than industry but benefits, including work environment, tend to be good. Students who are interested in working there know this and are ok with it, whereas other applicants sometimes view it as a temp job due to the pay.

        I think companies need to be more willing to do that. Yes, it sucks to have to spend more time on hiring, it is a crap process. However if you want candidates that fit you better it is what you have to do.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          The problem is that people view social networking as just some sort of big ole' party.

          More like a bath house with a lot of glory holes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sphealey (2855)

          > In terms of more cold hiring I think companies just have to put in some more
          > legwork. I work at a university and our hiring process is all our own. Does
          > mean that you have to work more at it, the manager has to write up the
          > position, HR posts it on the site (it can be posted/linked elsewhere is
          > you like), resumes are collected and the manager has to review them, decide
          > who to interview, etc. Not as easy as just telling some recruiter "Go find me
          > a programmer," but you get better

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Surt (22457)

            +1.

            I have never seen a company where HR is the first level screen. Not even at a very large company. They MAY be the second level screen, e.g., they may have a kill option for someone who they think cannot legally work at the company. But beyond that, their involvement is usually pretty limited until the hiring division is ready to proceed to making an offer.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Runaway1956 (1322357)

            "what I want to know is what has this person _done_, what has he/she accomplished,"

            Should be worth some moderator's points. Any one on slashdot can probably look around, and find someone with certs to hell and back - but they've never DONE anything. Take another look around. Find the company gopher, or maybe the janitor, or possibly the receptionist - one of the crowd that you just take for granted. What HAVE they done? Especially if that nobody is a military veteran, he/she may know some great ways to

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bjourne (1034822)

        Linkedin should be that better process. Sadly people give out recommendations like confetti. I've worked with a sociopath and a lazy slimeball ( two people ) who both got good recommendations on there.

        People are corrupt. They value their friends above the common man and will give them a free pass no matter what. When Joe recommends his good friend Mike, who he knows is a shitty developer, it is the same form of corruption as when politicians accept bribes. It is very unfair to those who are not "linked in."

        • by kg8484 (1755554)
          It's not even people giving recommendations to friends. It's people giving recommendations to anyone. Some jackass who went to the same college as me simply spammed everyone who went to there asking for recommendations. Perhaps back in the day it was a bit of the norm for people from the same university to skip together, but my school had nearly 5k people in it's graduating class and I certainly wouldn't vouch for just anyone from there. However, with the level of anonymity and lack of accountability on Lin
        • by Surt (22457) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @10:39AM (#33403012) Homepage Journal

          Soft skills like the ability to make friends, work together without coming to blows, etc, are frequently valued more highly by employers than pure technical skills. Right or wrong (and I happen to think right), that makes being "linked in" an early proxy for those skills, and is in no way 'unfair' to those who can't make friends. If you can't work easily and comfortably and sociably with significant numbers of people, we really can't use you in our large organization.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomhudson (43916)

        Linkedin is no better.

        The process is broken, simple as that.

        Your resume says NOTHING about who you are, and what you can do. It makes no difference between 20 years experience, and 1 year 20 times. And everyone lies on there resumes.

        Keyword matching is the worst - and it's going to cost you candidates.

        My resume had zero experience writing multithreaded servers in c, but the place I eventually worked at, their lead was leaving, and they had tried a half-dozen others before they decided to "scrape th

        • by TheLink (130905)
          > can handle a thousand requests a second (including db lookups on the same low-end hardware),

          I remember a more than a decade ago stuff like Apache could only do 500-600 hits per sec for static pages.

          In comparison, I wrote a number of servers (dhcp, http etc) in perl in my previous job and performance wasn't an issue. Thank goodness for AMD and Intel :). The "db lookups/writes" part can often be the bottleneck because the hard drives slow stuff down more than stuff like perl/python does.

          Doing stuff the "
        • by Kjella (173770)

          It's also why I absolutely refuse to hand out a resume. I am *not* my resume, and my resume is not me. If you have a problem, either I can fix it, or I'll tell you that I can't. The main concern really isn't that anyway (studies show that the leading cause of project failure is bad communications, not lack of technical skills).

          Well that only works for employers if everyone has (1) good self-assessment skills and (2) sell them conservatively. The problem for employers, and particularly prospective employers, is that most people don't. I think everyone promotes their strengths and cover their weaknesses in an interview, and some people exaggerate far more than that. Not only the psychopaths but also people that are unemployed and desperately in need of a paycheck. In some cases, it's plain out lies and fraud. Sometimes they simply

          • All that is well and good, but it ignores my key point - the vast majority of IT failures have nothing to do with people's technical skills, but management's failure to communicate. Technical skills can be acquired (and when you're developing new technology, obviously it's the only way to go, since there is no prior art, etc.) - communications skills, obviously not so easily.

            The use of extensive testing is an easy way to cover up for the lack of a proper way to assess the more important aspect - is the person a good communicator? Not in the "marketing/powerpoint/bs" fashion, but can they take a concept and teach it to someone else on the team?

            Stick them in front of a whiteboard and have them give a talk about something. Did you understand it? If so, they've demonstrated 4 things - that they know it, that they know it well enough to explain it to others, and that others can understand their style of communicating, and that they also know how to listen (more on that in a sec).

            15 minutes to a half-hour should be all that's needed. If they wash out on communications skills, then it doesn't matter how hot-shot prima donna they are with code. If they're good communicators, they got that way by listening to others, and adapting their "pitch" to the abilities of their audience.

            It's a simple test, with a simple pass/fail standard - did you understand what they were talking about? If they bored the crap out of you, they're a poor communicator. If they kept having to pause for 15 seconds to 1 minute to "fill the pipeline", they're not really on top of the subject matter, so you've also eliminated the "BS-ers".

            You also get to see if they're really enthusiastic about what they do, or if it's just a job, so you cover the "desperate for a job" motivation as well - someone who's enthusiastic will easily be able to go beyond the 15-30 minutes. It also lets you see if anyone else in the room is not going to be a good fit, personality-wise, during any Q and A. Do they get into a "pissing match?" If so, who started it, and how did the other person handle it? (You might want to have a "plant" for doing exactly that).

            Of course, this is just too simple and obvious, just like using two screens is a simple and obvious way to improve productivity, from secretaries to coders and everyone else, but most companies won't do it.

            Fear. They'd rather trust in some mythical scores so that if it doesn't work out they can CYA by saying "the checkboxes looked good." Do we pick our other relationships like that? I hope not - and work is just as much a relationship as any other.

        • by jadavis (473492)

          hire a programmer on a contract basis to help them weed out candidates.

          That is logical in a lot of ways, and it solves the problem of getting rid of candidates you don't like before they hurt your organization.

          However, it may eliminate a lot of very good candidates. At the younger end, it eliminates the hotshots who want stock options; and at the older end it eliminates those with families who want good benefits. And it eliminates anyone who needs to relocate or otherwise make a significant commitment (and

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tomhudson (43916)
            I think you misunderstood - I wasn't saying hire a contractor as a replacement during the hiring process - "hire a programmer on a contract basis to help them weed out candidates." - and only that.

            In other words, come in one afternoon or evening a week, or on a weekend, and sit in on the interviews, then give your opinion on the pros and cons of the candidate.

            Certainly a lot better than anything that a recruiting agency will do, and cheaper in the long run.

            • by jadavis (473492)

              Yeah, I totally missed your point. An interesting idea.

              I think it would only work when trying to build a team initially, to get the first few good people in the door.

              If you bring him in after you already have a team, then it would be a huge slap in the face to your existing developers.

              • by tomhudson (43916)

                Or you could explain to your existing developers that they can sit in on the process, but you want an outsiders point of view as well, to, among other things, not make anyone feel they *have* to speak up against a candidate if they're not comfortable passing judgment on someone else, or that it was "their fault" if someone was picked who later washed out.

        • And everyone lies on there resumes.

          I do NOT lie on my resume.

          Two years ago when I was looking for a job, a recruiter even asked me to lie and say that I had experience in .NET. Instead I told them not to represent me and to never call me again.

          And while it may take time to notice, integrity pays off in the long run. 3 months ago, I found out that the project I that work on did not have any enhancements for the current development cycle. Everything for this system was shelved for "future" releases. However,

      • by JamesP (688957)

        If you can't even trust personal recommendations recruiting anyone will be a very hard process.

        Well, there you go, you can't. Or better, who trust personal recommendations?!

        I know for example if person X recommends me someone I would trust much more than person Y

      • by PPH (736903)

        I've never used LinkedIn or any other such online system. But my impression is that there is minimal, if an, cost incurred by people who give out (or invite in) people who turn out to be losers.

        This is difficult enough to track IRL. You hire someone who ends up being a goof. But if its been a while, you can't remember who it was that initially dropped his/her name. Theoretically, a database should be able to chain back to the source and modify a credibility score. But while this strategy might work in an ad

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      One good thing about recruiters is that they do the dirty rotten lying that I don't want to do myself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Beowulf_Boy (239340)

      My mom ran a very profitable business for about 20 years, from before I was born until I was 16 or so.

      When I was 16 my parents got a divorce, long story short, my dad was to blame.

      She had a hell of a time finding a new job, because the only job she'd ever had since highschool was as the office manager for her own business. At times they'd had up to 10 employees, she did all the payroll, bid on jobs, everything on the office with the help of one secretary, etc etc.

      No one wants to hire someone when they can't

      • I guess this story would make more sense if I said it was my dad who ran the other side of the business (labor / running the equipment). So when they divorced, the business was dissolved.

      • I guess it's tough to get a "job" after having been a business owner. I've met someone in that boat as well. Perhaps if a person is good at running a business and they need to (or have to) dissolve the business, the best option would be to start another one.

        Not that it would be easy, but the decision to be entrepreneurial is often a one way street from what I've seen and heard. Perhaps the mindset requirement is to be open to starting up more than once.

        The guy I met who was in that boat ended up finding
      • by Surt (22457)

        This seems like an inexpensive problem to solve. You buy a pay as you go cell phone, and answer 'Beowulf Inc, how may I direct your call?', in your best secretary voice. Then whoever they ask for, you answer in a different voice, and answer their questions about your employment. You can set up a website to back this for a combined cost of maybe $50 / year.

      • Many times companies don't want to hire people who have been self employed because those who have been self employed are used to being able to set their own schedule and to having the final say in how things are done. They often have trouble getting used to taking instructions from someone who has a better understanding of the "big picture" than they do (because when they were self employed, nobody at their company had a better understanding of the "big picture" than they did). On the other hand, companies
    • The distrust of recruiters is well placed. I don't know how many of them I've come across who say something like, "We need someone who knows SQL databases." I've gone so far as to ask them, "Which one? You realize that SQL is a language, not a database." I usually get blank stares as a result.

      We recently went through some rounds of interviews. We usually bring the candidate into a conference room with the entire team and sit with him or her for a couple of hours and ask questions and just talk. One of

      • by Surt (22457)

        We try to hire for someone who knows sql databases on a pretty regular basis. We need someone who knows sql databases. Preferably comfortable working with as many as possible.

      • by sphealey (2855)

        > The distrust of recruiters is well placed. I don't know how many of
        > them I've come across who say something like, "We need someone who
        > knows SQL databases." I've gone so far as to ask them, "Which one?
        > You realize that SQL is a language, not a database." I usually
        > get blank stares as a result.

        I have substantial Oracle RDBMS experience on my resume, so of course whenever a company in my area is implementing Oracle Financials I get dozens of calls from fly-by-night recruiters who want to

    • Most recruiters are a waste of time, but the good ones are fantastic. All my best jobs have come through recruiters.

      That said, remember that the company is their customer; you are the slice of beef product.

    • by l0b0 (803611)

      Sounds like it's time for some pink box testing [wordpress.com]

    • by $1uck (710826)
      What's the difference between a used care salesman and a tech recruiter? The used car salesman knows he's lying. Sure it's a joke but there is a lot of truth to that statement.
    • by Macka (9388)

      They were just universally stupid in the questions they asked. They did not at all understand the kinds of positions they were hiring for and had a very much "One size fits all" attitude.

      Another frustrating practice: You reply to a new job Ad the day after its published, but the recruiter says you're too late. Usually this means they've been given a job spec from the employer with instructions to vet the applicants, select the best, then submit maybe the top three. This goes out to 2-3 agencies. What hap

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Since we replaced recruiters with on-line programming tests (we use Codility), I never had to talk to idiots in interviews again. From recruiters we have been getting mostly well-spoken bullshitters.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Like many others I have my resume on my website and it gets a fair amount of traffic. Not a month goes by where some headhunter makes it past the gmail spam filter to tell me that they've read my resume and they want to offer me $JOB_I_AM_NOT_QUALIFIED_FOR_BY_ANY_STRETCH. External recruiters are worse than worthless... but then, so are most HR employees.

    • by Surt (22457)

      Like in anything, there is a range of competencies. A good recruiting company would have viewed your friends' self-run business as a huge positive, an opportunity to advertise him as having that capability to run his own business, drive to succeed, etc.

    • So, what you're saying is there's a huge market opportunity for a credible recruiting company that doesn't give their customers shoddy candidates?

  • by 1s44c (552956) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @02:30AM (#33401360)

    It should be no surprise to anyone who has dealt with job agencies that they are only after their commission. They don't understand IT in any meaningful way and can't tell a monkey from a genius. They are corporate BS artists.

    Having said that sorting one good guy from a few thousand applicants is very, very time consuming.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, and job interviews are often like dating: a scripted, mechanical jump through hoops in which questions are asked and only the canned, standard answers are accepted. They want to see that you're not a weirdo or a kook and that you're properly assimilated, using the right keywords, spinning negative experience into positive, etc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1s44c (552956)

        Yes, and job interviews are often like dating: a scripted, mechanical jump through hoops in which questions are asked and only the canned, standard answers are accepted. They want to see that you're not a weirdo or a kook and that you're properly assimilated, using the right keywords, spinning negative experience into positive, etc.

        Assimilated is right. Most multinationals are full of clueless middle managers who look for people like themselves, everything else scares them. I gave up on big companies after working for a well known oil multinational only to find it was impossible to get anything done without justifying every tiny step to a whole bunch of clueless losers who don't understand any of it.

        In a previous job I once got change control approval to clad my entire building in two foot thick lead to prevent ram parity errors.The f

        • "In a previous job I once got change control approval to clad my entire building in two foot thick lead to prevent ram parity errors."

          And you didn't go through with it? A schoolboy error!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          In a previous job I once got change control approval to clad my entire building in two foot thick lead to prevent ram parity errors.The fools were too dumb to know what they were approving.

          Sounds like ISO9000 retardation. There appears to be an unshakable belief infecting more and more companies that process fixes everything. That process can fully encapsulate knowledge so as long as you follow the process, everything will work out perfectly.

          In the real world process is primarily for stupid people because smart people already know to do the right thing. Of course that's kind of a circular definition of 'smart' but the real world is messy like that.

          • by Surt (22457)

            The real challenge is what you do when the company has gotten large enough and is involved in things that are beyond the capacity of any single human being to fully understand. Most such companies go down the path of developing processes, but the world is waiting to throw huge wads of cash at a better solution.

          • by TheLink (130905)
            Actually having a process, following it AND documenting it (which is part of ISO9000) is good even if it's not the best process.

            It's like doing science- if you do X things consistently, you reduce the number of variables, then it's easier to figure out which is better when you compare it against something. After all if you just saw a scientific research paper with just the results and claims, with no description of the process and how things were allegedly done, the results are near useless and you don't ca
        • by JamesP (688957)

          In a previous job I once got change control approval to clad my entire building in two foot thick lead to prevent ram parity errors.The fools were too dumb to know what they were approving. When I told them they just brushed their ignorance under the carpet and carried on with the same ignorant change control process.

          Well I guess you shouldn't have told them and let them go ahead with it!!!

      • by Tyr_7BE (461429)

        Where are you interviewing where this is the case? So I can never apply there. This is definitely not what we do, and if you interview with me and you give me mechanical answers you're out the door. This is for a fairly large multinational, interviewing for a technical software job. In the technical interviews I'll usually give problems that are borderline unsolvable. There's usually a trick to solve it really efficiently, but if you come up with just the trick and nothing else you're not getting hired

  • I agree 100% WTFA. In the time I've been employed in the I.T. field, it astounds me that managers and bosses hire on the pure premise of line items on a resume and talking-the-talk, and take a side-line approach to not asking or quizzing outside the realm of if the interviewee still has a pulse and is breathing. It seems like everything is taken at face value and if the 'buzz word' scan on the resume succeeds, so-I-guess-we-are-going-to-hire-them approach becomes all to comfortable.

    Any time that I've inte

    • by afidel (530433) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @02:41AM (#33401402)
      HR's the only one with the buzzword matching filter, and lord help any IT department that lets HR do the actual hiring! We match for two things, technical skill and your ability to jell with the team, specific technologies are rarely that important (no must have 5 years experience with Windows 2008 here) because we figure any potential candidate who got that far and passes the sniff test can probably learn on the job.
      • by houghi (78078) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @02:57AM (#33401462)

        HR's the only one with the buzzword matching filter, and lord help any IT department that lets HR do the actual hiring!

        I would say if you think the IT department is some exception, that is because you know it. If they are unable to do it for IT, why do you think they are able to do it for any other department?

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I would say if you think the IT department is some exception, that is because you know it. If they are unable to do it for IT, why do you think they are able to do it for any other department?

          That indeed is the problem with allowing HR to be involved in selection of candidates. Their job is to provide a list of people who can legally apply for the job to the manager, then he hands them back a shorter list of people who should be contacted, then HR disqualifies everyone who obviously can't do the job after the brief contacts, and then interviewing begins. HR's sole job in the hiring process (besides legwork) should therefore be to hate on people. It's unfortunate, but true.
          Also, any HR department

      • by Skapare (16644)

        Unfortunately, in larger companies (and yes, there are people that are happy to work for larger companies), corporate policies get in the way and require HR to do the filtering. Then the IT manager has to choose between using relevant topics that HR is likely to screw up, or use irrelevant topics that will just lead HR to pick at random because everyone matched. Or worse, pick the people that state the lowest required salary (which, BTW, I never put on a resume).

      • by adosch (1397357)

        We match for two things, technical skill and your ability to jell with the team, specific technologies are rarely that important

        ...So you match technical skills but the exact technologies you're looking for aren't important? You're kidding right?

        That comment alone should make you give up doing the hiring and turn it over to someone else.

        That's the whole point to not hire a "...hell of a good guy who get along with everyone but has zero skills in the area you're seeking or lacking in." Where can I put my application in at? Sounds like a hell of a place to work for.

        • by Surt (22457)

          Our place is similar (or who knows, maybe we work for the same place, you never know). We have a few positions that require specific technologies (e.g., Oracle sql expert), but most of our positions just require kick-ass coder willing to learn our technology stack, and with social skills sufficient to fit in.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 28, 2010 @03:06AM (#33401488)

      I'm 20 year old software engineering student and my resume... I wouldn't perhaps say that it is full of lies but I know that it is full of exaggerations. Gross ones. For example, I list Python under my skills even though my knowledge of it is pretty much limited to one course I took.

      I don't like doing that but feel that I am expected to do that. When I browse job advertisements it is obvious that many claim to require skills you would never actually need in such a job. They have often been written by people who aren't software engineers themselves so my process goes like this:

      -See a job that I think I would be skilled enough to do or learn quickly enough

      -Ignore all skills they claim the job to require

      -See if I can in any way justify adding them to my resume without outright lying

      -Try to get to an interview and sort everything out there.

      Of course, if I actually do get to an interview and there is a technical guy present and we begin discussing my skills, I will make it clear what I really can do and what I can not. If there isn't a technical guy present (IE: a mid-sized company is hiring their first in-house webmaster) I pretty much have to use my own judgement about whether I can do the job or not. That is a horrible way to do things because it sometimes wastes employers' time, etc. when I am not actually qualified to do something. But if I wouldn't do it like that, I might not even get to an interview for some job that I would be very competent at.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Beautiful comment. And sometimes you have to lie as much as they do, especially if they're asking for 5 years experience with a technology that was invented 2 years ago. Those bastards are often as guilty at buzzword bingo as we have to be.

        "-See if I can in any way justify adding them to my resume without outright lying"

        Way back in my stupid days, I applied for a calibration technician position. The technical director asked me if I knew how to calibrate a Spectrum Analyzer, and of course I did. It was simple - you just navigated the menus and activated the autocal. He told me that calbra

      • by Skapare (16644)

        I remember one job I interviewed for. They wanted one particular skill I didn't have. I told them I could learn it and be fully productive in 4 to 6 weeks, using all my other skills as a foundation. They declined to offer me the job, saying they really needed to have someone who could hit the ground running. Six months later, they will still looking for that talent.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cetialphav (246516)

        For example, I list Python under my skills even though my knowledge of it is pretty much limited to one course I took.

        I have interviewed lots of people and this kind of thing would get you dumped in my book. I look for three major things in an interview. 1) Personality - can you work with the team and culture. 2) Intelligence - Can you think on your feet and give me some evidence that you use your brain. 3) Do you know what your resume claims.

        It is number 3 that would end up getting you. When someone knows they know product X, I expect them to really know it. So I pick something on the resume and start asking questio

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by winwar (114053)

          "I have interviewed lots of people and this kind of thing would get you dumped in my book. I look for three major things in an interview. ... 3) Do you know what your resume claims."

          And you are part of the problem. He stated a skill that he had. He didn't say he was an expert. You assumed it.

          "So if you put something on the resume, I expect you to know it inside and out."

          That is absurd. And not realistic. If you want specific skills with specific levels of ability they need to be stated very clearly. T

  • by IICV (652597) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @02:38AM (#33401386)

    I have excellent Slashdot karma, does that count?

  • I've talked to Slava a lot, and he's a really smart guy. Unlike most startups, RethinkDB is actually doing innovative things. If you're looking for work in the bay area and you're good at algorithms, GO WORK FOR RETHINKDB!

    (If I didn't have my own startup, I'd be working there right now -- instead I'm cheering them on from afar.)

  • Google does that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @02:46AM (#33401424) Homepage

    Google did that in their glory years. I've been contacted by Google recruiting because of posts I made on comp.lang.c++.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 28, 2010 @03:11AM (#33401498)

    It pretty clear that Slava at RethinkDB is clueless about his problem. Sure, he has trouble finding top people. It apparently has never occurred to him that top people probably don't want to work there. I'm sorry, but from what I can see, it looks positively inane. My version of hell, because I like far tougher problems than can happen in that area.

    Honestly, this strikes me as the narcissists' approach to interviewing. Wake up guy. You're not Bell Labs, and you're not going to get Denis Ritchie to come work for you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It pretty clear that Slava at RethinkDB is clueless about his problem. Sure, he has trouble finding top people. It apparently has never occurred to him that top people probably don't want to work there. I'm sorry, but from what I can see, it looks positively inane. My version of hell, because I like far tougher problems than can happen in that area.

      It seems like its possible. I do like that they are upfront with their salary/stock options. (Stock options that *may* be worth something if this company of geniuses manages to come up with something that could be marketable to a buyout). Pure statistics alone, they will not.

      And I can buy that the management is very technically able (as has been cited here), but not so realistic about hiring.

      Probably read too much Joel on Software. Remember that tripe? He's implicitly and explicitly telling you to go about

    • by tomhath (637240) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @09:27AM (#33402624)

      It apparently has never occurred to him that top people probably don't want to work there

      This seems to be the heart of his problem, although I don't think it's for the reasons you list. He wants experienced database internals programmers who hate SQL, know LISP, and can modify the LINUX kernel. He boasts about getting a whopping $1.25M in funding for 2010. No market for his product and no sales. Those should be huge red flags for anyone with experience in the field (if such a person exists).

    • by JamesP (688957)

      I think you're right

      How much money did they spend screening and pre-screening candidates?! Are all THAT bad?!

      Go ahead and hire someone already. It's not going to suck, unless they are really stupid at finding people (probably not)

      And still, you can always fire the guy.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @05:13AM (#33401802)
    The problem with filtering your developers through Github, or limiting them to those who have contributed to other open-source projects, is that you will be bypassing by some very good prospects for employees.

    Not everybody who works in the field, including many who are very involved with and passionate about their work, also has the time or inclination to be coding in their spare time as well. Sure, you expect people who are dedicated to do some continuing education outside the office, but that's not the same thing. Many people, besides the hectic day at the office, and constant "continuing education" at home, also have families and other interests to deal with.

    For the most part, if you limit your search to open-source contributors, you are skewing your results toward single people, mostly men, who may or may not have any social skills outside work, and leaving behind a great many well-adjusted people with well-balanced lives, who are equally great coders.

    Not to mention that according to most people in the Agile industry, the idea of the "rockstar developer" has been dead for about 2 years. There are damned few of them, and you are making up bogus criteria for trying to identify who they are.
    • If this works for RethinkDB fine. As long as it doesn't become the norm, good luck to them and anyone else that does it. If it does become the norm then a lot of talented people will be leaving the industry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Skapare (16644)

      The rockstar programmer is not dead. They are just working for someone else right now. The conventional job hunt is not the way to find them, for the most part. When they do lose a job (because the company's financial people fail, for example), they usually have contacts in place and can latch a new job quickly. Those that don't have such contacts might build them online. Open source projects are one of the places (though RethinkDB might be working way to narrow with just a couple places). Hopefully, they w

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      For the most part, if you limit your search to open-source contributors, you are skewing your results toward single people, mostly men, who may or may not have any social skills outside work, and leaving behind a great many well-adjusted people with well-balanced lives, who are equally great coders.

      I think it's natural to want to hire people who have coding deep in their DNA, who enjoy programming in their free time, just as if I were to be hiring a gardener I would want to hire one who had some plants of their own.

      Not to mention that according to most people in the Agile industry, the idea of the "rockstar developer" has been dead for about 2 years.

      To most rockstar developers, Agile is probably just another stupid buzzword. So I guess the feeling is mutual.

  • Maybe their requirements are an issue.

    If after hundreds of resumes you still have no-one that "fits the criteria" maybe you're looking for someone who doesn't exist. Or they are not willing to pay enough for someone who can fulfil their obviously very high expectations.

    They are a startup, developing tech "that changes the way how people store and access data" (wow, they must be up to something), and are now looking for people to help them with it. Well the criteria are not listed so hard to say where the

    • by Surt (22457)

      Their website has reasonably detailed listings. I'm qualified to be their performance engineer, but I'm not applying because the pay and options aren't remotely competitive with what I have now.

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @06:37AM (#33402050) Homepage
    I've always found it much better to interact with companies directly. Recruiters rarely know enough about any job to find people that fit the job. I think a used car salesman has more integrity than a recruiter.
    • by Jack9 (11421)

      I've always found it much better to interact with companies directly. Recruiters rarely know enough about any job to find people that fit the job. I think a used car salesman has more integrity than a recruiter.

      I'm not sure where the idea that a recruiter means you somehow don't (ever?) interact with the company before getting hired. You interview. The same as if you were replying to a job posting, which is even weaker than dealing with a recruiter. I'm not sure how getting me interviews with places I might

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        I need to reply out of order for this to work out...

        I don't see how the inability to get a job or find qualified people, is on the recruiter, or why all the headhunter hate in general.

        Out of hundreds of contacts (I know some of you have had thousands, but apparently I'm just this guy) I've had only a couple of invitations to apply that actually matched the skillset on my publicly posted resume. From managers I know who have done hiring from a recuiters' pool of applicants, I know that most of the applicants delivered by headhunters are clearly and obviously unqualified for the positions for which they are presented.

        I'm not sure how getting me interviews with places I might want to work, for people who might want to hire me == lack of integrity.

        Simply, it is because

  • ... We (the GNU Compiler Collection) have a policy about this for our mailing lists:

    "Recruiting postings, including recruiting for GCC or other free software jobs, are not permitted on this list, or on any of the other GCC mailing lists."

    We can't (and won't, of course) prohibit you to contact individual developers personally. Note, however, that most are already employed.

  • Great idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    I would prefer if browsing stack-overflow and similar sites was the preferred way of finding possible workers, like the article said, it shows a much bigger picture, as well as a person's strengths, and major areas of interest. It sure beats a resume that's designed to make the recruit look like a golden angel, especially because there are bound to be hundreds just like it, finding the right guy is pretty much a "pin resumes to the wall, and throw darts" type of science.
  • ... unless you want to find programmers.

  • by weav (158099) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @10:41AM (#33403032)

    My current boss put an ad on Craigslist which said send your CV and write a perl script that does [thing]. I did so. That turned into a 90-min. phone screen in which he grilled me technically, and then he set up an on-site interview. 5 people, 45 min. each, intense technical drilldown.

    The hr person was annoyed that he'd gone to Craigslist (mgr. never told me to say otherwise...), but the mgr. found somebody who could do what he wanted.

  • by helarno (34086) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @10:52AM (#33403130) Homepage

    There's a lot of recruiter hate going on here but it seems to miss the real problem. Having spent the last 6 years on the hiring side, it's very obvious that Jeff Atwood's FizzBuzz problem [codinghorror.com] is too hard for 90% of the people applying for programming positions out there. When you end up with a situation like this, traditional hiring methods just don't work. Job board postings will get you hundreds of resumes in a single day but the quality is really crap and it is prohibitively expensive to do traditional interviews for every single resume received. HR recruiters, hated as they are, actually do provide higher quality candidates than posting on the job boards. However, it's something like an increase from 1% quality candidates to 5% quality. Still very poor.

    We've ended up using a multi-prong approach to hiring ourselves. Besides using recruiters and posting to SIG boards, we've also optimized our candidate screening to handle the flood that comes in from job board postings. Since you can't tell much from resumes (some candidates lie, but an amazing number of good developers are also very bad at writing resumes), we try to call in all but the worst of the resumes received. Then we sit them through an automated testing system (we use Codility [codility.com]). Candidates that pass the equivalent of the FizzBuzz problem are then interviewed by technical interviewers that go over the code with them detail and attempt to thoroughly assess their true skill level. That automated testing step filters out the equivalent of 90% of our candidates, resulting in an almost 90% savings in our HR costs. It's very expensive to have good technical people spending hours interviewing after all, and they tend to hate it anyway.

    It's not perfect. There are of course great people who get rejected or who even refuse to take an automated test. However, automated candidate testing means the difference between our top technical people spending 10% of their time interviewing or 100% of their time interviewing. With the scarcity of really good technical talent, we obviously chose to optimize our techie time.

    • by lgw (121541)

      If this post is Codility buying a 5-digit UID for a slashvertisement, I tip my hat to it. Well turfed!

      But, yeah, if you don't know a trustworthy outside recruiting firm (and I doubt there are more than 3 on the planet), a fizzbuzz-style filter is the most helpful thing around. Even interviewing candidates with 20 years of programming experience, you still find 2 out of 3 can't write a line of code. It's a mystery.

      Of course, you also filter out people so offended by being asked to prove they have a clue t

  • They're not technical people -- if they were, they'd be doing technical things and not recruiting. The details of the job confuse them. The better ones test your basic skills with simple tests, something an HR department could do without having to go through a recruiter. Most of the time the recruiter is associated with a contracting company, though, and the company can try you out for a few months and simply not renew your contract if they don't like you. That's the really big win for them, since it's much

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