Jobs and Hiring – You’re doing it all wrong

My daughter pulled me out of bed to a lazy Sunday morning and we found one of her small fish dead. Well, she’s been frantically waving her ‘magic’ wand to bring it back to life. She even telephoned the ‘fish doctor’ asking for help. At last, we agreed to let go of the fish and is being currently coffined in a freezer.

That was the part of the sad family story. I’m not in a good mood today.

Dying Fish
A dying fish.

On the part of the Online World, I was browsing through Hackerstreet, I stumbled upon few Job Postings (Designers, RubyonRails) and I’m rather amused by the plight of the hiring and recruiting realm of Internet Companies. So, here is my personal opinion about the state of the Companies trying to hire ‘ninjas’, ‘gurus’, ‘hackers’, ‘kick-ass’ designers, developers and janitors.

I’ll rather classify this as a plea to better our design, development and product community, than a rant to what’s currently happening. So, feel free to form your opinion, ignore it, take it with a pinch of salt or hit me with your tantrum of sledgehammer net-slangs. Here we go —

You’re doing it all wrong.

If you’ve been “cast away” for quite a while, let me tell you – it’s a well-known fact that a technical job posting written with an English Literature prose do not work, nor does the overdose of adjectives. If you over-do, over-emphasize and sugar-coat your details, you’ll definitely get very matching candidates — those that over-stretch their skills, over-emphasize their XML, JSON, ‘SOAP’ expertise. What I interpret from most of these job listings are that they’re looking for either the Mythical Desingineer or the hip Brogrammer.

So, how do we fix this?

Get Straight to the point. The bullet list of your requirements need to be simple, concise yet broad enough for the spectrum of skills you’re seeking in a candidate. Here are few, though not the full notes, rendering the prospects of a job listing which is subtle, clear and concise.

Stop being greedy and stop seeking for developers or designers who knows everything (if they know everything, they will likely be best at nothing).

Minimalism, Responsive Design, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, Entrepreneurial in nature, want to be part of something fun, very passionate about every line of code and/or every pixel in their work, Challenge the status-quo and think outside the box, Own their work and exceed expectations.

Wow! That’s quite a mouthful.

And so, these questions pops up.

  • Are you looking for a designer or a co-founder?
  • Are you willing to pay what the designer ask for?
  • Are you granting her a sizable figure of your company’s share?

These are very valid questions, owing to the requirements of such uber talented prospects.

What if we simply that!

  • Good knowledge of CSS3 and HTML5. (To the point.)
  • Knowledge of web-standards. (Experienced and are well informed.)
  • Ability to do graphic designs. (Not afraid to extend their skill-sets.)
  • Typography. (Care about details.)

We’re then looking for a team member and asked just what we need. If someone do a quick browse, they’ll find out that the other team members are doing lot more stuffs which brings to the fact that any new member will tend to learn a lot. The Team is willing to impart more knowledge. Don’t make it sound like you’re demanding the candidate to push all-in and come fully loaded, and just give and give everything she knows.

  • Ask for Javascript, not jQuery. Any good Javascript Programmer can quickly learn jQuery, Dojo, Closure Clojure or any other framework.
  • Ask for experience with a “Version/Source Control” and not “Git”. Git can be taught to any programmer in day or weeks.
  • Most Programmer would have dealt with “AJAX” or “JSON”. If not, they’re either new, else they can read-up and use it in few days.

Hiring Horror
We once got an email from a candidate who made our day!

Bonus: You can even do it better.

Let’s discuss the company that posted those jobs, not to isolate them but as an instance to see how we can improve and attract good talents.

When I read those two listings, as I exclaimed before, “wow” – I decided to do some quick reconnaissance.

  • Dug up what’s underneath their HTML/CSS because they’re looking for one to do more of those. Pretty impressive there. Bharani M was listed as an author. Googled him, went to his twitter feeds and it indeed looks like he is the designer behind the website. They are probably outsourcing their designs for now. So, if a candidate is applying, they’re likely to be alone and won’t have a team to learn from or work with.
  • Their Products page is kind of a let-down. Their product includes a Pinterest clone – Pintile, working on another Pinterest clone, a FlipKart-inspired name with a deal kinda website – The DealKart, an SMSGupshub clone – TextAdda, etc. Most decent designers and developers (the ones being sought after in the job listings) would hesitate working for such companies.
  • They don’t seem to have a Team or are too shy to highlight them. Their “About Us” talks solely about their products and service and nothing about who’s behind the company.

I’m particularly concerned about the last part, the lack of TEAM highlights. There is a very good reason on why you should highlight more about your team than a long list of adjective infested job listings.

Teams should be highlighted well and be upfront. I’ve always considered this as the Honeypot method of hiring good people. There are many advantage to both the company and the candidate; here are two of the most important ones (i) you don’t need to make-up by listing long, boring and out-of-the world job listings (ii) people know with whom and what environment they’ll be working with.

If you’re hiring your first designer or developer, highlight the founding team (business, products, etc). That is good enough. If the candidate know whom they’ll be working with (not working for), you’d have narrowed down your applications.

Alright, I think I missed about Money. Well, money is not a factor at all because a candidate will never be satisfied with how much money she gets, and the employer will never be happy with how much money they spend. It’s always a compromise at both ends and we all know it, live with it. Very few are happy to make peace with money. If it’s not money, then what is it when it comes to hiring new people – it’s more about the team, the experiences, the education of knowledge and ownership. If you hire or got people on your money negotiation skill, well you’ll lose them as easily as you got them.

  • Way to go man. At last someone talking sense 😀

  • Heila

    Money is necessary, but not enough

    • Well, the term "Money is not a factor" should read as, "developers and designers should be given enough money of their worth that money no longer becomes a factor for leaving the company."

  • James

    "Ask for Javascript, not jQuery. Any good Javascript Programmer can quickly learn jQuery, Dojo, Clojure or any other framework."
    The employer has to decide if he is willing to make such an upfront investment. As with programming languages, it takes  time to master a framework, get to know its quirks and pitfalls. In the end, the time until an employee becomes productive matters. And possibly the employer is also concerned with the quality of the written code, which will improve with the experience gained working with a framework.

    In summary, if you really need someone to become productive more or less immediately (as in: no time allotted for learning programming language X / framework Y - not the things unique to the company and project) it makes absolutely sense to require the candidate having experience with a particular framework. BTW this does not imply there won't be any learning/research time at all, but rather that this time just isn't "now".

    • What you're talking is more about a culture-fit, "Are you willing to learn?". Asking for very specific frameworks is for freelance and consulting jobs, not trying to hire someone for the team.

  • Nice post, I agree on all you have said!

  • I definitely agree with your statement regarding companies putting everything and the kitchen sink when it comes to job qualifications. In the area that I currently live in, I've found the type of companies that ask for practically every skill on their job ads have two things in common; they're not great places to work at (terrible culture, adverse to using new technologies, etc...), and the pay for such positions are usually a few dollars above minimum wage. The employers here that have a more focused advert about what skills thy need their potential employees are usually good indicators of high quality workplaces as well.

  • Brilliant Writeup. Respect! 🙂

  • Excellent writeup and spelled well for any hiring manager. I will go by the idea and make sure our team does it right most of the times 🙂

  • awesome!hey! -> business and product *people*I remember seeing a couple of typos in the email part too lol

  • hiyamedia

    Brilliantly portrayed. You are too good @ expressing and impressing.

  • webiyo

    Perfect up to the point and truly rationalistic observation & suggestions  !

    I have always enjoyed your posts !

    This is the very first time I am making a comment acknowledging here , like "eklavya" I have silently learned a lot by following few bloggers , you are  one of them 🙂

  • Perfecto!

  • Yes, I am the guy 

    • Sorry, something went wrong before I could post my comment. 
      But yes, I designed and coded their site( I used to work with them as a part-time designer). You have written a well-thought out post but it should not have been directed at any particular company. They do have a great team and the products listed on the site are not be the best indicator of it.

  • Hey,
    This is Sudhanshu Aggarwal, Founder of FizzySoftware.com and I wanted to respond to your post to clarify some of the points you made.
    For some reason my comment keeps disappearing from here so feel free to read the whole thing on - 
    http://hackerstreet.in/item?id=14684

    Now after all getting all this feedback I was certainly intrigued and decided to checkout the website of your company to see how to do things right. I am guessing I got it wrong because all I saw was a blog and no mention of any Team, Products, Jobs etc.
    Will definitely update our posting and website but you have to realize is a constant work in progress. Thanks again for the feedback J

    P.S. – If you check the jobs section on our website then you will find that the postings there are much shorter and somewhat line with what you have described.

    • Thanks. Read your detailed feedback at HackerStreet.in

      I haven't listed my company here on this blog, but I'm guessing you mean http://levoma.com/ (assuming you dug around enough). As mentioned at HackerStreet, it's under development, we're not hiring and are not yet publicly available, so the silence and stark blankness.

  • Amin

    Good writeup, though I do have some feedback:

    Stop calling Ops people janitors. That will do a world of difference when trying to hire a world-class systems person to manage your infrastructure.

    • Hey, I literally mean janitors not sys ops. I've some good sys op friends and they're plain freaking superman when it comes to sys admin so I won't equate any of them anywhere near a janitor.

      Though not advertised often, the quest for office janitors and helpers are often beyond reckoning. They're negotiated to be paid the least and are expected to work on and for everything. And on top of that, they're not respected for the work they do for everyone.