in Startups, Technology

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.