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How to find qualified candidates.

I am a former techie turned manager who needs to fill a C#/ASP.NET/SQL Server developer position.    My company has posted a job listing on I am sure that will bring a deluge of candidates, but I want to be a little more aggressive in finding a good person.  I have never been in the position of having to hire someone before (I'm new to the management role).

  I plan to do the following:

1. Attend the local .NET developer user group meeting and announce the position. 

2. Post on the  .NET specific web sites : , forums, etc.

3. Is there anywhere here on "Joel on Software" that it is acceptable to post a link to the job description and a contact address?  I tend to think the people who read JOS regularly are probably in the upper 30% of their profession.  If not, should there be a "Jobs" forum ?  I think it makes sense. 

What else can I do?  If anyone can think of any non-intrusive ways I can find quality candidates, please reply. 

Saturday, February 7, 2004

You're about to get buried under a mountain of resumes from people who were laid off because they were in the bottom 10 or 20% of the programmers at their last place of employment. The trick in recruiting is to find a way to communicate with the top 10%, most of whom are already employed or still in college.

Do you have any good programmers on staff already? Ask them if they know any really good programmers who might be interested in discussing the job (even if they're not actively looking now).

Any colleges in the vicinity? In today's job market, there should be plenty of choices of BS or MS direct hires (right out of college).

OTOH, if all you really need is a script kiddie who wants to write code as fast as he can, the user group might be the place to look.

Hope This Helps
Saturday, February 7, 2004

Actually, many of the best people were let go, because they were the most expensive. It's the routine, low-paid coders who kept their jobs.

Saturday, February 7, 2004

I think Hope This Helps  has a bit of a point anyway--why not strive charm a disgruntled (but best of class) programmer out of a company with benefits, higher pay, and opportunities for advancement? Better programmers can make a world of difference for an ex-programmer like Tim because hopefully Tim would know how to make the best use of one.

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, February 7, 2004

On the other hand, if your company don't have enough programming tasks to fill the average day of a full-time programmer, a best of class programmer may not be interested at all. What other responsibilities do you expect them to fill Tim?

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, February 7, 2004

Are you looking for a full-time salaried employee or will a contractor do?  In other words, are we talking about a one time project need or something more?

Are you simply looking for an individual who has exposure to all of these particular Microsoft software products or do you need someone who can claim extensive experience using all of these products in a corporate work environment (i.e. your potential job candidate has been paid by someone to write business software using all of these products)?

Do qualified candidates need to have any specific business domain knowledge?

By using the search methods you mentioned in your post you should be able to find several so called "quality candidates".  The next problem that you will probably encounter is how to convince the candidates that you believe are qualified to quit their current job or contracting gig and come work for you.

One Programmers Opinion
Saturday, February 7, 2004

Why not just hire an H-1 from India, the programmers over there are much better. Or better yet, just outsource all your development there and bring em in as L-1 for six months a t a time.

One good troll deserves another

the artist formerly known as prince
Saturday, February 7, 2004

On a serious note, asking staff is one of the best ways, not because the bottom 20% hang out on jos (as the troll suggested) but because

you can ask them about whats not on a resume!
i.e. when they say "helped develop enterprise .NET application ...." they may have only desighned the splash screen, and a resume wouldn't tell you that.

two, you can find out about quirks ...doesn't like changes of plan, doesn't like being rushed ....

three, it will increase existing staffs morale, because a)they will be working with someone they at least trust, and possibly even like. Two, they will feel more secure knowing that they got their friend a job, and could expect the same from said friend when they get their job.

four, you should have no trouble getting a batch of resumes, since most people know 9 or 10 unemployed techies

the artist formerly known as prince
Saturday, February 7, 2004

Regarding a JoS job board, I don't think its a good idea.  I've thought it would be handy a few times, as some quality people post here (or some good fakers ;)

The problem as I see it, is popularity.  When it gets out that there is a good job board, that has mostly job postings that developers would want to work at, it would get swamped. And then it wouldn't be a good job board anymore.

I think clicking the email link in the name and dropping them a note would probably be the best way.  Even though its low volume, it keeps the quality of the board up.

Andrew Hurst
Saturday, February 7, 2004

What's the matter with going to a user's group? My guess is that you'd find serious professionals there; script kiddies aren't that socialble. Even if nobody in the group was a candidate, you'd get a network effect of putting the word out among people who use that technology.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, February 7, 2004

My original post wasn't intended to troll, sorry if it came across that way.

I've been in software development for over 20 years with several different companies, I've worked with some very good programmers, and I've seen many co-workers laid off in downsizings.

In every layoff I've ever seen, the staff was ranked from most productive to least productive and those at the bottom were cut. Rarely, someone's skills are no longer needed or an entire project is cancelled and almost everyone is let go, but there always seems to be a way to keep the very best people. Sometimes the highest paid do get cut, but there's not necessarily a good correlation between salary and productivity.

I don't claim to have much exposure to user groups. The couple I've attended or sent staff to sooner or later turned into sales pitches from the vendor of whatever product the group was using. No doubt others will have different experiences, but that's been mine.

Hope This Helps
Saturday, February 7, 2004

Suggesting for filtering down to the best (for your needs) candidate:

1. Decide what you need.
2. Create a programming task that's fairly easy to do and easily testable.
3. Hire the person for a few weeks as a test period.
4. Read:  The Gifted Boss by Dauten.
He points out that what you often need is a PARTNER, not an employee. Someone who can work independently because they share your goals and are self starters.

The real Entrepreneur
Saturday, February 7, 2004

I certainly didn't take your opening observation as a troll. In fact it sounds intuitively correct.

But I think what "pushes buttons" with some people is the political aspect of employment practices. I tend to agree with some posters that a productive *but* expensive person can be first to get shown the door. It's happened to me and I've seen it done to others.

In many companies it's the case that the work is considered a commodity and "parts is parts", so rewarding someone based upon their production ability basically pushes that person into a less defensible job position. IE, they may do the work of 2-3 average people but they cost 1.5 times as much. All that may matter in a whitewashed firing/layoff decision is absolute cost because that's what is readily measured, and not value, which is difficult to measure. 

My attitude is - a firing or layoff *GENERALLY* indicates that the person is at either end of a cost bell curve. Either cheap (but sucks) or expensive (and may either be good or middling.)

Bored Bystander
Saturday, February 7, 2004

Me - Colleges are a good idea, I really need someone with at least some practical experience though.  Thanks for the input.

Li-fan Chen - Yes, I would like to charm a best of call programmer out of a company.  What I need to know is how do I make contact with these people who are NOT actively seeking a job.

Also - I don't necessarily have to have a best of class programmer.  I need someone with some experience who is willing to make themselves a best of class programmer. 

One programmer - it's a full time salaried position.

Artist - As long as they can legally work in the US and can work onsite, I don't care where they are from.  Outsourcing isn't an option in this particular case because I need someone I can communicate with every day face to face.  They will also need to communciate direct with the end user.  We also have very stringent security requirements due to Intellectual Property concerns.  Getting it outsourced would add 6 months to the effort.

Andrew - You're probably right - once word gets out that JOS has a job section it would be too popular and worthless.

Real entrepreneur - We have a programming test in place already and I know exactly what I need.  I'll check out the Gifted Boss. I agree I need someone who can work towards shared goals and is a self starter.

Thanks for the input guys - if you have any more , keep it coming. 

Saturday, February 7, 2004

Having been laid off 3 different times in the past 17 years, I can say with confidance that there are _many_ different ways the people are picked...

My first layoff (8 of 16 technical people) was 'last hired, first fired' (with a couple of "the client really like him" exceptions).

The second (3 of 7) was anyone who wasn't billable in the past month.

The third was a 10% cut of all technical people - this was the 3rd round of layoff (1st was 5%, 2nd was 10%) for the company.

The first round was the 'rank everyone in the department and cut the bottom 5%' - this was obviously based on what the company wanted from their employees since a few really good people were cut and some deadweight was kept.

The second round was based on positions - 'we have X sys admins and we only need Y, cut (X-Y)' [iterate through all positions based on need].

The third round was a simple 'cevery manager needs to cut 10% of their team' - since we were already understaffed, the managers mainly seemed to take whoever was least expendable based on knowledge of the system. The piece I was an 'expert' on was deemed to be expendable and so was I...

Don't assume that someone who was laid-off was the least competent. Companies have _many_ different methods for figuring out who to lay off.

Saturday, February 7, 2004

I don't think the issue so much is whether the good staff get laid off or not, because as people say companies do seem to fire a random percentage of people sometimes... it's whether they STAY laid off.

The last time, my employer basically went bust. The longest anyone was out of work was six months and he was a bit restricted by not driving and so needing something with public transport links. Almost the entire rest of the company were back with a salary within a couple of months. There was termoil, yes, but most of these people only interviewed one or two places. I think I was the exception in interviewing at about 8, but I was offered 4 of those. Some of the group have moved several times since then.

Even if good people get dropped into the market, they won't stay there long: they'll get hired up again: so on average, of people "out of work and looking" there will be more of the least hireable.

Sorry and all that.

Katie Lucas
Sunday, February 8, 2004


I've found Nick Corcodilos's advice quite valuable (even though his site could use some web design talent).  Finding his stuff has been one of the first fateful steps I've taken towards getting my career and life headed in the right direction.

His advice is geared towards job seekers, but applies just as well to hiring managers and he writes a few articles for managers from time to time.

The skinny on his philosophy:

Some manager specific articles:

And a large collection of the articles he's written:

Good luck with the hiring and the new management role you've taken on, Tim.  Keep us up to date on your hiring experiences, so we can learn a bit from them (just watch how much specifics you give out, I'd hate to see your company get sued).

Monday, February 9, 2004

VP , good links, thanks.

I'll be sure to post on how it all turns out.

Monday, February 9, 2004

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