Stochastic Nonsense

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Hiring Software Engineers

I perpetually see employers, on hacker news and elsewhere, complaining about difficulty hiring. I haven’t had such issues, so a (perhaps bold) guide to hiring software engineers:

  1. are you paying market salaries?
    1. are you really paying market salaries, or are employees supposed to join your company because you’re a special snowflake?
    2. even if you are paying market, why should an employee go to your firm? What is the upside to them for leaving a boss and company that they know? Because it would be really convenient for you, the hirer, is not a good answer.
  2. do you make the interviewing process decent, or do you scatter caltrops in front of potential employees?
    1. good employees do not need to crash study then regurgitate graph algorithms that your company never uses on the whiteboard. They also have jobs and value their vacation time and don’t care to spend a week consulting for you.
    2. how long does it take you to respond to resumes that come in? You should be able to say yes/no/maybe within 2 business days. Do your recruiters / interviewers actually read the cover letters / resumes? Last time I changed job a big sf / yc startup let my first interviewer roll into the interview room just shy of 20 minutes late without having read my resume. That’s a complete dick move, and it’s part of why I turned them down.
    3. when potential employees send you github links, do you have an engineer actually bloody look at them (almost never in my experience)?
    4. do you actually expend effort to meet potential employees and grow a bunch of warm leads, or do you wait until 3 weeks before you want someone to start then gripe because you can’t convert cold leads in 1 week plus a 2 week resignation period for their current employer?
    5. do you use shit software like that jobvite bullshit that badly ocrs then expects me to hand proof their shitty ocr job, or do you directly accept pdf resumes?
    6. for the love of god, I do not have a copy of ms word and wouldn’t take one if it were free. I will not put my resume into word format.
  3. do you take some pains to grow employees?
    1. do you hire people out of university? Take a chance on people?
    2. Like one of my former employers, do you do a good job hiring new grads from schools besides stanford / berkeley / mit / cmu, but then 18 months in after employees have demonstrated their value refuse to bring them up to market rates and lose them?
  4. when you send out offers, do you actually put out a good offer or do you throw numbers out that are 10% or more under your ceiling then expect employees to negotiate hard with you? I just turned down an sf startup because they did this; the ceo who successfully hired me said, “Earl: when I was an employee I hated negotiating, so I’m going to make you a great offer. This also means I’m not going to negotiate.” And you know what? It was a great offer, and I said yes the next morning. It also avoids starting your new job after a confrontational exercise.
  5. if you have recruiters contacting people, do you have them make clear they’re internal not external?
    1. do your recruiters actually read peoples’ linkedin profiles before contacting them? I used rails a bit 3 employers ago and had to remove that word from my profile because I got spammed with rails stuff.
  6. do your job postings on linkedin, craigslist, message boards, and your website tell potential employees why he or she should work for you, or like the vast majority, is it simply a long list of desiderata?
  7. just like the easiest sale is an upsell to a customer you have, the easiest recruit is the good employee you already have that you keep happy and prevent from leaving
    1. like Rand says, do you know off the top of your head the career goals of your employees? What are you doing to help them get there?
    2. do you give your employees raises to keep them at or above market, or can they get a $20k raise by swapping companies? If that raise is on offer, exactly why should they continue to work for you?
    3. on that note… 0.2% of an A round company isn’t golden handcuffs. It’s more like paper handcuffs.