On Previous Recruiting Efforts

Back in March I was looking for an additional developer or two for new projects. In addition to contacting the very sharp Cyberhorse, I put out an open call on Craigslist to see if I could find one or two people local to the Metro DC region. It's great having a distributed development team, but I see the value of having someone else local. Therefore, in addition to the required LAMP skills, I specified that the person must be a DC local and/or willing to make themselves available for face to face meetings 1-2 times/month. I also requested that they tell me about a project they worked on recently. Simple, huh?

The results were disappointing.

For the two days that the ad was active, I got 18 responses.

Twelve of the responses were from various outsourcing firms. I bet they can do great work, but being on the other side of the world does not really fit my “DC local requirement”. Now we're down to 6.

Next, a pair of messages consisted of “here is my resume” without explanation, introductory note or anything useful. When I looked at their resume, it was even worse. If you're a developer and looking for work, please check out Dimitris Staikos's Guide to Hiring Developers. It doesn't take much to get your resume in good shape, please do so. Now we're down to four resumes.

The final four resumes seemed to cover the skills, be local to DC and describe recent projects. Great. Now time to get into detail.

The first of them detailed a recent project which consisted of a “Bush is Hitler” site along with extensive animations, images, nifty phrases suggesting bodily harm to him, and a whole network of other related sites. And this gentleman noted that he'd been unemployed since November. While I pride myself that this site is mostly apolitical, due to some of the sensitive work we do and are planning to do, association with this person was not going to be good and would likely destroy our chances of getting specific projects. If you're looking for a job with certain groups, I'm sure that sort of portfolio would make you a top candidate. If you're looking for a job with anyone else, you should consider having something else to show…

The final three were viable candidates and seemed like good matches, so I contacted each of them to setup a short meeting and interview. I waited four days, no response. I emailed each of them again and waited two days, no response. I finally dropped each of them a quick call and got voice mail, no response. Were they really looking for work? Not a clue, but they didn't seem very dedicated to finding it.

So I gave up on Craigslist and started pushing out through my personal network. In no time at all, I found a few potential people whom I knew or were personal friends of those I knew and brought one of them aboard.

Overall, the Craigslist search was a miserable failure, but it supported my suspicion that more and more of the online job sites are becoming worthless. I was disappointed as I've done quite a bit of business through Craigslist, but I'm beginning to believe that personal relationships, sites like Linked In, and word of mouth are more effective than anything else…