On Recruiting

Recently, I contacted a former colleage seeking recommendations for a specific parttime role within CaseySoftware. I assumed that being connected with that community would give him information on some people who are available and/or looking for side work. For some reason, he assumed that I was making him a job offer and wrote me a “do you need to see my resume? *wink*wink*” message. I responded saying that I wasn't considering him and I was simply looking for recommendations. He proceeded to write me a nasty note implying that I had “obviously” offered him the position and accusing me of not considering him due to his politics. I wrote back and explained with further details about my recruiting rules.

Therefore, for his benefit and everyone else's, here are my Rules for Recruiting:

  1. What are their skills? – Do they have the skills and experience to handle the position? Not having the specific experience is of less concern to me. Having the skill and ability to learn quickly and apply related skills is the most important. After all, when I founded my first company, I had no experience but had a willingness to learn.
  2. What is this person's history? – Ask for references and check them out. I have had positions where they didn't bother checking my references until 6-9 months after I took the job. After you talk to those references, ask if there are other people who knew and/or worked with the person.
  3. Does this person represent you? – As your employee or contractor, this person will represent your organization both to clients and the rest of the world. Is this someone that you will trust to wear your company emblem and to tell others of their affiliation? For example, when Ken Lay's (of Enron) secretary applies for a new job, will she mention his name?
  4. Do they believe in your goals? – Would you want an atheist as your church pastor? You don't want someone to join your organization if they are diametrically opposed to your core principles. This is why the police tend to hire those without criminal backgrounds.
  5. And most importantly:

  6. Can the person be trusted? – Most likely this person will have access to company information such as strategic plans, customer information, source code, financial details, and even other people's desk. Do you trust this person to a) treat this information with the proper confidentiality, b) be honest and forthwright in their information and accounting, c) protect and guard comapny information to the best of their ability, and d) not steal from coworkers? I'm not asking someone to die to protect the general ledger, but leaving it for open access on their desk is not acceptable. Theft by employees is a whole other story.

These are my general rules that I apply before hiring anyone and should in no way be taken to be reflective of the situation I described earlier. These apply to all candidates at all times.