How companies should hire developers

A couple of weeks ago Obie Fernandez posted a job offer for his company, Hashrocket, on his blog. To me this ad is the perfect example of how startups, and well established companies too, should attract talented developers. Let’s analyze why this job ad is highly effective.

Consider the intro:

Here’s a short and sweet version of a listing I’m going to start posting on various job boards tomorrow. I’m looking to hire up to four experienced web developers in the next couple of months, bringing our billable consultant headcount up to 20 people:

Notice how this brief introduction has already accomplished a lot. It’s a short informal blurb, but it gives you the opportunity to apply before the crowds show up. It also casually mentions how many positions are open and how many people in the company hold the same position. He then goes on to describe the qualifications required:

1) Have at least 5 years of serious web development experience (experience with Ruby and Rails is of course a big plus, but not absolutely necessary for the right person).

They are obviously looking for experienced Rails developers, but they are not hung up about it. They realize that if you are a great web developer, Rails won’t be a bottleneck for you for long. What a difference from the “at least 3/4 years of professional Rails experience” type of ads that recruiters love to post around.

2) Be “true believers” in Agile methods, including story carding, pair-programming and test-driven development.

They are looking for XP/Agile people and this simple requirement will excite many talented developers, while already telling you a lot about the type of company you’re applying to.

3) Relocate to sunny Jacksonville Beach, FL where Hashrocket is headquartered and currently building out brand-new, kick-ass office space. We do provide generous relocation assistance.

Finally, they inform you about where they are located, that you have to physically move there and that they’ll help you out with the relocation. On top of that, the “currently building out brand-new, kick-ass office space” is definitely something that will capture the attention of many developers. Programmers care a lot about their work environment and small perks like new facilities, large monitors, and so on. Large monitors are not mentioned explicitly, but the ad implies that this is the kind of company that would invest in their developers and provide appropriate screen real estate.

Note how they are not asking for 10 different technologies in their ad, they are not asking for a computer science degree, and they don’t have silly sentences like “rockstars” or “guru”. The ad requirements are short and to the point.

He then goes on to mention what they’re offering, on top of what we have seen so far:

Besides working in an awesome location with some of the best Ruby programmers in the world on cool, progressive projects with the best clients, some of the benefits of working for Hashrocket include:

* Competitive salary

* Company-paid medical/dental coverage

* Full 401k matching up to legal limits with immediate vesting!

* Three weeks vacation, plus paid time off for conference attendance (Rubyconf, Railsconf, etc)

* Up to 8 hours paid time per week allotted to “other activities” including open-source hacking, writing books and blogs, education and other internal initiatives

* Strong emphasis on culture and lifestyle, overtime/weekend work strongly discouraged, frequent team outings and social events

* Regular opportunities to work with some of the most experienced Rails experts in the world via our 3-2-1 Guest Star program

* All our work is done on-site, so no travel requirements (great for road-warriors wanting a break)

The whole package is very attractive: good salary and benefits, proper vacation time and paid attendance for conferences, time for other activities like blog writing and open source hacking, work/life balance with social events, the possibility to work with some of the best Rails developers and no need to travel. It’s hard to ask for much more than this.

I encourage you to ask questions and I’ll keep a close eye and participate on the comment trail for this post.

In conclusion, they show openness to questions, and an availability to discuss them in a public forum such as the comment section of the blog.

I mentioned this ad mostly for two reasons. The first is because I think it’s a great opportunity for US-based Rails developers, and the second is that I often receive job offers by email, and in most cases they are the usual recruiter drivel. Ads like this are simple, but very effective when it comes to attracting programmers. More companies should take their cue from Hashrocket. After all, developers are not that hard to please.

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  1. Jo September 22, 2008
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  14. Pingback: Diario de un PM » Recruiting 2.0 December 28, 2008
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