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17 Qualities of the Perfect Early Startup Hire

17 Qualities of the Perfect Early Startup Hire

When you’re first starting out in a new venture it can be thrilling. Adrenaline-filled. Nerve-wracking. Insomnia-inducing. And that’s if all goes well!

When you get to the point of needing to hire someone beyond your founding team, this process can also be filled with anxiety.

After all, how do you find someone who believes in your vision as much as you do? Someone who will be able to take your vision and run with it? Someone you don’t have to hand-hold, yet they somehow grasp everything you’re trying to do? Someone who understands how they fit into the picture to achieve your collective dreams? Someone who’s flexible not only in terms of job responsibilities, but also with the ever-changing world they will likely face every day? Someone that has the skills to excel while dealing with all of this and more?

I hope I haven’t scared you!

Finding the perfect early startup hire is no easy task, but you’re up to the challenge. Start with identifying the characteristics you need from this person. This list shouldn’t be limited to a technical skill set, though that may be important too. The key is to find someone who is the right organizational fit — a fit with the culture, and a fit with the growing business needs. Someone who just “gets it” and shares your vision for success.

Here are 17 qualities to look for in the perfect early startup hire:

1. Belief in your vision.

If this new hire is going to be willing to give it everything they’ve got, they need to fully believe in what you’re trying to do. At this stage in the game there’s no half-heartedness allowed! Sure, he or she may take time to become as passionately invested as you are, but belief in what you’re doing should be there from day one. This person should be excited about helping the whole team achieve the mission.

2. Energy.

Anyone starting up a business knows that it takes drive and energy to get through the long days. Someone who is too passive and lacking energy to drive toward a goal isn’t likely to be someone who will be able to thrive in a fast-paced startup environment.

3. Intelligence.

You would think this one would go without saying, but it doesn’t. Having intelligence means not only having the expertise (technical or otherwise) to do the actual work, but also having the business intelligence to understand what needs to be done and contribute to the conversation. It also means having the emotional intelligence to know how to play nicely with multiple personality types both inside and outside of the organization.

4. Flexibility.

Does a startup have standard work hours? Hardly likely. One pre-set list of tasks that is an entire job description? No way. Established processes and documentation? Not yet. An early startup hire will need to be completely comfortable with ever-changing responsibilities and work demands. And this flexibility must be accompanied by a good attitude; just because your new hire is willing to put in a crazy long work day when needed, if he or she moans and groans about it the whole time that’s not going to work!

5. Ability to get s*!t done.

GSD. No excuses. No BS. Your new hire should find ways to get things done, even if she’s never done them before. She should be able to ask for help when needed, but not let lack of experience get in the way of making things happen. She should never assume it’s someone else’s job. If it needs to happen, she needs to make it happen! (This skill may also be known as being proactive, persistent or having a sense of urgency. Any way around it: GSD!)

6. Thrives as an individual contributor.

This person won’t wait to be told what to do every step of the way, nor will he feel that he’s above doing even the most mundane task. In a startup, every person has to pull their own weight. You don’t need managers or delegators at this point, you need doers. There’s a time and a place for people who excel at people management and project delegation; but right now is the time for each person to hold their own and then some.

7. Strategic thinker.

Thinking outside the box isn’t optional. A new hire in an early startup has to be able to GSD while looking at the big picture and ensuring that his or her actions are helping the fledgling company achieve its goals. This requires a fair amount of strategic thinking. Ideally this person will have their own six-month vision for the business and will be able to explain their strategic plan to get there and what actions will be required along the way.

8. Creativity.

Did you know that this person will need to get things done, even if they’ve never done them before? Or that there are not yet procedures and processes in place that explain how things “should” be done? The ability to deal with a blank slate (and often limited budget) requires creative thinking. Creative approaches can be a competitive advantage for the organization.

9. Broad skill set.

Do you need someone with technical expertise? What about experience in your industry? What about excellent teamwork skills, adaptability, and a great attitude? You probably need all of those things. You also need someone that is going to be willing and able to pick up new responsibilities as needed. Someone who is going to be able to use their creative thinking to get things done that perhaps they’ve never done before. Maybe your technical person is also going to have to help market the company for a while, for example. Be sure that your new hire has enough experience and the right attitude to be able to take their skills and apply them broadly.

10. Different from you.

One of the best pieces of advice when hiring, especially when your team is still small, is to assess the skills your team is lacking and hire someone who has those skills. This is no small task, but it will help your team become stronger.

11. Willingness to take risks.

The ability to stick your neck out is crucial for an early startup hire. Why? Because there are only a few of you on the team, and whenever the business needs a bold idea or a risky action, someone has to take ownership of it and do it or it won’t get done.

12. Compatible work style.

Call this cultural fit. Call it attitude. Call it whatever you like. The person you hire needs to have a work style that will be compatible with the rest of the team, or misunderstandings and frustrations could quickly mount. They can be perfect in every other way – experience, intelligence, skills, etc. – but if this person is unable to mesh and integrate into your organizational culture, it’s probably not going to work out.

13. Patience.

Some things happen really fast in a startup. Other things – like the formation of a career ladder to climb – are not always so quick. If your new hire simply wants to have ever-changing new titles on his or her resume, they will probably grow impatient quickly. Look for someone who understands that things don’t always happen at the rate you expect in a startup. Sometimes it’s faster and you have to be prepared. Other times it’s slower and you have to regroup. Sometimes processes need to be repeated to see results. Someone who gets frustrated or impatient quickly is not going to be happy in this environment.

14. Ability to fail fast.

Making mistakes is expected. So is quickly learning from them and doing better. This process has to happen fast if the startup is going to survive. In a startup environment, the team must research, learn, implement, analyze for issues and fix problems—and then do it all again.

15. Sense of humor.

When things go wrong – and they will – the whole team needs to be able to band together and fix it. This is borderline impossible if anyone on the team focuses on blame and negativity rather than being pragmatic. Having a sense of humor throughout the whole crazy process is crucial.

16. Ability to receive and act on feedback.

Combine the need to be fast-paced with the fact that mistakes are going to happen and it’s easy to see why feedback will need to be delivered frequently and will need to be acted upon immediately. If a startup team member cannot take feedback and use it to improve, then how will that person learn and grow and help the organization thrive?

17. Gut instinct—yours.

Most importantly: disregard any or all of the items above when you find the person who can mesh with your team and push you forward. Gut instinct matters.

Does having and following this list guarantee success? Of course not – nothing does. But if you start here you’ll have a good idea of what to look for before the interviewing process even begins.

Ice Buckets and Famous Bridges

Ice Buckets and Famous Bridges

The Ice Bucket Challenge. Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny the genius virality of the campaign that has dominated social media this month, to raise awareness and funding for ALS.

Because you can’t deny the challenge (unless you’re this guy). We certainly couldn’t deny the challenge, when one of our US recruiters – Jonathan Buzelan – nominated Paul and me last week. Read More…

Is a Recruiter Worth More Than Your Lawyer?

Is your recruiter worth more than your lawyer?Your new employee is great – they’ve settled in, made friends and started producing work that’s as good as you knew it would be. It looks like they’re a strong fit, and will stick around for a long time.

You’re pleased with the recruiter who found them, and you’re considering using them again to expand the design team… right up until you receive the invoice.

$15,000!?!

It feels like just four weeks ago they were sitting across from you taking a brief on the person you needed to find. How could they possibly have performed $15,000 worth of work in a month?

Even if they were working full time, solely on finding your candidate – which you know they weren’t – that’s an average annual wage of $180,000. That’s $80,000 more than you pay yourself! In fact… you don’t even pay your lawyer that much!

So, is a recruiter really worth more than your lawyer? Read More…

Love to see you

Welcome to RecruitLoop’s New San Francisco Headquarters

RecruitLoop HQWe feel like we’re growing up a bit with the announcement of our new San Francisco headquarters. Until now, we’ve been in coworking spaces both in Sydney and San Francisco. Our experiences at Fishburners and Runway were fantastic, but the crazy collaborative (and often loud) environments were starting to wear on some of us. We were also starting to have some growing pains with the spaces. It was hard to plan for our trips back and forth from AU, and we were also starting to collect lots of stuff, like conference banners and rubber band guns, that was tough to store in wide open spaces.

Looking for startup-priced and styled office space in San Francisco, however, was super challenging. I probably visited 30 different spaces, and I dragged my team to at least 15 of them. We saw all sorts of coworking arrangements, exorbitant private offices, and the occasional frightening place that smelled of raw sewage. San Francisco office space is at a huge premium at the moment.

In the end, though, we found a space that was about as perfect as we could get for a team with widely varying requirements. Our landlords love Australia, which helped us get something we could afford in a place that didn’t make anyone’s commute royally suck (or become dangerous).

We’re stoked to announce that our new headquarters are at 466 8th St., Suite 102 in San Francisco.

Inside the office

We needed a few different rooms so that our developers and salespeople didn’t decide to have rubber band gun shootouts at 10 paces, but we also wanted natural light. Three glass offices = perfect! We put our growth team in the big front room, our developers in the 2nd biggest room, and we even have room for beanbags in the middle (essential for our Head of Growth’s creative process, she claims).

Shootout

Behind the offices, we have a big shared space that we’re still working on decorating, but we have hopes for a couch and a videoconferencing setup to make our cross-continent meetings easier. The shared space has a well-stocked kitchen (well, if tea, almonds, beer, and wine = well-stocked), and we’re slowly populating the appliances.

back of the office

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by! We’d love to see you.

Love to see you

Bernadette Eichner, RecruitLoop Marketplace Manager

Introducing RecruitLoop’s New Marketplace Manager – Bernadette Eichner

BernieIt’s an incredibly rewarding feeling for any startup CEO to welcome a new member to the team. And whenever we reach such a milestone we sure do want to tell the world all about it.

This week I’m excited to share the news that Bernadette Eichner (known to those nearest and dearest to her as ‘Bernie’) has officially agreed to take on the the role of RecruitLoop’s first Marketplace Manager, with an initial focus on our recruiter community across Australia and New Zealand.

In a way it feels as if Bernadette has just completed the world’s longest ever internship – which seems absolutely crazy for an industry expert with over 20 years experience in the recruitment industry not to mention a first class honours degree in psychology!

I should point out here that Bernadette was actually one of our very first recruiters, and has supported our vision from the very beginning. Those die-hard RecruitLoop Blog followers might even remember her sharing one of her amazing client stories in the early days.

Since then she has not only been incredibly active on the RecruitLoop platform (we call these select few RecruitLoopers ‘Rockstars’), but she has also been instrumental in representing the Recruiter Community around usability, feedback, and changes as our platform has evolved.

The timing for Bernadette’s official appointment couldn’t be better.

There’s no denying that the Australian recruiter community is in fantastic hands and will continue to flourish. But following our announcement last week of our global partnership with NPA – the Worldwide Recruiting Network, we’re confident that any NPA members joining RecruitLoop will be on-boarded by a RecruitLooper with a wealth of experience along with an intimate knowledge of the RecruitLoop platform.

Although she’s been part of the RecruitLoop family since the very beginning, we wish her every success in her new and exciting role as Marketplace Manager!

The internship’s over, Bernie! Congratulations and welcome aboard!

NPA Logo

Launching a Global Partnership with NPA – the Worldwide Recruiting Network

NPA – the Worldwide Recruiting Network

There are good recruiters out there. But unfortunately there are some ‘not so good’ recruiters out there too.

One thing we’ve always been committed to is building a marketplace of top quality recruiters.

We’re sometimes asked why we don’t have thousands of recruiters using our platform.

I mean aren’t you guys just like oDesk?

Not quite.

We’re building a highly curated marketplace of recruiters. Experienced. Professional. Trustworthy. But we also know it would be impossible to work our way around the world identifying the best recruiters one by one.

Last September we met up with Dave Nerz, President of NPA – the Worldwide Recruiting Network at a conference in Las Vegas to discuss a potential alliance.

NPA is a network of independent recruitment businesses. It’s the oldest recruiting network of its kind, with an international membership located throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Americas.

Today we’re thrilled to announce that RecruitLoop has formed a global partnership with NPA.

The opportunity to align ourselves with such a professional body will not only help us grow our global recruiter community. It will also reinforce our commitment to attract only the highest calibre recruiters – something NPA has clearly always prided itself on.

Our affiliation will help build a deeper and stronger community of expert recruiters.  We’re excited because this will give more companies around the world access to our unique model of ‘elastic recruiting’.

We’ve always been obsessed with the quality of RecruitLoop recruiters, and put them through a rigorous verification process. Knowing NPA’s stringent selection criteria is in line with ours is another value add to any business engaging with us.

Several NPA members are already online with RecruitLoop, and have expressed their excitement about RecruitLoop becoming a key driver in growing their own businesses.

As part of our alliance, we’re committed to helping NPA members gain new business opportunities in markets or with organisations that may not have been natural targets for their more traditional recruitment services.

We’re looking forward to officially launching the partnership between RecruitLoop and NPA at their Global Conference in New Orleans next month.

Here’s to a successful partnership with NPA!

For any NPA members who’d like to learn more, check out the information here.

307887-jawbone-up-colors

HR At Jawbone: Earning a Seat at the Executive Table

307887-jawbone-up-colors

Last week saw the 5th HR 2.0 event held in San Francisco. It’s a forum for HR leaders in some of the best-known tech companies to share lessons and insights.

Previous speakers include the HR Leads from Pinterest and Andreessen Horowitz. I’ve attended a few, and we co-hosted the last one at Runway. I’ve always found it incredibly insightful, and walked away with a deeper appreciation for the importance and complexity of good culture, people and operations.

Randy KnaflicThe speaker this week was Randy Knaflic, who leads ‘People and Operations’ at Jawbone. Which, if you’re not familiar, is a phenomenal product-driven company of 500 people. I love my Jambox.

Randy shared some awesome advice and stories on how he’s helped HR earn a seat at the executive table at Jawbone.

A side note: HR is not called HR in tech companies any more. You’ll see it called variations of Talent, People, Culture, People and Operations. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll call it HR. Though for the record, I think it’s a dumb name (could ‘human resources’ be any more dehumanising?).

First, a bit about Randy. He’s an impressive guy. A survivor of the dot com boom, he went on to spend 6 years with Google leading HR and recruiting in Europe and the Middle East. From there, a stint as VP Talent and HR with SpaceX. Now, VP of People and Operations at Jawbone.

Takeaway: He knows his stuff.

His advice for HR folk is practical, actionable, and smart. But it also makes a ton of sense for anyone in a role that requires communication and influencing. Which, I guess is kinda everyone in business.

How to earn your seat at the executive table

Randy has 3 simple guidelines:

  1. Philosophy first
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Be data-driven

Sounds obvious. But it’s very non-HR in the ‘traditional’ sense; of policies, acronyms, hand-gestures and gold stars. His goal is to move HR from a stereotype of reactionary fun-police, to a proactive, strategic partner with a valued seat a the table.

1. Philosophy first

Don’t talk about policies. They’re boring, and treat grown humans like children. Rather, start with philosophy.

A semantic difference? Perhaps. After all, Jawbone still talks about a ‘vacation philosophy’ and ‘parental leave philosophy’.

But there’s a subtle difference in communication, by linking a philosophy to company values.

An example: Jawbone recently updated its parental leave policy. Err, philosophy. They had to communicate this to the company. A blanket announcement could work, but why would people care? Especially if not in the window for making babies.

When sharing the news, Randy spoke of Jawbone’s philosophy of incredible care and detail at the early stage of product development. Hours of work into R&D, and perfecting minor details. If, as a company, they cared so much about the first steps of a product, how could they not apply the same thinking to the investment made in the early life of a new child? The needed a better parental leave policy.

Now, a boring announcement about some new leave policy became an opportunity to draw strong links between the values across different parts of the company.

2. Keep it simple

HR people love acronyms. PTO (paid time off), EEO (equal employment opportunity), FTE (full-time equivalent). Hell, here’s an entire list for you.

And sometimes, playing at the coalface of people issues, it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds. Communicating every detail while missing the big picture.

Randy gave a simple example of how to keep it simple.

Headcount. Every board report has the chart. It’s likely provided by HR. And it likely breaks down headcount by month, across regions or business units. Yawn. It can be hard to tell a good story using a bar chart with 458 data points.

An alternative: compare headcount at the start of the year, to the current count. Draw a line in between. Then tell a story about overall growth, and the innovative recruiting initiatives used to drive that growth.

Same data, a different story. Earning the right to lead that discussion.

HR 2.0 Randy Knaflic Jawbone

3. Be data-driven

On the topic of data, HR needs to use it. So much is gathered across all the HR functions. But the stereotype of touch-feely HR folk persists. To earn a seat at the executive table, data is your best friend.

Returning to the example of parental leave at Jawbone. They had to choose a number: how many weeks leave would they provide?

This could easily be a finger-in-the-air-type gut call. Instead, Randy ‘sourced’ some intelligence on the leave policies of a dozen major tech companies. Put it in a chart. Then showed the CEO.

Instantly, the discussion focused on market comparisons. Who they should match, and beat. And by how much. In the end, the CEO actually ADDED weeks to the proposal from HR, to outstrip a few certain competitors.

The HR team at Jawbone has a full-time person focused on analytics, data and stats. Who runs the numbers for your HR team?

Now, some tech companies clearly get the importance of HR. Or People Ops, Culture, whatever. Jawbone does for sure.

But if you’re in HR – at a tech company or anywhere else – what can you do differently to earn that seat at the executive table?

ps – thanks to the event hosts: Mitchell Lake and Sequoia Benefits.

Winner of Elastic Recruiting Rubber Band Shootout

2013: Our Year in Review

I spent some time over the break reflecting on 2013, which was a fantastic year for RecruitLoop. We’re priming to sprint into another.

I shared the note below with our team, investors and advisors. In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to share it with our community. I’ve withheld only a few sensitive numbers and plans.

To all our community (recruiters, friends and followers): Thanks for your support through 2013. We’re pumped with some exciting plans for the year ahead, and look forward to sharing them with you.

***

2013 In Review

It’s been a massive year of growth and change at RecruitLoop.

We started the year with a team of 3 based in Sydney. Traction of <relatively smallish number> roles launched in the previous quarter. And anecdotal demand for our model in international markets.

We finish 2013 with a dedicated team of 7 in Sydney, San Francisco and the Philippines. Regional representatives in Saudi Arabia and Sweden. <Multiples more> roles launched in the last 3 months of the year. And demonstrated momentum outside Australia, in the US, Middle East, and now UK.

Our overall goal remains unchanged: To build a global marketplace of expert recruiters, working on-demand.

We are disrupting traditional recruitment agencies. But more importantly, creating a new market for companies to get expert support when hiring. Companies who have never had access to this type of support. They now make better hiring decisions, faster, at incredibly affordable cost.

MAJOR LEARNINGS

Despite a consistent overall direction, we’ve had some major learnings that strengthen our model:

1. We add genuine value to recruiters.

We set out to disrupt recruitment agencies, based on pain we’d all experienced. It turns out individual recruiters had experienced similar pain! Under traditional models, they faced hours of unpaid/wasted work. Complete lack of flexibility. Antagonism from clients fed up with their fees. And industry trends (eg the rise of LinkedIn) that make it harder to justify those fees.

With RecruitLoop, they have a more sustainable, fairer way of doing business. Our online tools and platform allow them to compete with larger players on a more even playing field. They have flexibility in when and where they work. Recruiters are now proactively bringing business into RecruitLoop. Several have hired assistants to help with marketing and business development! And we’ll soon be announcing a partnership with <redacted>, who see value in hourly work through RecruitLoop.

For recruiters, we want to be the #1 network and community to build a sustainable business online.

2. We are building a deliberately curated marketplace.

Online marketplaces for labour are evolving. The 2 largest players recently merged, and Freelancer listed in Australia. These are generalist platforms to outsource a range of tasks online. Their margins range from 5-10%.

Our platform is vertically focused on a high-touch, high-value activity. This means we can add more value to the process through our tools and software. But it also means the stakes for outsourcing are higher. Clients expect quality outcomes and consistent experience.

As a result, we’re increasing the ‘curation’ in our model and taking more ownership of client experience. Recruiters are carefully screened and on-boarded to ensure quality and fit. We’ve established rules and processes for quality control. We are building value in the RecruitLoop brand, platform and experience. This will justify our ongoing project margins of <ask nicely and I might tell you>.

Don’t assume curation means lack of scalability. We are building a very efficient ‘project management layer’ over the top of our online platform. This will let us systematise, and automate, a very ‘human touch’ experience for clients based on intimate knowledge of a best-practice recruiting engagement. This will become a strong competitive advantage.

2013 HIGHLIGHTS

Growing our core model.

  • Monthly revenue approaches <redacted> in December, and grew 5x since Jan-13.
  • We launched <redacted> roles in 2013, with <nearly half> in the final quarter.
  • This is 9% QoQ growth (December is seasonally a quiet month). And 212% annual growth vs same quarter in 2012.

<revenue chart redacted>

Building the team.

One of our first priorities after raising seed funding was to build the US team. Our first two key hires both left public companies (Amazon, Groupon) and moved interstate (Seattle, Chicago) to join us in San Francisco. Jenn (affectionally known as our HoG – Head of Growth) and Nima (Sales and Operations) have hit the ground running and are adding massive value. They’ve taken the challenge of working in a lean, globally distributed team in their stride.

Rounding out the growth is our fantastic support team, based in the Philippines. Medelene and Sherry work closely together, covering everything from online support, sales support, research and recruiter on-boarding.

Expanding internationally.

Our major move was into the US market in March. Transparently, it took longer to build client momentum here than we’d planned. In November, US projects comprised only 15% by volume. But we’re now seeing strong growth prospects, and excellent feedback from live and potential clients. Our top US client represented <insert large number> of project fees in Nov-Dec.

We’ve also been active in the Middle East (led by Seral, as Regional Rep). More recently, we’ve had solid interest from recruiters in the UK. This is likely to be our next market focus, given the maturity of recruitment there. It will be a lean market entry, led by another regional rep (Matt Trustrum), to avoid diverting core focus from the US and Australia.

Building community.

Engagement from recruiters is one of the best signs of health for our marketplace. We measure engagement through the number (and %) of ‘proactive’ recruiters, who bring in clients to RecruitLoop. In November, 22% of projects came from recruiter referrals.

To drive this further, we’ve held physical meetups and events. Paul is providing 1:1 online coaching sessions for their BD strategies.

To grow the community in 2014, we’ve very recently confirmed a partnership with <to be announced shortly>. Details forthcoming.

 

PLANS FOR 2014.

2014 will be a huge year. There are 3 pillars to our strategy: Growth, Community, and Product. I’ll share a proper outline of our plan for 2014 in the coming week.

Drivers of growth.

Growth is our top priority in Q1. We have 3 themes for growth:

  1. Inbound.  The goal is to grow traffic to our website, and convert leads into customers, through organic inbound (i.e. free) channels. We have initiatives for improving website conversion, blogging, publishing content, and email marketing.
  2. Outbound.  The goal is to build an efficient and low-cost sales model, where we proactively identify and contact target companies. We have initiatives for low-cost prospecting / lead-gen, email marketing, then picking up the phone (ideally, only to a warm lead).
  3. Referrals.  The goal is to have more proactive recruiters bringing in more projects. We are launching a <awesome thing> to drive these referrals in January.

<Some other awesome plans redacted>

It was a huge year, and we’re all excited for 2014. Personally, I’m feeling more confident about our ability to build RecruitLoop into a meaningful global company, than I have at any point before now.

Thanks for your support and contribution so far. I’m always here to chat – just email or call with any questions, ideas or feedback.

Michael

Fish where the fish might be

Where to Source Top Technical Talent

Fish where the fish might beFinding tech talent makes you want to tear your hair out sometimes, doesn’t it?

Sourcing technical talent, especially in areas where many software development companies are looking for the same skill set can be… challenging. When everyone is looking for the same thing, the playing field becomes so level there’s just no way to stand out anymore. LinkedIn’s dominance in the recruitment space can make you feel like you’re arriving at an overfished lake or holiday spot recently promoted in Lonely Planet. Everyone is there and it’s ruining the experience.

There are other alternatives, though. Technically skilled people, incredibly, have lives outside of their current workplace and a LinkedIn profile (who knew?). Exploiting these habits and behaviors to generate a connection can help you crawl out of the crowd and get noticed. If you’re looking for technical talent and aren’t getting any bites in the usual arenas, it’s time to go fishing in some more out of the way places.

Github

Github is an open source code repository site. It already has over 3 million members, all of them with technical skills and talents. Github has an advanced search engine that allows recruiters to discover users based on their specific technical talents, keywords mentioned in their profile, location, and number of followers. The more followers a person has, the more likely they are talented in what they do. However, it is also more likely they will be more difficult to recruit. When you’re searching, remember to focus on keywords relating to a particular project a potential candidate might be working on rather than job titles such as ‘software engineer’. They’re all software engineers…

StackOverflow

StackOverflow is a Q&A site for programmers. It has over 1.3 million users and nearly 10 million questions answered since its founding in 2008. Users build reputation by answering questions other users have posted. Users will also list tags of skill sets in their profile, allowing recruiters to search based on specific skills or project types. StackOverflow awards badges to its users – with names like ‘Peer Pressure’ and ‘Critic’, these badges can provide an insight into the motivations and personality of the user.

Quora

Quora is a question and answer forum for any topic, not just technical ones. With just 1.3 million users, it has had over 14 million questions answered since its inception. Profiles are rich with text (not just keywords) and you can scan a user’s recent activity to get an idea of their skill set. Each topic has Top Stories, which, if you’re looking for a real super star, is a great place to start. Beware the huge competition for these candidates though.

MeetUps

www.meetups.com has facilitated over 114 million invitations to events since its inception. Thousands of technical meetups in cities all over world take place every month with special focuses across the spectrum of talent that is the technical spac. From java, openstack, and python to eCommerce and mobile developers, meetups are the perfect place to meet those with the skills you are looking for. If you don’t have a technical background, discuss with the group moderator whether it would be okay for you to go. Some groups don’t appreciate non-technical folks popping in – especially if they’re only there to find talent. If you have the know-how to make yourself useful and a valued member of the group, you will have an advantage.

People Aggregation Sites

Entelo, TalentBin, and 3Sourcing aggregate data from other websites to provide a database of potential candidates. Entelo’s patent pending algorithm uses 70+ indicators to determine is a person is considering moving jobs and then alerts members who have indicated they are looking for someone of that particular talent. TalentBin provides a similar service and a CRM for managing passive candidates. They also offer content management systems (CMSs) and profiles of active job seekers.

The important thing to remember with people aggregate data services is that not all technically talented people are on LinkedIn. Many have deactivated their accounts because they are getting too many InMail requests or just prefer to use other sites to connect with people and showcase their work. This is why aggregate data services are so important.

Unfortunately, these aggregate platforms have great data but don’t come cheaply. Entelo, with its patent pending algorithm to indicate when someone may be on the move, is $12K a year and there are no month-to-month plans. Talent Bin is $6K a year per seat.

A recent player to the people aggregate data scene, 3Sourcing simplifies the services offered by aggregate services but also simplifies the price. From $300/month, the search function performs far better than LinkedIn, but that’s about it. It doesn’t provide CMS or potential candidate alerts.

Sourcing technical talent can be frustrating at times. The key is to remember that LinkedIn may not be the best place to look, overcrowded as it is and make alternatives sources a key part of your strategy. If you fish for tech talent in a pond that’s not crowded, you just might catch something.