Have you noticed that in the news of late there's a trend-line about the state of the national economy? ;-)
OTOH, there are others who are a bit ahead of the curve, and focused on the future, like Seth's post on Sunday, The Economy, the press and the paradox.
As a leader at an entrepreneurial company, what are your thoughts about this as it relates to recruiting?
I've heard some of my clients talk about how this is an ideal opportunity to pick up good talent, and I've also heard how they think they'll be able to pick up that really-hard-to-find Ruby on Rails Developer now that unemployment has picked up. The former is true, the later *might* be true, but is more likely not.
The reality of the situation in Seattle, and it's largely true throughout the U.S., is that Software Developers continue to be in demand. It's just not a buyer's market, and this is even more true if we're talking about hot development tool technologies. We see this in our recent employment/unemployment statistics, and we see it in the the anecdotal stories from the leaders of our local firms.
In other words, if you want to hire a bunch of sub-par Developers, continue to think that the best people will come search you down for a job just because your doors are open.
For the rest of you, this is not a time to let your perceptions be colored too much by the macro economic news of the time, and instead, focus on the here-and-now of who your firm ideally needs to succeed. You need to bring a crisp recruiting process to bear to find and hire the best Developers for your team.
Here's one great way to do this: Referral Recruiting. Referral Recruiting has consistently been shown to be one of the most financially effective methods to find great people for your team - if it's done right. Your leaders or board will be happy to hear you're being so focused on high value results w/your recruiting spend.
Sit down w/you all the members of your Dev Team, including those who go out in the world and interact w/Developers at other companies, and kick off a referral recruiting program. For times like right now, I'd hit the following points:
- We are a great company, we are financially successful, and we'll ride out the current economic challenges. Review 3 points as to why this is the case, and focus on financial strength and stability (no, future ad revenue does not count in this!).
- We have 2 or 3 high-need roles, and state their titles. "These are critical to our future success."
- I need you to help us find likely candidates for these roles. "We'll give you a $1,000 bonus for every person you bring forward who we hire for one of these roles. The job descriptions are on our website. I want to you walk away from this meeting, go home, sleep on it and first thing tomorrow, send me the names of 3 - 5 GREAT Developers who you think we should bring on to our team." Follow-up w/everyone tomorrow to get this done
- In addition, here are the qualities of people we *do not* want to hire. "We don't want to even consider people who have a consistent history of short assignments, e.g. < 1 year, as they have a track record of not being focused on the long-term future. We need people who will see our vision, adopt it, and consistently work towards it for a long, long time. Like you!"
- "We are asking this of you because in this dynamic environment, there are going to be people like you, but happen to be employed somewhere else. They might be among those laid off at a firm like x, y, or z, or they might happen to be justifiably concerned about the prospects for the product they are currently working on. They might be interested in finding a stable firm with a bright future where they can be creative."
- Oh, and you might want to identify a few key people that you've heard of, or have your team identify them, for special attention. Like, sending them a letter (I know, so old school) with a note identifying your current successes, along w/a coupon for dinner for two at a great local restaurant. Call to action: Invite them for coffee to chat about their career.
- Set out a set of objectives for this, like the number of recommended Developers you want people to send you, time-lines for contact, etc.
- Stay on top of it - if you don't continue to apply attention to this, it will falter.
- When you do hire people through this method, make a big, hairy deal out of it. At the next company meeting, bring the person up to the front for congratulations, and hand them the check. Maybe throw in a few kickers, like dinner somewhere, or free lunch at their favorite restaurant, a coffee card, etc.
In sum, this is a great time to be recruiting because you have to be creative to get the great Developers for your team. But drop the 'oh this is going to be so easy' thing - it will just get in your way.