Both business and technical people must interview candidates for skills, smarts, and culture. You just go about it a different way, depending on your background. Here are my tips for hiring technical people:
Hiring practices differ from business & tech standpoints
Tech standpoint: culture, smarts, skill
Business standpoint: skill, smarts, culture
Seek help if you’re unable to evaluate skill
Thank you docstoc TV for the opportunity to get this message out.
My friend, Rich Rygg of HipGeo (and co-inventor of the Pop-Up Ad), asked me which are the best job boards to use when hiring people in Los Angeles and Southern California. That’s not quite the right question, as hiring is more of a process than anything else. To address his question, I put together an outline of my hiring process, which does factor in job boards, and more closely targets the specific roles that you are aiming for. I don’t address using recruiters here, which is also a viable option for most companies.
Before I “hit the circuit” and post a job (or two), I will first do the following:
Ask friends in companies with similar tech stacks (if they aren’t looking, they might help me)
Ask relevant private networking groups that I am a part of (eg Digerati LA, LA CTO Forum). Note: private groups aren’t for any and every job. They need to be targeted appropriately (as do your friends, really).
Here’s the “job board” strategy that I employ. I wrote it with a LAMP-based technology stack in mind. Feel free to substitute in the relevant Android, iPhone, or Rails groups that you deem appropriate:
Find, join, and post on the relevant meetup and networking sites (LAPHP Meetup, LAMPsig, LA Tech Meetup, LA Web Application Developers Meetup, LA Billions Meetup, OCPHP(?)). For special positions requiring highly skilled, senior, or scalability related help, look at groups like High Scalability Meetup and LA Cloud Computing, too.
Post on local LA job boards (NoodleYard.com, LAMPJobsLA.com (new))
Post on Craigslist (costs a lot in time)
Post on DICE (costs a lot in time and $)
Post on Monster (costs a lot in time and $)
This is roughly prioritized by my level of desperation in finding talent. More important (and relevant) targets are first, which happen to be cheapest monetarily, too. Regardless, it takes a bunch of time to hire – so I prefer the more face to face options of word-of-mouth and networking groups versus wading through tons of resumes as you do with Craigslist, DICE, and Monster. I documented just about every Los Angeles-based technical networking group that I could find to help get you started.
Florian Drescher is hosting another cloud training session. I did this before and think he’s a great teacher. I would go again, but I am going to Startup Weekend LA (same weekend). The cost is $20. Q Connects is in the Howard Hughes complex.
Introduction to Cloud Computing with Amazon EC2
This course is the fast track to learn how to use Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and to run your own applications in the Cloud. During the course of this training, participants will begin by learning how to create their own Server-Instances with step-by-step examples, install and configure software on them, and secure them. As a next step, participants will learn how to add persistent storage (with EBS) to an Instance and how to backup and restore data. Throughout the training, participants will be given practical tips and applicable tools.
EC2 Overview: Technology, Security, Performance and Costs
Overview of the other Amazon Web Service Products
EC2 - Elastic Compute Cloud introduction
Managing EC2 with GUI and Command-Line Tools
Finding the right Server Templates to start with
Connection to Linux Server Instances with SSH and to Windows Server Instances with RDP
Configuration of the EC2 Firewall: Security Groups
Availability Zones: Run server in different Locations, Load Balancing and Failover Concepts
Using the Amazon Web Service APIs: REST API, Query API, SOAP API and the Command-Line Tools
EBS – Elastic Block Storage
Create and mount EBS Volumes
Best Practices for Linux File System Configuration
Backup and Restore: Creation of EBS Snapshots, Best Practices for Linux
Management and Configuration of Elastic IP Addresses (EIP)
Best Practices: Internal Naming with Dynamic DNS Provider, D-DNS Provider Integration into EC2
EBS bootable EC2 Instances
Persistent vs. Transient Storage
Livecycle of EBS backed Instances
Creation of Server Templates
Customize and bundle AMIs (Amazon Machine Images)
S3 vs. EBS backed AMIs
Cloud Automation & Configuration Management
Overview of existing Commercial and Open Source Solutions
Demo: Opscode Chef based Multi-Server Deployment
Laptop with Wireless LAN, 2GB RAM and 10 GB free hard disk space
I meet a lot of startups that are looking for that perfect developer who will buy into their vision (aka “drink the KoolAid”) and work for equity (i.e. “for free”). Well, that’s not going to happen. I mean it can…but that’s like winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning – you can’t plan for it.
Yet…there is good news! There are a lot of low cost alternatives (in Los Angeles) that may be of interest to you: Internships, Incubators, Contests, and Outsourcing.
Students4Startups (S4S) might work for you. For a lot of startups, though, I’m not sure if it is a good fit. Your company needs to be able to strongly manage a junior technical resource. S4S also shies away from companies interested in “free work” as it’s the wrong type of message and is not a strong foundation for internships or first-time jobs (and I seriously question the cultural DNA that you are creating with this attitude). If you do have the capability to manage a technical intern, then it is possible for a startup to get a for-credit (aka “free”) intern, but you must satisfy these criteria:
The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
For the record, I have *never* found a Computer Science (CS) student who will work for school credit. All of them want to be paid. And if it’s an internship, by law, you must pay at least minimum wage (~$12/hour). So, the cost of a CS intern is really $12 to $20/hour (or more, but I haven’t seen interns go above $20/hour yet). S4S has more info on internships.
If you are a graduate from USC, UCLA, or Caltech, I *strongly* recommend that you connect with the CS student groups and begin attending their events. That’s the best way to meet students – in person and informally. That’s how you can meet a technical peer to join you as a partner.
Outsourcing, Incubators, and Contests
Here are several more low cost methods for building your product or company. Some are free…most are not (by having a money, opportunity, or time-related cost):
Partner with a local outsourcing firm. There are several local outsourcing shops that have a track record in working with startups. They may do work for less fees that can be made up in deferred compensation or equity. Not sure how they’ll react to a zero budget, but they may be able to work with that. Your mileage may vary, but if you have a good idea, and a track record, you may get a local outsourcing shop to build your prototype. Contact me for recommendations.
Enter the idea in the StartupWeekend LA contest and win (or any startup building contest). You can get funded out of participating or winning a contest like this. Also, lots of “free” labor to build your company! It’s not quite like that, but these are typically great events and worth considering.
Enter the idea in a Twiistup, Spotlight: LA Tech or Fast Pitch event (there are many of these) that has an actual cash or funding reward. TCVN Survivor 6 is a good example of this…Joey Flores, of earbits.com, won TCVN 6 and get $50k in services and a big PR and Marketing boost.
Join an incubator like IdeaLab or Y Combinator. I have an awesome Y Combinator story that I can’t tell anybody about yet (hopefully in the next 4 weeks).
Start hanging out at the CoLoft 2 days a week. Great startup environment. Lots of techies come by, too. Lots of meetups. Good way to be about as close to the heart of the startup storm as you can be, in LA.
This is more than enough to get you started on low- to no- cost options. I love talking about this stuff, so don’t hesitate to kick-off a conversation with me about it.
(FYI: This is written with the SoCal region in mind but may apply anywhere).
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