Ayende @ Rahien

It's a girl

How to get good people?

If I knew the answer, I would bottle it and would be rich. (insert mad laugher)

Lacking a bullet proof answer, the following are my observations regarding this issue. A while ago I was the chief interviewer in my company, and I have had the chance to interview literally hundreds of people. My own conclusions match Joel from 2005. The good people are already employed elsewhere, and are likely to be happy there. If they aren't happy, they tend to have the connections to find a job based on their known skills and experience.

In other words, unless something like the bubble burst has happened, you aren't going to find the good people in your interviews. This means that you have to look elsewhere for that.

I know that this isn't widely applicable, but I am using this blog as a good way of finding good people. The audience who reads this blog is already highly self selecting, and likely to share the same conceptions as I do about many things. I had several client engagements that resulted from this blog, and the environment I was working with was significantly higher than the industry average.

From the other side, the one thing that I am absolutely against is the "get a new job, close the blog" mentality. I wanted to point out couple of friends who did that, but I just checked, and both of them are blogging, which I somehow missed :-(

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that online presence matters. I have several friends who never had a blog, and wouldn't consider opening one. The direct implication is that some of the smartest people I have worked with are only known through word of mouth. Real story, I was at a client site one, and was half way listening to a hallway conversation, waiting for a conference call, and I heard the following: "Did you hear how Muhammad* saved [big cellular provider]'s when their [not important now]".

Some people has taken my suggestion to heart, and opened a blog. It doesn't really matter what they are talking about, what is important is that they do. Creating interactions in the community, creating a name for themselves. Getting recognized. Reputation matter, and having access to someone's thought stream over time is incredibly valuable in trying to estimate their abilities.

In the end, however, there is really no substitute for working with someone to actually evaluate their skills (which is a transient thing) and their abilities (which tend to change far more slowly, and what I really care about). Any attempt to short circuit the process is going to end in tears.

* That is his real name, and I had the pleasure of having him as my boss for over two years. Sadly, he doesn't have a blog. And yes, this is my own gentle way of trying to get him one.

Comments

configurator
11/30/2008 04:56 PM by
configurator

I completely agree, which is why I opened a blog. But it's empty - I have no idea what to write there! I'm not a writer, I'm a programmer. I write good code. And crappy articles. Even in my comments, I write and delete every sentence at least three or four times (including this one) before I'm happy with it. And I don't even have an idea to write about...

Ryan Kelley
11/30/2008 05:46 PM by
Ryan Kelley

@Oren,

Great article, I agree with you you on all points. It is very important for developers, hunting jobs or not, to have an onlince presence and be involved with the community.

@configurator,

I don't think it really matters what you are blogging. You don't have to have big long thought out articles. Just right about how you fixed a problem, or something else that you stumbled across. Chances are if you didn't know it before then, then there are others too.

Ayende Rahien
12/01/2008 12:29 AM by
Ayende Rahien

configurator,

practice makes perfect, write crappy articles, that is fine.

Just do it long enough and you'll see improvement

pb
12/01/2008 02:31 AM by
pb

I think it's completely possible and probable that there are non-blogging good people out there. But I do think that one that blogs and doesn't happen to make an ass of him or herself can communicate their goodness over time, such as yourself. I have interviewed people though that come across well in their blogs but aren't actually that great though, so you have to have a good interview process in place either way.

Bart Czernicki
12/01/2008 04:01 AM by
Bart Czernicki

I actually disagree about the "bubble burst" part. I think its harder to find people when there is a downturn in the market. Like you mentioned, they are the people that are likely to be happy somehwere else.

Most of the people "let go" are the bottom of the food chain looking for jobs. No company is going to let the best talent go first (under certain circumstances sometimes entire offices get closed, but that is rarer than rounds of layoffs).

The best people we found were actually in 2005 right when the economy was picking up after the 2002-03 downturn.

Erik van Brakel
12/01/2008 12:42 PM by
Erik van Brakel

Ayende, I've recently had some time, and read through a few of your first blog posts.

It's really interesting to see how your writing has developed, and it's also a very good insight for other people (me included) to see how one's online presence grows over time. If I read it correct, while writing all these articles/messages, you slowly got interested in ORM and (n)Hibernate and ActiveRecord specifically. Now I think you're one of the more important people around the whole nHibernate project. Good job ;-)

I've started a blog as well, but I'm too unorganized to regularly write posts. I've got a lot to write about though, mainly about things I encounter while using nHibernate on existing databases. Any tips on how to maintain a regular schedule for posting things? I'm afraid I'm going to forget to write about the important things ;-)

Cosmin Onea
12/02/2008 03:06 PM by
Cosmin Onea

Oren,

Oren, thanks for your huge contribution to the community and making me think differently.

I've also started a blog after I have been following yours for quite some time. I face the same regularity of posting problem as Erik, however I'm working on it and everytime I do something and I think it would make for a good post I immediatly start up an editor write several phrases and save the file for later when I have time to elaborate. Later on, usually during the weekends I go through the files and decide wich one makes it to the blog.

The trick for me is that whenever I get an idee I note it down.

Brian
12/02/2008 03:16 PM by
Brian

Oren,

Great article and I agree on almost every point (have to agree with Bart that it seems in an economic downturn its the bottom people that companies could afford to lose that tend to flood the job market). You and Jeft Atwood both inspired me to start my own blog at http://www.formatexception.com

The question I have is how do you get your blog known? Clearly you have a large reader base but where do you start to get more readers?

Thanks,

Brian

Ayende Rahien
12/10/2008 05:46 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Erik,

don't try to get perfect, just write it out, you'll get it wrong a lot of times, but you'll get better

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