Topic: One thing I learned in 1999 - a great way to hire (or be hired)

Topic type:

[Work in Progress]

I'm amazed by how many job ads there are right now for Ruby on Rails developers. A lot of these, despite being from companies or organizations that purport to be creating something "disruptive", are incredibly similar. They usually boil down to "we only want the best of the best because we are going to change the world".

In otherwords most of them are bullshit.

Thankfully we live in the age of the web and it is easy enough to find out more information about a potential employer.

Its also easier to find out information about potential employees or contractors due to the emergence of Open Source Software and the ubiquitous online sharing that has risen in parallel. Places such as github.com can give a huge amount of detail about the quality of work of someone that has contributed to open source projects.

So applicants that have demonstrable history are covered. Check Github or the like for what they have done.

The problem is there is a huge amount of great talent that gets excluded because they don't have a demonstrable history yet. A lot of the most interesting developers are just starting out. Some of these may even need a push to realize their potential.

That was the position I was in back in August, 1999. I was self taught with most of my experience in web design and smattering of Linux system administration (just enough to get a database backed site together), but only a few shell scripts to my name as far as programming. However, in my quest to create a better online photography site for myself, I had stumbled upon Web Tools Review, Philip Greenspun, and the ArsDigita Community System.

Scratch

Benefits:

  • You get to know the person in a working situation before you hire them. Are they a good listener? Do they come to things with a fresh approach? Do they know what they are talking about? 
  • You can see how they approach problems and whether they are willing to help others.
  • You can judge whether they are genuinely excited by the work.

The closest thing I've seen to this idea of late is Hungry Academy at LivingSocial.

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