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Ninua Zetlin

Neeu to hiie an engineei. Yeah, so uoes eveiybouy else. "People we talk to can't hiie
enough employees with i0S oi Ruby on Rails oi }ava skills touay," says }on Bischke,
CE0 of ieciuiting-softwaie makei Entelo.
In othei woius, you can't just pop out an au, wait foi people to tuin up, anu
then hiie youi fiist choice. Canuiuates with hot technology skills neeu to be wooeu.
Bow can you entice them. As a small company, you may not be able to offei the
salaiy oi peiks that a coipoiate giant coulu, but you might be able to connect with
techies on a human level in a way that a laige company can't.
Beie's how:
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I know, I know. The whole ieason you neeu to hiie someone who unueistanus this
stuff is that you uon't. I'm not tiying to tuin you into a softwaie uevelopei, but the
bettei you unueistanu what the job is all about, the moie you'll pique a canuiuate's
"The moie you can leain, the bettei," Bischke says. "At a base level, leain the lingo so
you unueistanu how Ruby on Rails is uiffeient fiom }ava, so when you talk with
engineeis they won't peiceive you as knowing nothing about technology."
Tech people ieally appieciate manageis who unueistanu theii woilu. "If the CE0 of
a company has that base level of knowleuge," says Bischke, "it will caiiy a lot of
weight with the peison you'ie tiying to hiie."
Bischke says he's known staitup CE0s who have uevoteu a poition of theii time to
leaining about the technology theii companies neeu foi exactly this ieason. At the
same time, he wains, uon't assume just because you have a iuuimentaiy
unueistanuing of the technology that you'ie qualifieu to evaluate applicants foi
engineeiing jobs--you shoulu also have a tech expeit check out the canuiuate's
specific skills.
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You'll neeu to uo this anyway befoie making a hiiing uecision, so it ieally makes
sense to check out the canuiuate online anu in social meuia befoie the two of you
meet. "Bo youi homewoik, anu make youi piospective hiie feel special," Bischke
A somewhat peisonalizeu email might say something like, "I see that you aie a
softwaie engineei at an :;< company. I see that you know }ava. We have an opening
foi that." An even bettei appioach woulu be to note that the canuiuate posteu a
pioject on uitBub oi a question on Stack 0veiflow ielating to a pioject oi potential
pioject at youi company. You might also note that the canuiuate tweeteu something
ielevant to a piospective iole.
"Peisonalizeu outieach beat out geneiic outieach such as mass mailings," Bischke
obseives. "Canuiuates aie getting bombaiueu with the lattei anu veiy little of the
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This is pait of eveiy single inteiview at Entelo, Bischke says. "Eveiyone has gianu
plans foi the futuie," he says. It can help to give some examples of how people
cuiiently oi iecently on youi team have moveu up oi hau notable achievements.
Softwaie engineeis often aspiie to woiking with new technologies oi on open-
souice piojects, which become bankable assets foi them. "They know that some
time in the futuie they'll be evaluateu by what's in the public uomain attacheu to
theii names," Bischke says. 0n the othei hanu, some tech people want to become
manageis, anu that's also something you can help piepaie them to uo.
Bon't pietenu you expect them to stay with youi company foi uecaues--as Bischke
points out, thiee to five yeais is foievei in the woilu of technology. You can show
you unueistanu this by telling them about company alumni who have gone on to
gieatei achievements oi staiteu a ventuie of theii own. You can even tell them that
if things woik out well, you'll connect them with othei tech piofessionals in youi
netwoik who coulu be helpful foi theii caieeis. "All of these things will show a
commitment to helping them succeeu both uuiing anu aftei theii time at youi
company," Bischke says.
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"Sell canuiuates on youi cultuie anu youi sense of mission," Bischke auvises. "0ui
inteinal stuuies have shown that even though top talent values company cultuie
veiy highly, many ieciuiteis foiget to emphasize this aspect of an oppoitunity. They
focus on uetails such as uaily tasks, piojects, anu compensation."
That can be the wiong appioach with geeks. "Tech is about woiking with biilliant
people to builu a bettei vision of the futuie," Bischke says, so a smait employei will
engage with that uesiie. It might be woiking on an exciting cutting-euge technology,
oi it might be that youi company actually helps make the woilu a bettei place. 0i it
coulu have to uo with the company's extiacuiiiculai effoits, such as's 111 mouel of giving 1 peicent of employee time, 1 peicent of
equity, anu 1 peicent of piouuct to chaiitable causes. (Bon't have a mouel foi
chaiitable giving. This coulu be a gieat ieason to stait one.)
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Nost company leaueis say that theii people aie theii most impoitant asset, but theii
appioach to hiiing uoesn't suppoit that view, Bischke says. "I ask a lot of companies
what peicentage of employee time is uevoteu to ieciuiting," he says. "The vast
majoiity uon't put enough effoit into it."
It makes a uiffeience, he says. "Theie's a gap between companies that aie goou at
this anu those that aien't. Those that uo ieciuiting bettei anu uevote moie
iesouices to it enu up hiiing moie talenteu people anu giowing fastei."