(warning, long post, only partially on topic)
Well I have been asking the same thing for ages. About 6 years ago I was trying to get recruiters to understand what we were about (they just ticked the boxes as you say).
At the time I wrote:
Do you geek like we do?
(Open letter to recruiters and candidates).
Our culture is all important to us, I am not talking about race here, it is background based, how you view your job, what you intend to get out of your job, how you approach your job and dealing with others.
I have been mistaken before for meaning race so I will clarify now, this isn’t a race based thing, it is a mindset and drive thing. We have worked with people from many races that have been great. We also know many who are plainly and simply useless. So race doesn’t define what we are looking for at all, it is a “cultural” fit.
There are many sub cultures within Australia most of whom you wouldn’t pair up together, I am trying to explain ours - The Geek.
- Many people need explicit instructions: "A>B>C>D" others you give them A and some background and they will work out B>C>D and E all on their own. We are looking for the second group.
- People will simply agree with you because you are “senior” to them. Others will voice their opinions and contribute their ideas. We want the second one. Sub to this is if the decision goes against them they will still throw themselves into it.
- Some people have learnt by rote: You do A then B then C which gives you X. Others have learnt how to learn and think. See beyond the immediate and solve the underlying problem.
Many of our jobs over the past 14 years have come from our clients need to cleanup and finish projects that have failed, mainly because the company has hired the wrong type of staff ... it costs far more than simply their wage if you get it wrong.
Now trying to pick these types of people we mean when we say “like us”:
- Good inventors, great ideas, terrible and finishing off a project. This is describing myself. Need to hire people to cater for this problem.
- Fantastic optimisers and “do”ers, if you want it to work really well get them. Flip side is narrowing focused and take a long time to get it there. Generally good techie trait but usually can’t converse with the outside world.
- Very good at and knows “the correct way” and “end to end” work. They can see a project from start to finish and not miss stuff. “because it should be done that way”. This is an attitude we have in here; the clients know this and pay for it. Combine this with the “do”ers and they are ideal.
- Quickest path to the immediate result. Tell everybody about it, loudly, bit hap hazard. (Don’t care get it working). Good for a start up, bad for established business that needs consistency. In a pure Support / Maintenance role this is good provided other developers are cleaning up afterwards. Prototyping and proof of concept work this is great.
- Generally interested. What ever is going … tell us about it, what can I do, how can I add my value to it either as knowledge or sweat (getting on with something they see as required).
- Rote learners / process workers. Where project has been planned out to the endth degree and they have “their bit” to do and that is it. Are good in very large teams. There is no danger of “tangents” being taken and unexpected results out of 1/200 people. They expect to be handed their “what to do” list and then they do that and come back for the next bit. Many cultures (both race and schooling) around the world tend toward rote learners or Boss/Underling style workers. This style of person is useless to us, send them to larger corporates.
- Our people are equals in a team, expected to work within the team to achieve the goals set by the client.
- You do whatever is required to land the job.
- You give you opinions and perspective without attachment.
- You think things through and analyse boundary cases.
Language is a barrier to working with us. We pretty much have our own language in here, you at least need English and some technical skill combined with a sense of humour.
If you don’t understand us you won’t grasp the requirements of what you need to do or how the rest of us will go about implementing the solution ... you won't last.
Why would you want to work with us?
- You get paid. Alright its not the same as you would earn out in the "real world" but its good money.
- You get to participate in decisions. While the directors have final say we want to hear from all, what they think, how and why the think it. It all helps.
- You get to research your own stuff. Interested in geek stuff, coding, new products, latest MS vs Linux war developments, Design techniques. All these things you are given time every week to research and discover what you want to. You just have to share it with everyone else.
- You get to try out new technologies. Either through research or through new projects we want to try new things and design new things. The projects are there to allow us to do so. (provided it helps the client and doesn't cost more than the project to do so)
- You aren't required to wear suits. Unless the situation requires it, like visiting clients or events.
- We want you to learn more and will put you through targeted training to improve what you know.
- You aren't usually requried to run 9-5. If you are running support for an agreement that is 9-5 then you do, otherwise get the job done and don't abuse the priviledge.
- Great team to work with. Well we think so anyway, we laugh at each other jokes out of politeness and have a no stabbing in the back policy.
- We are geeks as well. Some of us have girl friends and kids but don't let that fool you.
- We enjoy the respect of some very big companies and can walk in without question.
- Our client base is spread around Australia and across the globe. Leaves a lot of scope for travel and
- We build very good relationships with our clients and their employees which means we have lots of people we can go drinking with.
- If you have a need or problem we don't mind you taking the time off to sort it out. So long as you make up the difference with a few extra hours later on.
- Your ideas are valued and you get to see a greater reward for those ideas.
- You share in the success of Redgum.
Now, do you still want to work for us?
I wrote that in 2004/05, I have done some 50 or 60 interviews myself, worked with 14 or so recruitement agencies who threw anyone who ticked the boxes at me ... most of this was a waste of time and I suck at picking people from an interview.
So far the most success I have had is in finding one single recruiter who understood the meaning behind the above and what I was looking for and could filter down the list to people who fitted.
Now I have 1 recruiter who I trust knows my business, knows my needs, we have lunch every other month to catch up ... I let him go, give him the time and trust that he will only show me appropriate candidates.
Recruitment is a specilist area, and while at the end of the day you have final say ... if you have the money, let the people with skillset do their thing.
Once they have found someone, I interview them, ask them about their experience, their interests, the things that motivate them, the coolest projects they have done, hear their answer to the above ... once I am convinced I bring them in for a second interview with the team over lunch, everyone else in the team asks them questions and lets me know the thumbs up or down ... then we hire.