Archive for May, 2010

Recruiting Mistakes

So I have been doing some interviewing lately, more on why later. The last time I seriously interviewed for a job was in 2000, when I joined NewStand more recently known as LibreDigital. I have had a couple of interviews in the interim but I wasn’t seriously looking. Back then I made some serious mistakes that cost me one job for sure. I might not have gotten it anyway but I pretty much screwed it up before I even got there. If the person who owns the company offers you the guest house don’t insist on taking your dog when you and your wife go for the interview. It wasn’t that he didn’t like dogs, he just didn’t want our dog in his dogs turf. They got us a hotel, one that wasn’t pet friendly. Clearly I didn’t get the job.

But this is not about my mistakes it is about others mistakes.

I have run in to two major recruiter mistakes and one minor one lately.


Keep the prospect in the loop. Even if all you can say is “I have no news” say it at least once a week. No news may be good news but not hearing it makes for a lot of anxiety on the prospects part. I was looking at a job where they were very accepting of my difficult schedule of being in town one work day every three weeks. During the intervening time I had to drag status out of the recruiter. This made me very nervous that I was not good enough but he was avoiding telling me anything until he could tell me they had hired someone else.

Also if a fellow recruiter has told you I am interested in work and I haven’t responded to you, try harder to get to me. Especially when I am bugging the first person to find out why you haven’t contacted me. When your co-recruiter says to you for the third time “Did you talk to Shawn, he keeps asking” it is a safe bet the e-mail you thought you sent never got to me.

Read the damned resume

When the above job finally fell through recruiter JC passed me off to recruiter DD who had another ColdFusion position open. When we finally hooked up he told me I should fill out a survey about the job on the recruiting web site. No mention that first I had to register wich means he didn’t know I wasn’t registered at the site. When I finally figured it out I registered and did the survey. It and the job description alluded to certain skill sets but did not say they were required. Note to recruiters and companies: If a skill set is required make it clear in the job description. Use words like “required.” It saves us all time. Had the recruiter actually read, and understood, my resume he would have known I didn’t meet the requirements, again saving us all time.

Understand the difference between requirements and preferences

Only require things that are really required. Just possibly other experience will make learning your required skill trivial. For instance unless the ColdFusion person is also the database administrator 10 years of Oracle experience will probably make learning SQL Server’s version of Structured Query Language (SQL) pretty simple. Also unless the CF person is also the IT person detailed knowledge of Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) – formerly called Internet Information Server, is probably not relevant as your web server tends to be a set it and forget it kind of thing.

I have done a lot of hiring in the last 15 years and one thing I never did was over require. NewsStand and my previous company were Linux shops. I hired plenty of people with only Windows experience because the few things you had to know about a Linux based web site that were different from a Windows based one were trivial and easy to understand if you were a marginally intelligent person.

Don’t over estimate your capabilities

This company I recently spent six weeks interviewing at decided to not fill the position at all. They have made a bold decision for a group of Java developers. They concluded that it was cheaper and faster to rewrite the public facing part of their reporting systems in ColdFusion instead of Java. They are right but it is bold of Java developers to step outside of the “all Java all the time” world. The position was a senior CF developer to help guide the team in the right direction with ColdFusion. I will confess that after my first interview I went home and told my wife I was unsure why they were looking at a permanent hire. They needed to send a couple of developers to some CF training and bring in a consultant for six to 12 months to guide the team. However, after starting on their own they have decided they can do it alone. CF is a very powerful language with a lot of details. As many as Java, no, but still not something you should not assume you can master in a few weeks.

Mark: Y’all have made a wrong decision. Not one that involves death but certainly a less right decision.

Jack: It isn’t to late to fix things and I wish I could say I was the perfect solution but since I don’t know the ColdBox platform and a consultant needs to hit the ground running I am not perfect, although I am a solution.

So why the interviewing?

Team driving is hard, way more than twice as hard as solo driving. This is not about personalities although for others it could be but given that we have been married 30+ years living in less than a 100 square feet is not the problem. Unforeseen things have happened. Our daughter is going to have her fourth child in September, William Patrick Venzon, and Liz would like to be around to help. It turns out I have a hell of a time sleeping when the truck is moving and for a team it should be moving most of the time. The hobbies we thought we could keep up with on the road have fallen by the wayside because it is hard to do much of anything while the truck is moving. There are lots of other reasons in the same vein.

So if you know of anyone looking for a CF developer, not a director of development thank you, let me know. My skills are not 100% up-to-date but the differences in CF are enhancements, not changes so I need to learn new things, not relearn old ones. Frankly I am damned good at what I do. Actually I am competent. You think you need superstars but what you don’t realize is that most people are not competent and all you need is competence. Superstars bring attitudes. At one point I worked with two people who thought they were the best Java developers on the planet. Not as a team, individually. Imagine working with two number one developers. To this day developers are both amazed and amused by code these guys left behind.



Well another first. I hit a deer late last night. I have no idea what the remains look like but other than stomach contents and blood surprisingly little was on the truck. The bumper got badly damaged but the truck was certainly driveable. We made our delivery on time. I did everything right which really means not doing much at all. Obviously we don’t swerve a truck to avoid non-humans. I slowed down but kept the truck straight.

Next step is where to get repairs done.

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