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Why the“Dream Job” is Killing Your Dreams

How the myth of the “Dream Job” is holding you back and stifling your professional growth.

The phrase of the “Dream job” has been in the lexicon for decades now, but we believe it’s the right time to retire this dated, tired, and fundamentally flawed concept.

In Cal Newport’s “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” the author highlights how the 1970's book “What Color is your Parachute” sparked a generational concept of following your passion. A remarkable and aspirational message to the job seekers of the day. But the implied, and likely unexpected, repercussion was that the concept of craftsmanship, hard work, and pursuit of exceptionalism in your field was left in the dust. Suddenly gone were the days of doing a job that you don’t necessarily love with the knowledge that over time you would become skillful and become a paragon in your field.

Similarly the concept of the “dream job” has been perpetuated, peddled, and packaged in a way that makes many of us always feel like we’re leaving something on the table out there if our day to day experience isn’t a blistering ray of perfection. But here’s our hypothesis — there is no such thing as a “dream job”.

At Talentpair we know this — but don’t get us wrong: we’re not here to cast a somber gloom over your job seeking experience. We just know that there is a better way. Though we feel the concept of a dream job is a tired old trope, we do know that there are great jobs out there.

great job is different, and better, than a dream job. A great job is a place where a person can feel they can contribute; where a difference can be made, even if it is just a short time. There are no devotional commitments to great jobs — they are all just spokes in the ever progressing wheel of your career.

Whereas the concept of a dream job perpetuates the idea that all days will be filled moment to moment with undisrupted, golden, joy; a great job recognizes that there will be hard times — that some days you will be stressed, some days you will be elated, and some days you will be bored. Some days you will suffer terrible defeats, and on others you will achieve brilliant successes. And, over time, you will see your contributions begin to stale — and the challenges you used to face will seem more commonplace, and less engaging. The polish will begin to patina. And then, in a moment of recognition, you will know it’s time to seek out your next “great job”.

We’re of the belief that you shouldn’t sacrifice or short an exceptionalopportunity for the neigh-impossible concept of a perfect opportunity.

As you know: the market has changed . You no longer need to sign your claims of loyalty to a single company for life, rather most individuals are better served by writing the history of their career through the milestone impacts they make across numerous companies. This is most notably true in the tech industry, where Talentpair lives and breathes.

We recommend you don’t “fall” for the concept of the dream job to embrace a more practical, realistic, and ultimately rewarding philosophy: that your next great opportunity is out there, and your next great job is only few clicks away.

At Talentpair I am delighted to say that we are, indeed, changing the game of the job seeking world. We use intelligent and empathetic AI to find you the best possible opportunity for our talent, and to find exceptional talent for our amazing clients. Our platform is geared to find you a great job — one that is fulfilling not only because it knows your worth based on what you’ve done, but because it respects and honors where you want to go in your career. Come check us out and find your next great job!

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Refactoring: a Case for Quality

Software, like all things in life, decay, mutate, and grow old. Much like the barnacles the sprout across the belly of a ship, the slow creep of destructive rust on a tractor, the corrosion of metals in kinetic machinery, or the gradual degradation of your cells ability to repair themselves — software gets old. In the world of software, we call this technical debt.

Technical debt is a complex, abstruse, but impactful impediment to the success of projects and the efficiency of development. Minor changes in the development approach of a feature can leave relics of the old approach behind, which later can cause confusion, misdirection, and inefficient code. This is true for the integration of modules and services, as well as APIs. Over time these issues become compounded and will negatively impact future development timelines and system stability the longer it remains unaddressed. Additionally, over time improvements are made to how code is written, new standards become ubiquitous, and best practices change. The summation of this is technical debt spiraling out of control which slows down productivity and can cost companies millions.

Much like aging, there is no cure for technical debt. Only treatment and prevention through refactoring.

Refactoring is the process of rewriting and restructuring to smooth out the rough edges and pare logical dead ends in the code. This is all in effort to bring the code into alignment with current standards in the industry. Logic is simplified to be more efficient, code is written in a way to be more resistant to errors, and to be replicable throughout the entire codebase.

It is, in part, the process of keeping the hull clean, the tractor shielded from the weather, and the machinery well oiled and in good working order. The tangible results of refactoring, however, can be deceptively subtle because it is empirically hard to prove the net benefits from preventative maintenance. 

When it comes to software, however, the old proverb of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is fundamentally true. Proactively resolving small issues now can prevent tremendous complexities in the future — which in the world of websites and applications can foreseeably assuage user frustrations, down time, opportunity costs, and lost revenue. 

We at Metal Toad continually strive for excellence in our code and products, and to that end we strongly recommend that all projects or iterations on older codebases — large or small — have some allotment of time and budget for refactoring efforts. 

A proactively maintained and well-cared-for tractor can last an owner more than half a century and, though the lifetime of a website or application is much shorter, the same dynamic applies. Invest in quality; refactor often and with intention, and software will perform better, faster, and longer.


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The Value of an Empty Box

My relationship with my phone has always been strained. Though I often pride myself in some areas of self management and discipline — whether that be in diet, frugality, learning goals — my connection to my smart devices has always been one that toes the line of dependence and obsession. 

And there have been many signs that this tenuous relationship has been persisting for a while: The frequent tapping of my left pocket to ensure that I have it on me, the random “grabs-and-unlocks” for no ascertainable reason, and that soft wool-itch anxiety at the back of my mind when I would inadvertently leave the phone in a different room, or indoors when working on the property. 

The power dynamic between myself and my phone has had a clear winner. Instead of me using the phone like a tool, the phone has been using me… making me a tool. 

I’ve attempted many methods of curtailing this need to constantly check my phone. I’ve pursued notification batching, notification silencing, do not disturb windows, and the removal/restriction of all social media. I’ve used the lovely Siempo launcher, which provides a minimalist distraction free launcher for Android phones — which only ultimately provided me with series of annoying challenges and complex routes to get to the content I wanted from my phone. (Though I still highly recommend it.) And, all of these methods, in some way have fallen short of my expectations and desire to regain control over my life.

With the birth of my first child I had a crystalizing moment one evening: I realized that if I continued to pine after the world through 4.5 inches of amoled I would essentially be building a much larger screen between myself and my daughter. If I continued to foster bonds to others digitally, I’d be fraying the intimate ties to my family at home. And ultimately I’d be slowly eroding the most valuable foundation in my life, the one I’ve built with my partner. 

I’m happy to say that realization prompted a radical change in my behavior with my phone: Saturday through Sunday I look at my phone four times, at noon and six in the evening each day. And that’s it. When I’m not checking my device in those brief windows, my phone lives in an old wooden box that I’ve drilled a hole in to accommodate the charging cable. 

This practice has freed me to be so much more engaged and present with my family, my pet, my parents, and the beautiful household that my wife and I have have been building. It’s let me start using my phone like a tool. The power struggle is shifting. 

And it’s not just my internal narrative that has changed, my partner observed tangible changes in my behavior and it’s been greatly appreciated. 

So if you were wondering about the title of this post, the value of an empty wooden box, you now know: it’s priceless and it’s paying out dividends I never could have imagined.

If you struggle with your relationship with your phone, or if you find that your phone gets in the way of your relationships — I would highly recommend that you take on the practice of boarding your phone! And please report in — I’d love to know if and how it impacts your life!



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Choosing the Right Testing Service for Your Company

One of the first documented A/B tests was run by Google nearly 18 years ago as a spearpoint test into the world of web performance optimization. The test ultimately failed due to slow load times. (Nice to know that even Google isn’t infallible!)

Yet now, many years later, A/B and multivariate testing are staples of the product development lifecycle and bedrock elements to creating an iterative practice around software--Google now routinely runs greater than 10,000 A/B tests per year. Whether your company is looking to improve sales conversions, keep rapt attention of your users, or simply direct more users to a specific page ,  A/B testing should be a frequently used tool in your repertoire. But, how do you get started and what services do you use?

In 2018, we’re well beyond the laborious and somewhat archaic practices of yesteryear in which a company would simply have to create a separate version of the site and then analyze traffic with little chance of getting tangible data from it.

From these dark ages optimization testing has spawned hundreds of companies and services that are vying for your attention, your patronage, and your dollar.

Here at Metal Toad we are continuously analyzing the best services for not only ourselves, but for our clients.

So when we started to evaluate A/B testing services and companies that would best serve our clients in an agency context we looked at several different factors and numerous companies. This was a challenge as not all companies are as transparent about their platform capabilities as we’d expect.

We primarily researched the following companies:

  1. Adobe Target

  2. AB Tasty

  3. Google Optimize

  4. Mixpanel

  5. SiteGainer

  6. SiteSpect

  7. Kameleoon

  8. Freshmarketer

  9. Maxymiser

  10. Dynamic Yield

  11. Visual Web Optimizer (VWO)

In beginning this evaluation it was important for us to identify, by looking at the options, the features that are universally standard and offered--and features that make each product unique.


The Table Stakes

Every company that we chose to look at needed to provide a handful of table stake features.

We consider the basics and non-negotiables to be: A/B testing, multivariate testing, in browser editing and reporting. We also needed standard experiment admin features, like the ability to pause, stop, start, and cancel experiments. Provided that a service offered these key elements, they came under consideration.

In addition to these basics, we evaluated the service’s appearance of ease of use, how large the community is, whether or not it can support multi-platform services, the industries of the companies that utilize the service currently, and whether or not that it was apparent that the documentation was excellent.

Almost every company made the cut for the basics--including Mixpanel, which is a mobile only testing service and has limited use-case for our purposes here at Metal Toad. We had already removed Optimizely from consideration. We have loved using Optimizely, but we took it out of the running because of the recent price changes.

The Differentiators

The nice-to-haves we were most excited about are the following features: funnel testing, having the ability to edit using code (instead of a visual editor), being able to define the specific goals and track associated metrics, and--in an ideal world--integrated heat mapping to track user behavior.

Funnel testing would enable us to better identify the user’s path through a site, so we could identify areas where drop-offs were occurring and generate hypothesis off of those findings. Though most commonly applied to e-commerce purchasing paths, we feel that there is value in analyzing funnels to for other KPIs that our clients care about - such as subscription sign-ups.

We also want to be able to be a little more “under the hood” in most cases, so though visual editors are wonderful for ease of use - being able to edit at the code level for the precise changes we are looking to make was a must.

Having enough data to work with is also an incredible boon to work with when doing A/B, multivariate, or any form of testing that these services offer. For our needs, integrations with analytics will allow us to set proper goals - and having a system that would help us define those goals using real traffic data for our client sites was a top priority.

Lastly, and most importantly, heat-mapping was at the top of our list. Heat maps allow UX, UI, and marketers to see real-life interactions of user and website over time. The aggregate data shows the paths that the users take on the site and provide awesome visual data to help inform testing decisions. With heatmap technology baked in, we concluded we could shorten our cycle time: observing user behavior, hypothesizing, and implementing an experiment.


Agency Factors

As an agency we need to consider the varying need and budgets of our clients. So within this thinking we were seeking a  “one-stop shop”: a service providing not only the basics but some (if not all) of the higher level “nice to haves” that many other services rely on integrations for.

The driver for this, in our eyes, was to minimize the amount of partnerships that would be required to cover all our bases with hypothesis testing and experimentation for our clients. Which would, in turn, reduce billing complexities.

Ultimately for Metal Toad we found our answers in Freshmarketer, which was a decision that was further solidified in by the fact that they have an agency model, allowing us, as the trusted partner of our clients, to be the account executors and hold all of our client sites in one place.

Evaluating for Yourself

Our evaluation process was unique for our needs and the needs of our clients, but your criteria may be very different. Ultimately we recommend that you take stock of the most important elements that will be necessary to drive your site to success - and we believe that most of those testing features can be found in the majority of the services out there.

The outlier features that made the difference for us at Metal Toad may not be the above-and-beyond features that you find necessary for your site - but hopefully now you have a baseline understanding of the features that set some of these services apart.


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Gamifying Recruitment Tasks with Habitica

How I’ve gamified my recruitment tasks, and day to day habits — to measurably improve personal performance.

I’m a huge fan of gamification; it can inspire you to attain things you otherwise feel might be menial tasks, or it can drive you towards goals through measurable and actionable steps.

But, let’s be frank: ATS & CRM systems as well as corporate “gamification” initiatives usually fall flat. ATS systems often don’t provide nearly enough gamified elements, and if corporate is rolling out a new gamification method into your office: chances are that buy-in is going to be extremely low.

I can hear the groans and see the eye rolls of bringing something like this up in my office.

But that’s not to say that gamification doesn’t work — there are mountains of evidence to the contrary. It’s just that in order for anyone, for you, to get the most out of gamified habit building/changing — you need to elect to do so yourself!

So I did — and this is how.

Habitica — Formerly known as HabitRPG.

HabitRPG was released several years ago as a place where you could input behavioral changes that you’re hoping to make and, as the name implies, play a role playing game at the same time.

Now rebranded as Habitica the platform, now accessible on mobile, is better than ever.

You as a player create your avatar, arm him or her, earn awards, and spend them internally on the site. You can raise pets, ride mounts, party up with friends, and basically accomplish mini-tasks in the tiny Habitica universe.

And all of it is accomplished by the completion of tasks and the formation of habits.

The principles are simple — you put in the Habits you’re trying to form, theDailies you must accomplish, and the To-Do’s which can be time bound, but by default are just things you need to get done whenever.

For every daily you accomplish, for every To-Do you scratch of your list, or for every good habit you enforce (like standing for an hour at your desk vs sitting at your desk) — you earn points.

For me I use it for practically everything, from flossing, to drinking water, to gardening; and as this article implies: I use it religiously for accomplishing tasks at work. Including writing this article!*

These tasks can be one-off To-Do’s — like research a new technology. Or they can be recurring tasks that I need to accomplish daily, such as reaching out to 15 new candidates (per role), writing down my priorities for the following morning, and posting new jobs to the boards.

Now, as you likely know, there are heaps of data out there in the ether that confirm that gamification is helpful for driving individual progress both professionally and personally. And I, frankly, am a skeptic — because I know for certain that if anyone pushed this type of methodology on me: I’d absolutely hate it.

But ultimately I’m enjoying the heck out of this system. Not only do I get to gamify the process of a job that I already love — but I get to earn some gold and weapons in the process. :)

I highly recommend you give it a shot and please, let me know how you useHabitica to improve your business practices!

*How meta!

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Leveraging YouTube for Recruiting

In which I explain my secret to sourcing, contacting, and connecting with top tier talent over the internet.

The pen is mightier than the sword, they say. But perhaps video can be mightier than the pen — and that’s certainly what I’ve discovered since I began leveraging video and direct voice, over hope and clever copy.

I began this experiment because in my day-to-day operations leveraging social media to find talent, I realized there a couple hard truths about sourcing.

Cold calling is tough, cold emails are ignored, and people hate being pestered by recruiters constantly. Furthermore, even if you craft the most personal message to your target talent there’s a high probability it will be lost amongst the flotsam of truly shitty messages from other recruiters.

Let’s face it — getting in touch with someone you want to speak with when they have no prior knowledge of your existence can be really tough. Emails go unanswered, InMails are never opened, Tweets are never responded to, and — in general — I spend 90% of my day-to-day outreach being ignored.

Many people, far more informed than I, have talked about how to differentiate your emails and InMails to capture the attention of your audience. Glen Cathy (@GlenCathey) is one such, albeit phenomenal, resource for learning those fundamentals. (I highly recommend his website BooleanBlackbelt to get really deep insight on best practices.)

And yet, the goal of all email outreach is the same: get as much information to the recipient in the least amount of time, entice them, draw them in, and get them to respond/buy/what-have-you. This is somewhat opposed, however, by the fact that most InMails are effective at less than 500 words. And, as Boomerang discovered, the global average length of emails that are the most highly responded to sits at no longer than 125 words… and this is from someone you already know!

So I started studying copywriting and taking note of how effective marketers get responses to their emails and lo and behold things started to improve. And yet, at the back of my mind, the length of my outreach InMails were bothering me. They were too long. How was I to grab their attention, generate interest, stoke their desire, and call them to action in less than 125 words as Neville Medorah would have me do?

I found that I was at a bit of a crossroads — give all the relevant information and have my outreach be too long or not give enough and have it be too short to draw them in.

During a particularly difficult search in September of last year I decided that it was time to try something new. Bearing in my mind that people typically don’t have time to read things anymore, and knowing that being respectful of their time is a phenomenal way to generate rapport, I opened up PhotoBooth.

I grabbed some water, cleared my throat and recorded a 90-second message to my recipient while standing at my desk. I told her who I was, why I was on her profile, what my client could offer and thanked her for her time.

And that was it.

I uploaded the video to YouTube, put her name in the title of the video, and dropped the video link into an InMail with copy that basically said I know she’s busy, I know recruiter messages can be crap, and I made her something a little different.

And it basically looked like this.

The response to this video was phenomenal.

Not only did I get a response (which is a trackable metric) but I also received emphatic praise for breaking from the norm. I thought perhaps it was a fluke, so I made more videos. And — plot twist — it’s not a fluke. It works.

I’ve sent hundreds of video messages since, and the response is almost always positive. Yes, there are the occasional grumpy individual who wants to tear you down regardless. But, out of 389 videos to date, I have only had two that were regarded poorly. (I keep a folder called “Inspiration” with screen captures of the positive responses— it’s a nice pick-me-up when I’m having a rough day.)

Chris Daly is a tenured LinkedIn account manager currently overseeing more than 30 different accounts here in the states with a collective recruiting force of 700+ individuals. From him I’ve learned the average recruiter hovers between 19–20% effective response to InMails — which is a respectable but dismal number. For agencies, specifically agencies operating in the technology space, the rates are even lower — typically cresting around 15%. My basic InMail response rates were *slightly* above average (usually hovering in the mid-twenties). However, since YouTube became one of the central pillars of my outreach strategy, the average response rate has climbed to nearly 40%.

This means that I’ll make direct connection with nearly 20 more individuals per 100 messages. Essentialize this down and it means that video messaging can gross me almost double the potential talent pool in a year’s time.

Chris and I have discussed a couple elements of what makes video such a powerful way to reach talent. Here are some baseline theories:

1. It’s unique. Amongst the torrential downpour of sub-par messages that technical talent receives daily— video stands out.

2. It’s relevant. In a video, within twenty seconds, you can tell an individual why you chose to reach out to them specifically and how the role you’re looking to fill connects to their experience.

3. It’s flattering. LinkedIn is the land of rote transactional messaging. To make something so specific, so targeted, and so directed to a single individual— it feels nice to be on the receiving end of such a message. As the saying goes, it’s nice to be wanted.

Video messaging, however, is not perfect. Understandably, some people are resistant to clicking a link that takes them outside the LinkedIn platform . There are a surprising amount of shady and spammy accounts.

Fundamentally, this method for reaching out to folks is effective because it shows you care — even a thimble full of thoughtfulness in your outreach indicates that you are miles ahead of the recruiters that spend their days jackhammering their send buttons and force-matching keywords.

And that, regardless of medium, is what needs to become the industry standard for recruiters (and something that I’ve written about in the past). You actually have to give a shit. Jayson Gaignard puts it quite eloquently when he says that “Caring is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Video adds personality, flavor, compassion, passion, and genuine interest to your outreach, and — most importantly — it provides an authentic window for you to show your talent that you actually care.

Though sharing this with you might put me at a competitive disadvantage in my outreach to candidates, the benefits of possibly raising the collective perception of recruiters far outweighs my personal misgivings. I thoroughly recommend you give this a shot.

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Lessons from Code School

Lessons and insight from my adventures into code school.

This year I am attending @Epicodus, a Portland-based code school that was founded in 2012. There are, as with anything, multiple reasons for taking the plunge but first and foremost I wanted to position myself to think more like the tech talent I represent.

Much of the recruiting world is comprised of non-technologists on their first job fresh out of college. This is because most large recruiting firms believe that anyone can become an effective recruiter with proper training. But most recruiters, as we all know, kind of suck.

Perhaps one of the fundamental flaws in talent acquisition is that recruiters do not know what their talent does for a living. Worse yet, they don’t care.

Naturally, I don’t want to fall into this camp.

That is why I’ve enrolled in code school. Although there’s an element of self-enrichment, most of my focus is making it so I can better connect with and think like (even marginally) the folks I attempt to put to work on a day-to-day basis.

So, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Coding is Effin’ Hard

The quantity of nuance among and within coding languages are immense. A simple missed keystroke can throw an entire website or application out of whack. This is true for simple things like markup and doubly so for actual programming languages.

This knowledge is shaping my interview questions with developers. Instead of asking “Do you know how to do this?” I’m learning the more relevant question can be “Do you know how to learn this?” or “Have you done something similar to this?”

Coding is Time Consuming

I know there are people who can spout code as easily as breathing, but in these toddling stages of web development I find that everything takes a lot of time, a lot of testing, and a lot of exploration. Usually, I’ll even need to detour onto the web for a reference check.

Knowing how long it takes to build a simple webpage is teaching me that environment is everything. Whether I were tasked with building a massive front-end application, a robust web-app or some back-end-data-tier-python-witchery, I would want to work in the best place with the best people because it’s going to take awhile! Why work hard on something that requires so much focus and knowledge (or at least know-how on how to resource that info) if the environment is lacking?

Now I’m finally understanding why coding folks so often hope to work and contribute from home. Offices can be distracting and most work environments — creative shops and corporate behemoths alike — leave a lot to be desired.

I’m also learning the unique panic of trying to hit deadlines. I now have empathy for miles.

Coding is Really Fun

I am enjoying the learning process but ultimately my passion lies with people and making connections happen for them.

While I’m not writing it off entirely, I don’t think I could see myself everdoing it full time.

Which is good, because ultimately, coding is for the talented people.

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Slow Down The Talent Search

Why now is the perfect time to “slow-roll” your talent search.

When I was new to technical recruiting and working in a conglomerate recruiting organization, I was taught — and believed — a few recruiting fallacies:

Reach out to as many people as possible.
It’s a numbers game.
Don’t spend time on any one person.
Submit and move on.

It’s not that large machine-like recruiting organizations are inherent body shops. In fact, I had the unique privilege of cutting my teeth in a better-than-most organization. That said, any organization that fundamentally trains through video portals and is built on a foundation of KPI tracking is enforcing this ideology — even if they claim to the contrary. This type of generic messaging and unrelenting pressure to contact as many prospective candidates as possible was against my nature.

Now I find myself given the leisure to pursue a truly catered approach to candidates having made the transition over to 52 Limited. I believe this approach will fundamentally build better relationships, better placements, and ultimately better recruiting.

Why Now

Technology makes a tailored approach not only customizable but fast, efficient, and clever. Identifying your candidate and being able to address their interests is now more feasible than ever thanks to the transparency and accessibility of social media. I recommend touching on at least three of their public profiles to get a well-rounded view of the individual.

For example, my path for developers usually takes me from LinkedIn to GitHub and then lastly to Twitter. Three separate platforms that typically provide an eclectic view into someone’s life.

If I’m honest, though, not every candidate gets the prescribed treatment. As a headhunter, you get a gut feeling when someone is going to require a more-curated approach. Who deserves this level of care? Everyone. Who gets it? For me, most. But don’t beat yourself up if you cannot do that for every talented individual. Here’s a breakdown of my method.

Find The Candidate On LinkedIn

There can be no doubt — LinkedIn is a godsend to recruiters everywhere. But interpreting and understanding a talent’s profile is considerably more challenging than identifying the right candidate. I spend about half of my research time on LinkedIn, with varying weights assigned to different sections of the individual’s profile. Most of that weight goes to the summary section.

Although it seems obvious, I feel it’s worth pointing out that the summary section is a wealth of knowledge. If Jane Doe has all the skills I’m looking for but heralds her current job as the best place ever… that changes my messaging. If Jon Doe mentions his aspirations (i.e. developer and aspiring project manager) that will open the door to more insightful conversation and suggest a precise opening message.

Remember this about the summary: everything there is written (or not) for a reason. If someone leaves it blank they may be less professional, someone who rushes through things, someone who guards their online privacy, or any number of other things. The point is that the summary does have some form of meaning. Getting your assumptions correct is the art and the challenge.

If someone doesn’t have a summary, it’s a good indication that their skill section will not be up to date or not appropriately curated. People will endorse individuals for random “talents” that they don’t have. At one point, I had Dump Truck as an endorsement. Let it be known: I have never driven a dump truck. Much to my regret.

Checking a person’s claimed skill-set and endorsements take up my remaining time. If they are in alignment with my search, I move on to my next step.

Check GitHub

I’m not a developer. I may be “techknowledgeable” but reading code on a screen is not one of my skills. So why do I check GitHub? I check because it can be a great indication of a candidate’s passion and activeness in the development community. With GitHub you can see the frequency of someone’s contribution levels — even if you can’t interpret what they are actually doing.

As in any profession, those that contribute to the refinement of their craft — above and beyond what is called for by their employer — will go the furthest in their career. These are, of course, the candidates you want in your pool.

Creep On Social Profiles

Let’s be honest. Creeping on a person’s public profile is exactly what you do when you’re not yet friends, colleagues or connected with a candidate in some fashion. Still it’s a huge source of information for me.

Twitter is a good opportunity to get an idea of how engaged someone is with current affairs, technology, politics, and much more. Perhaps the candidate left Twitter a couple years back and hasn’t posted recently. That is worth noting, as well. Did they get busy? Did they reform the way they present themselves online? Again, it’s all meaningful. My favorite type of candidate, as an aside, is someone who posts odd thoughts and puns that come to mind throughout the day.

A personal website or blog is also a great way to get insight into a candidate’s passions, aspirations, and even home life. If there is any demographic that is going to take time out of their day to critique or postulate on tech, design or innovations — it’s technologists.

Put It Together

All the information in the world doesn’t mean squat if you don’t put it to use. So how do you form outreach that gets noticed and pays off for the time you’ve spent in research mode? Transparency. Full transparency.

Many of my messages outline exactly how I found the talent, what I was searching for, where I researched them after initially finding them, and what I learned. Then I connect that information to the client, the job, and a desire to connect with them directly.

It’s effective. It’s worth the time, mine and theirs. And it’s only possible through slowing down your talent search.

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Recruiters: It’s Time to Get Better

At the beginning of October I went undercover. Not particularly deep, but not kiddie pool depth either. I became a software engineer with an interesting name, an excellent education, and all the right skills.

And, to no surprise of anyone, the recruiters came a’callin’.

Immediately I was beset by hundreds of emails daily, emails with “catch” lines such as “Java Developer — Dayton Ohio — Act Now” or “Urgent Need: Devops Engineers” or simply full job titles, requisition number and all. All emails were too long and too generic, many of them misspelled my fictional first name — which is about as simple as it comes. (Think “John Smith”.) Many of them assumed a colloquial connection, starting with warm language that ensured me that my best interests were being sought after by the recruiter and wishes for my overall well being.

All in all — the emails were dry, inauthentic, and riddled with inaccuracies.

And this led me to realize:

Recruiters are infuriating. For the most part, they don’t pay attention to your background, they don’t understand your skill set, and they disregard your preferences. At the top of my resume I stated that I’m only interested in full time opportunities in Portland. Portland, Oregon.

Of which: Sunnyvale California, San Francisco, Dayton, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Wichita and many more are not.

Furthermore my alter ego is a Javascript developer, fully focused on front-end web development. Not a Java developer, not a Test Engineer, not a DevOps provisioner — a web developer only. Out of the hundreds of emails I receive, less than 10% were even close to the skill set I set forth for consideration.

Which ultimately led me to this conclusion: Recruiters need to be better.

Not a by a little but by a large margin. And ultimately, this is only going to happen, if you actually give a shit about what you’re doing, and the people you’re working with.

So: How do you give a shit?

(I don’t have all the answers — but I know what’s working for me. I’ll be talking about “slowing down” in a later post.)

But the truth here is that your attention to detail can’t be faked, your “hope you’re doing well” can’t be en masse, and it you truly need to leave your KPI’s at the door. Blasted email templates, partial keyword matches, and fake courtesy are getting you nowhere.

Furthermore, for every misaligned email — you lose a potential contact, a potential referral, and quite possibly a lost friend.

So please get it together folks, it’s embarrassing, and it’s giving all fellow recruiters a bad reputation.

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Public Tweets & Recruiting

In which I learn that Public Tweeting for Recruiting is downright socially awkward.

At the @demolicious event this evening in Portland I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to someone about what it’s like to be on the other side.

For non-recruiters the other side might seem like a vague term, but for folks like myself that work with human capitol — it means the talent, the person of interest, the poor unfortunate soul who is so inundated with InMails and Emails that they develop small uncontrollable twitches in their eyes.

For the most part it was the same story — I get at least four messages a day from people that don’t read the content of my LinkedIn profile, or do any research whatsoever.

I decided to share with this particular developer, let’s call him James, that I am trying a new strategy. I feel like it’s an appropriately soft touch, but who knows — perhaps he’d have some insight on the matter.

Lately I’ve been following up unanswered InMails with a polite message, tweet rather, through the massive micro-blogging beaked behemoth that is Twitter. I’ve found Twitter to be really insightful in learning more about the talent as a person — which is awesome; it’s nice working with people you can have a genuine connection to.

That being said, Twitter does have a couple nuances that are hard to work around; including the tricky business of public tweets. If James, for example, doesn’t follow me and I wish to reach him on Twitter, I cannot Direct Message him. Direct Messaging requires a mutually agreed upon relationship of socially-acceptable stalking on Twitter. So in lieu of that oh-so-sought-after status, I am left having to publicly mention the individual.

I’ll admit fault here, I didn’t realize how uncomfortable it can make the talent in doing this and James gave me a lovely analogy to help elucidate this point:

In dating, if you’re out at a bar and you see a pretty person, you might take them aside and offer them a drink — get to know them, make your move in private. But public tweets are the equivalent of seeing a hottie across the room and beligerantly calling out: ‘YOU’RE HOT, LET’S F&%#!!’.

Well James, point taken sir — it appears my college dating tactics won’t carry through to the professional recruiting world. Though I shouldn’t be surprised, they certainly didn’t work then. *Darn*.

This of course leads me to wonder — how can I leverage Twitter? Is it always inappropriate to reach out? Surely there’s no harm in following someone… but is there?

These questions answered and more on the next episode.

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