hiring using careers 2.0 by stackoverflow

I’ve got invitations to create a job seeker profile on Careers 2.0 available for anyone interested – just let me know.

Things at the company are going well. You’ve got too much work to do and not enough people. You decide you need to hire another developer or two so you can maintain what you’ve already got going on plus go after those exciting new ideas.

Options

So where do you start?

Networking

Ideally you rely on some networking. Talk to people you (and your co-workers) have worked with in the past that you’d love to work with again. Get referrals from them if they’re not interested themselves. Talk to friends and family. Networking got us one great developer that I’d worked with for years at a previous company (technically not a finalized deal at time of writing, but dangerously close). Familiarity with his background – knowledge, work ethic, etc. – plus a solid track record of having worked together successfully in the past is absolutely huge as you’re dealing with a known entity (a strong reference from someone you know and respect is a strong second).

Technical Recruiters

No thanks, if I can help it.

  • Ridiculous finders fees
    • 25-35% of the candidate’s first year salary? Really? Does that seem proportional to anyone? Is it just me? Yeah we can afford to pay it but…geez.
  • Inability (or lack of desire) to filter candidates
    • Throw enough crap against the wall and something is bound to stick, right? Too many recruiters are either too ignorant of the technology sector they work in to be able to discern qualifications, or they just don’t care. Either way it results in wasted time for the side doing the hiring (not to mention the candidates).
  • Spam tactics
    • I get so tired of job spam emails from tech recruiters. I haven’t updated any online job search profile in forever and they still spam me, sometimes from information in their “database” that is 5+ years old. They might recognize a buzzword on your resume and suddenly they think you must be a great fit for this job they’re looking to fill. They do absolutely no research on your background, current situation, etc. They know nothing about you but if they spam enough, someone might actually respond. Who cares if your response rate is 1 out of 100 if you’ve got the ability to send near-unlimited amounts of spam? I don’t want to specifically call anyone out here but… **cough**CyberCoders is the worst**cough**

Online Job Boards

You’ve got the older school sites – Monster, CareerBuilder, Craigslist, etc. I haven’t found them to be worth much. Dice has been around a while and is specifically for tech jobs, but most of the recruiter spam I get comes from recruiters who found an old profile on Dice, which is a pretty big turnoff. There’s Indeed. LinkedIn isn’t a bad option. And then there’s a relatively new contender – Careers 2.0 by StackOverflow.

Careers 2.0 by StackOverflow

If you’re a developer, you know StackOverflow. You live by StackOverflow. Community-created and maintained Q&A format programming content. A gamification reputation system that encourages involvement and high-quality content (here’s my profile if you’re interested). It may be the single-greatest online programming resource known to man. When I’m Googling for information or how to solve a problem, I automatically skip down to the first StackOverflow result as my first option. It’s often the only option I need. A little over 3 years ago, StackOverflow released a job search product called Careers 2.0. Careers 2.0 by StackOverflow

The Good

The main bullet points from their launch blog post:

  1. Free to job seekers, but invite-only
  2. Better profiles – the intent to be the ultimate programmer’s portfolio, complete with integration to your StackOverflow profile.
  3. Support for passive candidates
  4. Better search – statistics and nice drill-down maps, etc.

In theory, Careers 2.0 is great. It combines a developer job search with the best online developer reference we have. Some other positives about their product from the employer side:

  • Relocation search – candidates can specify areas which they are open to relocate to as part of their profile, so you’re not limited to just the candidates in your area – you can potentially pull from other areas and actually know that someone is willing to relocate.
  • Decent tools for keeping track of your search – enter notes about candidates, move them along in a kanban-style board from one stage of the process to the next
  • Saved searches – create searches with different parameters and save them for re-use, with candidates found in those searches linked back to them for reference

The cost for access to their candidate search for employers is $1000 per month. It’s not chump change, but it’s not unreasonable, especially if their candidate content is very high quality.

The Bad

  • Small Las Vegas candidate pool
    • This one isn’t entirely Careers 2.0’s fault. Las Vegas is a decent-sized metro area, but is not a tech company mecca. As my former boss, who grew up in Vegas, put it – if you want to work in tech in Vegas you can either work for the government, the gambling industry, or Zappos. Incidentally, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappo’s, is spearheading the Downtown Project, a revitalization effort for downtown Las Vegas with an entrepreneurial and technology emphasis. The number of dev candidates in the area pales in comparison with the area I moved away from a year ago – Salt Lake City/Provo/Orem – which is rapidly turning into a mini Silicon Valley.
  • Outdated profiles
    • Easily the single biggest problem with the service. An incredibly high percentage of the profiles matching my searches were outdated. And we’re not just talking a few months or a year – years with an ‘s’. For something that’s only been around for 3 years, to see so many abandoned profiles is kind of a big surprise. They have got to do something to deal with the problem – whether that’s letting you filter/sort by when a profile was updated, or a proactive effort to re-engage users whose profiles are way out of date…something.
    • LinkedIn became my best friend when using Careers 2.0, which is obviously pretty odd. I would find an interesting candidate, his/her profile would either be incomplete or very outdated, so I’d turn to Google and LinkedIn to find more info. Simply searching for “linkedin [candidate name]” usually provided me with the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, which 9 times out of 10 was way better than what I found on Careers 2.0.
      • Side note about LinkedIn and Google searches.
        • LinkedIn has premium account offerings that let you see more details about people not in your LinkedIn network. The better subscription you have, the more and farther out of your network you can see. I had a basic premium account that gave me some information but not all.
        • If you Google for someone and find a result for their LinkedIn profile and you’re logged into LinkedIn, the information you can see is often limited if they’re not in your network. But if you log out of LinkedIn, or simply run the search in another browser in which you’re not logged in, you’ll be able to see a much more complete profile than you could when you were logged in. I’ve been using that trick for quite a while and also came across an article where someone else mentioned the same tactic a couple months ago.
  • Poor response rates
    • This is likely largely a function of the outdated profile problem detailed above, but response rates, even to just get a “not interested” reply, were very poor. You have a limited number of inquiries you can have pending at any given time (it’s a pretty healthy number though), so some of your subscription time is wasted in just waiting for responses that may never come (and eventually time out).
  • Customer service
    • This one may have just been bad luck or an anomaly, but one day my Careers 2.0 rep sent me an email to check in and see how the job search was going. He asked for feedback. I told him about the shortcomings that I listed above. I never got a response. He did send me offers for free job postings a few times in the months following though.

Disclaimer

Despite its significant shortcomings, I have to give credit where credit is due. My current employer found me via Careers 2.0. I’m very grateful for that. And we eventually did find a great developer that we hired – and found him via Careers 2.0. I feel like it was more a stroke of good luck in that case rather than the result of an awesome product. The candidate we hired turned out to be the only one that even made it more than a couple steps into our hiring process and we lucked out that he was a great fit and was interested in joining us – but I’ll take it either way.

Posted in technical
One comment on “hiring using careers 2.0 by stackoverflow
  1. Leo Reading says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post this. As someone who’s working to revamp their 8 month old Careers profile, it’s great to see the perspective from the other side of things, and having the confidence that it’s worthwhile to update.

    When searching for new opportunities, I try to think of it as a business venture: what’s my best ROI? Updating my resume is clearly key, but knowing what networks and arenas to spend more of my effort on is equally important. I don’t plan to put my resume on Monster, but knowing that Careers is used by employers who are passionate about software and finding the right candidates is comforting. So, again, thanks!

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