Okay, Look…

…if the job requirements include: Semantic Java, Hibernate, etc.  And the company is: a Web 2.0 business information engine that’s created (and is creating more) highly disruptive products.  And the team we’re looking to hire for: is our Core development team, which focuses on natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and information integration.

And you are: an embedded software engineer with a PhD in electronics, and a Masters in signal processing and controls.

Then, you can’t claim in your cover letter that your: “working experience closely matches the position requirements.”

Here’s the thing.  If this cat had made a strong, thought out pitch about how his work experience was in any way relevant, it’s not out of the realm of possibility he would get considered by some companies.  Not here, because we honestly need directly relevant experience for this critical hire, but a larger organization might have thought “hmm, smart guy, can communicate – and, it never would have occurred to us from his resume, but yeah, that project he did is relevant to what we do…”

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Looking for a Job? On Twitter Yet? How ’bout Slideshare?


Quick tip from behind the Green Curtain: I’m looking for a software engineer with experience working with core Java, and (hopefully) some semantic Java experience.  Just did two searches that I think you, as a job seeker, should be aware of:

  1. Ran a search on Slideshare looking for people who’ve posted presentations they’ve made around those topics, and reached out to the interesting ones
    • If you’ve ever done a presentation on the topic you make your bread from, you should upload it and be found by geeks like me
  2. Ran a search through Twitter for people who’ve used phrases like “semantic java”, “core java”, “java”, etc recently.  I also added in “software engineering job” as a variable to each search (and removed to expand them)
    • If you’re looking for a job, create a Twitter account (takes about a minute), and make some comments (I don’t like using Twitter lingo, because they make my 20 month old sound like a linguist by comparison, but they call them “tweets” – I know, I know… just don’t ever call me one of your “tweeple”, or we’re going to have words.  Mine will actually make sense)
    • As you grow your list of followers/ followees, makes sure you connect with people that might be able to help you, and that you can help
    • Occasionally mention that you’re: a [insert your profession here] who’s looking for a job – use variations.  The key thing is to imagine me, trying to find you, using keyword searches.  Make sure you put out ones that help me find my way to you.
    • Feel free to follow me
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What I’m Looking for in a Software Engineering Candidate

We’re doing some hiring in our engineering group.  Incredibly cool stuff happening here: complete rebuild of our our core platform, live apps, UI.  Re-architecting it all in Java (we’ve been a C#/.Net & C++ shop until now).  Taking our UI, and making it hugely interactive, yet elegantly simple.  Developing new metaphors for search.  And, more that we’re not public with yet.

We’re going to need software engineers with chops in Java for both our Core platform (semantic, AI, rocket-science type stuff), and Web Dev team (that beautiful UI I mentioned, plus major changes to our apps, and more to come). Lots of interesting problems, in other words.

It’s kind of like building the technology for a start-up, front to back, but at a place that’s already profitable, and has 5 million unique visitors per month (instant eyes-on your work – cool!)

We want you to come help us figure it out.

So, this is an opportunity.  A hell of an opportunity.  Let me repeat: an absolute (cover your kids eyes) mutha-fuckah of an opportunity.  Every software engineer in & around Boston should be clawing their way to get in here.  And, we’re getting some traction around that.

But here’s the thing: we want the best.  I figure it’s fair: best software engineering opportunity in Boston, possibly one of the best in the country, deserves the best software engineers.

No more or this “contributed to”, “supported”, “implemented” crap on your resumes.  I want you to brag.  Say “Architected & built from the ground up”.  “Led team to glory”.  “Researched and championed the use of [insert name of esoteric but cool technology here], which led to rapid scaling of…”

You get the idea.  Be amazing.  Don’t be some also ran, mostly worked as a consultant, never showed initiative.  Stun us.  We’ll give you work to do that you’ll thrive on.

I mean, think about it: this has been a Microsoft shop, and now we’re free.  But, the team’s light on Java – you’ll be the man/woman.  Major resource, cool cat, all of it.  Get yer ass over here, before somebody else does.

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Zooming to Tweeting to Getting in Their Face: Web 2.0 Job Search (Or, Looking Through the Cloud)

I spend a lot of time thinking – and communicating – about how candidates interact with companies.  From the cover letter, resume, interviewing.  All of it matters, and it’s what I live with as a corporate recruiter (and, lived with as an agency recruiter) on a regular basis.

All that said, actually getting to the point where you’re actually interacting with the company matters hugely.  With the pretty insidious growth of cloud computing, the game has changed significantly.  It’s a good idea to understand how, and how to use these changes to your advantage.

So, let’s start by understanding what this “cloud” thing is.  According to Tim O’Reilly (somebody a lot smarter than me, and a guy who’s been in the middle – some might say a chief instigator of – this paradigm shift), you can look at the cloud as having 3 distinct levels.   I’m going to do my layman’s best to translate

  1. Utility Computing: Think of this as a way for companies to rent computational power from a network, as opposed to building an infrastructure of computers at high cost.  SETI@home is an example of this being done non-commercially. albeit they use personal computers of volunteers, and don’t rent the space out to clients.  But, you get the idea (plus, I get to link to SETI, which thrills me for some dumb reason).
  2. Platform as a Service: Best analogy I can come up with – well, John Kelley could come up with for me – is to think of Toyota’s Scion line of cars.  You can buy the thing as is, and drive it. You can buy one, and then select any number of options Scion’s pre-built to trick it out; you can buy it, and then go to someone else to make specialized aftermarket add-ons for it; you can set up a machine shop in your garage, and make you own additions.  It’s all up to you how much you want to customize.  The key is that the base Scion is the platform, and you can adapt it to the Nth degree.
  3. Cloud Based End-User Applications: This is where you and I come in.  You’ve likely been interacting with the cloud for years.   Anytime you use Web-based e-mail, post photos through a service like Flickr, you’re interacting with the cloud (just think – you’re a geek, and didn’t know it).

Sooooo… why am I talking about this?  First, because it’s pretty damned cool.  We spent most of our evolution as a species interacting with each other on a super-regular basis, around the campfire, warning each other about a snake/ bear/ angy beaver (trust me, I’ve had a run-in, and those teeth look awful big when they’re in your face), building a cathedral, etc.  Then, along came radio & TV – communication became one sided, and forced.  Discussion was discouraged (“shhhh! – don’t talk while the movie’s playing”).   Now, with social media & the cloud, we’re communicating again – frankly, we’re hyper-communicating.  Innovation accelerates as ideas move back and forth quickly, people remember how to write again (interesting how Twitter has a character constraint, much like form-driven poems have specific constraints), etc.

Second, because it’s a medium you can exploit in your search.  There are a ton of resources out there – hey, it’s a cloud.  They get big.  Everything from tools to manage your search (JibberJobber) to tools that connect you with people who can advance your career (Climber) to places where you can view salaries posted anonomously by a company’s employees (Glassdoor).  I’m not going to run through all of them, but what I’d like to suggest is a framework and/ or mindset you can use to exploit the power of all these new resources.

First: Forget about the old job boards.  Monster’s trying to shift into a more interactive medium, and might make it work (I hope so for the local economy here in MA, but I’m not holding my breath – the bean counters are in charge over there, and that never bodes well).  If you’re going to look for leads on jobs, use Indeed, SimplyHired, etc. These job aggregaters scrape the Web for any job posting they can find, and put them in one bucket, along with a handy bunch of research tools.  Better than the big boards, becasue they have every job out there, and companies don’t have to pay to post (the boards only have a slice of what’s open).

Second: Use social media to figure out who to talk to at a company.  I’m going to shamelessly plug ZoomInfo as a reasearch tool here – find a job and/ or company you think is interesting, use Zoom to figure out who the manager for that department is (and/ or their HR head, Recruiting Manager, etc), and approach them directly.

Third: The approach.  Here’s where it gets pretty frickin’ cool.  Think of this: You can send your resume into a blind e-mail or application box, and pray.  Or, you can start interacting with the company at a social level (remember, all a company is is a bunch of people working toward a common goal – the key is the people bit, and people are social).  Find people there – use ZoomInfo, LinkedIn, etc.  Hell, use Facebook & Twitter’s search capabilities to find folks at the company.  Friend ‘em, follow ‘em, etc.  Go to Meetup, and find a local interest group – recruiters scour those sites for candidates.  Go to Slideshare, and search for people from companies you’re trying to get into – if you want an engineering job at, say, Cisco, look for a slideshow by somebody with those characteristics.  E-mail them, tell them how much you loved the presentation, and could you please chat about opportunities sometime.

Here’s a live example: random guy adds me on Twitter.  I see that somebody’s following me – and, yeah, it’s weird that that’s suddenly a good thing – check out their Twitter profile, and click on the link they’ve added to learn more about them.  I get to their LinkedIn page, and see that they’re a local software engineer.  I think to myself: “self, there’s a local software engineer.  Not a dead-on fit for the job we have open, but close. Let’s see what he does if I do this” (and by this, I mean write a quick tweet that we’re looking for software engineers, and add a link to our career site).  He clicks on said link, sees the site, and then takes a look at my ZoomInfo profile.  He follows me onto LinkedIn & Facebook, and sees that we have a few common connections.  He reaches out to one – a guy he’s known since the 3rd grade – and it turns out that guy is my brother-in-law.  He asks him to make an intro.  Chris does this via Facebook.  I give him a ring, and the game’s afoot (this all happened yesterday, in the space of a couple of hours: follow, click, couple more clicks, quick note to Chris, intro, et voile: interview).  Bear in mind: I wasn’t sure the guy was a dead on fit, and I have several hundred applicants for these software engineering jobs. But, he found a way to reach me.  And it worked.

I could go on – oh, trust me, I could go on, and on, and on… but, my fingers hurt, so I think I’m done with the typing.  Luckily for me, there’s a lot more out there on this topic, most (well, all) of it written better than this.  Here’s a few places I suggest you clickety-click, tout de suite:

70+ Tools for Job Hunting

Web 2.0 Tactics for Successful Job Hunting

reCareered – Top 50 Web 2.0 Tools for Job Seekers

Surviving (hell, _killing_) the Technical Intereview

Mikhail Naganov has written a handy post for engineers who are stressing out about interviewing.  He’s spot-on when he says:

“what are the staffing needs in smart companies? They want people that can tackle complex problems in new problem areas. They want people that are responsible and passionate about their work. And, of course, they want people that can explain their solutions to colleagues.”

We’re going to grill you when you come through, but it’s not like we expect you to solve all of our problems correctly – if you do that, expect an offer before you leave (unless you’re a jerk – we have a policy against hiring those…)

One more resource I’d point you at (hat tip to Mikhail) – Steve Yegge’s poston interviewing at Google.  Worth a gander or two… That said, very funny counterpoint to Steve’s raving about Google culture can be found here (hat to William Wechtenhiser for that one).

Shameless, Shameless Plug…

…for votes :)  For whatever reason, Good to Know  is up for best recruiting blog of the year.  I’m pretty sure it’s not because my employer is paying for the grand prize (seriously – what I suspect is that Jason Davis, the guy who runs RecruitingBlogs.com, the organizer of the whole contest, is just ridiculously nice and felt bad at how poorly I did at poker last time we hung out).

While I’m under zero illusion I’ll win, I wouldn’t mind not coming in dead last.  Seriously.  Soooo…. if you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate it if you clicked here and exercised your right to vote.  Primarily in categories #1& #6 – well, feel free to vote in the rest, too – in fact, I’d recommend checking out all of the nominated blogs – there’s a lot of really great guidance out there, from a gang of remarkable minds.

ZoomInfo and Online Advertising

So, this is a bit of a blatent plea, but on the off-chance you are (or know someone who is) involved in online advertising and/ or search, well, chances are I’d like to talk to them about an opportunity.  We are launching a new business unit – Search and Online Advertising – that stands a pretty fair chance of shaking up the world of, well, search and online advertising.  We just leased some nifty office space in downtown San Francisco, and this guy is out there building a team on search and advertising pro’s to help grow the new business.  That said: if you (or the aforementioned someone you know) wants to work in our home office in Waltham, we can go with that.

What’s cool is that we’ve got this really interesting technology that we can put behind the products our little dream team is going to be developing.  The company itself is: extremely well run (you know, profitable, growing strongly, etc), in a very interesting space, and very protective of it’s culture (our definition of an “A player” includes terms like “nice” “funny” “a litle quirky” and “not a jerk”).   So, you’ll get to make cool stuff, in a cool space, and with really, really cool people you’d love to have a beer with.  (Oh, and we like to have beer, too). 

Right now, I’m looking for a VP of Ad Products, but there are several more roles to come: VP of Search Products, couple product managers, few sales reps, some marketers…. If you’re interested in general, here’s the Rock Stars link.

Semantic advertising, here we come….  Care to join the party?