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Ask HN: Do you get good applications from “Who is hiring?”?
62 points by fjahr on Aug 23, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 68 comments
I am curious what others success with posts on "Who is hiring?" has been. I have been posting a couple of positions for two different companies over the past two years and only got a hand full of applications from medium to lower quality candidates (not good matches for the respective positions). I don't think location should be the issue (Berlin) and Visa was also always available. Stacks not absolute cutting edge but modern and interesting products. And of course I tried to optimize the content for the audience looking at other posts in the past threads. Anything I might be missing?

I looked at your comments to find your position posted at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15149582. I'm not your target group, but still...

Here's the introductory sentence: "Service Partner ONE is the technology partner for modern office management in Europe." OK, sounds fine. I don't know what office management is, but there are a few more sentences coming up that will surely explain. Next: "Our platform supports customers across all industries in all processes outside of their core business, pursuing the digital revolution of office management." This looks impressive, but all it says is "Our platform runs on computers and people in offices use it." Next: "By connecting customers with the right service providers and streamlining their interactions we improve the working situation in every office we operate in." So, um, people in offices use your stuff to connect, which I guess means communicate. Maybe you are talking about email? "Someone called us the WeWork without walls." OK, but I don't know what WeWork is, and "without walls" sounds weird.

In summary, it sounds muddled and boring. Sorry if this comes across as harsh, but it's simply not as gripping as many other Who is hiring posts.

Your other post at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17663077, specifically the part "We analyze this data and utilize advanced statistical methods to take our client’s guest communication and marketing efforts to a new level." sounds like you're a spam company. Nobody wants hotels to "market" to them.

Edit: Oh, forgot to say that you didn't post salary ranges. Post salary ranges please. Even if you don't believe that it's a good idea (although it is), it would make you stick out a bit. Also, it might even be required by German law? It is in Austria, though sadly not enforced.

I would go a bit further and say that this is a terrible job description. The fact that it is so broad about the product let alone the position is a big red flag.

1) Either they can't describe what they are doing (bad, how do you find customers then?) 2) Or they do anything and everything (worse, if there is no goal, there can be no drive)

I want my work to mean something. I want to be able to say things like: "I help people to book taxis in an accountable way" (Uber)

I'm guessing many others here sort in a similar fashion to myself.

I use a script to filter only Remote jobs with a tech I'm interested in.

I then filter first by those who include a salary.

This gives me a reasonable list.

Developers with experience who've made themselves available via LinkedIn & other sources get at least a request every couple days about a job. At that point, the question is which of these are interesting enough that I would consider the risk of leaving my current place & how much work does it take to apply?

Thanks for the detailed feedback! I have mostly improved on marketing material that was already there but I can see now it should probably be rewritten completely for this purpose.

And I will try to convince them to include salary ranges. I have tried before but did not get permission. It is not required by German law to post the salary and instead sharing these numbers is even less common than what I have seen from US startups, even if their salary levels are actually very good.

Its lacking a mission statement honestly.

"Someone called us wework without walls?". Were you thinking of something like "engineers without borders", when this statement was written?

I looked into your company. Its not wework, wework is realestate, your company doesn't seem like one. Its a german Cintas, but you outsource things instead of using inhouse resources. https://www.cintas.com/

Checkout cintas's statement

"Cintas leads the industry in supplying corporate identity uniform programs, providing entrance and logo mats, restroom supplies, promotional products, first aid, safety, fire protection products and services, and industrial carpet and tile cleaning. We operate more than 400 facilities in North America—including six manufacturing plants and eight distribution centers."

I am not with the company anymore but I think the quote originated from a VC who made this analogy during a pitch and the founder liked it so much that it was used it most of the pitches from that point on. Of all the places I would have never thought I would get much critique on it on HN but I absolutely agree that it is lacking clarity.

> Your other post at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17663077, specifically the part "We analyze this data and utilize advanced statistical methods to take our client’s guest communication and marketing efforts to a new level." sounds like you're a spam company. Nobody wants hotels to "market" to them.

Here's a direct link to his comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17672442

There seems to be some sort of HN bug or limitation that makes it hard to find when starting from the link to the whole "Who is Hiring" that you gave.

Specifically, if I go to your link, and repeatedly hit the "more" link at the bottom until HN is now supposedly showing all ~1000 comments, and use in-browser search to try to find his user name or to find phrases you quoted from his comment--no hits.

Specifically, if I go to either of the "Who is Hiring" threads the aforementioned comments are in, repeatedly go to the bottom and hit "more" until HN has shown me all that it is willing to show, and then use in-browser search (Firefox 62.0b19) to search for his user name or for phrases from his comments on the page--his comments do not show up in the results.

At first I thought you must have posted a link to the wrong "Who is Hiring", but no, if you go to the direct link I gave and hit parent, that takes you to the link you gave.

Not a bug, I must have just made a mistake and copied the wrong URL. Thanks!

In addition, their company name couldn't be much more boring.

Eh, picking a job based on how cool the name of the company is probably won’t get you too far

That's true, but it might also turn people off reading the application when other stuff is already not great.

I would be most interested in how much they pay. For right money I could develop most boring apps that other coders would die of boredom reading specs.

> OK, but I don't know what WeWork is

I agree with the rest of what you say, but WeWork is famous enough that they should be able to use it in a job posting, for example this article over WeWork [0] was on the front page 13 days ago

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17732332

I'm looking for remote work only (family issues). I'd love to work in European hours. However, US companies pay 30-50% more. This way I don't even send any applications to the European ones.

I'm not sure if you would consider me above medium (however during the last 16 years I learned a lot). The people I know who are much above medium have jobs. They don't look too much for them and are old enough to forget about traveling for work (house, dogs, kids, school).

I noticed that you only post about on-site positions. I'm too old for ad-hoc moving to another country. I don't speak German enough to do shopping. I could work for you but only remotely.

If you would consider remote employees, I'm sure you would get much more interesting applications. But then there is the problem from the first paragraph: if someone is looking for a remote position and some companies pay more, it's rather obvious that they will get most of the most interesting applications. The rest will go to those paying less.

Agreed. Looking at the postings I work in the tech stacks (React) and the jobs look interesting to me. But I’d need to work remote as well.

There are also high taxes in Europe so you must account for that. Then Europe salaries look even less attractive...

You link to the German versions of your website. I don't know German. You don't talk about your development practices or team experience. Your industry isn't shiny. You don't list salary. Incidentally, I was just talking to the guy who posts for a Boston manufacturing startup who says they have hired many solid engineers from here

Thanks, for the feedback. I will improve this and link to the english version next time as well as include info on team and salary.

Chiming in from the other end of the line, I occasionally check the hiring threads to see if there are any interesting offers up. There's a lot of content and most of the time, the descriptions are pretty poor (namely buzzwords and fluff) or the offer is not easily findable. To stand out, make sure your post is clearly titled, straight to the point and findable by common keywords.

I think optimizing the content by looking at other posts isn't a good strategy — in my (personal and biased) opinion, most of the offers are badly written.

My company had the same trouble. The demographics here trend too hard toward the Bay Area (we are located in a different, large, and tech heavy US city). Overall candidates tend to be younger and less experienced, oftentimes with boot camp backgrounds. Posts here also apparently tend to attract applicants who specialize in trendy, fad of the moment stacks or more "light" languages and frameworks, when we are looking more for embedded people. In any case, the candidates here are the type we don't have trouble finding through more traditional and better targeted channels. Our recruiting pain points are at the senior and up levels, in enterprise and embedded stacks.

I think your recruiting pains in finding senior/enterprise positions can probably be explained by the following:

1) out of the 325 million US citizens, maybe 10,000 people at most meet your qualifications

2) most of them are already employed

3) most of them probably don't read that thread if they even post here at all

4) it might be wiser to hire them as a consultant and have them train a proficient and loyal dev to implement their recommendations

It could also be that you're committing some common flaws that make your job listings much less actionable than your competitors.

I'm not overly specialised or senior, but even at my level I find that when I'm actively looking, I get way more interest than I can possibly follow up on with the time I have available. So any mistakes you make will end up with your listing being filtered out.

If you're targetting people that receive 50 recruiter e-mails a day, things like not listing salary, overly long JDs, spewing a bunch of marketing bullshit in the JD, etc, will pretty much result in an instant pass. Other comments here have called OP out for those exact things, maybe GP is making the same mistakes?

Definitely. It's a labor sellers market in that space. Ironically, for lower skill labor, candidates have to jump through hoops :)

So, if you don't want to exclude experienced people from applying I suggest emphasizing the mission of the company, the size and number of dev/data/design/eng teams, and core languages. A lot of the posts do mention the fad of the moment stacks but I have never applied to any of those :)

>Posts here also apparently tend to attract applicants who specialize in trendy, fad of the moment stacks or more "light" languages and frameworks

And I just got downvoted a ton for posting that statement by a headhunter elsewhere. He also said what you said:

>The demographics here trend too hard toward the Bay Area

Years back I posted saying my local team was hiring (at Amazon) and mentioned we hire interns. Got 20 resumes from students looking for internships, 6 of whom got hired.

When I submitted them to the recruiting, I made it clear these weren't personal references, nobody I knew. But the recruiter filed them that way anyways, so I got like $500 bonus per intern hire. A nice $3,000 bonus for a HN post and funneling some resumes over to a recruiter.

None of the full time resumes went anywhere, sadly- they're worth considerably higher bonuses.

Are you guys hiring now? I would love to do an internship or apply for a full time role at amazon.

Intermships are for students only. If you're done your education, you apply as a full-time SDE. But there's lots of hiring of those going on too.

Ping me at <my hackernews alias>@ <the company we're talking about>. Happy to help you find a role that's hiring. So many offices in so many cities doing so many things O_O

Is it US only?

Amazon's got offices everywhere. http://amazon.jobs lists everything hiring- 9000 roles under "software development" and you can filter by city.

Somehow I haven't got response to a single application I have applied to in past few months. The official portal seems to receive a lot of attention thus signal getting lost in the noise. Or maybe I am not upto the task for which they should mark my application not suitable. is it possible to send resumes to recruiters directly in a given zone?

As a senior software engineer who has successfully contributed to startups that were subsequently acquired, and with over 9 years of experience across a variety of technologies, "Who's hiring" is probably not the first place I would go to look for job if I needed a change of scenery.

I love it for keeping an eye on the market, to see where trends are going, and for looking at what's local. If something REALLY interested me, I might establish a dialog, but the chances of something being interesting and local (or willing to hire remote at the salary requirements of the metro area I live in) are very slim.

The first place I would look for a job is my professional network: people I have enjoyed working with in the past. If you can't lure top talent with talk of tech, maybe also spend some time describing the team and what the work environment is like? Senior devs know that you don't work with the tech stack, you work with people, and the stack is just another tool in the toolbelt for solving problems.

I agree with this, and I'm somebody who's actually relocated for jobs before. Also, I am European, and the HN culture is very different from engineering culture in Europe (not always a bad thing). So the candidates that are in your country, or may easily relocate, probably aren't on HN every month, even if they're fluent in English. If you're looking for less junior people, hire a headhunter or send a not-too-desperate email to the 15 smartest people in your college class begging them to pitch your job to their own contacts.

I definitely use who's hiring for broader market trends. The clarity of writing in the job postings is much better than the sanitized generic HR stuff from Indeed and Linkedin and the location and remote/visa status (salary when listed) gives a hint as to how hungry companies in various markets are for people.

I'm a senior full stack developer with data science experience living in EU(Norway). I have not applied for a position that has been advertised in 6 years. All the offers I consider these days comes from cold calls from recruiters or the companies them self. They have to sell them self, as I am the interviewer.

Where I work now, we really struggled last year with recruiting developers, so we changed the recruitment process by searching LinkedIn for profiles that could be a good fit and called them with a sales pitch about why we are better place to work at than your current company. That worked much better, but surprisingly we also learned that many is very happy with their current position and is not looking for a change. You know, there is risk involved with changing work, especially if you are happy where you are. The saying, don't fix it if it ain't broken applies to recruitment too.

And I would like to add, some of our best hires we got from Berlin ;-)

When did Norway become part of the European Union?

Norway is a part of the EAA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Economic_Area) and is a EFTA member (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EFTA) Basically a member of EU, with a few exceptions.

He probably meant Europe.

Not going to add too much, but I love how well HN tackles this important yet so often skewed discussion.

In my opinion, companies that struggle to find great candidates almost always aren't competing for talent:

- paying well

- offering great benefits

- taking time to write great job descriptions

- recruiting through a variety of channels

- putting thoughtful effort into every step of the recruiting process

A lot of the top comments point to OP missing the mark on some of the above points.

From there, the discussion delves into some of the finer points I hadn't fully considered:

- EU vs US differences for comp and readership

- Seniority/stack expertise on HN vs elsewhere

- Hiring for non-technical roles on HN

I have had really good experiences with "Who is hiring" – from meeting interesting independent contractors that have heavily influenced projects to making my best technical hire ever.

When hiring I've used a mix of approaches – job boards, recruiters, HN. HN doesn't produce a lot of volume, but anecdotally, the candidates often get through initial screenings because they are generally both technically proficient and well rounded (from a stack standpoint). With other channels I find a lot of spam and/or mismatches on stacks.

Complete speculation, but may be that in general EU salaries are lower than US so not many ppl want to take that kind of cut despite differences in cost of living?

Thats been a blocker for me in the past in moving back to the EU.

I second this.

Not only is the salary lower, but food etc. is way more expensive in general.

As others have said, it's a pretty generic JD. Definitely consider hiring remote (your candidate pool goes WAY up), but also consider putting the salary _range_ in place to help weed out folks who will waste your time with requirements outside your budget.

Keep in mind that you may be pricing yourself too low for your market. If after the above, you still aren't at least interviewing quality candidates, bump your budget in $20k (or whatever local currency makes sense for you) increments until the market wants to come to you.

tl; dr - unhappy with the quality of your talent pool? Hiring remote and raising your budget is the fastest way to buy yourself out of the problem.

stl; dr? - 'Fast, cheap, and good - pick any two'

I got my current job from a 'Who is Hiring' post, so clearly it worked for someone! It's not a replacement for a solid recruiting team/funnel, but having been on both sides of the process I found it a useful resource. FWIW.

Let me guess, no remote and no or low salary listed?

Yes, but a tiny percentage. A lot of spam. (_A lot of spam._) Tons of recruiting services. 80% of people obviously didn't read the post.

That said, I have hired a few amazing people, including some great technical leaders, that would have cost 15-20% salary to use a recruiter to find & snipe (this was before I had internal recruiters to help).

I use a separate email alias for it, and have a few canned responses (1/ you didn't read the job post 2/ I said we cannot do visas or major relocations, but you're in Greenland 3/ too junior, but please keep an eye on future posts) to keep things efficient.

HN demographics plays a role, of course. More discrete and tailored manners through headhunters or, at the other end of the spectrum, cold calls to engineers working at direct competitors in your niche should give better outcome.

We're in London. Mostly applicants are based in other countries (like the US) when we explicitly say that's not an option, so they're ruled out immediately.

Over the last couple of years we haven't had many applicants via it at all - but we did hire a really great developer through it, so it's still worth it.

The one thing I would say is that it's worth setting up a hiring page generally. Then you can have an application form on there which most the lower grade candidates just bounce on anyway.

I never had a lot of hits for Clojure in Chicago, but the candidates were above average. I've made 2 hires over 5 years and a small handful of posts.

I've not received one single usable resume. Lots of headhunters regularly send me email now, though, so the admonishment to not use the contact info provided for commercial purposes is not being heeded. I've given up posting.

I've applied to a few jobs...

1. place said a small test would be required. "small" was on range from 8-12 hours of work. Their words. I told them my rates.

2. Another place liked me. Their stack was kubernetes. I didn't have that experience since I chose mesos. Thats cool. 2 more interviews later, and they said 'you didn't show up to interview' ?! Oh yeah, i was really disqualified because I didnt have kube experience. wtf?

3. another place said they did remote. when going through interview, flipped scripts to a SV job that paid $100k /yr. eff that. thats poverty wages in the valley.

Local places have been significantly better than who's hiring. So far, what Ive seen has been a shitshow. Pity that.

I've just received a few speculative emails from recruiters and some from freelancers on different continents wanting to take on office-based roles from their location.

Slightly off topic, but can anyone chime in on their experience hiring for non coding roles from HN threads? Especially marketing and biz dev?

We tried to do that, but we the people on HN are normally not the right type of people for such positions

I have posted a position a few times, but I have no way to tell how candidates are applying on ICIMS platform

Yes, some. I've gotten at least one good hire (and referral bonus) from one of my HN hiring posts.

If you point to the particular postings might be easier for people to give helpful feedback.

They haven't posted much else than job postings: https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=fjahr

I was not wrong.

There is another section Who Wants to be Hired which should work for many I guess

It is a money problem obviously.

Most of the people prefer remote these days.

Citation needed, that sounds like a very biased view of things.

I feel that there is a grain of truth here in pknerd's words. I don't have a citation, and sure, my story is just another anecdotal data point; but I'd like to add it here anyway and I suspect that there are many others like me.

I've been in software engineering for many many years and have worked for a number of employers in different parts of the world. The upshot of all that experience is that I know, with great clarity, what I want and what I do not want. I _have_ in the past, moved 17,000 km to take up a role but those days are behind me - there are only so many times you can pull off an enormous undertaking like that!

I've worked remotely (on and off) for years and have settled on preferring to stay remote for the remainder of my career. Whilst my life is pretty flexible and _could_ move pretty much anywhere, I have no desire to move near to the location of an employer for on-site work just because they happen to be in a particular location. However, I'm more than happy to put in the effort to visit occasionally, especially when starting a new project or a new team is being assembled.

I'm also practising Geographic Arbitrage which goes hand in hand with remote work and is a significant contributor to my financial survival strategy. Having lived in major world cities with grossly inflated asset bubbles (real estate), I know now that I will never do that again, and continue to actively move in the opposite direction.

The counter risk, of course, is that there are little or no employers situated away from "power house" cities, and that I'd be pooched if the remote work dries up. Fortunately, I've managed to get by so far.

What I genuinely find odd though, is the thought process of companies that are absolutely dead set against remote roles, but happily base their businesses upon large, successful and significant software projects like Linux or Rails or Node.js which are developed by huge distributed teams of remote software engineers living all over the world.

I would say that a job available on site OR remotely will attract more candidates than an on site only. To share my own experience, I've just bought an apartment and I've been thinking of working in a new company. I will automatically exclude non-remote positions (also the reason why I might leave my current company as the managers can work remotely no question asked but the devs can't...)

The most annoying ones are:

- REMOTE (US West Coast Only)

- ONSITE or REMOTE (onsite preferred)

There are also REMOTE (...possible after 6-9 months onsite) and REMOTE (1-2 days per week upon confirmation).

Yes, that's a good point that I forgot to mention in my post, Outpox.

Whilst I'm currently enjoying the flexibility of renting, I may well buy a house within the next year or two, and at that point re-location will definitely not be an option. The transaction costs of buying and selling property are eye-watering. Ideally I'd like to buy in an affordable rural or semi-rural area and continue to work remotely.

I wouldn't move to Berlin, so that's an issue. For such locations only option is to have occasional travel like once a month or two and work remotely.

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