Hiring, Tips on finding rockstar software engineers

Another great day at Hacker Dojo and another great discussion on startups and finding talent in the bay area. So I was asked by a founder of a mobile startup company in the bay area on my experience hiring engineers. Here’s the jist of this discussion. Rockstar engineers wanted

The big 3 – finding rockstar engineers

1. Utilize your network to find rockstar engineers.

There is nothing like finding the right person through your professional or personal network. Those are usually qualified leads; especially if the person you found them through you know well and is also a great engineer. Great engineers like to hang out with other great engineers.

So hit up your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to let your network know you have an amazing opportunity open for the right person.

If you are on a budget, stay away from external recruiters. They are expensive and hungry to get a sale through the door. They work on commission so will flood you with resumes. My experience has showed me from that flood only 3-5% of the talent is what I would class as rockstar engineers. If you must use one, detail & finecomb your requirements to them so the flood of resumes is more like a filtered clean stream of decent talent.

2. Rockstar engineers are not looking for a job.

It is your role to convince them to come and work on your idea with you because it is better for them. Better for them because of growth (financial & personal) opportunities (*Mastery) and that they will be “changing the world” (*Purpose). Read my previous post on Compensation 101 so you nail this right. Most of all, if you can also offer flexibility (*Autonomy) you will be on a winning hiring streak.

(*) = if you haven’t yet read Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.. then I highly recommend you do. The key 3 points marked with * above are paramount to getting these rockstar engineers on board your train.

3. Attitude over skills.

Engineers with great attitude can be relied on. Their great attitude allows them to be in constant growth phase. Open to change. Positive attitude. And be able to move with the changing times. This is actually Talent. Talent is the ability to learn new things. Skills get outdated fast in this fast changing landscape while talent is something which stays with one forever.

Bonus – how to kick off an interview

So you got a rockstar engineer to come in and have a chat with you.. what next?

  • Interviewing is a 2 way street. You are interviewing the candidate and the candidate is interviewing you. This especially applies for rockstar engineers. Don’t forget this and try to make their experience as pleasurable (and memorable) as possible.
  • Start the process by asking the candidate “What is your most proudest moment in your professional career”. This gets the candidate talking and you can listen, gauge and ask specific questions to drill down into topics that might not have made to their resume.
  • Draw a mindmap as the candidate talks about their proudest moment. This is there to help you understand, navigate and ask better questions. Also shows to the candidate you are paying attention. Remember, your interviewing a rockstar engineering.

More on hiring

If you found this post useful and are now thirsty for more hiring hacks, check out my extensive list of posts (notes) from events I attended where the likes of Auren Hoffman (Rapleaf), Russell Fradin (Dynamic Signal), Dan Arkind (JobScore) etc… shared their experiences.

Have questions? use the comments section below or contact me.

Are you a rockstar engineer?

Then I want to speak to you. We are hiring for many exciting positions at coupons.com.

Coupons.com is located in Silicon Valley (California) and is the leading provider of consumer-printed coupon marketing and technology solutions leading the shift from print based couponing to Internet delivery, a $6.6 billion per year industry. Coupons.com recently got valued at $1 billion company. Contact me to find out more.

~ Ernest