Visual Basic

How to Locate the Right People

The two best ways to locate the right people for your organization are the two that pop immediately into the minds of most people: word-of-mouth recommendations and advertising.

Personal recommendations

Better to hire the devil you know (or at least someone you know) than the one you don't. We're always interested in personal recommendations from existing staff members. More often than not, like attracts like, and usually a good developer will recognize someone from the same stock. It's a kind of "it takes one to know one" philosophy. When someone is recommended to you, ask the person providing the recommendation to qualitatively summarize the skills and qualifications of the potential new recruit. Would the "recommender" be willing to manage or work with the person they're recommending? Also, consider paying a finder's fee to your staff-we do and it works well. Even if we receive a personal recommendation, we still put the candidate through our standard assessment procedure. This step is essential.


If you decide to advertise, you'll generally use the job description to compose the advertisement. All the essential qualities must be included in the advertisement so that any potential applicant can decide whether the job is worth applying for.

It's essential to advertise in the right places. Make sure that you advertise, in detail, the role/position you're recruiting for. Don't make the advertisement too general, figuring that if you cast the net wide enough, you might catch other people of potential interest to your company. In other words, don't advertise for Windows developers if you're only looking for Visual Basic 6 developers but might also be interested in attracting a C++ developer sometime soon. Advertise for the C++ developer later, when you actually need one, and again, make it clear in that advertisement what you're looking for. By casting the net too wide you will all too often dilute the information deemed necessary by a potential candidate. You'll also make it appear as if you're trawling for rsums.

People should be interested in the position as described in your advertisement, and you should start the filtering process at this stage. For example, if the position requires long hours, or perhaps working away from home, state this up front in the advertisement-anyone who isn't interested won't apply. Those who do shouldn't mind travelling and working long hours. See? You've already started optimizing the process by generating a shortlist!

Places to advertise The primary places to advertise to get the best response are as follows:

  • The Web. We often "e-advertise" on our own Web site (if we have a pressing vacancy) or on other IT employment Web sites. If you have a good profile, and therefore plenty of hits on your own Web site, advertising on your own site makes great sense.
  • The Press. We use the specialist press for advertising key positions. For the more junior positions we mostly rely on word of mouth and on the Web.
  • Agencies. We rarely use agencies. While they perform a very useful role in certain circumstances, we prefer to do our own thing when it comes to recruiting people. No one else knows our business and who we're after as well as we do.

Step 2: Recruiting Great Developers

Once you start receiving rsums, what do you do next? It is essential to have a very well defined process so that you are professional, efficient, and responsive with the applications-good people aren't available for long, so you must quickly assess and rank the rsums using an efficient filtering process.

The Initial Filtering Process

We handle only "soft" rsums, meaning that we have them e-mailed to us. We have a strict set of criteria (based on the job specification) that we filter the rsums against. People who are immediately "rejected" are thanked for applying and informed of our decision right away. We speak to other candidates over the phone to thank them for applying and to assess some of the attributes that are impossible to pick up from a rsum, such as oral communication skills, phone manner, power of description and explanation, and so on. We also ask a small number of (carefully chosen) technical questions. Again, people who are "rejected" at this stage are thanked for applying and informed on the spot. Otherwise, we tell them that we would like to invite them in for interview.