Posts tagged ‘hiring’

Don’t wait for permission

A few years ago I wrote a post titled Looking for a job? Don’t be this guy. Today I want to share a positive example of what you should do instead if you’re looking for a job.

I love the 360 panorama app from Occipital. It’s the easiest way to make a panoramic and the scenes that people share are often stunning. Back in December, I tweeted that I hoped that Occipital would make a gallery of their 360 panos. Mick Thompson saw my tweet and apparently agreed with me. But instead of just retweeting my request, he got to work and actually built it. The 360 gallery he created was awesome.

Unknown to both of us, Occipital had been talking internally about building a gallery themselves. When they saw Micks work they immediately got in touch with him and asked if he’d be interested in joining them. Today, Occipital announced that Mick will be joining them in a full time role.

Mick is an example of exactly the kind of guy I want to hire. You’ll be amazed at how much a little initiative will set you apart from the crowd. If you’re struggling to find a job, the best advice I have for you is to find a way to copy Mick. I think this lesson applies to lots of other areas in life too. If you want something to exist, don’t sit around talking about it. Just do it.

Congrats to both Mick and Occipital. I can’t wait to see what you guys build next.

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How business guys can identify good coders

You’re the business guy. The idea guy. You have an MBA and a killer business idea to boot. The only thing standing between you and becoming the next Google is finding a good technical person to build it for you. The only problem is you don’t know how to code and you’ve got no clue how to interview or evaluate developers. What do you do?

Thankfully, identifying good developers doesn’t have to be hard. You can actually find great developers without knowing a thing about coding. Just like good sales guys can be measured by how much they sold, there are some simple questions that can act as your filter for finding talented programmers.

How old were you when you started programming?

I started coding when I was 10. Most of the best developers I know started coding long before college. While it may seem like a weird thing to evaluate someone on, I’ve found there is a strong correlation between the age someone started programming and their skill level as a developer. It makes sense. Just like most professional athletes started perfecting their art at a young age, the best developers did the same.

Think about all the distractions you face growing up. As Paul Graham says in Hackers and Painters, being smart in elementary school is a guaranteed way to be unpopular. While the kids who are coding in middle school may not be cool then, they’re the people I want to hire when they are 20. The intellectual curiosity that drove a kid to code instead of hanging out at the mall is probably still with them later in life.

And all things being equal, the kid who started coding at 10 has 8 years extra experience on the guy who didn’t start until college. This doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions to the rule, but it’s a surprisingly good indicator.

What weekend projects have you built?

If you’re a developer, you have the ability to turn your ideas into reality in a way that few people have. Think there should be a better way to share pictures with your friends? You can just build it. You don’t need money or permission from anyone. I’m suspicious of anyone who claims to be a developer but doesn’t have any projects to show off that they built “just for fun”.

Programming is more of an art that a science. You usually either have a mind for it or you don’t. If you don’t enjoy coding you’re not going to be any good at it. More than anything, the weekend projects show that you enjoy the creative process of programming.

Things you enjoy, you do a lot and things you do a lot, you tend to get good at.

What open source projects have you contributed to?

Being involved with open source projects is another positive sign of a good developer. Not only does it show they enjoy coding enough to give their own time to it, but open source developers also have the benefit of continual feedback from other smart developers. There is not a single piece of code I’ve open-sourced that hasn’t been improved from having other developers use it. The more you open source, the more you learn. For example, when I contributed my PHP library for PubSubHubbub, it was Brad Fitzpatrick (the guy who invented memcache) who did the code review and gave me some great feedback on how to improve it. It’s tough to get that level of feedback and not become a better programmer as a result.

While asking a developer how to write a linked list may show off their memorization skills, I’d rather see the evidence of their abilities for myself. Why quiz Picasso about the principles of painting, when you just ask to see his gallery of paintings instead?


Looking for a job? Don’t be this guy.

I just received this email:


Please see my attached resume.
I’m very intelligent and creative. I have a very eclectic arsenals of skills for the solution of problems.
I’ve worked in numerous startups, including several of my own.


The sad thing is, I get an email like that just about every day. I thought I would share my response in hopes that it will help someone from making the same mistakes.

We’re not hiring right now, but here are a few free tips:

  • “I’m very intelligent and creative.” doesn’t come off as confident, it comes off as cocky
  • If you had spent 2 minutes looking at our site you would have known that my email address is not careers, not jobs… just josh.
  • No mention about what excites you about EventVue? Keep in mind I get several resumes in my inbox EVERY DAY. It’s not hard to get my attention. Comment on my blog. Send me an engaging question. @me on twitter. I’ll respond. Just don’t send me something that has been copied and pasted to a dozen different companies.
  • “FW: about me” is your subject line? I’d work on that one a bit.
  • We’re a startup trying to build cutting edge stuff. The fact that you sent me an email from a Hotmail account communicates that you aren’t much of an early adopter. That’s too bad, because I bet you’re a smart guy.

I understand that startups are different.  Your career center probably didn’t tell you this stuff.  That’s why I am.

Update. Reed responded:

Don’t worry I’m very creative and intelligent. It’s not a boast. It’s who I am.

If you read my resume then you know that I’m also an internationally known composer.
I can write top level music in any style you can think of, including the most modern remix and such.
I attached a song from one of my Cds. All my Cds have been in or near the 10 ten the country on jazz radio.

I  have not only hotmail but gmail and facebook and twitter and others.

Anyway, I’ll keep your advice in mind.

I’ll check out your blog.

Not sure that helped, but at least now I know he’s a good composer.  The music was pretty.


EventVue is Growing!

One of the coolest things about running your own company is the opportunity to choose the people with whom you work.

I am stoked to announce a new addition to the EventVue team. Today is Kevin Musselman’s first day as EventVue’s first employee. Kevin was pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at Clemson before we talked him into working for us instead. I’m confident that Kevin will add a lot to our company. He’s smart, motivated and really passionate about what we are doing.

It’s going to be fun having a good friend and a fellow tiger working alongside us. Welcome to Boulder Kevin!