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How to recruit developers away from Highgroove


Chris Kelly

You’ve read our blog, had Highgroove do work for you, watched our Tech Talks, attended the Atlanta Ruby User Group which we host, and all around think we’re great.

Now, you’ve decided that what you really want to do is hire one of our developers full time to work for you. Maybe you’re a recruiter looking to fill an ‘awesome position at a big company in the Atlanta area,’ or maybe your startup is ready to take the next step and hire an in-house developer.

We get a lot of e-mails and calls from recruiters, and to be honest, most of them are absolutely terrible. Read on for some tips on how to recruit Highgroovers to come work for you instead. Seriously. Please. We’re not telling you to not try and recruit our developers, but please stop wasting your time and ours.

First up, it’s Highgroove’s job to make our developers happy and to be the place that all developers want to work. We have a great culture, great benefits, and a bias towards making awesome anything which is not yet awesome.

Everyone’s motivations for choosing to work at Highgroove are different and our turnover rate is extremely low, but there is always a chance your ‘opportunity’ is the one that someone has been waiting for. When people do choose to leave and go somewhere awesome, we all give them high-fives on the way out. We’ve had people leave for Twitter, GitHub, startup incubators, and even a law firm.

Before you get in touch with anyone, do your homework. Everyone at Highgroove has different skill sets, so read their profiles on our About page and find out what their technical skills are and what they are interested in. One developer might be a good fit for LAMP development in Antarctica, while someone else would be much better for Erlang in Brooklyn. Your chances of hiring one of us become greater than 0% if you have a perfect fit for someone. Hint: If you contact several people at once here, you’re probably doing it wrong.

When you’ve narrowed it down to the perfect fit, don’t pick up the phone. Developers are trying to get work done, don’t like being interrupted, and universally hate these kind of phone calls. Send an e-mail, and make it good. If you want a response, your e-mail must be personal (not a form letter) and include the following:

  • Company: If we don’t know who we’re working for, we’re not interested.

  • Location: Do we have to move or does remote work? Where?

  • Salary: “Based on experience” doesn’t cut it. You’re e-mailing us. Give us a range.

  • Office: Online photos or video of the office somewhere is ideal. A cube farm with the lights off is only appealing to a small set of people.

  • Answer: What would I be doing? “Rails” isn’t enough. What does the job actually entail? Head over to our Jobs page and look at each job. We lay out what it is that we expect our people to accomplish.

  • Answer: Why would I be a good cultural fit? Coffee? Beer? Bicycles? Boats?

This gives someone enough information to find out if they’re a good fit. Hopefully, you’ll know before you send the e-mail (or get all the way through this list of requirements) if someone will be a good fit and your response rate will end up being pretty high.

Don’t ask a developer if they “have any friends who might fit this position.” That screams “I didn’t do my homework and am just grabbing anyone I can find.”

Do you really really want someone to work for you? Have someone important contact them instead of a recruiter or someone in HR. All of these are good choices: the person that wrote a programming language that is on your team, someone who is a popular speaker at conferences, someone who wrote “the book” on something.

And that’s it! It doesn’t seem too hard, but of the 36 e-mails I’ve personally gotten from recruiters this year, only one of them has met most of the criteria above. The phone calls (which, by the way, all get automatically sent to the voicemail box on Google Voice) all get ignored.

Most of this applies to other tech companies, but if they’re not as awesome a place to work as Highgroove, you might have an easier time recruiting. So good luck! We look forward to your e-mails.


Chris Kelly