Archive for the ‘Hire’ tag
Imagine you are Taylor Grey Meyer and you have worked very hard on acquiring a future in the business of sports. You started at age 15 by volunteering at a minor league team. You’ve interned at a national league team. You’ve acquired a degree in sports commerce and you’re on your way to a law degree. You move to the city where you’d love to work and you send no fewer than 30 resumes in for various roles, eventually dropping into the “entry level” category, just in case. They reject you there, too.
And then you get a letter asking you if you want to PAY for a camp that will teach you more about the sports business from the very same organization.
The Article Above Is Required Reading Before We Talk Further
If you skipped over that link, you should read it and then come back. It’s okay. I’ll wait.
What’s interesting to me is that most people’s reactions were in the vein of “I wouldn’t hire her” and “Oh, she just burned all her bridges.” I’m stuck. Because I understand how it’s not professional to ask prospective employers to suck one’s dick (doubly interesting because Taylor’s a female), but I also know that she must be so frustrated, and that by pointing out all her qualifications, it’s even more obvious that she’d had enough.
To me, she’s got a lot of guts and character and she’s clearly passionate. She just found the end of her rope is all. But that’s the real question, isn’t it?
Would You Hire This Person?
Most people disqualified her because she lost her cool. Others disqualified her because she cursed. Me? I think her only sin is that she kept trying to send resumes instead of looking for another way to land the role she sought. To me, the problem isn’t that she’s ballsy, not that she swore, but that she wasn’t inventive enough to try something other than mailing pieces of paper and/or pixels to a company that was ignoring her.
Have you tried everything to get where you want to go? The answer is almost always no. We have such creative brains, and yet, we forget to use them when we get stuck in the Matrix of what is “typical.”
I’m not counting Taylor Grey Meyer out, but I’m definitely saying she is invited to get a lot more creative with her attempts to find a sports organization worthy of her qualifications and talents.
What say you?
Unemployment is worryingly rampant in the US right now — which makes the ongoing “hiring crunch” in Silicon Valley even more absurd. It’s fair to say that nearly every single company that TechCrunch covers is hiring. But they’re not looking for just anyone. They’re looking for programmers. And good programmers are really hard to find.
A startup called Gild says it can help, and it’s raised $2 million in new seed funding from Globespan Capital Partners and Sequoia Capital’s Mark Kvamme to do so. Gild, which currently has 20 full-time employees at its headquarters in San Francisco, says it will use the funds to grow its team and build out its technology.
So, what exactly is that technology? Gild’s chief product is called “Gild Source,” a program that sifts through and analyzes open source code repositories to identify programmers that specialize in different languages. Gild Source associates these developers with other public personally identifying data — such as LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and participation on sites such as Quora and Stack Overflow — and gives each one a score according to their abilities, productivity, and the feedback they receive on their works. Gild then provides its findings in a database to tech companies looking to hire developers for a monthly subscription rate starting at $700 per month. Today, Gild clients include Facebook, Box, Red Hat, and Akamai.
Helping Recruiters Actually Recruit — Not Spam
“Everyone has been very focused on simply bringing more profiles and resumes to recruiters, but we think that is the problem, not the solution. If you talk to any developer that’s on LinkedIn, what they’ll tell you is that they sometimes get 10 to 12 messages a day from people trying to hire them,” Gild CEO Sheeroy Desai told me in an interview this week.
This is obviously not effective, he said, though, he stressed that Gild aims to be complementary to existing tools such as LinkedIn and recruiting firms — not competitive with them. “We want to have recruiters recruit again. Today, they’re just spamming,” he said. “We want to give them the right information, the right people, so that they can use their time to actually recruit them.”
Another aim of Gild’s is to fundamentally change the way that potential tech employees are evaluated. “One of the things we don’t give a weighting to is where you went to school or what company you’re working at,” Desai said. “We really are trying to drive meritocracy in the recruiting process. One of the reasons companies claim that they can’t find talent is because they are hanging on to some of those criteria, which we believe has very low correlation to how good someone is.”
This is not Gild’s debut on the startup scene, but this is a new direction for the company. Desai first launched Gild nearly two years ago at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco. At that time, Gild was positioned as a “gamified job platform” for developers. The company went on to raise some $2.4 million in seed funding from backers including Globespan, but late last year it decided to change direction.
“Towards the end of last year, we realized there is a remarkable amount of publicly available information available about developers on the Internet,” Desai said. Indeed, if Gild Source can actually put that data to smart use, it could definitely have made something worth its weight in gold (see what I did there?)
So here’s the real story behind App.net founder Dalton Caldwell’s plans to build a new, open API framework for developers to build off of. According to him, Facebook pressured him into selling his company, rather than competing with the social network’s newly released App Center.
In an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted to his blog on Wednesday, Caldwell recounted his side of a meeting with Facebook’s developer relations team, which occurred in mid-June. Prior to the meeting, App.net was working on a mobile app that would let users see which apps their friends were using, and make suggestions about new apps to download. It used Facebook Connect and Facebook Open Graph to identify interesting apps and to share them with social connections, and Caldwell hoped to get “executive-level support” for his upcoming product launch. But then something interesting happened:
“The meeting took an odd turn when the individuals in the room explained that the product I was building was competitive with your recently-announced Facebook App Center product. Your executives explained to me that they would hate to have to compete with the “interesting product” I had built, and that since I am a “nice guy with a good reputation” that they wanted to acquire my company to help build App Center.”
Basically, the Facebook team present was hoping that Caldwell would agree to an acqui-hire and shut down the app that they had been working on over the previous months. “I told your team I would rather reboot my company than go down that route,” he wrote.
Which is basically what he’s done. Caldwell announced last month that he was looking to re-focus App.net on building a “real-time feed API and service” that would provide an open platform for developers to build on, kinda like Github. It would also essentially compete with Facebook and Twitter — development platforms that rely on ad revenue and sometimes release new features that compete with apps created by third-party developers.
Take Twitter, for instance: It recently released clickable stock tickers called Cashtags, an idea that StockTwits had implemented four years ago.
But anyway, back to Facebook and Caldwell’s meeting. Part of the reason he says he’s upset is that his experience of receiving a hardball acqui-hire offer isn’t unique, that he’s learned from other startups and Facebook employees is that it’s “part of a systematic M&A ‘formula.’” That is, it’s has been telling startups that, rather than be steamrolled when creating competing products, they should work for Facebook instead.
Which, he believes, is all the more reason why developers need a new framework that isn’t tied to the financial incentives of companies like Twitter or Facebook. There’s just one problem: Things aren’t looking good for Caldwell’s alternative platform. Nearly three weeks ago, he sought $500,000 in backing to get the project started. With just 12 days to go, join.app.net has only hit about 25 percent of its goal.
It’s not clear what Caldwell will do if the goal isn’t met — in an email, he said he’s got no idea, but still has cash in the bank. Mixed Media Labs, App.net’s parent company, raised $5 million from Andreessen Horowitz in December 2010.
Here’s a video interview with Caldwell on the new venture, which he recorded a few weeks ago:
You can’t read any marketing-related publication without hearing some statistics about how companies are increasing budgets for digital marketing and that the number of digital marketing jobs will increase as a result. Case in point: According to a study by eMarketer, U.S. online advertising spending is expected to grow 23.3 percent to $39.5 billion in 2012. In addition to this growth prediction, at Aquent we saw a significant increase in demand for interactive design, creative, and digital professionals during the second quarter of 2012.
Ask a hiring manager their perspective on today’s digital job market and they would likely say they’ve got front-end development, interactive design, and UX jobs available, but they’re not able to find candidates with these types of specialized skills. If you ask a job seeker their perspective, they might say that no human could possess all of the skills required for the open job descriptions.
Pose the question to just about anyone working for a staffing agency placing marketing, creative, or digital talent and they’ll definitely say that all of the above is true. They will also be quick to say that both hiring managers and job seekers need to adapt their hiring, staffing, and job-hunting strategies for a new reality.
Hire people with specific skills
Can one person really be expected to: deliver beautiful creative, produce compelling content that can be shared on social media, write adaptive code for all of the interfaces your audience might be using, track and analyze massive amounts of data, and deliver leads that drive revenue? Whether looking for temporary or permanent hires, employers need to take a step back and make sure that their job descriptions are realistic. Taking the time to think about which skills are required versus which skills are “pluses” is key to making a successful short-term or long-term hire.
Staff up with contract talent
According to a 2012 Nielsen(TM) study, “Americans are consuming more content on more devices — often simultaneously.” Digital marketing has evolved far beyond display and search advertising. This fact poses not only a huge strategic marketing problem for brands that are trying to cohesively communicate their message across all platforms, but also a problem from a hiring perspective. Can you source enough job candidates to do the work in-house?
The answer is “yes,” but you may not be able to find candidates to do it on a full-time basis. Ten-plus years after we were introduced to the concept of a “free agent nation,” the idea continues to gain momentum. More and more highly skilled professionals are seeking out temporary or contract work as a replacement to fulltime employment. To adjust, some of the world’s largest brands are becoming more strategic about their staffing plans. They are working with ad agencies (who are also using contractors to keep pace with their client needs), staffing agencies, and bringing in freelance talent to build a more flexible workforce to help meet their digital marketing objectives.
Highlight variety in your portfolio or resume
While some job descriptions may be totally unrealistic, it is important to highlight your range for a potential employer. A digital marketing portfolio or resume shouldn’t showcase every project you’ve ever worked on, rather it should provide a potential employer with evidence that you have specialized in front-end development and also worked collaboratively on projects with analytic experts, interactive designers, and user-experience professionals. This type of displayed experience will go a long way in showing your prospective employer that you understand how all of the team members collaborate to design, execute, and evaluate a digital campaign.
Actively seek out professional development opportunities
The digital media landscape is rapidly changing. Online tools like Smarterer offer 39 tests in design and 89 tests in software development to help “show what you know.” If you score lower than expected, there are well-known online resources, such as Creative Edge or Team Treehouse, which offer no-cost or low-cost training options to help you stay ahead of the curve. Conferences like the HOW Interactive Design Conference can offer digital marketing professionals the opportunity to stay updated on the latest industry trends. Candidates who can talk about putting the most cutting-edge technologies to work for their digital campaigns are more likely to impress potential employers.
Yes, good digital talent is difficult to find, but qualified candidates are out there. The key for both hiring managers and job seekers is to adjust their expectations, mine their experience, and get to work.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
“Businessmen entering into the digital world” image via Shutterstock.
If you misuse a comma or mix up “your and you’re,” don’t expect to get hired by iFixit’s Kyle Wiens. He’s not the only stickler—a growing number of employers are adopting a zero tolerance approach to grammar. That means one mistake could cost you the job, even if you’re otherwise qualified. More »
About a year ago, before I became a HubSpotter, I stopped wasting my company’s precious money and fired our marketing agency. It wasn’t that difficult of a decision to make, but it was an extremely expensive lesson to learn — to the tune of about $70,000.
In a previous life, I was a small business owner. When I joined the company in September 2011 (we’ll call it the Acme Startup Company), my business partners had just spent two years in research and development. They managed to round up enough money to get them through the early days and come out on the other end with a prototype for the Acme software product. When they asked me to work with them, they were nearing a product launch. And part of their strategy to support that launch was hiring a marketing agency.
We Needed Leads, They Gave Us Twitter Followers
When I was introduced to the agency owners and account managers, they jumped right into talking about how critical building an online presence would be to a successful launch — which at first sounded like the right plan. However, my business partners and I made it clear that our number one priority at the time was to generate sales leads, and we asked them to develop a plan for how they’d help us do that. But instead of focusing explicitly on lead generation, they encouraged us to build a Twitter presence, a Facebook business page, and drum up two or three good press releases announcing our company’s launch. In the meantime, they would be pitching both local and national “rags” to get feature articles written about our company. At first we went along with it. We all figured, “Hey, we’ve never really tried this approach before, so maybe it’s worth a shot.”
The Customers Started Coming, But …
Four months and 30 new customers later, we were seeing some traction, but we couldn’t tie a single one of those customers back to our agency’s work. So on New Year’s Day 2012, I sat down and wrote out our businesses goals for that year — the total number of leads we would need, lead conversion rates, cost of customer acquisition, total number of new customers, revenue per customer, lifetime value of each new customer — and about 20 pages worth of strategy about how we would achieve those numbers. I sat down with our agency, shared the plan, defined their responsibilities (as well as our responsibilities), shared all the numbers, our expectations, and a timeline for them to achieve their goals (milestone #1 was in 3 months).
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service
Three months later and a grand total of $70,000 poorer, it was time to say goodbye. The agency just never produced the results we cared about. And probably worse, they felt like they did but could never produce a report to prove it to us. All we had to show for this mess was a new website design (which we ended up changing twice in the following 6 months), 600 Twitter followers, a few ad designs, about 10 feature articles about our business in unknown news outlets, and 3 press releases (which, by the way, we wrote, and had to pay $600 a pop to release). We fired the agency, and it was about time.
I share this story not because I think marketing agencies are worthless. In fact, many agencies are absolutely worth your money and will deliver awesome business results. But there are some key lessons we learned throughout our own experience that both agencies and business owners can benefit from.
Advice for Marketing Agency Owners
Lesson #1: Don’t Forget Why You Were Hired
Regardless of the size of your client’s business, they (should) have a very specific reason why they hired you. Figure out what that reason is, and don’t forget it.
Lesson #2: Challenge (the Hell Out of) Your Clients’ Assumptions
Actively listen to what your clients are telling you — they might say things like, “We need a new website” or “We need to figure this social thing out” or “We need to work on our SEO.” Be a child and ask, “Why?” at least five times before giving up. Only then will you uncover the real reason why they want you to do something for them.
Lesson #3: Measure Your Impact on the Client’s Business
If you can’t tie the work you’ve done directly back to the performance of your client’s business, you’re probably going to get the axe sooner or later. I know it isn’t easy, but it can be done.
Advice for Small Business Owners
Lesson #1: Hire Marketing Agencies Only When You Can’t Solve Your Problems Solo
This may sound obvious, but most small business owners think they can’t do marketing alone. You not only can, but you’ll be surprised how much more work you can squeeze out of yourself in the face of adversity.
Lesson #2: If You Decide to Hire, Hire Only Thought Partners
If you hire a “Yes Man” marketing agency, you’re done for. You might as well be flushing every single dollar you give them down the drain. You need people to challenge your thinking, and get them to drive results for your business. That’s why you hired them, isn’t it?
Lesson #3: Hold Your Marketing Agency Accountable for Producing Results
This is just baseline business sense, but don’t get caught up in buzz words like “brand presence,” “go-to-market strategy,” “microsite,” “QR code,” or “targeted campaign.” If you’re anything like me, all I cared about was the bottom line — “How many new customers did you bring me this month, how many sales dollars did they produce, and what did it cost me for you to bring them in?” If you sniff any sense of a loss (AKA “in the red”), start sharpening your axe … you might need it.
Have you ever fired a marketing agency? What lessons did you learn from the experience?
We all have a horror story: you picked a mechanic from the phone book, made an appointment, took the car in for a minor repair, and got it back with three wheels missing and the roof on fire. That’s why John Formento, Jr. and his dad created OnlineMechanix, a scheduling system and discovery engine for local mechanics.
The site currently serves 700 repair shops and allows users to find shops in their area and schedule appointments online. Sadly, consumers have been slow to adopt the service (but that could change as the company begins a marketing push with some viral videos). They’re experiencing 100% growth in mechanic sign-ups, however, which suggests they may be on to something.
Because car owners make appointments one or two times a year, where you get your car fixed is quite important. Shop turnaround could send your favorite mechanic down the street and you may not visit the same place twice. OnlineMechanix makes this experience a bit easier and quite a bit more convenient.
“Currently there is no available way for consumers to search for an auto repair shop, schedule an online appointment with that shop and automatically keep track of their vehicle service history all on one site,” said Formento. “Our site is flexible in that the consumer can have their brakes done at one shop, inspection at another shop and transmission at yet another shop, but if they make their appointments from onlinemechanix.com they can track all their service history with all those shops automatically.”
“I came up with the idea for Onlinemechanix.com when I was trying to schedule an appointment to get my car inspected. When I called the shop I was greeted by a busy signal and after couple more tries I was finally able to get through and schedule my appointment. This experience got me thinking about two things. The first was that it would be so much easier to schedule my inspection if there was a website, like OpenTable, where I could easily find a local auto repair shop and schedule my appointment. The second was that mechanics must be interrupted continuously throughout the day by phone appointments.”
Formento and his father, John Formento Senior, are the two founders of the site and they live and work in Philadelphia. Their programmer, T. Ray Humphrey, worked on Microsoft platforms for twenty years. We met the Formentos in Philly during our meet-up and they were a charming pair, a sort of mini Click and Clack with a Pennsylvania accent. They launched the site on April 25.
“We want our independently owned auto repair shops to feel as though they are part of a bigger organization that will help them compete effectively in a tough environment,” said Formento.
In the dog-eat-dog world of auto servicing, it’s nice these guys are looking out for the two most important people in the equation: the small mechanic and, more important, the consumer.
Facebook has acquired the team behind Spool, the mobile content-caching startup that launched in September 2011 at TechCrunch Disrupt. At that time, my colleague Sarah Perez snappily described its service as “Instapaper on steroids.”
This looks like a pure talent acquisition — it doesn’t appear that any of the technology Spool built will be integrated into Facebook, and the company has already shut down its service. Spool raised a $1 million round of venture capital this past January from a group including SVAngel, Felicis Ventures, Yuri Milner’s Start Fund and YouTube founder Steve Chen.
We’ve reached out to Spool for more information about the deal — financial details, staff numbers, and the like. This will be updated with any news we receive.
Facebook sent along this statement about the deal:
“The Spool team has deep expertise in mobile software development and a passion for making content easy to consume. We’re excited for the team to join and accelerate their vision at Facebook.”
We started Spool to make content easy to consume on a mobile device. To accomplish this, we built some very sophisticated technology and developed a deep expertise in mobile software development. We firmly believe that solving these problems will be increasingly important as the world accesses the Internet primarily through mobile devices.
We are proud to announce that today we will be pursuing our vision as a part of Facebook. If you were a Spool user, please read the instructions on retaining your bookmarks.
We are extremely excited to accelerate our vision and help Facebook’s users connect and share with the people in their lives. We wouldn’t be in a position to have this sort of impact without our supporters and the Spool community. Please accept a heartfelt thank you for supporting us and for affording us this opportunity.
The Spool team
An all-hands meeting at wireless network provider Meraki just closed with a bang: it’s raised $40 million and is now looking for a 100,000 square foot office , my sources confirm. The financing comes mostly from existing investors that likely include Sequoia and Northgate. Much of the $40 million is debt with the principal to be repaid within five years. Details on exact investors are still coming together because Meraki hoped to keep the round quiet as not to rile up competitors.
Meraki will use the funds to keep a cash cushion, pay for its new headquarters, and aggressively hire in sales so it can break away from competitors. If all goes well, I hear an IPO is on the horizon.
For those less familiar, Meraki helps big companies, schools, and organizations set up their networks by selling them wireless LAN devices, security appliances, and the cloud architecture software that knits them together. It’s all designed to be easy to install and managed from a browser-based dashboard.
This new cash doubles Meraki’s total funding to $80 million from the $40 million it had previously raised through its Series C from Google, Sequoia Capital, DAG Ventures, and Northgate Capital. Investors were clearly impressed with Meraki, as I’ve learned the $40 million “only diluted the company 5%”. While we’re sure of everything except the exact investors, we’re awaiting response for a formal confirmation from Meraki. Sequoia said it couldn’t help me with any information, but did not directly deny the news.
A source close to the company says Meraki was spending around $65 million a year, and Q2 2012 saw the company rake in over $20 million — more than it was shooting for. The $40 million cushion will protect it in case expenditures rise for supporting its 20,000 customer networks or if it wants to rapidly pursue a new market as it competes with dedicated companies like like Aerohive and giants like Cisco.
As more huge organizations want powerful networks without giant IT departments to run them, Meraki sees its business booming. That’s why one of its latest hires is a new CFO that will prep it for an IPO. That’d be a pretty impressive run for what was just an MIT grad student project in 2006.
You don’t need all of these, and some are mutually exclusive (while others are not). And most don’t work, don’t scale or can’t be arranged:
- Be very focused on your goal and work on it daily
- Go to college with someone who makes it big and then hires you
- Be born with significant and unique talent
- Practice every day
- Network your way to the top by inviting yourself from one lunch to another, trading favors as you go
- Quietly do your job day in and day out until someone notices you and gives you the promotion you deserve
- Do the emotional labor of working on things that others fear
- Notice things, turn them into insights and then relentlessly turn those insights into projects that resonate
- Hire a great PR firm and get a lot of publicity
- Work the informational interview angle
- Perform outrageous acts and say obnoxious things
- Redefine your version of success as: whatever I have right now
- Flit from project to project until you alight on something that works out very quickly and well
- Be the best-looking person in the room
- Tell stories that people care about and spread
- Contribute more than is expected
- Give credit to others
- Take responsibility
- Aggrandize, preferably self
- Be a jerk and win through intimidation
- Be a doormat and refuse to speak up or stand up
- Never hesitate to share a kind word when it’s deserved
- Sue people
- Treat every gig as an opportunity to create art
- Cut corners
- Focus on defeating the competition
- When dealing with employees, act like Steve. It worked for him, apparently.
- Persist, always surviving to ship something tomorrow
- When in doubt, throw a tantrum
- Have the ability to work harder and more directly than anyone else when the situation demands it
- Don’t rock the boat
- Rock the boat
- Don’t rock the boat, baby
- Resort to black hat tactics to get more than your share
- Work to pay more taxes
- Work to evade taxes
- Find typos