Conversation With A CEO: You Shouldn’t Stop Recruiting During The Coronavirus Shutdown

Hey Ceo's What Are You Doing

Last Friday I had a blog post => It’s Time To Go and in part:

Recruiting Into A Slowing Economy, Recession And Coming Out The Other Side

To be blunt… most companies are dropping the ball. So many groups have a blank career page. At a time when they could be communicating about future hiring needs and collecting contact information… they have nothing.

Whether we will have a V, W, U or L shaped recovery it will take most groups some (a lot) time to staff up again. This will increase the length of the slowdown for them. I don’t get it. They’re making it worse.

So… I will do a free webinar giving ideas that that leadership and recruiting teams should be doing during this time.

This morning I had a call with a CEO and they were wondering why I would do such a thing. They were not looking for how to recruit, but… why. Why should they continue to recruit during the shutdown.

We were on a video chat and I struck the pose above. I was wearing a hoodie but the facial reaction is the same.

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Conversation With A Software Manager… All My Good People Leave

All My Good People Leave

I had what started as an intense conversation with a Software Manager this morning and I am writing this quick so I don’t forget some of the things we spoke about.

Short version is that “Software Manager” is disappointed that the average length of time on their team right now is 3 years 7 months. And I was thinking… that sounds OK to me.

So we dug into a few of the scenarios they have experienced and I gave my thoughts about them. Note… I know a lot of managers who would like these problems.

Scenario #1

“Senior Developer” had been with the company for 7 years. They started as a mid level developer and moved quickly into a senior role. They also started doing some speaking at local and regional events doing tech talks and as an unofficial evangelist for the company. They left because their career path was not going to change much and they were motivated to one day get into senior leadership. They did an active job search, a brilliant one at that, and landed a remote job with a huge group in the Bay Area.

  • A bummer sure but this is also a success story. That someone did a lot of growing and loved talking about the company is a cool thing. My response… who’s next?

Scenario #2

“Junior Developer” who was frustrated a bit lot by not having a mentor took a new job. Before leaving they wrote up some ideas on how the company could better onboard and train up junior developers. Before leaving they gave 2 referrals for open roles in the company.

  • Another bummer but a learned lesson on building a team. And that “Junior Developer” still liked the company enough to suggest team members, that’s a win.

Scenario #3

“Senior Developer” had been with the company for 3 years and left to become an entrepreneur. “Senior Developer” had been working on something, not competitive to the company, and found a couple of people to work on it with them. The company has a generous PTO policy and there is work/life balance so the work was done on nights and weekends. They had a few beta clients and received a small amount of funding. They gave an 8 week notice. 8 weeks!!! And they sat in on the interview process and had a successful replacement with time to transition over.

  • I think this a win. You can talk about that in future interviews that work/life balance and PTO allowed someone to go out on their own.

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Conversation With A National Recruiting And HR Thought Leader… I Don’t Care

I Don't Care 


I had an interesting conversation with someone who many including myself describe as a Recruiting and HR “thought leader”. They reject the term but it is earned and warranted and they have the “scars” to prove it. This is someone I have a lot of respect for and enjoy catching up with.

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Conversation With A Ruby Developer… Should I let Search Firms Float My Resume Around?

Minnesota IT Jobs

Yesterday I had a phone call with a Ruby Developer who is currently in Silicon Valley and looking to move to the Midwest. They are highly skilled, easy to work with, highly recommended and from this region. Specifically they are looking for a company in Minneapolis or Chicago.

They asked me a curious question…

Many of the search firm recruiters are asking if they can float my resume around for me. I don’t have a network in those cities so it seems convenient but I think there are negatives to this too. Right?

My reply…


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Conversation With A Java Developer… My Recruiter Contacted Me On Match, What Do I Do


Last week I posted on Facebook and LinkedIn the following beginning of a conversation and received many funny comments:


  • Developer: So last week I submitted my resume to XYZ, Inc
  • Me: Uh huh
  • Dev: I have an interview next week
  • Me: Cool
  • Dev: Last night I get a message on Match, it's the Recruiter.
  • Me: Oh shit

(Recruiter has no idea this is the same guy)

Just when I think I have seen and heard it all in recruiting… at least this is a fun story.

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Conversation With An Android Developer… Let Your Recruiter Friends Know You Are Looking

I was at a Minneapolis tech user group a couple of weeks ago and was talking to a couple of developers about a particularly cool set of roles that were going to be opening up at a local tech company. A 3rd developer, someone I have had a couple of conversations with at tech events this year, was listening in and asking some questions about these and other jobs.

I asked them if they were looking. They said and this:

Why did it take so long for you to recruit me?

And I kind of froze.

I am not nearly as aggressive as most of my tech recruiter colleagues who assume that everyone is looking for a new job and everyone should be recruited. I rely on my reputation of being open, approachable and not the “annoying, creepy recruiter”. when they are curious and want to talk I am ready for them.

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Conversation With A Hiring Manager… Are You Handling Me?

Yesterday I had this text exchange:

HIRING MANAGER: Are you handling me?

ME: Yes

HIRING MANAGER: I don't like it

ME: Step back, I got this.

Sometimes in the recruiting process hiring managers and candidates get in their own way. Maybe more often than sometimes.

It may be that they are not being fully transparent with what they want.

It may be that they are being really aggressive with what they want.

This time I had it where the hiring manager and candidate really liked each other and they were trying to be who they thought the other person wanted them to be.

And it was not working… they were trying too hard.

It was like a scene from a junior high school dance… we had both folks trying to lead, follow, then too fast or slow while trying to find the beat.

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Conversation With A Ruby Developer… Is Working For A Startup Risky

Startup Venture Loft Minneapolis Open House

A few weeks ago at the Startup Venture Loft open house I was introduced to a Ruby Developer who was there to network and see what the startup community is like in Minneapolis. They work for a really large company in town and are looking to see what other companies and work environments are like.

This was a new experience for them.

After giving them a sort of high level view of the community, who is doing what, who I know to be hiring, strengths and weaknesses of the culture, etc. I was asked the one question I am always asked:

Is working for a startup risky?

And my usual quick and blunt answer is:


And my follow up answer to that is:

And there is risk working for your current really large company too.

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Conversation With Tech And HR Leaders… Minnesota IT Jobs And Hiring Numbers

This morning I had my 4th of 6 meetings this month with Tech and HR leaders talking about recruiting strategies to fill their Minnesota IT Jobs in 2015.

I have a bunch of stats, salary ranges, news stories, etc. and then we get into some examples of groups doing this well and those… not so much. Everyone leaves with a skeleton plan on what to do and then they can fill it in to best suit their group.

During these conversations I have noticed that attendees fall into three categories:

- Those who in my opinion “get it”. They understand this is a competitive time and for the past couple of years have been putting time and/or money into their recruiting. They are looking to fine tune their strategy and make the engine run better and faster. 15% of the groups are in this category.

- Those who in my opinion don’t “get it”. They think recruiting is about posting a job on their career site and Craig’s List. They have a 6 cylinder engine running on 4.5, see the “check engine” light on and ignore it. 25% of the groups are in this category.

- 60% of the groups fall into “are trying”. They have a 10 year old car with a little rust on it. They get OK gas mileage but don’t have the extra horsepower in the engine to pass anyone. Sooner or later it gets them where they are going and they know that there are not many miles left. The car needs to be replaced.

Basic recommendations I have been giving to the last group:

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Conversation With A CIO… Stop Recruiting My People

Stop recruiting my people 

Fact… Minneapolis is a really large, small town. No “six degrees of separation” here. I think it is 2.5.

Last week I accepted an invite from a CIO to talk about my recruiting his people. I knew it was going to be a difficult conversation but I know him through a friend and was willing to “take it for the team”.

Yeah, not a good idea.

It was a brutal conversation. The kind where the coffee shop manager had to walk over twice and ask us to “keep it down”.

I’m not going to get into specifics of the conversation other than to say this (because I know you are likely wondering)… I was contacted by a team of developers through a common friend.

Let me say that again… they called me.

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Conversation With A Java Developer… Should I Learn Ruby On Rails?

During MinneBar a Java Developer tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I had a couple of minutes to give her some career advice.

What she asked is a common question right now with Java and .Net Developers:

Should I learn Ruby? (I think she was really asking should she become a Ruby Developer)

A simple question with a not so simple, short answer:

The easy answer is yes. Well, maybe. It depends.

The IT Recruiter in me who works mostly with startups and tech companies wants to say:

Yeah and what are you waiting for.

But it is not that easy.

Do I think that developers should learn new languages?


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Conversation With A Director of HR… We Don’t Track Career Page Visitors

Director of HR Tweet

I had a conversation with a Director of HR and they asked me to look at their new career site and tell them what I thought.

It looks good and to me a big improvement over what they had before. And I was curious… if, how has traffic changed?

They told me:

“We don’t track that stuff”

And I thought to myself and then said out loud:

“Whaddya mean you don’t track this stuff?”

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Conversation With A Target Employee… 6 Job Search Tips

While grabbing my mail yesterday I bumped into a neighbor, call him “Fred”, I had not seen in a while and after some “is it cold enough for you” conversation I was reminded that he works at Target.

Fred was not one of those laid off… he is still walking the skyway to work.

He asked if I had a few minutes to talk some things out, of course.

Essentially Fred is concerned about the future of his job and wanted to know what he should be doing to be prepared in case something happens to him.

There are the two basic, obvious things:

  • Update the resume
  • Update the LinkedIn profile (I suggested he turn his profile off over the weekend, make the updates and turn it back on Sunday night. This way the update notifications do not go out)

We went over a number of things… here are the highlights:

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Conversation With A HR Director… “Why Is It So Difficult To Hire A Recruiter?”

Yesterday I posted Q4 2013 Trend: Minnesota Companies Hiring Jr Recruiters And Coordinators.

Later in the day while walking through the Downtown Minneapolis skyway I bumped into a HR Director at a big bank HQ’d in Minneapolis.

She had seen my blog post and was wondering what recruiters were looking for in a company. That they have been recruiting recruiters for a while and not having much success.

Here was a list off the top of my head and in no particular order:

Responsive hiring managers

Reasonable number of jobs, skill sets to recruit for

Tools that allow for better sourcing of candidates

An applicant tracking system that does not suck, use friendly

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Conversation With A Startup CEO… “When Should I Start Q1 2014 Recruiting?”

I have had a number of conversations the last two weeks regarding 2014 recruiting with a common theme:

When should we start?

Part of the answer depends on when in Q1 you want folks to be starting. The CEO I spoke with yesterday said Jan 6th, the first full week of 2014.

My answer to the CEO:


Here’s the deal… we have roughly nine weeks until the first full week of 2014.

We lose a couple of days for Thanksgiving and likely many around Christmas and New Years with them being in the middle of the week.

Let’s say we lose two weeks for the holidays, vacations and personal days.

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