Hire these people.

Courtesy Ian-S
Courtesy Ian-S

Next week I’m speaking to a group of students at Dickinson College, a small, liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. It will be my first time in an undergraduate classroom since my days at Muhlenberg (another small, liberal arts school in Pennsylvania, wouldn’t you know it?) and so much has changed about the world.

 These people have Twitter. And Facebook. And blogs. And Obamacare.

I can’t wait to meet them.

I interviewed and hired college interns for the past few years and it always invigorated me. They showed up on their first days, energy busting out of every seam, excited and terrified to put into practice what they’d been learning in a classroom. For devs this was especially exciting (hello, production!), but regardless of their discipline, 100% of them cited “real world” experience as their major goal for the summer.

What’s the real world experience for an English major? What about Political Science or Psychology or Spanish? Society does these students a disservice if it steers their careers purely towards publishing, teaching and the U.N. There are core skills underneath these disciplines that are vital to every business – the skills of listening, analyzing, translating requirements, finding a way forward in difficult situations. If you run a business, you know that you need these skills in spades.

We do our businesses a disservice if we fail to see the potential in the energy of a recent liberal arts graduate. Someone who arrives hungry to learn? That’s priceless. And though the core skills of a tech agency hinge on strategy, design and development, it is really difficult to write a job req for everything that falls in-between.

So let’s make a deal, shall we? I’m going to go into that classroom next Tuesday and convince those students that the world is ready to give them work to do – real work that results in some new and startling growth. They won’t know what the path looks like, but I’ll convince them that an unexpected opportunity is one worth taking.

But once they’re primed, once they’re ready to attack the world with their resumes and desire to show up early and stay late and learn how to help you manage all of the insane parts of running a business, you all have to promise to hire them one day.


5 ways the Property Brothers Should Inspire Your Hiring Practices

Property BrothersYou’ve seen the show, right? Well if not, get watchin’. You have loads to learn from these demolition dudes.

1. You can’t afford move-in-ready.
Your ideal candidate has 7 years experience architecting software, but in reality, someone with 4 years fits the bill. We often write job descriptions that are specific without the justification for being so. Could you hire a Python developer with iOS experience who can wireframe? Maybe, but that kind of specificity will cost you time and money to find her. Look for opportunities to meet people who are in the right ballpark and start there. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until it’s staring you in the face – and it doesn’t look like anything you imagined.

2. You can’t have open-concept without support beams.
Ahh, the “flat” organization that seemingly self-manages and sustains itself on good feelings. This is rare (if it even exists). Why the negativity towards managers? Wouldn’t you love to share the responsibility of coaching everyone on the team?

You can have an open community that’s held up by a few managerial support beams; they don’t ruin the view. Rather, they keep the ceiling in place so it doesn’t all come tumbling down. When staffing a team, make sure you’ve got at least one person supporting its members so the CEO doesn’t have to do it all.

Because let’s be honest. No one has time to do it all.

3. Look for square footage; you can always repaint that wall.
As any good designer knows, the design of something will continue evolving until the end of time. So when you’re choosing a candidate to hire, see them in the same way. Their personal design is evolving and what’s Mac today could be Linux tomorrow.

But the core qualities of a candidate won’t change. Is he open-minded? Does she make people excited to work with her? Is he curious and willing to learn new things? These qualities are nearly impossible to learn and incredibly valuable when it comes to team make-up and organizational energy.

4. Consider moving outside your preferred area.
It’s extremely competitive to find talent these days, particularly in the NYC and Bay area. If you’re willing to work with a remote member of the team, your recruiting and hiring plans really have the potential to explode.

Not only are good remote workers known for their communication skills (a must for any team member!), but having a distributed team forces everyone to be specific in their documentation and expectations. Just because a developer prefers to live near family in the midwest doesn’t mean she couldn’t be an amazing addition to your team. Dip into an unexpected pool of talent via remote job boards and you’ll beat every other organization’s hiring practices to the punch.

5. What you’re looking for may already be under your feet.
Why move if you can renovate? Before you decide to hire someone to fit a new role, your first stop should be resourcing within the organization. As employees continue down their career paths, some may want to try a different role than they’re used to.

This is especially true when it comes to hiring managers or leaders. It’s worth taking a look at your current employees and identifying those with leadership qualities. If they’re already part of the culture, they’ve got a leg up on building trust with co-workers — and that’s incredibly valuable when it comes to managing teams.