Tips for Recruiting Sales and CS People in Utah

Finding the right people is one of the most important keys to success.
But it is hard to do. Our circles of acquaintance are generally very
small. It is extremely easy to just hire someone you know, even if they
don’t fit the position very well, or to place an ad, get a few
applicants, do a couple of interviews and make a selection. But
choosing the wrong person can be very costly. One friend of mine spend
$23,000 in wages for a programmer whose code they ended up re-writing.
For him, spending $1,000 per month on a billboard to build a deeper
pool of applicants to draw from for future hires is a great investment.

Hiring Developers

I was in an advisory board meeting the other day where these ideas were offered (I’ve enhanced them a bit) for recruiting CS people in Utah:

  • BYU has a CS Alumni email list that goes to 1,000+ programmers. Call BYU’s CS Dept to add your job listing to this list.
  • You can go to the BYU CS Department web site to post a job opening for a student
  • Hire LAMP people (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP) out of b-schools and C++ people out of CS departments
  • The U of U has a better CS department than BYU. BYU is better than UVSC.
  • Northface University is
    preparing individual programmers and teams of programmers to solve
    real-world needs. They stay more current on programming techniques and
    languages than other academic insitutions. This will be a great place
    to recruit from.
  • Offer a $500 bonus to anyone who helps you find the programmer you hire. This will help.
  • QA is important. You could outsource it to KeyLabs or off-shore (less expensive).

I also found that you can post a job at BYU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

For me, judging business plan and web solutions competitions has
introduced me to dozens of students, and has led to two of the best
hiring decisions I have made in the last year.

Hiring Sales People

If you are hiring sales people, the word on the street (from one
experienced sales manager) is that UVSC students are 40-50% more
productive in door to door selling than BYU students, who tend to be
more academically focused.

There are probably a lot more ideas for recruiting developers and sales people, better than the ones I have shared here.

What are your best tactics for recruiting? Please share.

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6 Comments

  1. Though I graduated from UVSC, I agree with your statement about its program being inferior to the others, but I think you missed the best school to hire from: Utah State.

    In the past eight years, we have not hired a single worthwhile developer from BYU or U of U. (We have hired and let-go quite a few though…)

    We have hired excellent developers from both Utah State and UVSC though. Most recently Utah State seems to be the hot spot for quality developers.

  2. Don’t forget the local Linux user groups. All accept Linux and Open Source related job announcements. Some even have dedicated lists for job postings. My experience is that LUGs are a good way to find people with a love for the technology, an important indicator of ability. The Provo Linux Users Group site (http://plug.org/) has a bar on the right hand side with links to most local groups.

  3. I have to disagree with any one school being “better” than the rest. I grew up minutes from Utah State, and am intimately aquainted with their CS department and know many of the professors. They will seem more ready to go right off the bat because their program is more like a tech school where they just dive in to programming. However, I chose BYU and am glad I did as it fit my style better. Universities teach you how to learn more than the latest tools. I can learn that outside of class many times easier than inside. Learning these tools is great, but in five years they will be obsolete and if you didn’t get how to learn then you are sunk. It is more important to screen and ask questions than anything else. It is all about the individual and more importantly if they are motivated. A motivated programmer is a good programmer, and I know from experience there are oh so few of them.

  4. Trent, you are absolutely correct, it is the individual that gets the education and not the institution that offers it. So one school may not be better than another, but when you receive thousands of applications for any one position, you need ways to filter those resumes down to a set that you can interview. Some businesses use GPA, others use experience, etc. School is just another possible filter. There are good programmers from every school and those that never went to school, but with the market the way it is right now, you just don’t have time to interview all of the possible applicants for a position.

  5. Cory

    During the last four years I had a sales and marketing contract with a national marketing company to be their Director of Product and Business Development. During that time I managed a telesales group and had some interesting experiences hiring sales people.

    Here are a few observations:

    In the hiring process I would ask applicants what their strongest and weakest traits were and I would ask them what they like best and least about prior jobs.

    It is amazing how truthful most people will be when asked these questions, perhaps because it takes them by surprise and they don’t have much time to think of a calculated response.

    Their answers can be very revealing and helpful in determining if they will be a good fit.

    Second, we used the Dave Kurlan Sales Force Profile tests to evaluate the personality and potential success of the candidates. These tests cost us a fortune but were worth every penny. They are so accurate it is scarry.

    Lastly, every sales manager should read the book “SPIN Selling”. It is very profound. It shows how big ticket sales are quite different from small ticket sales and has some very helpful information on the differences, etc.

  6. Robert Merrill

    Paul, your thoughts are great. It reminds me of the B-school proverb: “Your company’s greatest asset (and risk) walks out the door every night”.

    I am sure you have considered outside recruitment help, but possibly a closer look to today’s professional recruiting, especially tech recruiting, would be valuable.

    I can’t speak for other companies, but in my organization (SOS Technical), some of the key values we provide employers are:

    > We proactively scout the top talent in the region. Knowing who’s-who is our very lifeblood.
    > You (the employer) don’t need to filter through people arbitrarily (see previous comment). We routinely handle and process hundreds of resumes and applicants per day. Managing this information well is our specialty.
    > We hand you the best-of-the-best. You don’t have to deal with off-target applications, SPAM, etc. We pre-screen, pre-interview, check backgrounds, do drug-screenings and can even pre-test applicants to be sure they actually KNOW what they say they know. Bottom-line: you get good people.

    I have posted other ideas on this topic you may be interested in reading at my blog (I believe, linked to my name). Also, you and I are “LinkedIn”, so feel free to ask me any questions at all about it!

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