Random Thoughts and Data on Hiring from Recent Experience

I just lead up a hiring process at CodePen. We needed a UX designer, so we made a public job posting for one, tweeted it, and went from there.

  • We got about 120 applicants.
  • We got about 25% women. That’s not hard data because of course, I didn’t ask. It’s just based on first names.
  • 95% of people followed instructions. We had you email us at a specific email. Only very few people did something else (like tried using Twitter). I looked at everyone, but admittedly it didn’t get you any points if I had to ask you to follow the flow.
  • Not having a personal website was a turn-off. I don’t know if it matters industry-wide or not, but I’m one person with my own opinions and I’m the one making the call so it mattered here. A personal website is the clearest place I can get a sense of your taste, design ability, and writing ability.
  • A personal website is a smidge dangerous though, because you’ll absolutely be judged by it, and I understand not having time to prioritize it.
  • That old adage where you’re only as good as the worst thing in your portfolio is true. It’s easier to be impressed by a portfolio with one awesome thing in it than a portfolio with two awesome things and two not-so-awesome things. It’s easy to get drawn right to the lesser work and lose enthusiasm.
  • Dribbble is nice. People tend to put their best stuff there, and that’s exactly what I’d like to see. You at your best. I know it doesn’t give me loads of detail about your process or how successful those things were, but I can get that elsewhere or right from you later. Crucially, I need to know if you can do great visual design.
  • Being pushy is a major turn-off. If the email had anything like I’d like to hop on a call about this today. I was like nahhhhh.
  • Having familiarity about our product was nice. Maybe it’s just good ol’ fashioned flattery. Maybe I’d just rather work with someone who already knows about us so onboarding will be quicker and they might already be coming in with ideas. Ideas are, in a large sense, what we’re hiring to get.
  • Wow. So many people do such a wonderful job with their opening emails, resumes, and portfolios. It’s competitive out there.
  • We got an order of magnitude or more applicants for this job than when we posted a public posting for a DevOps person.
  • It was surprising how many people heard of the job second or third hand. Some people saw the posting on the job board, but more people came from the tweet itself. The most people, it seems, came from the job being shared with them from a friend or in a private channel like a friends or professional Slack group.
  • Hiring is a tremendous amount of work. Internally there is a lot of getting people on the same page, discussing ideas, budgeting, and preparing. Then before you go public with the posting, there is some behind-the-scenes reaching out that happens. Might as well tap into those professional networks first. If you can find a good fit without having to go public, that saves a bunch of time. Going public means, in this case anyway, a small flood of applicants that all deserve an honest look. But more than that, they need to be communicated with to at the very least let them know you’ve gotten and seen their application, and afterwards if they didn’t get the role, that information.
  • Timing is kinda awkward. Lots of people want to know what’s going on with the process. The process is somewhat slow because you’re moving people through rounds of interviews, each of which takes scheduling and isn’t particularly fast. For me, it’s not 100% of my job. I have lots of other things to do, this was just a part of it. I imagine the silence is deafening for some. If you haven’t heard from me in weeks, it’s probably pretty clear it’s because we haven’t moved you forward in the interview process yet, because others are ahead of you. I’m not going to email you to tell you that, because I’m not sure it’s appropriate. You’ll either get an email that we want to schedule an interview, or you’ll get an email that we’ve filled the role. Still awkward.
  • It’s quite painful to email folks who are clearly incredible people who are incredibly talented and would almost surely be a good fit for the role and tell them we’ve filled it. On one hand, I envy big resource-rich companies who are always hiring so when they find amazing people they can just snap them up. On the other hand, that much hiring work all the time would make me go gray sooner than I already am.



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