Notes from Silicon MilkRoundabout

12 Nov 2012

Silicon Milk Roundabout (SMR) is a two day job fair in London organised by SongKick and other startups with the goal of connecting developers and startups under the motto:

"Friends don't let Friends work for banks".

The Venue

The event was held in the old Truman Brewery, a large open space buzzing with developers and startup stalls. Everyone was friendly and chatty. Lots of people were walking around with their coffees or beers. There was a great atmosphere. The event was a success.

A Few questions

I was curious to understand more about startups and their recruitment strategies. Armed with a few questions, I spoke to a dozen of CEO/CTO/founders. Here's what I learned.

Question: why Silicon MilkRoundabout?

In the past events some of the startups hired good developers. There are then several reasons for a startup to take part of SMR:

  • Hiring talents
  • Being part of the startup community
  • Visibility
  • Networking
  • Learning from other startups

Question: what is a common mistake in a CV?

Ed from Simply Business commented that not so many people would actually bring their CV (or a business card).

Martin, CEO of TicTrac said:

"Apparently a developer could have a competitive advantage over other candidates simply by printing out the CV"

Glen from Affectv noted that most of the developer should worry more about looking good online. Having a portfolio website and list of projects is as important as a CV.

Robbie, CEO of Qinec also agrees that a CV alone isn't the best way to assess the quality of a developer. He's in favour of code tests and Github profiles.

CiarĂ¡n, CTO of Skimlinks believes a common problem is not having done a proper research on the company before applying for a position.

Geoff cofounder of GoSquared, Damien CEO of SiteMorph and Hiroki cofounder of GoCardless all said they would hire a developer only after looking at code examples on Github.

Lessons Learned

If you're looking for a job:

  • Publish your code on Github.
  • Do some research about the companies you like the most.
  • Read their blogs. Approach them.
  • Print a CV and bring it along.
  • Side projects make a big difference on a CV.

Question: where else would you find candidates?

Each of the startups had a different school of thought regarding recruitment.

  • Referral scheme for developers
  • Job boards like Stack Overflow, LinkedIn, Github, Techcrunch Jobs.
  • Recruitment Agencies (yes, startups do use recruiters).
  • Head hunter or one specialized recruiter.
  • Some startups would only use HackerNews and avoid Job Boards at all.
  • HR (only one startup, but it seems to work very well)

Question: is a typical description in a job board enough to attract a good developer?

Expected answer: No. There are different approaches:

Here's a list of other startup jobs page:

Considerations about Job Boards and Recruiters

Startups use recruiters. Apparently they get the job done when they are hired for that task. However, none of the startups like to be bombed with CVs and that's why some of them entirely avoid job boards.

Can a job board be safe from spammy recruiters? Even if you're posting on 37Signals, Github or Stack Overflow, you'll have the very same problem.

Startups solve it by:

  • HR, paying someone to shield external recruiters and filter good applicants.
  • Hiring a specialized recruiter, or a Head hunter.
  • Avoid the problem. Deciding not to post to a job board.

Quality of the candidates

The quality of the candidates is another issue associated with job boards and that's a far more complex problem to solve. Github and StackOverflow might be in the right direction. They can leverage their platform and somehow find a metric to assess the quality of applicants.

Note: LinkedIn was only mentioned once, and it seems to be steps away from Github or StackOverflow.

Startup Culture and Roundabout.io

Job boards are merely used as an advertisement. If a developer wants to learn more about the company they'll have to take the extra step to check the company website.

Startups really pay a lot of attention to their company culture and benefits, and they carefully design their careers page to reflect that.

The best thing a job board should do is helping developers find a good position and pass them over to the startup websites, as quickly as possible.

Can a job board help developers learn more about a startup?

Maybe Roundabout Profiles is a step towards it.

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