The Dark Art of Recruiting

Sometimes the most effective way to get the “large scale” word out to the certain talent populations we covet is still via email.

Egads! Levy didn’t say Twitter! He didn’t say text messages! What’s the old man smoking these day?

The old man’s smoking “reality” because he knows how his target population thinks, acts, and communicates. Do you? Really?

I’m presently recruiting for several senior Ruby Developers. One thing to know about Ruby (Perl and Java too) is that as open source languages there are public repositories where authors contribute new and refactored code. These are goldmines for talent scouts. However, these are also places where the quicksands of conceit lie – as in recruiters who believe that the mere utterance of their melodious voices or short messages where the word “love” is used multiple times are sufficient to turn even the busiest technical talent into putty in the recruiters’ hands.

Such arrogance! Passives and actives are not here to serve us, we are here to work with them. Respect the people and not only will they respect you but they’ll also help you. You want a mantra for social recruiting? Repeat the last sentence.

So here you have it; here’s the email I sent to a large number of Ruby-esque Developers. I’m interested in your thoughts…


Apologies in advance if you hate recruiters (or just emails from recruiters) but the top end of the Ruby world is very closed and I sure could use your assistance.

I’m helping the head of engineering to expand his team of expert Ruby developers in their new Tribeca office; we have to A-OK to identify and hire several developers with a craftmanship level commitment to quality software (as well as a SQA engineer too). In a nutshell, the new folks will be part of the agile team, working with innovative tools, processes and people to engineer web applications that are distributed and consumed on a massive scale. There’s a real work/life balance: Office closes 5:30- 6 leaving people free to have a life.


  • Web application programming within a SOA to build SaaS solutions
  • Daily pair programming with vocal participation in code reviews and retrospectives
  • Aggressive refactoring (of both Ruby to Ruby, and Java to Ruby)
  • Test-driven development
  • Collaboration with other functional groups
  • Active contributions to the continual improvement of process and product


  • Ability to jump in and contribute throughout the stack: client-side through the persistence layer
  • Experience with Ruby-based test frameworks: RSpec, Shoulda, Test::Unit, Cucumber
  • Javascript: The “Good Parts”
  • Relational database knowledge and experience with alternative data store knowledge
  • Ability to optimize and tune for performance
  • Actively experimenting with new technologies
  • Experience working with and/or designing external APIs

Incidentally, I’m an engineer (LISP, PROLOG, C) who crossed over to the dark side but who stays active in most of the major coding communities (Java, Ruby, Perl, .NET); I’m also the co-Founder of the Long Island .NET User Group (there really is no such thing as a former engineer).

So here’s how I came to know about you and your Ruby prowess: I wrote and Googled this Boolean… rails name email company location intitle:profile (~NY|~NJ|”, CT”) -inurl:jobs -follower

With this all in mind, is there someone I should be speaking with who might be interested in this opportunity? I’ll meet anyone anywhere, any time…

I’ve been receiving an incredible response (I’ll let ya’ll know what the final metrics look like next week). But what tickled me the most was this comment:

BTW – good work on that email… giving insight to the process makes recruiting seem less of a dark art.

Is your recruiting as dark art?

If it is, maybe it’s because you’re trapped in the quicksand of conceit…

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