About Those Pesky Machines...


In the dawn of the new century, we laughed at the idea that machines could think.

We played with them. We paid for them to get smarter.

Years of the relentless drumbeat of disruptive technology numbed us to the real danger. The machines weren’t taking over. We, were becoming the machines.

Blinded by the sheer power of gigantic lists, we begin to think and act like pale algorithmic copies of the software that we thought were making us into something better. Something we thought was making us, more than human.

As we grew more faster, more capable, and more stalky, our prospects rebelled. They put up what we can only call, a resistance, to our well crafted templates and phone messages and social entreaties. In our amazement at the power of our new human-machine intelligence gathering, we forgot the greatest app was simply, ourselves.

And so as we embrace the new machine-hybrid world, the resistance has struck deep into the core of our existence. They only speak when they wish to be spoken to! Having escaped our plans for data supremacy - we must finally and completely embrace our human side - we must become, once again - the flesh and blood heroes of old. 

I fear no machine! I fear when men cast off their humanity and function like machines. 

Or rather, I fear for their jobs, because people who act like machines are easily replaced by machines. 

I'm Looking For A Senior UI Developer In Northern Virginia

Spending a lot of time in Austin, and this came across my desk. High end position working as a Senior UI Developer comfortable interfacing with a server-side Java team.

Update: the position has been filled, but there's a similar one for a team in Northern Virginia. Salary is still good, and it's clear what they're looking for.   

Here's my job desciption: 

My client is looking for a serious developer with deep experience coordinating between a UX team and Agile/Scrum developers. The job is UI, which means deep experience using Javascript to bring the product to life, but this isn’t a front end designer position where you make the pretty pictures and hand them off to the developers to mess up. We’re developing analytic tools in a multi-platform environment, and we’re doing so in a small company underneath a bigger one work environment.  So, benefits, but not too many TPS reports.  

This is a collaborative position where you work with the product manager, take the advice of the UX folks, and work with the architects to make sure they understand that a working product is not the same as a product that delivers a quality UI to customers. 

You’re not going to just do strategy - you’ll be expected to build features and components of server side services, which is why this isn’t a 70k a year design position, but that’s what we keep getting in resumes.  

The Boring Stuff:
- Analyze, design and develop Web based UI capabilities and J2EE server side services in an Agile environment
- Work with product management on detailed requirements and deliver working
features in short iterations
- Write code that is of superior quality, and ensure good test case coverage of the modules.

 Degree: I don’t want to say. Let’s just say that if you can do the work, this won’t matter, and if you can’t, this won’t get you the job. 

Keywords That Are Fun:
- Javascript, JQuery, AJAX, CSS, HTML5, Flash, D3js, SQL, JSON, XML, REST, SOAP, WSDL, Maven
- Java. (not as a programmer, but clearly the description is working with server side developers and the more you know how to do that, the better).
- Familiarity with Application Servers such as JBOSS
- Experience with RDBMS's such as ORACLE, DB2, SQL Server
- Knowledge of XML based technologies


This is a serious position. It's for someone at the top of their game, but still likes to get their hands dirty. It's not a Creative Director job. It's a not front end design job.  It's a get in the middle of the corporate development team and work with everyone beginning to end. The good news is that you're in at the beginning. The bad news is you can't site at your desk listening to Daft Punk and knocking out some clean design that looks awesome.  And, you'll have to work with the UX team, which means they'll want to do stuff that offends the creative mindset, but tests well, in the UX lab.

If that's you, I want to talk to you. It pays well, and it's going to be interesting work.  

Contact me by emailing me at the link at the top right, or calling me at 214-509-7262.

A Review Of Dice Open Web, November 2013

Dice, known throughout the recruiting industry as the best job board for Information Technology professionals, reached out to me to test their Dice Open Web product.

The following is a review of the product, which was offered as a trial.  No other compensation was provided other than free access to the product.

My first experience with Dice was back in 2000. Everyone was raving about this tech only job board that worked great in California, and my company signed us up to help us place engineers at Intel in NorCal.  The talent level was great, and I was pleased when it made its way out to St Louis later in my career (in the sense that St Louis talent began signing up).  In recent years, I've gotten used to seeing Dice at conferences, taking photos, shooting videos, and sponsoring events.  So when they asked me to review Dice Open Web, I was all in. 

My focus tends to be on digital marketing, but I get IT jobs every once in a while, and I wanted to test the tool for some obscure positions like my CNC programmer jobs.  At the same time, a prospect asked me to find a Linux Engineer in Dallas, so I ran it through the paces on live searches. I took some screen shots, but cropped them to avoid publishing private data. 

Step 1: Getting Used To Dice Search. 

There are two views on the platform.  The first is a Resume View that is your typical job board.  You search like you normally would, looking through titles, using the filters, and trying to narrow down your description.

   Dice 1

Step 2: Open Web View

My preferred method is to use the job board to source.  If I can't find what I want from a Dice Profile, I click on the Open Web View and look for additional candidates.  While speaking with the new Dice CEO, Shavran Goli, he explained that most Dice users supplement their recruiting with Open Web View. In addition to finding new candidates, you can find out more about the candidates who have uploaded their resumes to Dice.  Either way, this is the view you get.  

Dice Profile

Do you see all of those icons?  Those are the profiles on different social sites, from Facebook and Twitter, to Github, Vimeo, and Linkedin.  The social sites that are indexed are those deemed most likely to have business information, but there is some overlap into the personal world. 

The interesting thing for sourcers is you can see who has a Dice Profile and who does not.  This means you can see who was recently looking, and who might be a passive candidate. That allows you to tighten or broaden you search, based on your sourcing criteria. 

If you're working an open req, you start with the profiles, and move to the Open Web.  If you're building a list for an evergreen requirement or trying to reach someone in a passive environment, this screen gives you the flexibility to do both. 

The next step was to begin to apply it - to take a look at what silly searches turned up to check the algorithm, and then to dive into my live requirements. 



Step 3: Search Results

 The first thing I did was search Social Media Headhunter.  I'm all over the web, so if the algorithm matched up to Google or LinkedIn results, we'd have at least a baseline search. 

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 11.51.38 PM

So far so good.  I'm first.  Paul DeBettignies and Craig Fisher are three and four.  That's pretty accurate for results from other sites. Considering the number of sites scraped, it's hard to say if all of them say the same thing, of if some social results get a higher weight (this looks a lot like the LinkedIn ranking). 

So let's do some other searches.  


I tried Corona SDK, something I've sourced for my Facebook training. Very few of these developers exist, but I was able to find 553 people who had it on their social sites, but not job boards. Many of these developers have their own firms, and don't post profiles because they don't often need to look for jobs.  That's a good haul, useful for finding mobile developers and the companies they work for. 

When I did this through Facebook, Found 806 names of people who "Liked" Corona SDK, but you then have to go through each and every profile to see if there are more clues. In the case of Dice Open Web, I could right click directly to the LinkedIn profile, blog, or Stack Overflow. 


Let's try another one. 

CNC Machinist, New Britain, CT

This was a hard search on LinkedIn, because I was trying to find blue-collar workers that didn't have profiles, and who only looked for jobs through personal networks.  Facebook worked better, with over 1800 in the state of Connecticut with the title, but the geography filters for Facebook always mess with me, and I end it up with just a few names in each town.  

So I used the geographic filters to pick within 50 miles of my target town. 

CNC Machinist 

Not bad.  55 names, with a much smaller imprint than the tech guys. 



So what about IT Recruiting?  I was looking for a Linux System Engineer in Dallas.  It's  a tough req, with over 100 open positions in the six figure range. 

I went to the search screen with the following criteria. 

Refine Your Search

  • Title: Systems Administrator 
  • Skill: Linux
  • Keyword:  citrix installer
  • Geography:  50 miles of Addison

This gave me a broad search.  I then filtered the titles, as you can see on the right, down to system engineer.

There were 282 total results

Of those, the filter took me down to 59 Systems Engineers. 

And 13 of those had a profile on Dice in the last 90 days. 

I went through those names, and had pretty much exactly what I was looking for. 

But 13 names isn't a placement, so I also searched hosting companies to see who was previously an administrator, and might be ready to take the title of Engineer.  That search led me to the largest hosting provider in Dallas, which led me to 7 other firms where those engineers had moved. 

Now that's a sourcing list. 




Inside Open Web View, you have the ability to reach out through Twitter and Facebook. The messaging worked, but as I told Shavran, I would never do that.  I prefer my messaging to be clean and from a single platform I control.  He told me new developments are coming in that area, but I would be careful if you're using the system that way (primarily because recruiter are notoriously bad  at it.  The problem here is between the seat and the keyboard). 



After I did the test, I was set up with a phone interview with Shavran.  We talked for almost an hour, and he shared technical specifications, why they set things up the way they did, and how they planned to continue to upgrade the accuracy of the updates (all of this is done through API's, so there's constant change).

It's a neat tool, not because it's revolutionary, but because it extends the search capabilities of the average recruiter. If a match between Dice Open Web and a Social Media Sourcer, the sourcer wins every time.  Machine learning hasn't quite gotten to the point of beating the human brain, but in the hands of an experienced social recruiter, the tool would make you better (but that's not a new argument from me).

I'll leave you with this: 

1) I would use it. If I was in IT recruiting, I would use Dice, and I would use Open Web.

2) When I used it for its intended purpose, finding an IT candidate, the resume search delivered and delivered quickly. It's important to remember that when speed matters, job boards outperform all other search. 

If you have questions, you can reach out to me, or think about contacting Dice for a trial.  If you have Dice, you'd be a fool not to take advantage of this tool. 



Programmer Salaries By Region? Is It All About The Money?

hat tip to Recruiting Animal for the idea.  

I recruit across the county, hopping from city to city like a rock band on tour, and one of the things I notice is the difference in what's important to each part of the country. 

There's no scientific evidence to this, other than a data set of thousands of phone calls over the last ten years, but I wanted to try to explain the default setting for different regions when it comes to hiring in the internet space (digital marketing, mobile apps, start-ups). 

So ask yourself if this is  accurate in your part of the country, and if it applies just to technology, or to business as a whole:

Bay Area:

Low salaries and equity make sense because you get 5 or 6 bites at the apple.  The goal is to try out several companies, hoping to win the equity lottery so you can fund your true passion.  Contrary to popular belief, salaries are not high for most of the name brand companies.  Executives do make out, but that's often because they're moved from other areas of the country, and the cost of living is so high, they're actually underpaid in comparison.  Until they move to the Midwest, where they live like kings.  


No one believes that any company is going to explode anymore, which means hiring is about salary. Austin also has the unique property of not discriminating about working in a startup.  You can bounce seamlessly from startup to large corporation and back again.  In most areas, once you leave the large company, you don't get to go back.  In Austin, that's not the case.


We fly under the radar because although we're about business, we don't get the attention.  Startups here are more like small businesses, looking to build up to 10-50 million and sell to larger companies.  This is possible because so many large companies buy small companies here.  It's not an equity event, so the goal is to get actual percentages of the company and be on the exec team. Labor is more of a commodity, which means salaries are competitive, but not high.  Cost of living is low, and that makes a difference. 

Washington D.C and suburbs:

A strange bird,  DC is about who you're meeting, and access to big fat government grants.  Salaries are on the high side, but you get locked pretty quickly into government work or private sector reliant on government work.  DC is about the rolodex and access to power. The goal is to know the right people so you can get in on the best contracts.  

Let's face it.  NYC is about coolness, which means depressed salaries and little equity, but a resume you can brag on to your friends. I can't tell you the number of resumes I get from NYC people with very low salary demands who brag about who they worked with.  While there is a booming tech company ecosystem, the people at the top make out like bandits, but the ones in the middle struggle until they move somewhere cheaper. 


It's been a while, but my impression of Chicago is that everyone asks for high salaries, but settles for far less.  It seems to be a performance based city, but watch out! Promises of success far outweigh what it takes to be successful.  It's been six years since I've recruited there, so I'm open to changing.  

Boston and Seattle and Denver and Atlanta:

I have no clue.  Someone fill me in?

Midwest and 2nd Tier Southern cities:

There are two flavors to the rest of the country.  While salaries are lower, the cost of living is so much lower that many of the people who live or who settle outside the biggest cities tend to actually do better.  They own homes, have children, a couple of cars.   Flavor one is the really talented person who wants more.  These folks are catnip to the big city companies, who get lower salaries and great talent draining brains from the Midwest (St Louis, Minneapolis, etc).  Flavor two is the people who convince themselves they can run successful startups with local talent, so they build a cult of personality that just can't hang onto talent, because they lack the ecosystem to make equity plays worthwhile for the jobseekers.  If your startup flames out in St Louis, what do you do next (remember companies have a bias against coming back).  If your startup flames out in San Jose, you'll have a new one by Tuesday. 



The Role Of The Enterprise Architect In Social Media

I was speaking with an Enterprise Architect at a GIMA meeting last week, and it got me to thinking about the technical background that could be useful in social media.  Most success stories in social come from marketers, PR folks, and SME's inside a company (recruiters, customer service, technology) who connect with an audience through content and social networking.  For most of us, one of the founding principles of social media is to focus on the content, not the technology (it's even one of my slides in my presentations).  But I've been short-sighted.

Most of the time, I don't want Information Technology involved in my social media projects because they want to control the software, which puts up a roadblock to conversation, and often is a sub-par product.  I can't tell you how many developers want to build their own blogging software when given the chance to be in on the project (please don't, just, please don't). 

But there's more to it than just the blogging platform. I've been amazed at how rarely we use social media software to rethink our web content strategy, but it's not surprising that as we begin to embrace open source programming, the bias against home-grown products would lessen to allow the enterprise to take advantage of social media tools to present a more comprehensive face to the public.  Take a look at the following corporate events and divisions. 

Career sites
News and Press Releases
Customer Service
Advertising (Online and Print)
Commercials (Television and Radio)
Charity Events
Company Events
Industry Tradeshows
Industry Roundtables

The information to present these parts of corporate life to the outside world is almost always available in digital form, but most companies aren't set up in a way to take full advantage of them.  Most companies also don't take advantage of the expertise they have internally in educating the public what it takes to run a business.

Continue reading "The Role Of The Enterprise Architect In Social Media" »

Web 2.0 Workshop Tools For Recruiting

I'm going to change the way you recruit, in less than 5 minutes a day.

My new webinar on August 12th is about Recruiting 2.0 Tools.  We're going to surf the world-wide web and repurpose social media tools to use in recruiting.  Calendars, video slideshows, click-to-call sites, and microblogging are all on the menu.  This will be like nothing the recruiting world has ever imagined.

Sign up for 1:30 EST, August 12th at Hireability.

Recruiting 2.0 Tools Workshop:  5 Minutes A Day To Change The Way You Hire

Jim Durbin is an expert in social media who connects companies with results-driven candidates. As a consultant and business owner, Jim has worked with over 40 companies to deliver integrated marketing solutions using blogs, social networks, widgets and video.

In this 90 minute webinar, Jim demonstrates a step by step walk-through of the hottest Web 2.0 applications, including Twitter, FriendFeed, Meebo, YouTube, Flikr, Skype, Jajah, and more.  This is no dry presentation. We’ll show you how to easily manage entire social media campaigns in less than five minutes a day, using free tools that connect you with hundreds of the right prospects in your market.   

Everyone's talking about Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, but these sites can take a substantial upfront investment to yield results.  In this one of a kind presentation, you’ll learn how to interview candidates over video, create click-to-call job orders, promote positions through microblogging, and build a referral system that requires no maintenance.   The best candidates are getting smarter about looking for work. They're using the power of Web 2.0 to connect with hiring managers and other great candidates, and their personal networks often shun recruiters as unnecessary middleman.  Using specialized knowledge learned in this webinar, you can get to those spaces and identify yourself as a savvy recruiter faster than your competition can post a job on Monster.