September 28, 2011

Those Impossible to Find Newbies

Four Leaf CloverBack when I was in technology recruiting, I remember that when a hiring manager said they wanted an inexperienced hire, I would mentally groan. Their words after that were scattered as my brain subjugated its listening function to a frustrated internal monologue.

Their rhetoric, always the same, would come across choppy, as my brain filled in the conversation with what else I could be doing that day or what I was going to eat for lunch. Phrases like “Someone who just gets it… Couple of good projects under their belt… Bright… Solid achievements… Great aptitude… I’ll teach them…” would be pronounced. As I remember, I would be nodding and looking particularly interested in what they were saying.

The unfortunate reality is that when I would get back to the office, I would have nothing to go on. If a company wants to hire a Java developer, it’s easy. Find someone who’s great at Java with a nice enough personality and temperament to be a decent employee. The problem is when companies want to hire someone that could be a great employee, someone with guts, determination, and intelligence, but no verifiable professional experience. When you have nothing to go on but the intangibles, that’s when it gets tricky. That’s when recruiting becomes more art than science, and maybe more luck than procedure.

I bring this up because we’re doing some tech hiring ourselves. I am again reminded of the impossibility that we impart to recruiting – it’s too easy to forget about what you need to get accomplished, and think instead about some murky, personal ideal of an employee that just doesn’t really exist. We want aptitude, not experience, but demand immediate performance and task completion. It’s really easy to get in the way of our own recruiting efforts, as well as to be unfair to candidates.

But we’re doing our best, even though it’s of course taking longer than we would like. I have to give a shout out to ZipRecruiter, where we have posted our most recent job. They advertise their services through, but I hadn’t ever actually used the service that we were advertising. So far, so good – we have some well-qualified candidates and a solid first round of interviews.

If we have a new hire next week, it means that our luck is still with us. If we don’t, well, it might be karma coming back to me for ignoring some of those hiring managers. But in any case, it’s interesting to be on the other side of the fence still looking, accidentally, for the impossible.

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Miles is the Founder & COO of, an AI-powered hiring platform with the world's largest network of recruiters. We help employers recruit talent faster using AI, Video, and virtual teams of recruiters.
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