Hiring In 2015 Is Hard

More than a year ago we lost a good engineer to a new opportunity. I knew that engineer would be hard to replace, but I did not expect to still be trying to hire a replacement a year later. I haven’t seen this sort of tight market for developers since the height of the dotcom boom more than 15 years ago.

We’ve had trouble at multiple stages in the recruiting process. We’ve had trouble getting a good funnel, we simply don’t have many candidates. We have a robust interviewing process for Sacramento, but probably simpler than the process many Bay area startups use. And more and more we’ve had people decide to turn us down before and even after offers. One person simply emailed us to let us know just before an interview that “it wouldn’t be in either of our best interests” to conduct the final interview. Others have let us know that our business just doesn’t have enough of world changing mission.

I’ve also seen more candidates describing themselves as architects. Almost all of them have turned out to be more in the range of mid-level developers. There was a similar overstating of skills when the last dotcom started sucking up anyone who could spell HTML.

I don’t have any solutions to our year long hiring failure, but it’s time for us to try something different.

2 responses to “Hiring In 2015 Is Hard”

  1. Ben says:

    I’ve been going through the same thing in the Twin Cities. The market is very tight right now and a lot of companies in our area are bringing Dev and IT back in house or just rapidly expanding. It’s a good time to be a recent CS grad.

    What has worked well for me is to find a good, local development-focused recruiter. Our guy is a one-man shop and he’s been very successful in bringing us folks when our in-house searches don’t work.

    Good luck!

  2. Dave says:

    I feel your pain, even from the distant employment market of Montreal, Canada. Hiring is also very hard here, there’s way too many opportunities flooding the market for the number of available candidates, and candidates aim for the best possible opportunities. To get good candidates interested, you need to be on the top of the ‘food chain’ and that requires employers to raise the bar on every front. Convincing candidates that an opportunity will be challenging, rewarding and pay well is difficult to say the least.

    Another issue in finding good people is, like you said, many candidates perceive themselves as top-level when they are in fact just about average. This makes the hiring process very time consuming.

    Even aiming for newly graduates is hard because there’s a shortage of graduates compared to the demand. The IT employment market has felt like a roller coaster in the last 20 years or so. When there’s a shortage of offers (employees) on the IT market, employment conditions tend to raise, then academic counsellors start orienting graduates towards IT (this happened just before y2k). This eventually floods the market creating imbalance in the opposite direction (post y2k: 2005-2010). Eventually, employment conditions are not that attractive anymore so academic counsellors stop selling IT to students. This in turn reverses the imbalance, leaving the market with a shortage of employees – we’re probably in that phase right now. Academic counsellors are probably selling back software again to students due to the current employment conditions that are definitely in the employees’ favour. Until these students graduate and flood the market again, we’re left in an imbalance that is in the favour of employees.

    Interestingly, the offer (the number of jobs available on the market) never stops increasing, and in fact should increase at an even greater pace once the boomers really start retiring…

    Good times to be in the software development market 🙂