Reddit & Hacker News: The New, Social, Recruitment Tools?

Can Reddit, Hacker News and the likes become the new social recruitment tools for modern companies?

Recruiting staff is hard

Recruiting staff is never easy, especially for new startups. Hiring the wrong person can turn out to be a very expensive affair, especially if your budget is limited to start with. Another problem that companies face is that there is a lack of suitable employees. In Silicon Valley the salary for a relatively green CS graduate can exceed $100,000 per year. I get that it is expensive to live in that area but such high wages shows that the companies have trouble finding the right people to hire.

Skilled software engineers can often times pick and choose what companies they want to work at and the companies have to brand themselves as attractive employers. Easier said than done. However, over the past few years I’ve seen an increase in ‘alternative’ recruitment avenues.


Reddit has a multitude of niche subreddits, communities with a special theme – everything from cat pictures to country specific communities and information security. The latter is the interest in this case.

/r/netsec is a “A community for technical news and discussion of information security and closely related topics.”. It is a rather specialized niche with a very specific set of competencies. Information Security is hard. Very hard. Think of all the leaked databases with usernames and passwords you’ve seen. Finding employees is therefore bound to be troublesome.

Every quarter /r/netsec moderators create an Information Security Hiring Thread. It can look something like this:

/r/netsec Recruitment Thread

/r/netsec Recruitment Thread, Q4 (Click on the image for large size)

The ability to list positions for these, often times smaller companies, can be invaluable. It is a niche industry so the traditional recruitment sites (Monster and so forth) may not provide many leads. It is also more personalized as users who are interested can reply to the post and ask questions. The following is a post from iSEC partners in the hiring thread:

iSEC Partners in /r/netsec

iSEC Partners in /r/netsec (Click on the image for large size)

Another example of recruitment via Reddit comes from /r/consulting. Yesterday I noticed a thread there: I want to hook up Redditors with entry level consulting jobs.

 My Project Management Consulting company is hiring for entry level associates. You need not have experience, and you’d get promoted up starting after the first year.

I remember being a job hunter in this subreddit and wanting to find places that would take my application. I didn’t want to forget where I came from and hope someone here finds this helpful.

If this is of interest to you, message me. We’ll talk and then I’ll hand walk your resume into HR.
*some prerequisites apply

This is an example of helping the community out, a lot of people are looking to enter consulting and it is never fun or easy to go to all those interviews (with hilariously fun cases…). Consulting is also a special case in that the large consultancies (McKinsey, BGC, et al.) tend to vacuum up a lot of the talent. Definitely troublesome for smaller firms. By generating good will the company can be sure to get some potential employees who otherwise wouldn’t have applied.

Hacker News

Hacker News is the community around the startup incubator Y Combinator (wiki). Hacker News works in roughly the same was as a subreddit. Each month there is a ‘Who is hiring’ thread. The one posted for November currently has 400 comments, with most being companies advertising positions.

Hacker News: Who Is Hiring

Hacker News: Who Is Hiring (Click on the image for large size)

The companies advertising are everything from big multinationals to small startups. The companies are mostly located on the west coast of USA. It is a bit unfortunate that the European startups have not taken advantage of communities like Hacker News to the same extent as their American counterparts.

Below is a post from an employee at Bloomberg, it is currently the most upvoted comment in that thread. He describes in-depth what they do and in a very personal way attempts to woo potential employees. He’s asked several questions the thread and does his best to answer them. Very good attitude to recruitment and really helps branding Bloomberg as an exciting place to work.

Who Is Hiring: Bloomberg

Who Is Hiring: Bloomberg (Click on the image for larger size)

So what lessons can be learned from this? Look beyond the conventional job boards and try to recruit from other sources. It is not guaranteed to work but if nothing else, you get a chance to build up some good will with the community.

I think this type of recruitment activities will become increasingly important for companies. Dealing with faceless HR departments without any personal connections may become a thing of the past. The unrealistic job requirements listed by HR should become a thing of the past. Let’s not kid ourselves, most companies don’t need rockstars for most of their positions.

Honorary mention: Twitter

These communities are rather niched and therefore you might not find the type of employees you need so, in some cases, Twitter is a better choice. You can do like MTGx (See previous mentions: 1 2) and simply spread the word of your CMO position via Twitter. Any self-respecting (digital) marketeer will have a Twitter account these days.

That previous sentence is validated by first line of the need to have section in their job listing:

You are an active member of the online world – not just a spectator or a fan. If you don’t have a Twitter account and don’t spend an excessive amount of your personal time online, you are not for this job

Are these the recruitment tools for the future? I don’t know, maybe. They are a nice complement to other things and adds human aspect to the whole job seeking/employee hunting process.

[ShamelessSelfPromotion] Got any tips for jobs in the Stockholm Region, throw me an email at Patrik[at] or on LinkedIn.  [/ShamelessSelfPromotion]


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LinkedIn is Terrible at Job Recommendations

LinkedIn Logo


Most people I know have a LinkedIn account these days, especially if they have a university degree or work in a knowledge worker environment. However, I have recently found a glaring problem with LinkedIn, at least in Sweden. The job recommendations suck. Plain and simple. I don’t expect their recommendation engine to be perfect but the current algorithm is quite embarrassing.

Let me begin by talking about myself, so you can get an idea how insane some of the recommendations are. I am just finishing my MSc in Business Administration (Information & Knowledge Management specialization) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. I have already returned to Stockholm, Sweden but I am not quite finished with my master thesis yet.  I am writing about Enterprise System (ES / ERP) implementations. Prior to my Master in Amsterdam I got a Bachelor degree in Business & Economics from Uppsala University. And I worked in an accounting department during the last couple of summers, except this summer as I was busy with my thesis.

I cannot code to save my life and while I considering myself knowledgeable about business and enterprise systems, knowledge management and such I do not fancy myself anything but a recent graduate with junior-ish qualifications. Anything else would be quite absurd – with some exceptions.

[Selfpromotion]See my LinkedIn profile for a more complete overview [/Selfpromotion]

The kinds of jobs LinkedIn says it recommends for me are quite beyond my qualifications. Senior IT consultant, CTO and some hilarious, probably a scam, ‘Business Coach’ job. Let’s begin with the Senior IT consultant.

Linkedin Sr Consultant Qliktech

LinkedIn Sr Consultant Qliktech

While I am very interested in this kind of work, I am not by any stretch of the imagination a candidate for a technical position. I do not know how to code, or at least not enough to be of use for any corporate work. Nor am I suited for a senior position. The years in job listings are always over the top but I am still at the very least 3-5 years off calling myself anything close to a senior consultant, or senior anything else. For that matter.

Next up: CTO

LinkedIn CTO Sonoport

LinkedIn CTO Sonoport

This posting is not even located in Stockholm. But once again, entirely off compared to my background. I am not in a position to take up a CTO role. I am just not well versed enough in any technical aspects.  I can administer a Linux server well enough for my own needs but not well enough to call myself a professional sysadmin. I am just a happy amateur.

And the last one, Emyth business coach.

Linkedin EMyth Business Coach 1

Linkedin EMyth Business Coach 2

LinkedIn EMyth Business Coach

This one is amusing. It feels like a scam to me, pay to join our bullshit courses and make a stack load of money. Yea right.  Not really anything in my profile suggesting that this would be a good fit either. I can’t say I am terribly impressed with this one either, shouldn’t even be allowed on LinkedIn in my opinion. Leave the pyramid schemes to the gullible people who want believe everything they read. Speaking of which, I got an email from a Nigerian prince saying I inherited $2 million. That is legit right?

Let’s be clear, LinkedIn is supposed to be great at matching potential employees with employment opportunities, it is not especially good in my experience. There are probably many reasons for this, one could be that their algorithm is not good enough. Or that there simply aren’t enough job listings in the Stockholm area right now.

I hope, for LinkedIn’s sake, that it is the latter. For my sake, well I hope that I will find a job but in the mean time I have to finish my thesis. Transcribing interviews is probably among the least fun tasks you undertake.

[ShamelessSelfPromotion] Got any tips for jobs in the Stockholm Region, throw me an email at Patrik[at] or on LinkedIn.  [/ShamelessSelfPromotion]


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The Sad State of The Unpaid “Internship” at Schibsted / Servicefinder

There are few things I despise more than unpaid internships. I am a firm believer that it is unprofessional to work for free. If a company cannot generate enough value from your employment to pay at least a livable wage, then should they even bother to hire you in the first place.  It is despicable abuse of  desperate labour

Today’s culprit is Norwegian media conglomerate Schibsted, owner of Aftonbladet,,, among others. With an annual revenue of over 14b NOK, one would think they could pay livable wages for their staff. I know (print) media is currently suffering from decreasing revenue and that there are many out of work journalist/journalist students but that doesn’t mean you can go around abusing them.

Below is the Google translate of a Swedish job advert for a job at ServiceFinder (too lazy to manually translate it of course), original can be found here and backup of it here. The translation is slightly dodgy but you will get the gist of the advert.

Service Finder has grown steadily since 2006 and now has clearer growth plans. Today we are the largest in the industry in Sweden, is one of Nordic’s largest groups Schibsted and cooperates with sites like and Aftonbladet. Service Finder has a strong corporate culture and growth focused. We believe that the company grows, so grows the individual. Now looking for a marketing intern for the service as a writer who wants to join in the growth of the department and the company

Full-time, 8:30 to 17:30
Unpaid internship, eight weeks starting in agreement (chance of employment available)

Your primary task is to create interesting articles in which you will be working as an investigative writer in industries such as construction, cleaning and moving. Examples of items are “How to find the right craftsman” and “What services people buy the paycheck.” Some of the items will be included in the article series, eg “Renovation School”, then you will get to have overall responsibility for the entire series of articles. You will also be responsible for creating different templates for contracts and guides / checklists along with marketing communications.

We offer you
The marketing department is a close-knit team and you will be working closely with marketing, marketing communications, and software developer. The team is very agile with quick decisions. It gives you great opportunities to influence and to implement fun new projects. It can also occur orders from other departments that you may be responsible for.

As a writer, you need:
• Be able to find innovative solutions to problems and be creative
• Have a talent for writing the word
• Able to adjust tonality based on audience and channel
• Be good at cooperating. You will be working closely with the project manager and designer.
• Be stress. We often work against tight deadlines and fight against time
• Takes responsibility, careful and structured.

We like you a little extra if you:
• Have relevant training as a writer or in journalism
• Are interested in web
• Can write search engine optimized

Interviews and selection is ongoing, so please send your application with relevant work samples as soon as possible but no later than 1 July 2013.

As you can see, the internship is unpaid, and is pretty much legitimate work. I am not sure how much anyone (especially someone with a journalist degree) will learn from writing about “How to find the right craftsman”. Internships as part of the education, which rewards university credits and allow you to get student grants/loans are fine in my opinion, but anything more than that is a joke. This “job advert” is a crass attempt by a very large organization to abuse (free) labour. The requirements are enough for be proper job, let alone an unpaid internship. It may be boring articles to write but the topics mentioned sure as hell is a legitimate job, one that should be paid. If you cannot generate enough money to support one journalist from such articles on properties like ServiceFinder, then you are doing something wrong.

I am not a great fan of unions but this is a case where they are important. I am not sure of the laws surrounding internships in Sweden but this is a sad case. I am sure a lot of people will apply in hopes of having a chance on permanent employment.  Unpaid internships are an evil that should be cleansed from the job market. They benefit no one in the long run. If a position does not generate enough value for a company to pay a minimum wage, then it should probably not exist.  The sooner unpaid internships are scrapped, the better.

Shame on Schibsted and shame on ServiceFinder. At least pay your employees a damn salary instead of pretending that it is an internship.


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