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

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]pathy.se or on LinkedIn.  [/ShamelessSelfPromotion]

-P

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Why Acer Why?: Acer Aspire R7 Advertisement

Why Acer Why? read a Reddit post, and included a link to the following picture of an Acer Aspire R7:

Acer Aspire R7, Why Acer Why??!

Acer Aspire R7, Why Acer Why??!

The striking thing about this laptop is the fact that the touch pad is above the keyboard, which is unusual to say the least, usually the touch pad is below the keyboard. It is not entirely obvious why Acer would design it like this, makes moving the cursor around quite awkward I would think.

Luckily Reddit delivers and links to the advert for the R7, and it is pretty damn good. Doesn’t actually justify the touch pad but the advert itself is very nice and almost convinced me to buy one. (Okay, that is a lie). If nothing else I would like a nice cappuccino right now. Check out the ad below, it is really a good advert that conveys a feeling of exclusivity, usability and humour without being cringe-worthy.

 

I think the ad has potential to inspire purchase but it is not really weird enough to go viral. I am not sure who created the ad, I was not able to find it out but it is likely that it was Red Peak Group, who currently handles their brand. If I was a bit cynical, and I am, I would say that the Reddit post I previously linked to was posted by someone associated with Acer, in order to minimize the harm to the brand that a Reddit post like this could cause. It may be astroturfing but in my opinion it was relevant to the discussion and did add value to the users (that is, got to see a good advert) so not much harm done, if any.  Overall, a good campaign that hopefully results in decent sales for Acer – innovative design is always good for the consumers in the long run and if no one took any risks the laptop/tablet space would be boring.

The advert is nowhere close to the brilliant level of marketing that Old Spice managed with their recent campaigns. The Old Spice Guy commercials managed to turn a boring old brand for your grandfather into something cool, exclusive and perfectly targeted, but more on that some other time.

-P

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