Exec Behind the Epic Craigslist Job Ad Shares The Best Way to Get Hired By a Tech Startup

When it comes to landing a desirable job at a hot tech company, sometimes you have to show brilliant creativity just to get their attention.
After months of failing to land a job at San Francisco-based Airbnb, Nina Mufreh dazzled the company’s CEO and CTO with her innovative “resumé,” which took the form of a website that took after Airbnb’s layout. She landed an interview almost immediately.
But sometimes, tech companies are the ones who have to take creative measures to find the best talent, especially when those companies are growing startups. Plain old job posts just won’t cut it — if you want the best talent, you have to have the best job ad. That’s why one San Diego-based company unleashed this epic job ad on Craigslist that went viral this week.
Paul Koch, the writer of the job ad, is the CTO of Chatmeter, a tech-company that provides reputation and local SEO analytics for multi-location brands and agencies. His company offers services like automatic alerts for when someone posts something negative about your company and workflow tools to help improve your image.
With Chatmeter’s recent successes, Paul has been working to recruit talented programmers to add to the team. The usual avenues brought little benefit, so he set out to create a “viral job ad.”
Whether you are looking to recruit talented startup employees or learning how to land that sweet developer job at a tech startup, Paul is the guy to ask. We had the pleasure of catching up with Paul over email where he shared the inspiration behind his viral job ad and the top qualities hopeful techies need to land a job at a startup company as sweet as this one.
Chatmeter’s office in downtown San Diego, Image via Google Street View
What inspired you to take such a unique approach to the job posting?

“We already had a job ad up, and it simply wasn’t pulling in enough candidates. We have an amazing recruiter that we work with as well. In addition to the normal stuff like reaching out to her network and posting ads on all of the sites, she also crashes developer meet-ups, which is how we found one of our other developers. So we needed to get more eye balls on it. After a couple of weeks with no real candidates, I wrote down ‘write viral job ad,’ thought of a few different ideas, came up with what you’ve seen and then was pleasantly surprised when it worked.”

How many replies to your Craigslist post have you received so far? Found anyone who’s too good to pass up yet?

“Over 300 now. It looks like we have found a lot of good talent, but we still haven’t sorted through them all, and we will start interviewing next week. So if anybody was still considering applying, there is still time!”

Besides the required skill set, what are the best personality traits a potential hire can have?

“I personally prefer hiring devs who are into the craft of programming. These are the ones that are asking how do I WANT to solve the problem, taking the requirements in and around it into consideration — as opposed to the ones that are asking how DO I solve the problem. It doesn’t come free with experience. It’s born out of a genuine interest to be good at their trade. I’ve become pretty good at picking them out of an interview.”

Would you say most of your employees are millennials? What, if anything, annoys you most about millennial hires and employees?

“On our development team, yes. I’m the oldest one, and I just barely missed the stereotype by a year (1979). I’ve been fortunate in my life to have some of my best friends and co-workers range from about 10 years pre-millennial to 10 years post. People’s personalities are very much a by-product of their upbringing, environment, life events and the five closest people they surround themselves with (which is often a by-product of the other items). I think intuitively acknowledging that fact begets the separation necessary to avoid any opinions or judgments that might otherwise lead to the annoyances you’re referring to. The diversity of people is beautiful and should be valued, not judged. That being said, I guess it’s annoying that I didn’t hire enough millennial gamers to get a decent Dota team together.”

What are the most common mistakes hopeful hires make when applying to tech startups?

“No code sample or bad code samples. Sometimes that job you’re applying for ends up going viral, and they’re reviewing hundreds of resumes and code samples. Don’t assume they have time to follow up and ask for a code sample after it was already requested in the post.”

What are your thoughts on the kind of misogyny and sexism that plagues Silicon Valley startups? Is San Diego’s startup culture any different?

“I’m not as informed on this topic as others, and I certainly won’t pretend that I have any idea what it’s like to be the subject of something like that. However, while I’m not prepared to announce that our side of California is immune from those societal defects, I can say whole-heartedly that in the workplace I have not witnessed it. We’ll be hiring the best developer, regardless of race/gender/species, and they will be compensated based on their contributions.”

Do you have any other words of wisdom for anyone looking to work for your startup?

“Know what you know, and know what you don’t know. Give us that information early, and it will help us shift the interview in the right direction. Integrity, ability and demonstrable value in core developer fundamentals are the most important attributes outside of the regular requirements.”

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