Don’t “Hire by Keyword”

" I’ve recently followed a few discussions about “Hiring by Keyword:”

  • A Quora post from a startup founder looking for a co-founder, but that co-founder must know Erlang  — thus making an already hard-to-hire-for position impossible.
  • A posting for a VP of Marketing for a company “pioneering mobile video conferencing.” The candidate must have previous experience as VP ofMarketing at a “mobile video conferencing company” — uh, if this company is the “pioneer,” doesn’t that mean no one has ever done this before?
  • An article stating the industry is in a bubble because companies who needRuby on Rails developers were hiring developers that did not have Ruby on Rails experience — even though great developers can learn it quickly, and agreat developer learning it for the first time will greatly outperform anaverage developers who knows it but is weak otherwise.
  • A large public technology company (HP) hiring a CEO who has experience as a CEO of a large public technology company (SAP) — which looked like a “safe” choice on paper, at least until the company ran off the rails in less than a year.
  • A thread on Quora mocking a job posting from an HR department looking for people with “five years experience working in social media” — social media is barely five years old, so good luck with that one.

These reminded me of our recruiting strategy at Vontu, my last company, where we made a very deliberate effort to keep our keywords straight."