Company Smells

Most developers won’t need a reminder of what a “* Smell” refers to, but I’ll assume that the companies that fit the description of this post won’t (incidentally, those companies probably wouldn’t read this blog post either). A “code smell” is an indication, a symptom, within a codebase, of a problem.

A company smell is an indication of a larger problem in an organization.

When a company uses a service for sourcing developers in today’s crazy world that opens with the following epic line:

What we do…

We’re a new style of recruiting service that charges by the hour for our time.

As a developer/hacker/überninja/engineering-talent all I see is a giant red flag. These are not recruiters that will try to get to understand the requirements of the position they are trying to fill, nor will they try to understand how I, as a human being, can contribute (or detract) in that position. Quite the opposite, the incentive is in delivering a result quickly. Any result. Quickly. Time is money. And all ruby on rails ninjas are made equal.

The homepage of “theSourcery” goes on to say:

We’re re-inventing the way recruiting is done by changing the incentive structure for recruiters and leveraging data and software while keeping our work human powered and personal.

I’ll (fail at trying to) overlook the obvious fact that there is no explanation of what this likely earth-shattering re-invention of the way recruitment is conducted in their site, I’ll just point out how I must be missing something huge by the fact that one sentence before that they were mentioning how they are hunting for developers on an hourly rate and later on go on to say that you are keeping things personal.

It seems that some companies don’t get what being on the receiving end of these type of recruiters is like. The fact that they are charging by the hour incentivizes all the wrong aspects of recruitment while completely undermining the positive (and often under appreciated by developers, specially in the HN crowd).

The company itself seems mildly interesting (sorry for falling into the prima donna cliché). I’m a bit surprised that they are replicating a feature currently existent in iOS’s Passbook, yet they don’t mention it. If I was writing the job spec I would include the differentiator factor within the first paragraph; joining a startup (again, specially on this market) requires not only a good position with fair compensation, but, at least to me, believing in what the company’s outcome and impact will be is extremely important. A lot of us work for “free” on things when we believe in them enough.

The fact that this particular company will try to hire from a pool of recruiters that will end up being incentives to spam that hell out of every email address they get their hands on, is a very powerful company smell: they don’t care about the practices of people they work with, and they’ll likely won’t care about the type of developers they find.

No, I’m not replying to your (absolutely decontextualized) email, Angelina. Sorry.