Recruiting web professionals

A new position went up last week on the UVM Jobs recruitment site:

Multimedia Development Specialist

To assist faculty and staff to produce and manage digital multimedia content for instructional applications. Provide coordination of a Mac/PC multimedia computer lab and develop and facilitate workshops for faculty on digital multimedia. Provide general faculty and student support in the Center for Multimedia Development facility.

You can find more information on this position at the UVM Jobs site (search for requisition #032064).

Since I’m on the search committee, here are some thoughts and resources related to recruiting web professionals.

I’m taking some liberties here, including the assumption that a “Multimedia Development Specialist” position shares enough of the characteristics of a web professional (i.e. demographics) that we can use the terms interchangeably.

Diversifying the pool

Kicking off a search at UVM requires approval from the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO). As part of that approval process, the search committee meets with AAEO to go over search strategies. A lot of this focuses on finding ways to get the word out to a “diverse population of viable candidates”, with the larger goal of building a more diverse workforce.

Building a diverse workforce is a hard thing to do. Heck, it’s even hard to talk about. Recruiting in a field that is not known for it’s diversity doesn’t make the job any easier. Let’s put aside for a moment geographical location. I mentioned we’re in Vermont, right? Our AAEO contact sure did. Yet there has recently been more talk, and even some action taken to understand the lack of diversity in the ever growing world of web professionals. The results of The Web Design Survey are forthcoming, and will hopefully help shed some more light on the situation.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the idea of diversity also includes career and professional background. A team with diverse professional backgrounds, experience, and skills will be stronger and more versatile. Members backgrounds should complement each other. Ask yourself what the applicant with ten years programming experience brings to the table, versus the applicant who has only five years programming, and five in marketing or design.

Networking goes both ways

Networking is just as powerful from the recruitment side as it is for the job hunter. It’s not just who you know, but who that person knows. One of the things our AAEO contact suggested was that former colleagues can be excellent sources of “word of mouth” advertising for your position.

When asked who we knew in terms of professional contacts, I kind of drew a blank – only a few came to mind. It wasn’t until I got back to my desk that all the names started rolling in. Colleagues I had worked with (even peripheraly) at my current employer, colleagues from past positions and organizations, contacts from users groups, all floated to the surface. Pretty soon it got kind of overwhelming – especially when you consider that we have to keep a record of all the people and places we’re sending postings to.

So how does one keep track of all this stuff? Highrise looks like a perfect recruitment management tool. It would seem to provide the ability to keep track of applicants and interviewees, as well as contacts the description has been sent to, and where it’s been posted. I haven’t seen any specific examples of the tool being used for this purpose, but perhaps I’m not looking hard enough?

Speaking of networking, don’t forget your blog (personal or organizational). Someone in your readership base may know a possible candidate, or be one themselves. Better yet, if they are reading it, chances are they already have some knowledge of your organization or be in a similar industry.

Targeted classifieds

One of the best ways to recruit a diverse workforce is to look in a diverse number of places. Luckily, the job board market has seen some wonderful growth in the past few years. No longer are we restricted to a few sites like and the classifieds section of the local paper. What’s more, many of these are targeted at the type of professionals you’re looking for.

* Authentic Jobs – Our AAEO contact kept telling us to talk up UVM’s benefits. This site just unveiled a “perks” section of the job posting. Nice touch!
* The 37signals Job Board – You may know them from such feature films applications as Basecamp and Highrise (I mentioned the latter above).
* AIGA Design Jobs
* Krop – “Creative & tech jobs”
* Job Listings
* Dice – “The Career Hub for Tech Insiders”
* I.D. Magazine’s Job board
* – “Jobs for the Right Brains”
* … and there are even staffing agencies out there, if you’re into that sort of thing.

A lot of these I found just by going through my feed list, visiting some of the sites that I read every day, and actually clicking on the ads.

Getting it right

Of course it’s not just where you look. There has been some great discussion lately regarding successful recruitment.

It is, in any case, a demanding process, and not one to be taken lightly. Textmate creator Allan Odgaard, when talking about the prospects of hiring a development team, once said:

“Hiring good programmers can be difficult, and hiring a bad programmer can turn out to be worse than not hire anyone at all, but you will rarely know in advance.”

That stuck with me at the time, and is a sobering reminder of how much work this is going to be. Good luck with your recruiting (or your searching, if that’s the case).

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