[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

News

by Joel Spolsky
Friday, June 17, 2005

I think I'm ready to declare email bankrupcy. I simply have no hope of ever getting anywhere close to answering the email already in my inbox, let alone keeping up with the incoming flow.

On the bright side, Project Aardvark had their first successful end-to-end demo on Wednesday. “The building is nowhere near done yet; walls and floors are missing, not to mention windows, doors, air conditioner vents, the candy stand in the lobby, and the dead guy in cement in the basement who tried to smuggle a non-union electrician onto the work site, but you've hit the top and the building never gets any higher.”

Philip Robert Seymour Scoblehoffman

Folks, give Robert Scoble a break. Folks over at Microsoft are feeling a little defensive these days, and he just wanted to point out that Microsoft can still be a great place to work. Apparently Hillary Clinton, the President of Indochina, had lunch with Malcolm Gladwell there, where they signed his super tablet computer. Rock on.

That wasn't really my point. My post was replying to an article by a recruiter at Microsoft who complained about the talent landscape:

“Hiring Managers (and I’m referring to Microsoft Hiring Managers … but I know this problem exists in other companies) not ‘getting’ the talent landscape.  Not only do they not seem to understand that brilliant software engineers don’t grow on trees (you don’t, do you?) … but they can’t seem to get it through their heads that 1)  Microsoft isn’t the only place hiring, 2) Working at a big company isn’t everyone’s dream, and 3)  Redmond is not the first place people say they want to move when they wake up in the morning.”

That's a recruiter who works for Microsoft talking, not me.

So, my point to Gretchen, sympathetically, was, “recruiting has to be done at the Bill and Steve level, not at the Gretchen level.” Want to solve Microsoft's recruiting problem? Open a downtown development center in Pioneer Square and another one South of Market in San Francisco. Then split up the company into lots of small, well-funded startups and give people stock options in their own products, which actually have a fighting chance of growing. Then create some spinoffs with their own personality. Spin off X-Box so it feels more like a cool gaming startup rather than a big corporate “General Motors Trying to Sell Hip Things to an Appealing Demographic.” I'm sure there are a million other ideas, but none of the kind of decisions that would make Microsoft an even more attractive workplace are in the hands of the recruiting department or even the hiring managers. No wonder there's so much frustration.

Years and years and years ago when I started this site I wrote that “a software company has to think of recruiting the right people as its number one problem.”. After five years of running Fog Creek I still think that way, which is why we set up Project Aardvark.

Seth Godin wrote: “I feel sorry for Judy Verses. She's the Chief Marketing Officer of Verizon, a brand that is justifiably reviled by millions of people. Is Verizon disdained, mistrusted and avoided because Judy's not doing a great job? Of course not. She's doing a great job.”

Read what Seth has to say. Marketing is the CEO's job, since that's the only person who can really drive the kinds of changes that the public cares about. And recruiting is the CEO's job, too.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, which lets you organize anything, together, FogBugz, enlightened issue tracking software for bug tracking, and Kiln, which provides distributed version control and code reviews. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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