Recruiting with Dr. Seuss

January 10, 2013

Editor’s Note: At LinkedIn, our mission is to connect talent to opportunity at massive scale. Here’s a story from a Chicago-based development company on how they connected talent with opportunity through a shared love for Dr. Seuss.

Table XI is a ten-year-old digital consultancy that builds web and mobile apps in Chicago, and we’re always on the hunt for the best and brightest developers. It’s been well documented that Chicago is becoming more of a hub for tech companies—Built In Chicago reported that 193 digital technology startups launched in Chicago in 2011. The good news is that we're in a growing industry. The bad news (for companies, anyway) is that there's not quite enough "best and brightest" to go around. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects software development-related roles and jobs to increase at double the national average through 2020. Several years ago we could post a job position and receive many qualified responses, but the boom in the tech industry means that we're now competing with other companies for a small number of people. The best devs can afford to be picky.

And for us, it's not just about finding a dev who's technically qualified. We want to make sure that they're a good fit for our company culture, and that we're a good fit for them.

"Culture more than anything else—not the job, not salary, not projects, but an attractive culture—causes people to leave one job for another," our COO Mark Rickmeier maintains.

So what's a company that's hiring to do?

In the last year, we've turned to LinkedIn as a way to spot devs we think could work well at Table XI. After finding candidates with the right experience and skills on LinkedIn, we go to their websites, their blogs, their Tumblr pages—anything we can find that gives us a sense of who they are and what they like. Learning more about our favorite candidates gives us some ideas about how to approach them on a more personal level.

One candidate we discovered over the summer was a dev named Andrew. He was extraordinarily qualified; we loved his work; and, of course, he was employed elsewhere (recently, no less). We needed a way to get his attention and make ourselves interesting to him.

Andrew's personal website is designed like a Dr. Seuss book, complete with his own Seussian art and rhymes (can you tell why we liked this guy so much?). Mark also happens to be a Seuss fan, so to get Andrew's attention, he spent a long time crafting his own poem of an introductory note, explaining—in rhyme—why he thought Andrew should check us out in return.

We wanted to show Andrew, not just tell him, that our personality and creativity mirrored his. Like any talented Ruby developer, Andrew had received a lot of recruitment notices, but ours stood out because it was obvious we had taken the time to learn about him specifically, rather than sending him a generic email. Take a look:


You must forgive
this intro quite strange.
You shouldn't think
that I'm odd or deranged.

So taken aback
was I by your blog,
that I thought I'd reply
and rhyme it whole hog!

My name is Mark
at Table XI
and your working experience
sure did catch my eye.

We're a great Ruby shop
right here in the Loop,
I'd like to say more,
to give you the scoop.

We have some great meals-
our own chef every day!
You could come by for lunch,
hear what we have to say.

We're nerdy and friendly,
both devs and designers.
Add you to our team—
none could be finer!

I know you're quite new
at Wowzers this year,
but we should start talking—
you'll like what you hear.

Let me know when you're free
And we'll soon get in touch
Or swing by our space
and we'll meet up for lunch.

This definitely made an impression on Andrew. He appreciated that we'd done our homework and put some effort into recruiting him, and thus began our courtship. In addition to coming into our office to view our projects and eat some chef-cooked lunches, Andrew attended some of our events like our Summer Movie Nights series. Over the course of several weeks he got a chance to know the passionate people who work here, and see that we're not just a dev shop looking at him as a "resource," but a dev shop looking at him as a good professional and cultural fit. In August, Andrew officially joined our team.

Though the process was time consuming, we found that it’s well worth it in the end, because you get a new team member like Andrew (and excellent items like this).

Table XI is a Chicago-based digital consultancy, focused on building web and mobile applications for mid-market companies. Our services include business/technology strategy consulting, UX and graphics design, and custom application development. We have a fantastic team of people with virtually no turnover, and we’re hiring!