Recruiting Virtual Talent: Tips and Tricks to hire and get hired at #VMworld

August 24th, 2011
by Christopher Kusek (PKGuild)

This is specifically written for those attending VMworld, it doesn’t HAVE to be exclusive to there, but it’s next week and I want to lay out some things between now and then, maybe start a hiring revolution! :)

Let’s be realistic and practical. Not everyone in the world is GREAT at finding out who is hiring, and on the same sense of it, it can be a great challenge to identify the right resources to transform your organization, or even to find people with the right skills you’re looking for because lets face it, I’ve only met a handful of recruiters who know WTF they’re doing.  A HANDFUL. If you disagree; yea lets be serious, you DON’T disagree :)

That said, lets skip the BS and go right to the hiring managers and the candidates, get down to brass tacks; or AKA: Lets CHEAT!

The hiring managers way to cheat in recruiting – Tips for #CXIParty

I had this idea WHOA, WOULDN’T IT BE COOL IF

  • People put an “H” on their name badge if they’re a hiring manager
  • Put an “H+” if they’re a hiring manager and have REQs open
  • Put an “H-“ if they’re hiring but do not have REQs open yet?

Whoa, I didn’t just oversimplify and CHEAT THE SYSTEM.  Yea that’s right bitches! It doesn’t have to be complicated.   But you might ask “Why go through this form of parlance? Why not simply let people engage in conversation” Oh, I encourage that, but please allow the following scenario to play out.

You are attending VMworld with your CompanyX you may be traveling with co-workers, your management, whatever.   You’re officially or unofficially looking to change careers, companies, whatever.   Do you walk up to people and go OMG I LOVE YOUR COMPANY I WANT TO WORK HERE. Yea, you’re talking to a guy who will never have a REQ in the history of REQs. Seriously. You pass your resume to him, and he hands it off to some clueless recruiter who ignores all of the good candidates and sends them to a heaping pile of crap.   Oh do please stop me if I’m wrong.   But the difference between a GOOD recruiter and a BAD recruiter is the ability to pick up the phone and send an email. Bad Recruiter… I think they’re busy trying to find their next job. #grin

Okay, taking a step back from the little Recruiter tirade (it’s true, and it’s honestly frustrating :))   Imagine how much easier that would be! What I’d typically ask people who DO have REQs are where they are in the chain, how serious they are, and what kind of skills they’re looking to fill (also what travel is involved) not because *I* am looking but because I know a lot of you (okay, most of you) and I talk with you regularly about your careers; it’d be nice to help out the two of you [hence this blog post as well ;)]

So I encourage you hiring managers attending VMworld and attending #CXIParty to put a H and/or H+ on your badge… you might just find yourself filling reqs like mad y0! :)

The hiring managers way to cheat in vetting a candidate!

Now that you’re being hit up by various people noticing the H on your badge, what next?  You find a nice guy or girl who seems to have some passion, some drive, some interest; they expressed an interest in talking to you about your company that’s encouraging right? Sure it’s a good start. But let the vetting begin!   One thing you’ll find is the case at someplace like #CXIParty is.. a lot of us KNOW each other. And if we don’t know each other it’s a good way to hit it off.    So lets say you find a candidate you’re interested in; you can get LIVE REFERENCES [omg, right!?] but what if they’re not someone who is known by everyone, don’t fret!   One thing you’ll also find is… OMG WE’RE GEEKS. Okay, not all of us are, but a lot of us are, and if put into a situation to show off our mad street cred around something like virtualization it’s a good way to determine how one would respond and react to the situation.   Sure you can ask them HOW MUCH RAM AND HOW MANY vCPUS CAN YOU SUPPORT. Wow, I couldn’t figure that out from a Google search, but force them into a deep heated conversation around architectural considerations of an obscure environment and how they’d go about deploying and designing a self service provisioning architecture driven by a portal… or something…. And you’ll see JUST what kind of candidate you’re getting.  It’s not WHAT they know, but how they react and think on their feet.   If you’re looking for your rockstars, your architects, your OM-vG That’s a good way to work it out.

Yes that was a long paragraph (hah, more like novel! :)) but the added point is, after you get the ‘candidate’ to engage in that conversation with various vetted or unvetted members of the community… you’ll all have made some great friends and it’s a chalk full of win! :)


Screw the damn man, am I right?! Err, wait what?! :) Yea.. this is for you the non-hiring manager, the guy who works for the public sector looking to go private, or the admin who wants to get into more of an architectural role.  The partner looking to go Vendor; the vendor looking to change vendors.  Factually it does not matter so much why you’re looking for a new opportunity, just that you’re prepared when that time comes!  Here are some tips!

  • Be a rockstar.   Yea, that totally means throwing a TV out a window, err.. no. It means be yourself. Be confident in WHO you are, even if WHO you are is not confident the least you can do is be you. :)   I mean you’re looking to change roles right? You should have an idea of who you are and what you want to do/be [It’s okay if you don’t…. a lot of people don’t, let me know and we can work on that! ;)}
  • Get to know other people.   You don’t have to be a social butterfly.   But you also need not be a social outcast or do something to make a fool of yourself (unless that works for you, I’m cool with that.  Side tip; wearing cat ears is not a fools game ;)
  • BRING BUSINESS CARDS.   This will delve into some sub-topics because I’ve discussed this extensively with some folks.
    • “Should I have business cards made up with my own name and not my companies”
      • Lets say you work for a major company, like ACME.   ACME carries with it a well known brand and image of making great weaponry, traps and explosives which are almost certain to work [with some roadrunner based exceptions]   You’re doing yourself a disservice with disassociating yourself with the company.   Having a business card says “Hey, look I’m employed! but please contact me at my personal email address” It also says “Hah! I got some fool to hire me, so you can’t do MUCH worse right!?!” ;)
    • “What about making up my own cards not-associated with my company”
      • Absolutely, it has its place.   Some examples;
        • Free-lancers who have/currently working the Consulting gig land and that’s how you get your business; Respect.
        • People with a brand who may or may not work for a major label company
        • People who are unemployed and thus do not have company business cards.   Nothing wrong there, but it’s important they know the difference.  I can usually tell these ones because the business cards are made on paper stock; thin as flash paper!
  • Oh and did I mention to Bring Business cards? (Yea, you should totally do that ;)) Also good to enter contests like at #CXIParty
  • Show your Passion.    Why are you passionate about your job? Are you? Are you passionate about another job but not so much what you’re currently doing?  Please don’t let the jaded bits leak into things.   You’re in the craziest city on earth for the show… surrounded by the top minds in virtualization and the best businesses transforming the future of IT.    Show your passion. BE that Guy/Girl!
  • Be honest.    Be honest about who you are, about who you want to be if you’re not there yet.   You’re not a VCP because the class is too expensive? Totally understand that.  But don’t be this guy; “I’m not going to learn anything new unless my company invests in me to do that” Yea. I don’t want you, and neither will a lot of hiring managers because you become the guy who gets a LITTLE bit of training and jumps ship.    There is value in being opportunistic but invest in yourself and it will pay in loads.
  • Don’t lie / Tell the truth.    These are tips I’d usually provide to people going through the interview process when I do my career counseling.  They do sound SO similar, but they’re so different.     Here are some examples:
    • Don’t Lie:
      • Oh yea I totally invented the internet. GO AHEAD AND SEARCH FOR MY PATENT.
        • I interviewed that guy.  (No it was something else, and NO we couldn’t find his damn patent!)
      • I designed and architected environment x and was the project lead.
        • I remember that interview well.   And then one of our interviewers asked him details about WHY he named the environment they way he did and specifics about it.  He couldn’t answer those questions. Why… Why can’t you remember some simple details about an environment you designed and architected? It couldn’t possibly be because the INTERVIEWER had actually been the one who designed and architected the environment before leaving the company and joining us.  Yea, so seriously? Seriously, don’t be THAT guy who’ll lie about the work you did :)
      • Click my link to learn how to get a zillion twitter followers!
        • Okay, that’s not very specific but it’s intended to focus on a broad assessment of accounts. Basically saying most of these people who share these links tend to have 0 or fewer followers.   So don’t just make any blatant lies, the truth is a lot easier to remember (unless it’s wikipedia… then we can just turn it into the truth! :))
    • Tell the Truth:
      • “Have you worked with vCloud Director before?”
        • Hey, tell the truth. “No, WTF is vCD?” or “I was a lab manager guy but our ELA blah blah blah, we never got to play with vCD” “I wanted to play with it in the lab but couldn’t get the code” “I hate vCD and all it stands for, TIDAL AND NEW SCALE FOR THE WIN!” err, whoa, we’re getting ahead of ourselves but seriously :)  This can apply to almost any/all technologies and scopes.   Tell the truth and be honest with yourself.     Here is the WRONG answer to most questions: “No”.
        • To provide some color on that. Answering with a simple Yes/No gives no recourse, it doesn’t let either of you know if you’re capable of willing to learn a new technology or coming back to the previous points of investing in yourself.
  • “Always… I mean never, forget to check your references” – Special prize for anyone who can give me the source of the quote ;)
    • You know what I hate on peoples resumes? “References available upon request”  Use that space you’re wasting to put something else useless… Preferably funny.  maybe “References are for wimps” or something like “I know Chmod” but please don’t waste our time on your resume!
    • A verbal reference will win hands down every time.
      • If you have someone who can vouch for you, and they’re within an ear-shot, you’re on your way to winning.   If you don’t.   Get to know those people, make friends, grow, learn, enhance, blah blah etc :)
  • Please know what you want, or why you want it.
    • Get to know who you are, what you want and what you’ll get out or changing companies or roles. If I could ask you to come up with answers to the following questions you’ll be FAR better off.   Hopefully you can come up with answers on any/all of these.
      • Do you want to travel / Are you okay with travel / How much travel (20%, 50%, 80%, 100%)
        • FYI: Figure out what EACH of those mean.  80% travel usually means you’re traveling Mon-Thurs with Friday to catch up.
      • What motivates you
        • Is it money? Is it a challenging environment? Is it doing the same shit every day at a different place? Is it the people you work with?  Figure out some of that.   What happens if you lose your motivation? How do you get your mojo back?
      • How much money do you feel you’re worth?
        • While some companies have a ‘range’ they’re willing to pay.  What are you worth?   What do you REQUIRE to survive and what will allow you to be comfortable. Etc figure those things out, base pay, bonus, what matters to you
      • “What do you do”
        • This is a question I would ask of people. It’s not what you do day in and day out, it is more akin to who you are.   Example: Regardless of what my JOB is, I’m solving problems, sharing knowledge and innovation and helping others to advance while trying to automate things so we don’t have jobs; freeing us up to do other jobs.   Figure out what you do, what you’re most passionate about, and what drives you and you’ll be WELL on your way to winning!
      • Have you ever fought a bear?
        • I mean, a small bear is still a bear, so you should be able to talk to this point.  What size of a bear are you willing to go toe to toe with give the circumstance.  Would you require it to be a fair fight? You prefer the two of you wear gloves in an open ring? Trained bear v wild? You have a particular species of bear, I mean Polar bears are nice but they tend to carry bottles of coke around with them and if you’ve ever had a bottle of coke broken on you it’s PAINFUL, OMG. I have scars still.
      • Err, WTF was that bear question?
        • … I didn’t say anything about a bear.
      • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
        • Celebrating the 5 year anniversary of you asking me this question! (Is how I HAVE answered that question, thanks to the late Mitch Hedberg) but seriously.  Do you have any kind of a plan? Where do you want to be, what do you want to do? (I’m 3 years into my current 5 year plan, and after my next blog post you’ll see just WHY I’m WELL on target! :))
      • What is your “Objective”
        • “Seeking a position in blah blah blah in a challenging environment” While all of that may be true.  Getting an idea of what your actual objective is.  Allow some further colour on this.  I’ve talked with people who simply say “I want to be challenged” WTF does THAT mean.  Without something tangible around that I can challenge you by making you deal with a crazy political environment which will leave you in tears daily trying to figure out how to navigate change management requests.   But is that what you REALLY want to do? :)    Sure if you make it too specific you can lock yourself out of opportunity (likely to be opportunity you REALLY didn’t want in the first place ;) but I digress)  
        • Be specific.    If this is an objective you’re interested in “Advancing a career in virtualization by transforming an IT organization through efficiencies, cost effective strategies and learning new skills; ultimately to advance me from an individual contributor to providing leadership to evolve and transcend the business”  … I just came up with that off the cuff, I’m sure some of you will say YES EXACTLY THAT. Sweet.   But try to come up with something tangible. Be your future, don’t just HOPE for it.
  • Buy a lottery ticket.
    • There is this old tale of a man who would pray every day asking to win the lotto. “Oh please let me win the lotto, oh please let me win the lotto” And there he lay on his deathbed, moments before his death, his creator appeared before him to take him away; with his frail and weakened breath he says “Oh being my creator, why were my prayers not answered” and in his infinite wisdom, his creator said “Buy a damn ticket already!”
    • Maybe that story resonates with you, it may insult some of you? (hey it’s from a joke! ;)) but the point is.   You’ve heard of the secret right? “Put it out to the universe and it will return to you?” Yea, I have a little secret for you. INVEST IN YOURSELF. You’re likely to get a greater outcome.   Don’t assume someone is going to send you to training and don’t assume you’re going to know things you didn’t invest in yourself to learn.    You know one of the best ways to FIND a job too? Is to say “Hey, are you hiring?” Step up, get serious and put things into your own  hands.   If you want to ‘put it out there for the universe’ I’ll be honest.. that server isn’t going to P2V itself, so hop to it and start P2Ving yourself to the next level. :)

Hopefully you found some of these various tips useful, not too offensive and valuable/useful.  If you’re looking for a new role comment in the post; if you’re hiring, let it be known! Virtualization is still very strong and shows like #VMworld show that to be so true.    Hopefully some of you adopt the H and H+ model.   Good luck and see you at #VMworld and #CXIParty :)

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Careers, Jobs, Technology, Virtualization, vmware, VMware Fusion | Comments (2)

  • Ryan Graham says:

    Real Genius FTW!

    The party was great, by the way. Thanks for having us PayPal folks over for the evening!

  • Chris Federico says:

    When I read this part I fell out of chair laughing then after I thought hey that is what I deal with at work .

    “I can challenge you by making you deal with a crazy political
    environment which will leave you in tears daily trying to figure out how
    to navigate change management requests.”

    • Archives