gabriel rosenkoetter on 1 Oct 2008 19:00:42 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] help with filling a sysadmin position

At 2008-10-01 16:15 -0400, Omar Thameen <> wrote:
> The details of the position are here:

Ten years ago, I would have been interested. In point of fact, my
first job came through this mailing list. (These days, you neither
want me nor could afford me. Let's not get into it.)

> Craigslist has given me the most responses, though that's only a
> handful. [...]

Have you engaged any outside recruiters? Sure, they're all slave
traders, and the whole thing is a parasitic business, but that's
how this business gets done now, and there are several truly
respectable recruiting agencies both based in and focused on the
Philly area. Feel free to email me privately if you'd like me to
assert specific preferences. (I do have those preferences, both
from the employee and the employer side, but I'd rather not make
them public for what should be obvious reasons.)

The recruiting firms exist in a functional market (in contrast with
the current US financial market...) where they've created and settled
upon an ideal compromise arrangement: "contract to hire". I both
take new jobs this way and hire this way, and I love both sides of
it. The potential employer gets to test-drive the potential employee
for six months or so (paying more than they would for that same
person as an FTE over that period, including benefits and so forth),
and vice versa. At the end of that period, either party's free to
decide they're not interested in "converting", and there are no
hard feelings nor resume blemishes, but my experience is that that
happens at most 10% of the time.

At the end of the contract period, presuming that you like the
candidate, you are free (but not obligated; the last time I did this
the contract was extended an extra six months because it was neither
economically nor politically appropriate to pull in a New Hire at
that time; I still work for that employer, 13 months since then)
to hire them full time. There's no non-compete binding you to
continue forking over $20 more per hour (or whatever) than you would
to cover an FTE to some parasitic business: you've found your guy
or gal, and you make them an offer directly, and it's not politically
complicated in the least. It is, in fact, the Point.

> The majority of resumes I do receive don't follow directions, contain
> spelling errors, or have other things not boding well for someone
> filling a challenging sysadmin position.

Have you considering getting in touch with the computer science
departments and alumni placement programs at the Delco area schools?
This isn't exactly the time of year to get a student currently in
his or her senior year, but, having been there not so long ago (and
having friends there more recently), I can assure that there are
some '08 grads who took the summer off and are just now realizing
they need to go act like Adults. I'm certain that I can put you in
touch with the appropriate parties at, and I'm pretty
sure I can do the same for (through a friend). Drop me
a line privately if you'd like that.

> - Does anyone have any suggestions regarding the job description?

You talk a lot about what you want, which is fine for a job
description, but you don't talk about the business in any sort of
detail, which is a nasty oversight in a job posting.

What does the business Actually Do? Your euphemisms suggest, to
anyone 30 or younger, that you send spam. I don't think that's true
(especially since I've worked for a direct marketer, and I know the
difference), but you can do much better to motivate exactly the sort
of candidate you want to apply. Why should an Open Source-experienced
sysadmin want to take part in targetted marketing? Sell it.

What are some specific tasks the candidate will be expected to
tackle? (Pick things that are already done, not things you now want
an answer to. That gets you a freebie interview question or three.)

What is the pay range? Relatedly, what are the health and savings

> - Where do you all look for work when you're on the market?

Honestly, I don't. Sites like (but, um, especially)
have changed the relationship: recruiters and employers come to me
with offers, rather than my fishing around on things like

> - Where does your company find candidates for Unix admin positions?

Through external recruiters. I don't think that I've ever read a
resume presented to me by my employer's HR department so long as
I've been reading resumes, and that goes back through three
employers and six or seven years. In a couple of rare cases, by
personal acquaintance, but I expect that if your extant employees
had someone to cough up, you'd've asked them and they'd've answered

(I just skimmed back over this, and it's possible that I've killed a
metaphorical horse and kept right on kicking it. But you did ask.
So there.)

gabriel rosenkoetter

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