We made a robot.

Ever since we made a bean bag toss game for Elliott’s 5th Birthday Party, he’s been talking about doing more woodworking projects. Today we had some time with just him and I and he decided he wanted to build a robot.

Now, I think his initial thought of a robot was something that walked around, talked and was did all kinds of amazing stuff ala Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit. That wasn’t going to happen, but we’d see what we could do with what scrap wood we had and my limited carpentry skills.

This was Elliott’s drawing of what he wanted this robot to look like. Thankfully there wasn’t a lot of detail, so his actual demands were minimal. I told him this was called a blueprint or something. I’m not a real engineer.


First we scoured the garage and the basement for wood and other things we could use to build the robot. Here’s some stuff we found.


The best find was an old small coat rack which we could use for the robot’s “skeleton”.  I took the hooks (two were broken) off the coat rack.


Then we found a piece of plywood that we could cut in half to make the robot’s front and back. Once we had that done, we found a wooden stake for arms.

Arm stake

We cut the arms and then screwed them into the front of the body.


The screws were just tight enough to stay together, but loose enough so we could pose them. Next we screwed the body into the coat rack. The robot was starting to take shape.

mounted body

With that done, we could screw the robot’s back on.


Then Elliott wanted the robot to have hands, so I used the two unbroken hooks from the coat rack. They look kind of menacing if you ask me.


For the head, we decided to use two plastic flower pots. I screwed the bottom one into the top of the coat rack.


Then I cut away the rim of the bottom so the top one would fit over it.

head halves

Finally, we cut off the bottom of some soda cans for eyes and screwed them into the top flower pot.


The robot was complete! (At least for today.)


Elliott decided to name him Erbert. He was thrilled. When Audrey came home, she was jealous of course, so we made a flower.


Maybe I have some carpentry skills after all.

The Authoritative List of Apple Watch Specs

Since Apple hasn’t put together a comprehensive list of specs for the Apple Watch, I thought I’d throw them together based on the information collected from Apple.com and other sources.




Starting at $349


Early 2015


42mm (1.7in) height or 38mm (1.5in) height


Built-in storage

Battery Life

One day


Flexible Retina
Sapphire Crystal or Strengthened Ion-X (Sport)
Tap and press sensitivity
Activates on raise of wrist


S1 all-in-one processor


  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g


Integrated speaker and microphone


  • Digital Crown
  • Side Button
  • Taptic Engine haptic actuator


  • Gyroscope
  • Accelerometer
  • Infrared
  • Heart rate
  • Photo sensor
  • GPS and Wifi from iPhone



Apple Watch: Stainless steel or space black stainless steel
Sport: Anodized Aluminum
Edition: 18-karat gold in yellow or rose

Zirconia back


Inductive charging Magsafe

Supported Phones

(required for use)

  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus

Built-in Apps

  • Maps
  • Remote Camera
  • Photos
  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • Messages with Sketch, Digital Touch and Walkie-Talkie and Heartbeat
  • Weather
  • Passbook
  • Phone
  • Siri
  • Apple TV and iTunes
  • Activity
  • Workout
  • Watch with 50ms accuracy
  • Calculator
  • Apple Pay
  • Music
  • Flights
  • Timer
  • Stopwatch
  • Alarm
  • World Clock
  • Solitaire
  • Stocks
  • Settings
  • Converter

Watch Faces

  • Chronograph
  • Color
  • Modular
  • Timelapse
  • Solar
  • Astronomy
  • Motion
  • Utility
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Simple
  • Photo

Available Apps

  • Nike+
  • Twitter
  • MLB
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! News
  • BMW
  • Citymapper
  • Pinterest
  • American Airlines
  • Starwood Hotels

Elliott’s delirious poetic ranting

The context: It’s 9 pm on Friday night. The whole family is driving to New Hampshire for the weekend. Elliott and Audrey are in the back

Elliott, on a happier day

Elliott, on a happier day

seat. Both of them had a really busy day. Audrey is already asleep.

Elliott, when he gets very tired, gets extremely grumpy and contradictory. This time I managed to use my iPhone’s voice memo app and transcribe his rantings.

If he was a few years older, this would be disturbing. But when he’s 4, it’s cute and funny. In fact, it reads like some avant-garde poetry. “the light is too dark”,  “We can’t see light behind us“, “I direct my own mouth.”

[Anne plays kids’ music and then starts looking at stuff on her phone]

You don’t look right away
You wait
and I say when you do something and not do something
because that’s mean
that’s making you be mean
I’m being mean to you
that’s being mean to me and it’s not making me not happy
it’s a making me sad
you don’t go right away and look at it
i want to look at something. And I say no, you can’t look at something
I’m throwing your phone right out the window
I’m throwing it right over the highway and into the trees


I need to go to sleep before Audrey
I go to sleep before Audrey
Audrey, get awake right now

[He’s suddenly getting frustrated at his car seat]

This is too tight
loosen this up
this is too tight
this is not too tight
it’s not too loose
the light is too dark
it’s too dark
it’s too dark

When are we going to be there?
When are we going to be there?
Anne: “We have a long time left to go, Elliott”
No we don’t, we have three. Three miles and 1 minute
I wish the camp was right here
Right there

Why is that police there?
Anne: “Pulling somebody over. Somebody was doing something wrong. They were going too fast or they did something wrong.”
What’s if there’s someone behind us?
We can’t see em behind us.
We can’t see light behind us.


This is too long
This is too long of a ride


It’s too long of a ride
And the seat is tickling me
And a bumblebee stinged me
A bumblebee stinged me
A bumblebee stinged me

Mommy, the bumblebee stinged me
It really hurts. I need a bandaid right now
Two bandaids
Anne: “I’m sorry I don’t have any bandaids. If you’re still hurting tomorrow…”
Do you have the Mickey ones?
Anne: “If we have them, they’re back in the bathroom bag.”
Where is the bathroom bag?
Anne: “The bathroom bag is way in the back.”
Where is the bathroom bag?
The bathroom bag is way up front.
Anne: “No, Elliott”

(indiscernable rants)


It’s not fair that Audrey’s asleep and I’m not.
It’s not really fair.

When you get a bug bite, it stays there.
It doesn’t go away
How to bug bites go away? How?


[Audrey stays soundly asleep]

Mommy, I can’t go to sleep. I can’t go to sleep until you turn the music on.
Anne: “Elliott, you have to be ready to listen. You can’t listen if you’re talking.”

I can talk if I want. You don’t direct me. I can talk if I want.
You don’t direct my mouth.
I direct my own mouth.
My mouth says what it needs to say every day and every night.

It’s not fair.

I’ll catch you with a net.
I’ll catch you when I’m fishing.
I’ll catch you like a fish.

Somebody’s touching my foot.
Somebody’s touching my foot and they’re not supposed to.
Somebody’s touching my foot.

Can you help me go to sleep?
Can you help me go to sleep?

I need you to do something.

You’re wrong and I’m right.
Daddy’s wrong.

Are we going to be there in a long time?
You’re wrong.

The Complete List of Officer Buckle’s 110 Safety Tips


My kids love Peggy Rathman’s book, Officer Buckle and Gloria. Reading it one night and noticing all the post-it notes behind Officer Buckle, I began to wonder if there were actually 101 safety tips in the book. I sat down one night and copied them all down. It turns out there are 101 and a few extras.

Some are purely practical “Lock your bike”, some are strangely adult “Never run in high heels” and others are are just weirdly specific “Wipe up drool”.

Here’s all the numbered rules that can be made out in the book:

  1. Keep your shoelaces tied
  2. Always wipe up spills before someone slips and falls
  3. ?
  4. Do not jumping… the bed
  5. Never play with matches
  6. Dial 911 in an emergency
  7. Always wear a crash helmet when biking or skating
  8. Never hitchhike
  9. Obey all traffic signs
  10. ?
  11. ?
  12. ?
  13. Never use water [on] a grease fire. Smother it with a lid.. bak…
  14. Remember your telephone number
  15. ?
  16. Never chase a ball that rolls into the street
  17. ?
  18. Never drink and drive
  19. Never run with a scissors in your hand
  20. Never wander too far from..
  21. Never roll around in poison ivy
  22. ?
  23. Never take someone else’s medicine
  24. Always tell your parents where…
  25. Always tell your parents if someone bite…
  26. Be alert..
  27. ?
  28. Stay away from cigarettes
  29. ?
  30. Never take a shortcut through lonely places
  31. Never stand up in a canoe
  32. ?
  33. Never take ..ne
  34. Avoid rattlesnakes
  35. Cross only at the crosswalk
  36. Never play with electrical outlets
  37. ?
  38. ?
  39. ?
  40. Never play in.. em.. wa..
  41. Never play with spray paint
  42. Never leave tennis balls on the stairs
  43. Say “no” if a stranger asks you to go to their house
  44. Lock your bike
  45. Wear a life jacket on boats
  46. ?
  47. ?
  48. Never play soccer in the living room
  49. Never reach over the hot stove when wearing loose sleeves
  50. ?
  51. Never bother a big dog while it’s eating
  52. ?
  53. ?
  54. Lock up your valuables
  55. ?
  56. ?
  57. Never leave a full wading pool where someone might fall into it
  58. ?
  59. Never…
  60. ?
  61. Never play on construction sites
  62. Never listen to music playing too loud
  63. ?
  64. ?
  65. ?
  66. ?
  67. Stay off thin ice
  68. Keep sharp objects away from children
  69. Never run in high heels
  70. Always wear light-colored clothing at night
  71. Never run on a wet pool deck
  72. Never swim near a storm sewer
  73. Never sit too close to the television
  74. Never stand up in a bus while it’s moving
  75. Never use a blowdryer in the bathtub
  76. Never dry your socks in the microwave oven
  77. Never stand on a swivel chair
  78. Stay away from firecrackers
  79. Never breath… fumes…
  80. Wipe up drool
  81. Stay away from abandoned refrigerators
  82. Always swim with a buddy
  83. ?
  84. ?
  85. Stay away from guns
  86. Keep your legs inside car windows
  87. ?
  88. Turn off the TV before you unplug it
  89. ?
  90. ?
  91. ?
  92. ?
  93. Always keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes under your bed
  94. Ride bikes only on posted…
  95. ?
  96. Never play in the car alone
  97. Never accept rides from strangers
  98. Never use an elevator in a fire
  99. Do not go swimming during electrical storms
  100. Never turn your back on a strange dog
  101. Always stick with your buddy

That’s 68 rules. There’s another 42 where you can’t make out the number:

  • Never play loud music into headphones
  • Look both ways before your cross the street
  • Know your neighbors
  • Keep your eyes open
  • ..bee sting kit if allergic
  • Never lick a stop sign in the winter
  • Eat hamburg well done
  • Keep off furniture
  • Che.. foo.. We…
  • Watch your step…
  • Never fly kites near power lines
  • Prepare for fire…
  • Look before you leap
  • Check how deep the water is before you dive
  • Never give information over the phone to strangers
  • Never leave a bar of soap where someone might step on it
  • Buckle your seat belt
  • Never put anything in your nose
  • Never drink anything you find under the sink
  • …before you pet them
  • Dispose of banana peels properly
  • Clean up broken glass
  • Read the instructions before operating appliances
  • Check water temperature for climbing in the bathtub
  • No biking on the sidewalk
  • Always check smoke alarm batteries…
  • Keep necklaces…
  • …while the mixer…s on
  • …escape from fire
  • Say …no… to drugs
  • Wash your hands after you use the toilet
  • Stay away from alcohol
  • Never leave a thumbtack where someone might sit on it
  • Never put anything in your ear
  • Never accept rides from strangers
  • Never eat mayonnaise that’s been sitting in the sun
  • Never play in the microwave oven
  • Never tilt your chair back on two legs
  • Never play with spray cans
  • Always pull the toothpick out of your sandwich
  • Never run with a pop bottle in your mouth
  • …might slip on it

So that’s 110 rules. I’ll always be reminded of this book when I (too frequently) stand on a swivel chair.

Important things I learned while buying a new car

Buying a new car is lot of work and really not much fun, but I learned a few things during my recent experience. Mostly, I followed the awesome tips at RealCarTips, but there’s a few tweaks to their tips that worked for me.

It's a braaand new car!

1. Contact a lot more dealers
RealCarTips suggests contacting 7 local dealers. Because it was so easy to do online, I ended up contacting over 30 through their websites. That’s probably overkill, but it only took one to undercut the rest and allow me to use that price to get an even better price out of other dealers. In particular, you might get a dealer that’s out in the boonies to give you a great price, so you use that price to get a better deal from a more local dealer. Consider the distance to the dealer if they offer free scheduled maintenance. You’re not going to drive 100 miles for an oil change.

2. Don’t let dealers spam you
The most important part of communicating with dealers is to NOT give them your direct contact info. I have a Google Voice number that never rings. It just always goes right to voicemail. It was perfect. You might also consider setting up a new Gmail or Yahoo! Mail account for the process. I’m still getting calls and emails now, over a month after I bought a car. Their email unsubscribe systems (if they have them) don’t always work.

3. Negotiate over email
I really preferred using email instead of negotiating over the phone. It’s easier to forward a price quote from one dealer to another than describing the price over the phone and making sure they believe you.

4. Get detailed pricing
Make sure you’re really precise about getting pricing from dealers and that means getting the OTD (out the door) price. Make sure they’re breaking it down so you know if car’s price includes the manufacturer’s destination fee, the dealer’s documentation fee, tax, title, registration and other odd charges like wheel locks. Apparently, wheel theft is a real problem on car dealers’ lots, so they install wheel locks. Some dealers will add this cost to you at the end. Also ask if the price assumes any financing incentives.

5. If you’re replacing a car, get a trade-in quote from the dealer
They’re probably going to lowball you and you should refuse it and sell it yourself, but you could be surprised. The worst case scenario is they give you a quote that makes you feel great when you sell it on Craigslist for thousands more. If you do trade it in, make sure that the trade-in value is clearly separated from the price of the new car so you still know how much you’re paying.

6. Just say no to the finance guy
Just say no to warranties and anything else the finance person tries to sell you. They’re always moneymakers for dealer and are never designed to be in your financial best interest. If you are interested in the warranty for some reason, don’t let the finance person amortize the cost of the warranty across the duration of your finance/lease payment. Get the total cost.

7. Buy accessories online
For non-installed accessories like floor mats, check eBay and other sites online where you might find them cheaper. Dealers will often sell accessories at full markup when buying a car, but you can turn around and buy them from their website for cheaper!

It had been 14 years since I negotiated a price of a car and I was intimidated by the process. In the end, I think I got a pretty good deal. Thanks, internet!


Keeping your old iPhone costs you $225 a year

With the new iPhones out and my contract up, I’ve been trying to decide if upgrade my 4S is worth it. It’s working fine and apart from the battery life sucking, it seems no different from the day I got it.

iPhone 5s

Once I did the math, I decided it would be financially foolish not to upgrade immediately.

Consider that an unlocked, contract-free 16GB iPhone 5s costs $649. Buying it with a 2-year contract costs you $200. So that’s a difference of $450 or $225/year. Where does that $225/year come from? You’re making monthly payments on it as part of your mobile bill. The math follows on the 32GB and 64GB versions too, with $225 covering the $200/$300/$400 difference from the off-contract price.

So if you do nothing, you’re paying to subsidize a phone you already own.  Your wireless carrier is just milking you.

Now if you upgrade your phone and pay $200, you’re still making $225-$200 = $25 in year one! The math gets better if you sell your old phone. My 2-year old 32GB 4S fetches $155 for trade-in on Gazelle. So now I’m “making” $180.

Now of course this assumes $649 is a fair price for an iPhone, despite that it costs only about $200 to make one. If you were take off typical 50% retail markup, then you’re about even over 2 years. Unless of course you buy the gold iPhone which is worth more because, you know, it’s goooollld.

Baseball is a game of 3s

I noticed last night that baseball is a game of many 3s.

Everyone knows you get 3 strikes and each team gets 3 outs per inning.
But there’s also 3 x 3 innings per game
3 x 3 defensive men are on the field a time
There are 3 x 10 ft between bases
Bases are at 3 x 3 x 10 degrees from each other
Games last about 3 hours
Most series are played in 3s
There are 3 divisions per league
There are 3 x 10 teams in the MLB
There are three levels of minor league teams, the highest being triple A
Each team plays 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 2 games per year
Including spring training, players play 3 x 3 months of the year
Babe Ruth, who many consider the best player of all time, wore number 3
If you get a hit in 1/3 of your at bats, you’re doing really well
If your team wins 2/3 of your games, you’re guaranteed to win your division
If your team loses 2/3 of your games, you’re guaranteed to lose your division

Did I miss any?

The Engineer’s Job Search Battle Plan: 8 Simple Steps to a Dream Job

A while ago I wrote about how companies can hire the best engineers. Here’s the other side of that process: how to find your engineering dream job.

Battle of Laxington

Congratulations! Whether you’ve decided it’s time to move on from your current job, you just quit, or you were laid off, you already have a new job – finding your next job! Finding a new job can be more work than having a job. Yeah, the pay sucks, but it can be fun and rewarding in the end. During my last job search, I loved catching up with old friends to find out where they were and met a lot of interesting new people.

Disclaimer: as I noted in my last post, this is written more for engineering jobs where the market is very strong and you may be looking at lots of opportunities and multiple offers. Unfortunately the job market is not so sunny for many other lines of work, so some of the tips here may be less relevant.

Anyway, here’s how to approach your new job.

Step 0: Grieve your last loss

Changing jobs can be very stressful. It can be trying, especially if you didn’t leave your last job on your own terms or it didn’t work out like you had hoped. The first thing you need to do is take some time, grieve for your last job and process the end of it. The last thing you want is to be in an interview and let feelings of anger or sadness come out with a potential future employer. Take a weekend, take a week, take a month, but before you start looking again, make sure you feel closure on your last job.

Step 1: Stock your armory

I can’t fathom a serious job search these days without using LinkedIn. In fact, I used it exclusively as my resume. (For recruiters who insist on a PDF version, there’s an export link.) Fork over $25 a month for LinkedIn Premium to get all the bonus functionality, the best being able to see who’s been looking at your profile. You can’t do that with a PDF or Word resume you’re emailing around.

Update your profile with your latest job details, update details of your previous roles, add any awards, patents and solicit recommendations.

Step 2: Strategize

There are three questions every employer is going ask you, so you want to think hard about them and make sure you know exactly how you’re going to respond.

  • What drives you?

    What kind of work gets you so charged up you can’t sleep at night? What have been your favorite professional moments?

  • Why do you want to work here?

    Given your answer to the previous question, how does a company align (or not) with what you want to do? This will also help you figure out your targets for step 2.

  • Why did you leave your last job?

    This may be the trickiest one, especially if you didn’t leave your last job on great terms. Be honest without being disparaging of yourself or your former employer. Future employers don’t want to hire someone who has a history of bitterly remembering former employers.


Step 3: Pick your targets

Start making a list of potential employers. These may be companies you admire, places where friends work, or even places you’ve worked before. For Boston startups, I found Startups in Boston, BosInno, @ScottKirsner, and Xconomy to be good sources for figuring out who’s hot and who’s hiring. Look for companies that are growing or recently got funding.

At this point, I think it’s good to get organized with a spreadsheet that tracks all the information you’re going to gather on each company. Here’s a template of the one I used. Copy it and tweak it to your needs.

The last set of columns are a bunch of subjective metrics I used to rate each company. While I didn’t simply take the job with the highest score, it did help me rationalize and compare each opportunity.

Step 4: Attack!

It’s time to get yourself out there. Your LinkedIn updates may have already gotten you some bites, but now’s the time to be direct.

You may not want to hit all your companies all at once. Here’s why – in general, the bigger company, the slower their hiring process is going to be. If you apply to a big company and a tiny startup on the same day and you eventually get offers from both, you’ll likely get the offer from the startup way earlier. This puts you in a pickle: do you wait to see if the big company will give you an offer or take the startup’s offer? An offer may have an expiration date on it too, making it more complicated. Now, a company that really wants you will be generous with the expiration or offer to extend it if you need time, but you could still end up with a mismatch in timing.

It’s in your best interest to have as many offers in at the same time as possible. It helps you to compare the offers against each other and negotiate if the one you want is lacking in any way. That said, this is a tricky dance to pull off. Potential employers don’t want to have to compete and they also want you to want them just as much as they want you. So you may not want to volunteer information about what other offers you have or what you’re waiting on. Just as you want companies to respect you, respect them as well, because you want to start off the relationship right with the one you take and keep the door open with the ones you don’t.

Find the resume submission form on each of your target companies’ websites. If you can, try to get referred in through a friend or former colleague at that company via LinkedIn or email. It’s much more likely that you’ll hear back than submitting a faceless website form.

While this is a good start to finding your next job, it’s likely you won’t discover all the companies out there who are hiring or you find interesting. That’s where networking comes in.

Step 5: Infiltrate

Networking is key to building roads into companies and discovering opportunities, especially with small startups that may be hard to find otherwise.

A couple of good ways to meet people are through technical Meetups in your area and joining relevant LinkedIn Groups. Other social networks like Facebook and Twitter may be useful too, but probably less so than Meetup or LinkedIn.

Be sure to stick around after meetups, talk to the speakers, let them know you’re looking for a new opportunity and ask if they know of places where you’d be a good fit.

All of these activities I would consider active networking. It’s also useful to do more passive networking. For example, every once in a while I would post an update to Twitter and/or Facebook regarding a mildly amusing anecdote from my interview process. While it might have seemed that I was just sharing a funny story, I was also reminding people that I was in the market. Several leads came to me from friends and former coworkers who saw a post and pointed me to an opportunity.

Step 6: Engage in hand-to-hand combat

Eventually you’re going to end up in some interviews, either on the phone, in person and likely both.

To get the offer, you’re going to have to perform well in these and the only way to ensure that is to prepare as much as you can. Here’s some concrete activities to complete before each interview:

  • Research the company and make sure you understand their business. Come up with at least one thing (in your opinion) they could do better in case they ask.
  • Look for interview questions previously asked on Glassdoor. If you get one of these questions, consider yourself lucky as a good company will retire a question once it becomes public. But nailing a question because you studied it before hand can’t hurt.
  • Read Programming Interviews Exposed and The Algorithm Design Manual. They’re both good prep work and refreshers on the fundamental computer science principles that you have forgotten since your college courses. If you get asked any of the questions in these books, you’re very lucky. Most top companies will ask more complicated variations of them.

After the interview, follow up with the recruiter or manager to thank them and also make sure they have a reminder in their inbox to get back to you.

Also, make sure to write down some notes about the company. It’s easy to get cloudy on the details of each company once you’ve talked to a few and you don’t want to annoy a company by asking them the same questions again.

Step 7: Emerge victorious

After interviewing, the hardest part may be the waiting. You may get an offer immediately after the interview or it could take weeks. Again, it’s usually a factor of the company size and the layers of management that may need to be involved in a hiring decision. You can use your LinkedIn Premium account to see if your potential employers are still looking at your profile, even if they’re not directly communicating with you.

When you get an offer, make sure you get it in writing and get clarifications on any questions you have. Before you sign anything, make sure you understand

  • Health plan benefits. What’s your cost per paycheck?
  • Dental benefits
  • Vision benefits
  • Who your manager will be
  • Expectations for work travel
  • Vacation time
  • “Normal” working hours
  • Work from home policy
  • Target bonus and how bonuses are funded
  • 401k. Is there matching?
  • Transportation costs and time
  • Any other special perks

You may want to try commuting to a potential employer’s office during the time you’d normally arrive to make sure you understand how much time it will take and work out any public transportation logistics.

Stock options are very important to understand and many privately held companies may not volunteer all the information you need to calculate their value. What you need is the strike price (or a recent strike price), the number of granted options, and the valuation of the company. Be very suspicious of any company that won’t give you the details to figure this out. This information is often closely held, but they should give you what you need. If not, you may be getting screwed.

Once you have all the information you’ve organized, it’s time to make a decision. For decisions like this, I usually have a gut feeling. While the spreadsheet is there as a rational backup, I usually have one or two options I’m really excited about. That should be your choice.

Congratulations on your choice! However, once you start, it’s still not time to relax. Behave as you’re still being interviewed. Good luck!

4 Essential Tips for Hiring the Best Engineers

As I worked my way through my recent job search, I met a lot of people. Many of them were headhunters, corporate recruiters and hiring managers. They all worked differently, but I found the most effective ones had similar qualities.

While I don’t claim to be an amazing engineer, it’s a buyer’s market for engineering job seekers right now and if you want to hire the best talent, here’s some tips and some real examples from my search.


The best companies move fast. That’s not just the hiring folks, but the entire company. The recruiting process is direct reflection on the qualities of your company. By moving fast, you’re showing candidates what it will be like to work there and I don’t know anybody who likes slow-moving companies.

Example: Through LinkedIn, I was put in touch with the CEO of a mid-sized company. Within 2 hours, he had sent my info down to the engineering management and I had an interview scheduled for the next day. Within 24 hours I had a verbal offer. This wowed me.

Anti-Example: I contacted a recruiter at a company. It took him days to respond, but finally I set up a time to have a phone screen with him. After that, he set me up with a 1st round interview. That took a few days. A long period of time went by until I heard back about scheduling a second interview. In the meantime, other recruiters working for the same company reached out to me and asked if I was interested in talking with them, clearly oblivious to my current status. Finally, the 2nd round interview was scheduled. At the end of that round, they said that things went well and they’d  give me an offer the next day. I never heard from them again, even after I followed with them via email. If this is how you run your business, no thanks.


Unless you’re a giant corporation with thousands of positions to fill, you might not immediately see an open job description for any given candidate. But it’s critical that you look at what the candidate can bring and not if they line up with a set of bullet-point qualifications. If you find someone awesome who doesn’t fit your current job descriptions, make a new position for them. Finding people is really hard and it’s crazy try to fit people with all their odd shapes into idealized square holes.

Example: One company I talked to initially told me they didn’t have a position for me. They thought about it a bit and came back to have some initial conversations. While it didn’t work out in the end, I really respected their flexibility and openness. They really saw building a team as a puzzle, not as filling out series of checkboxes.

Anti-Example: I contacted one company because they had an interesting product. Their response was quick and dismissive: “You’re too senior for our current position.” There was no opportunity for discussion of what I was interested in doing or what I could bring to the company. Nor was the door left open for future openings they may have. I would certainly never recommend this company to my friends.


Hiring is an imperfect process. You’re trying to guess at how someone will perform at a job, often one they’ve never done before, using a series of 45-minute interviews. On the other hand, past performance is a great indicator of future performance and your employee referrals have first-hand information on that past performance. Put employee referrals at the top of your priority list!

For capturing candidates who may not know people at your company, just list a jobs@yourcompany.com email address or allow them to apply via LinkedIn. Keep it simple and easy.

Example: With one company, I reached out to someone I knew there and I was immediately introduced to a recruiter and rushed into a 1st round interview. They solicited detailed feedback from other folks I knew at the company and their feedback had a big role in their decision.

Anti-Example: At one point I heard about a company that sounded interesting, so I went to their web site to find out more. I was confronted with several pages of forms (including salary history and complete references!) all in separate fields. Never mind that most of this information was already readily available on my LinkedIn profile, this was just to get a phone screen. Through some LinkedIn spelunking, I found out that a former coworkers was there, so I sent him an email. He said he would pass me along to a recruiter. The next day, I got a response from him that the recruiter said I had to apply using the website. I don’t think so.


Really, this is about doing what your mother taught you. Be nice, be courteous and timely. Follow up when you say you will. Keep the candidate informed of the process, even if it’s bad news. Don’t waste their time.

You can imagine the good examples here, so I’ll give a bunch of anti-examples:

  • On one phone screen, the first question the manager asked was my salary history. No discussion of what I wanted to do, but just what I meant in terms of money.
  • In one interview loop, I was left alone in a conference room for 10+ minutes between each interviewer while I saw the interviewers wandering by in the hall and chatting.
  • One interviewing manager spent several minutes telling me how much he didn’t like working with one of my former companies and how he never wanted their company to be like that.
  • During one interview, the interviewer stared mostly at his phone and appeared to be texting.

That’s it. Recruiting is everyone’s job and the recruiting process is critical in showing off your company. I don’t care if you have a massage room, ping-pong and free lunches if your recruiting process is slow, inflexible or disrespectful.

In the end, most candidates will make the decision about their next career move based on some gut feeling. If your recruiting process is broken, their guts will not lie.