Placement Spotlight: Greg

Placement Spotlight – Sorting through over 200 candidates and placing an SRE in 3 weeks


A Little Background

Our client, a Series-B internet startup, backed by Menlo Ventures, was in significant need of a Site Reliability Engineer. In the current market SREs are in high demand. As an internet company, you can’t afford to have your website or apps go down and be unavailable – it ruins your reputation and damages your revenue.

The client needed a candidate who understood infrastructure as code (IaC), cloud architecture, and DevOps. They would be working closely with the CTO and technology leaders to build performant, automated, scalable, and self-healing systems with Docker, Kubernetes, Terraform, and AWS.

The Problem

For roles such as this, there is a shortage of skills and available talent. Making matters worse, many of those with the necessary skills don’t even have the title Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) but are working under different job titles. This can cause the search to drag on as it is increasingly difficult and complex to find candidates who are the right fit.

Our Approach

We reached out to around 200 individuals in our network, whittling the list down to around 20 or 30 who we held conversations with. We presented the top 3 candidates to the client.

“It’s intensive work,” says George, “but this is a big part of what we do. Reaching out to our referral network, to potential candidates on LinkedIn. Searching our internal database, and so on. Even to search for 200 targeted candidates requires a lot of experience in search. Then the searches we produce need to be tweaked and re-tweaked.”

“Next, we review qualifications, experience, and skills. We also want to see good tenure. We want to see that if we place them, they are unlikely to want to move within a couple of years.”

“The messages we sent were crafted in a way to make people want to respond. Most people we approach are passive candidates. They aren’t looking for a job. So, we must make them curious – something that offers growth, or a better opportunity, work/life balance, or a bigger challenge, and so on.”

“Once presented to the client, we guided the candidates through the interview process. We put together a mini cover letter. Then prepared them for each interview, and debriefed after every conversation,” explains George.

The Candidate

“We had to ensure that the candidate had a combination of software engineering and infrastructure experience, and the right personality,” George explains.

“The candidate who was hired was ‘fantastic on the personality side’. A low-ego, down-to-earth, great communicator, capable of explaining highly technical topics in a way to make them understandable to most people.”

The candidate had a BS in Engineering and their background includes giving presentations and talks, giving training on subjects like IaC, and previous startup experience. Out of 12 years of relevant job experience, they had spent nine years at a startup where they worked directly with the founder and CTO.

The End Result

“This really was an unconventional search. Because of our understanding and our network, we got it done for the client really quickly,” says George.

The selected candidate had exactly the right combination of technical and communication skills, but also they are very much a thought-leader in the SRE space.

For the candidate, the biggest attraction was the culture. The position is much more engineering-focused than their former role and it reflects the focus of the startup they joined. Second, there was a step up in compensation from their existing job – including a larger base salary and equity. Third, they had been in their current role for almost three years – and they wanted to get back to a tech-focused startup.

The entire process only took 3 weeks.

staff software engineerThe Kofi Group Edge

Recruiting a quality candidate quickly requires senior-level experience, a deep network to leverage, and hard, time-consuming effort. We’ve got years of experience putting all of this into practice.

The approach we took to fill this role is typical of the lengths we go to for our clients. It’s the only way to get perfect candidate fits – and if there is a disconnect halfway through the process, we’ll take action to correct this. We pride ourselves on making the match, and ensuring it’s a rewarding and stress-free process for client and candidate.

If you are hiring for your startup, you will benefit from the same partnership approach when you get in touch with Kofi Group.