Jon Atkinson

I'm a technologist, with a long and varied history in high-end technical delivery and infrastructure management. I'm particularly interested in managing software teams, rapid application development, and scalability challenges.

Talent Spotting

29th December 2011

There has been a common theme at work recently; talent. This coincided with a spate of "how we hire people" posts on Hacker News, so I wanted to write about how we find people.

Testled is, at heart, a consulting firm. We dress it up with different language, but essentially our service is offering our expertise to clients. Our primary resource is knowledge ("We know how to do things!"), and we convert that into capital ("Pay us to do those things!").

Based on this model, clearly it's important for us to have and retain smart people who know how to do the things we need. Just the same as every other software company. The thing which I think we do differently to other companies is that we have never gone out to 'find' a person to fill a role; we just listen out for them, and try to be as flexible as possible when we do find them.

Our second major hire was our Creative Director. Alex had worked with us since day one in a freelance capacity, and once we found out that he was open to taking a full-time role, we modified our plans considerably to accomodate him. The same with our newest developer; we had a feeling that he wasn't happy in his current job, so we made space and found the money so we could make him an offer to join us.

There are a couple of factors which allow us to succeed with this approach; we are lucky to have a vibrant technology scene in the North West, and we're quite heavily involved with it. This brings us into contact with talented people on a regular basis, and the social side of these conferences and user groups allows us to avoid any difficultly integrating people into our team; they're usually already good friends by the time we bring someone on board.

Essentially, the key words are flexibility and visibility, and by adopting this 'talent spotting' approach, we have developed the most talented (and fastest grown) group of people that I've ever had the privilege of working with.