Even in this today's economy, there are rapidly expanding companies that have set big hiring targets.
Companies are looking to attract top candidates by, among other things, putting advertisements on buses and combing social networks like LinkedIn to search for people with tech expertise and problem-solving skills.
Executives at these firms say they are looking for people who are selfless and willing to work collaboratively. They will examine a potential employee's work history as well as test his or her skills and assess smarts.
Virtually all of these companies want to hire employees with passion, who are willing to contribute ideas and energy. The hiring execs could find evidence of passion might in a career accomplishment or even a hobby.
For the second time in as many months, Computerworld is highlighting 10 selected firms that are looking to hire tech workers.
Acquity Group, which builds websites and other Internet enabled applications, has hired 190 people so far this year and expects to add another 10 employees before the year ends. It currently has 475 employees, and plans to hire many more next year.
"We try to hire people who enjoy working with one another," said Jim Newman, executive vice president of operations. Some office connections have turned into friendships and "several marriages," he said.
Acquity clients include General Motors, AT&T, Motorola, Discover Financial, American Medical Association, and Sears.
Chicago-based Acquity seeks back-end and front-end developers, including Java developers who know CSS and HTML, as well as business analysts, application and information architects, visual designers, user experience specialists, and project managers.
The company has a campus recruitment program and about 25% of its hires this year will be recent college graduates, with the rest experienced hires, said Newman.
About 20% are hired though employee referrals, said Newman.
The recruiting process is rigorous, said Newman. It includes an initial screening with a recruiter where skills are assessed with a technical test. There's a telephone interview with a developer, followed by face-to-face interviews with teams of two people. One team will focus on technical requirements, and another on functional needs.
Acquity assesses the written communication capabilities of candidates with an essay question.
The work environment is "open and collaborative" with few offices and a casual dress code, said Newman.
The company may hire as many as 300 employees next year, said Newman.
Ideeli had an IT staff of 12 a year ago. The Internet flash sale retailer now has more than 60 IT employees, and is searching for more.
"My business partners have an insatiable demand for new features and functionality that we cannot deliver fast enough for them," said Eduardo Frias, the senior vice president of engineering at the New York City-based company.
Ideeli uses an open source technology stack, Ruby on Rails, on top of MySQL. The company is seeking people who can help it develop everything from user interface features to back-end scalability.
The company is seeking project, program and product managers, developers, testers, system engineers, system administrators, application support personnel, and data science and data services experts.
Ideeli is only interested in top performers, said CTO Mark Uhrmacher. "The right folks make an extraordinary difference in a small period of time," he said.
Its vetting process includes asking software development candidates to solve problems "that people actually run into," said Uhrmacher.
Attitude matters at Ideeli, whose workers must be comfortable in a rapidly changing, fast-paced environment of team players.
"Having a company full of incredibly capable jerks is not interesting to any of us," said Uhrmacher.
Ideeli has a lot of activities for employees, including parties, sports leagues, and 30% discounts on merchandise.
The retailer also encourages creativity through its so-called "debt free Friday" (a takeoff on technical debt) program, which offers engineers the time to work on something they may have a personal interest in, such as a new dashboard or improving an algorithm. "It's one of those things where they feel they can contribute from the bottom up to the company," said Frias.
Ticketmaster is a product of mergers and acquisitions -- and its technology mix reflects that.
The online ticket retailer has engineers with expertise in everything from VAX Assembly Language to Java, Perl, PHP and Python. It has system administrators, database administrators, an architecture group, engineering staff and other IT roles.
CTO Joe Manna said Ticketmaster is emphasizing innovation, and is building a computing platform to make its ticketing processes more social, interactive and capable of adding value. It is also doing a lot with its data to glean new insights.
"The fan for us a real centerpoint of our strategy, so we love it when people come in and bring their own ideas to the table," said Manna.
Ticketmaster's global technology organization ranges from 600 to 700 people, not including consultants and other variable labor, said Manna.
The company currently has 100 tech openings across the U.S., a combination of filling vacancies and expanding to build out new platforms. It expects to have a staff of around 800 IT employees next year.
It is trying to standardize on the Java, PHP and Perl environments. "In tech right now, the competition is pretty fierce for hiring people," said Manna.
The company has a dedicated recruiting staff. In-person interviews include meetings with people from the product and project management teams, and in engineering and operations.
"We try to give each candidate exposure to the broader group -- it's not just engineering interviewing engineers," said Manna.
The applicant most likely to get attention of Ticketmaster recruiters has strong technology base, can demonstrate passion, and will ask good questions, said Manna.
Best perk: Employees often get good seats for shows and access to clubs.
Tendril, a smart grid technology developer in Boulder, Colo., is seeking people proficient in Java and Ruby on Rails development, and can also create firmware software.
Tendril faces the typical recruiting problems of smaller firms in competing against the the big tech companies and in its case with companies located in popular east and west coast locations.
Tendril has put help-wanted advertisements on buses in the Boulder area and has even "shrink-wrapped" a light-rail train with a "hiring top software engineers" advertisement to draw attention to the company.
"We place such a high importance on the culture fit," said Dawn Curlee, VP of human capital. Tendril is looking for candidates "that can tell us past experiences that demonstrate teamwork and selflessness and lack of ego and passion," she added.
There are about 65 employees in Tendril's engineering organization. The company employs 190 overall, up from 92 employees at the start of the year.
The company is hiring about 10 people a month today, about half of which are technical workers.
Tendril assesses a candidate's problem solving skills by, for instance, asking him or her to describe the requirements of an elevator.
Chris Black, the VP of engineering at the firm, looks for evidence of problem solving skills in a candidate's answers to that question. He listens for clarifying questions that seek information on the type of elevator, the building, as well as the applicant's problem solving along the way. The intent is to discover "how comprehensively they are going to think about the problem," he said.
Tendril also conducts technical testing to see if an applicant can use the latest features from the newest version of the JDK.
Best reason for working for this working at this company: "Our technology is one that we believe is going to help save the planet or make the planet a better place, and every single employee here feels passion around that mission," said Curlee.
Palo Alto, Calif., based Tango makes tools that allow people to communicate via video on virtally any device. Its product is just over a year old and it has been adding users at a rapid pace -- more than 27 million so far.
About a million registered users are added every two weeks. It expects to have over 100 million registered users in 2012.
The company, which launched in 2009 in stealth mode with two people, has 85 employees today with openings for about 18 more. The firm expects to have as many as 200 employees in a year.
Tango is seeking workers that have the right fundamentals in computer science, are quick studies and can adapt to new technologies, said Jean-Philippe Emelie Marcos, VP of finance and business operations.
The company does extensive testing and uses coding exercises as part of its hiring process.
It wants candidates who are motivated to work in an environment that releases code every two weeks, said Marcos. Tango's fast release schedule helps it keep up with the arrival of new mobile products.
Tango believes its competitors include giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, among others, which prompts an aggressive corporate mentality.
"We got to be the best and the smartest in order to win," said Marcos. That attitude helps facilitate a culture where employees don't hesitate to raise issues and communicate.
"Everybody tries to make the product better," he said.
Mission Critical Wireless
Mission Critical Wireless provides managed services for wireless deployments, helping companies worldwide build architectures and implement wireless technoligies. The Lincolnshire, Ill., firm was founded in 2004 and has 100 employees with plans to hire about a dozen more, said CEO Dan Croft.
The company seeks people with technical skill sets in communications and messaging.
"We like people who have been in the real world, who have been operating within an IT organization and have specific direct responsibilities for implementation and ongoing maintenance of various IT solutions," said Croft.
The wireless market is changing quickly, and Croft says he is seeking people who are passionate about the technology and are ready to learn new things like the emerging "mobile device management platform" that enables companies to gain varying levels of control over disparate devices, including popular iPhone and Android devices.
The company's hiring process includes an in-house designed essay-style question designed to test technical knowledge.
"We want to see their logic and reasoning with how they go about problem solving," said Croft.
Coupa Software, which builds on-demand purchasing and expense management systems, currently has just under 100 employees and plans to potentially double that over the next year, said CEO Rob Bernshteyn.
The company is seeking workers who understand the value of a dollar and the importance of finding good deals, because "that's the culture with which we approach our customers," said Bernshteyn.
San Mateo, Calif.-based Coupa is seeking Ruby on Rails developers with an entrepreneurial attitude and are interested in developing new modules and capabilities.
The firm also needs mobile software developers for both iPhone and Android devices, as well as platform developers who know how to scale.
Its hiring efforts include sponsoring a Ruby on Rails meet-up at its office.
The firm requires some candidates to complete quizzes designed to test his or her ability to frame a problem. That quiz may be along the lines of the well-known problem of how many golf balls can someone fit into a bus.
Of those people who make it to interviews, one in seven is hired, said Bernshteyn.
New York-based Medidata Solutions, which makes Software-as-a-Service products for drug, medical device and other clinical trials, has hired 148 employees this year, mostly in the U.S. Medidata currently has some 775 employees globally, and expects to increase its workforce by as much as 10% in the near future.
As with all hiring companies, Medidata is interested in finding people with passion. The company seeks evidence of passion in a candidate's non-work activities, according to Arden Schneider, senior vice president of human resources.
Such activities can show "passion in anything that they are doing ... [and] shows a dedication, intellectual curiosity, and discipline," said Schneider.
The company is searching for system administrators, network engineers, cloud engineers, performance engineers, and multiple levels of software engineers as well as software quality assurance analysts.
Its technology platform includes Ruby on Rails, C#, SQL, MySQL and NoSQL, Unix and Linux, CSS and Amazon Web Services.
In attracting employees, Elliot Weinstein, director of HR operations, the company's mission is a draw. "Quite frankly, our work saves lives," he said.
If you can code effectively and elegantly, you can "take weeks off a clinical trial," said Weinstein.
Corbis, a Seattle-based digital imaging company owned by Bill Gates, is adding some 70 positions, system engineers, front-end Web developers, and experts in systems infrastructure.
The company now employs about 600 worldwide, but the open positions are all in Seattle.
The company has an aggressive technology roadmap to develop its business, said Amber Ushka, senior manager of HR recruiting.
Corbis has recruiters and uses job boards to seek qualified candidates, but because the company is well known a job ad can produce as many as 200 responses.
"The candidates that really stand out to us are the folks that demonstrate a real passion for their profession, irrespective of what the profession is," said Ushka.
Passion may appear in the things that people do in a community, or artistically, whether its photography or writing, said Ushka.
Corbis values a collaborative approach. "We like to hear great ideas -- we like people who have the guts to bring those ideas forward," said Ushka.
Corbis is hiring for a wide range of jobs, including database developers and engineers, tech support workers and data analysts.
The major tech companies are always filling positions, and right now Intel has more than 900 openings -- about 500 regular full-time jobs and 400 internships in engineering and manufacturing.
The number one position to fill are software engineers, the company said. Intel is also seeking component design engineers, process engineers, manufacturing technicians and hardware engineers.
For any open position, the company typically gets more than 100 applicants.
For those who make it to on-site interviews, candidates are asked several open-ended questions and interviewers look for creative and problem solving answers.
Intel provides eligible employees with an eight-week sabbatical, with full salary and benefits, after every seven years of full-time service. The company, in written responses to questions from Computerworld, said the perk allows "employees to completely unplug and come back to work refreshed and rejuvenated."
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov , or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected] .
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