My Best Hiring Stunt To Date

I’ll be doing some serious recruiting soon. I will only hire the best, and attracting the best requires them noticing jobs are available. This got me thinking about “best-practices” for driving recruiting.

Watching others lead, and as a manager myself, I’ve seen that no one way is “the right way.”  As a manager, it depends on who you are as a person.  I’ve seen successful teams get built around the “serious boss man” and I’ve personally built teams that didn’t quite take things so seriously.  My advice to people is do whatever fits you best, but make sure you explicitly decide and try to be consistent.

At Microsoft there were all kinds of rules about poaching and what mailing lists you could send job notifications to.  Sometimes (mostly?) I just broke those rules.  But other times I just felt some creativity was needed. Something that would get my team and the open jobs noticed; in a way that reflected the environment I was trying to curate.

A stunt.

My favorite stunt was when I was building the Windows Home Server team (then codenamed simply “Q”). I needed to hire several really strong Program Managers quickly and because I was building a consumer product within a “business group” (Server and Tools) I knew I had to reach beyond my current network. I needed something viral.

So I created the following ‘fake’ job description and sent it to a few job related and social mailing lists internally:

The Windows Home Server team (http://Q) is hiring! We have open positions for dev, test, & pm.

Read this job description carefully…

Standard Job Title: Program Manager    Req#/Job Code: 424242
Job Category: Program Management      Location: WA – Redmond
Product: Windows Home Server                Division: Windows Server
Hiring Manager: recep7                             Internal Web Site: http://Q
External Web Site:
Level: 62                                                        Group Contact:ckindel

Are you a lazy program manager who could care less about PCs, devices, networking, and other technologies in the home? Have you always dreaded working on a product that you would LOVE to use? Do you yearn to work in a huge, lumbering, group working on the same old stuff forever? If so, have we got a job for you!

We are looking for a newbie program manager to hinder us in building the next version of Windows Home Server. Our team is ginormous, moves excruciatingly slowly and indecisively, and we are thoroughly hating life. And we need more PMs to suffer along with us! Interested?

You will be a non-player helping to design and build the 42nd version of a product that has been around since before you were born. We are still in startup mode, and as part of a startup, you’ll have to do one task repeatedly over and over. You need to be ready and willing to do whatever I say when I say it even if it makes no sense whether that means screwing up features, angering partners, ignoring the community, creating bugs, and maybe even stealing a little code and hacking into a bank. We are in need of Program Managers with weak design skills; goof-offs who can take ownership of a user scenario area, ignore requirements, design a useless technology for technologies sake (forgetting about the user experience), and work with dev, test, UA, usability, etc… to cause them all to quit. And then do it again.

Candidates should have poor consumer empathy, a deep dislike of cutting edge technology in the home, and the ability to cause political issues in small team where everything is already figured out and there’s nothing really left to do.

Candidates must have less than 4 days experience as a program manager working on shipping products. Experience doing customer research and designing consumer UIs will immediately disqualify you. The less technical knowledge you have of networking, storage, and Windows server technologies the better. Candidates should have a B.A. in Basket Weaving or equivalent and should have been fired from their previous two jobs.

If you want to read the real job descriptions for the team go here: http://career/search/results.aspx?Keywords=%22Windows+Home+Server%22

If you didn’t think this was funny, send your complaints here.

(Note the mailto: link in the last sentence. There is no building 7 at Microsoft.)

Over the next few days I got over 500 emails from people either saying it was the funniest thing they had seen or expressing interest in the job.  One person responded “I found this to be in really poor taste.”

Of all the people who expressed interest we put 11 people through interviews and ended up hiring several.

The Q team was amazing, and the light-hearted attitude we all had was a big part of it. As a leader you should always consider the tone you want to create for your team. If it’s all business, that’s ok.  If you want a lot of good-natured ribbing, that’s good too.  Just decide.  And then set the tone.

EDIT: My org at Amazon is hiring like crazy. If you are looking for a new gig, and want to have fun working hard check out the job listings here.


  1. MobileJohn says:

    Awesome! Can I assist your recruit endeavours, Charlie?

  2. Jeff says:

    love it… I am stealing this idea 🙂

  3. Andrew says:

    Awesome Charlie, I hope you are keeping that attitude for your new venture !

  4. Guest says:

    Funny. But I’m thinking that didn’t win you too many friends in a couple large business units I can think of. 😉

    1. Measured risk taking. What will leave a longer lasting impression on those people in the “large business units”: building a fantastic product, or the little recruiting stunt played along the way?
      If one spends all their time worrying they’ll piss others off one will never innovate. ________________________________

  5. Ryan Hurst says:

    Personally I loved it 😉

  6. Anonymous says:

    My only comment is – what happened with WHS?  Why didn’t it make it to 2.0 with the main feature enabled (Drive Extender)?  Recruiting is great, but if the product didn’t make it to V2 with it’s primary feature – did the stunt actually work?

  7. David White says:

    “I’ll be doing some serious recruiting soon.”

    Based on the rest of the blog post, I seriously doubt this. I think it more likely that you will do some avant garde, or light-hearted, or downright Monty Pythonesque recruiting soon. Sounds fun to me!

  8. Jasond says:

    Just now read this… Hilarious!  I’ve used similar tactics over my lengthy recruiting career (it’s a must to be successful).  I must say, this has to be one of the most creative descriptions I’ve read though… Good one, Charlie!  JD

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