@thegostev / revealing truth about tech leadership, growth, human side of decision making


How companies attract people: 2 dramatic stories from trenches

May 2024 3 min read

Have you been to extremely skillful and interesting teams or companies and vice versa? I'd share my experience from both worlds so it can be a start of the thinking process if you're interested in the topic. There'd be a short story about 2 organizations and their differences. Both are in tech, in the same city, approximately at the same time.


A startup that quickly became profitable, with 3 people on board, grew to 20, then to 30 people. Hiring strategy wasn't dependent on current needs.

The hypothesis that worked out well was that strong developers know other strong developers. So if it was an info that someone from the 1-2 handshakes was looking for a new opportunity or generally speaking is ready to a conversation, he/she was quickly immediately hired in 30-50% of times.

Misses in the hiring process happened but they were surprisingly rare. On the positive side, the team was so colorful:

  • A blonde model-looking lady that did rather complex HTML/CSS/JS markup in 3 hours, when 2 days at least were expected. Then covered in a lush wooled cardigan and watched soap operas for hours until someone figured out how she can help. She effectively replaced a small department.
  • A mountaineer that went through several complex routes, e.g. Matterhorn. Had probably 0.1% amount of fat. He worked on a backend and had a reputation of a meticulous guy. He written 30 pager of a backend architecture, it felt bigger as was dense. His wife was doing some enduro racing and jumping.
  • A jazz-singer lady was doing customer support. I haven't worked with her, but she was very visible in the office, famous for making up stories about everything. I though it was her way to making fun out of increased dramatics.

Results were there both in terms of financial sustainability and expanding to new niches. Newest technologies used was an additional benefit for everybody who entered. Not just in terms of tech stack but also working in new niches. Idea-launch cycle could be as small as 2 weeks and it wasn't a rubbish that was released.


A software house with 20 years history, some famous clients and the worst reputation in the city.

When they went to other locations, it was surprising how people don't know about the company reputation and aren't ashamed at all of sharing own affiliation. Which led into conclusion that employer reputation is very much location-based.

We were joking that there are 2 types hires:

  • It's something wrong with a person.
  • It's something wrong happened in his/her life.

It was fair that we were part of the company, presuming that we were the later type but the question was always open :D

Hiring happened for a position, through a formal process, social package was almost inexistent. Interns were hired with 0 salary for first 3 months, I'm still shocked by this fact. Salaries were a bit higher than the market, difference between lowest and highest could be as big as 30 times.

Disengagement was a standard mode of operation. Once I got a developer in a team that had a habit of disappearing for 1-2 weeks without real explanation. Folks told that he was binge drinking.

Everyone who had an interesting skillset and experience tried to make a unique agreements with management, to stay out of the regular management flows and working by rules that he or she sets how him/herself.

Each setting presents unique opportunities and challenges

A miracle happened in the uncool company. We turned it around, from a complete bottom it became an upper 50% on the market by my subjective view. I'm still extremely proud of this job. It feels like you made a decent movie for a cinema with $100 budget and a bunch of folks that never acted.

For the cool company it was very hard to get into consensus on almost any decision. A 8 h. discussion on how we should name a new game I still can recall. When 3 people were in the team it was highly productive but it was enough for having issues with communication and mutual ignorance. It was a thing of working with high-ego rockstars where unexpectedly it was important to push your opinion hard to make a product happen.

Each of these employments were equally challenging and rewarding. I proud of both as success wasn't granted from the start. It was easier to fail than to win. But it happened that our hard work, focus, goodwill, vision paid off.

Source: Disney, Beauty and the Beast.
Source: Disney, Beauty and the Beast.