[David Strom's Web Informant] A new way to get a coding job

David Strom david at strom.com
Mon Apr 6 09:59:06 EDT 2015

​Web Informant, April 6, 2015: A new way to get a coding job​

I am now working as a consultant for a non-profit that, if successful, will
change the way programmers and other tech types will get hired in our
industry. It is an exciting time and I wanted to share with you who they
are, what they are doing, and how you can help the effort.

The organization is called LaunchCode, and I have written about them here.
<http://blog.strom.com/wp/?p=4059> The idea is to improve the way job
candidates get screened for open positions, and to improve the supply chain
of candidates, at the same time lowering the risk of a new hire for an

Finding coders is hard, especially in those parts of the country outside
the traditional tech hubs. It is hard to recruit them because hiring
managers are busy, or they delegate the task to recruiters who don't
understand who is needed or the skills that are required. Some of the best
programmers are people from non-traditional backgrounds, making them hard
to evaluate. Many positions often go unfilled for months.

Enter LaunchCode. Last year they got started here in St. Louis by finding
opportunities for people who had programming skills but hadn't been hired
because of a lack of typical credentials. They later expanded their reach
by helping people take the introductory Harvard computer science class,
CS50.In the year or so that they have been around, they have managed to get
more than 160 people hired in dozens of companies in town, ranging from the
largest IT shops to brand new startups. It is an impressive track record.

But that isn't enough and they aren't satisfied. They are trying to do
several things at once to expand their reach:

   - First, create a* large ecosystem of educational providers* that offer
   coding instruction, to help people who need to brush up on their skills get
   better. While they started with Harvard and have a great partnership there,
   they have since expanded into more than 20 different providers that are
   teaching coding classes.
   - Second, develop a *better way to vet people* who are ready to enter
   the workforce by testing practice coding knowledge and how well a candidate
   will work in a team. That is their real secret sauce: if you can have
   something akin to a SAT but to predict coding prowess rather than just
   college performance, hiring managers are going to take notice. Years ago I
   remember a friend of mine had his own coding test that worked well for him
   when he was looking for programmers. LaunchCode is trying to do this on a
   broader scale.
   - Finally, *expand to other cities* that have programming jobs aplenty
   but have had trouble hiring coders. So far they have opened an office in
   Miami and one is planned for Kansas City and a few other places.

That last point is where I come in. LaunchCode wants to go nationwide, and
to do so they need to first find the companies that are willing to support
their effort and receive coding applicants for their open positions. I am
helping them with this expansion drive, and trying to enlist as many
companies as I can, based on my contacts in our industry. Here is where you
help. If your company is in a position to hire coders, or if you know of
someone in your circle that is in this position, email or call me and let's
chat.  I think we can help them succeed and really change the way tech
hiring is done.

Comments always welcome here: http://blog.strom.com/wp/?p=4792​

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