Recruiting Humans with HTTP Headers
March 12th, 2014
Since joining MaxCDN 3 years ago, I’ve seen a lot of HTTP headers. In fact, I have a bash alias in my profile named icurl:
alias icurl="curl -I"
(The -I flag returns the HTTP headers without fetching the actual content of the page.)
Recently, a header struck a chord and made me say “%$#@ that’s cool”. It’s long been removed, but the geniuses at a little company named Automattic had a great recruiting technique hidden in a HTTP response:
X-Human: Hello Hacker. Work for us: firstname.lastname@example.org
After seeing that, I added a todo in Evernote: “One day I will create something cool on the interwebs and add my own custom HTTP header”.
X-Hello-Human: You should work for us! Email: jdorfman+theheader-at-maxcdn.com or @MaxCDNDeveloper on Twitter
I didn’t really expect much, maybe an email or two from a tech recruiter (I guess they’d have to be much more clever than usual… *zing!*).
And… the tactic worked! We get 3-4 resumes a week from this method, not including the Twitter love that reaches all the followers of a potential candidate:
Well played sir. X-Hello-Human @MaxCDNDeveloper
— Seray Uzgur (@serayuzgur) March 7, 2014
— Mike Kyffin (@mdkyffin) February 21, 2014
Just saw the X-Hello-Human header, @MaxCDNDeveloper. Clever way of finding candidates!
— King Chung Huang (@kinghuang) February 13, 2014
Here’s my favorite of all:
— Jan Felix Wiebe (@jfwiebe) October 10, 2013
You can see more responses here: https://twitter.com/MaxCDNDeveloper/favorites
While we haven’t yet closed the loop and hired anyone from this method, I will say say I’ve met amazing developers who are now in my rolodex.
And in the notoriously difficult world of tech recruiting, getting your company name out there and showing you’re a cultural fit means a lot.
Takeaway: Use HTTP headers as a 120-byte recruiting/marketing technique that filters for tech-savvy, inquisitive candidates. Try it for yourself:
Header set X-Human 'Work for us';
add_header X-Human 'Work for us';
appcmd set config /section:httpProtocol /+customHeaders.[name='X-Human',value='Work for us']
That’s it for today: go find qualified nerds with HTTP headers.
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