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37signals, Craigslist, Emurse and beyond

January 5, 2008 @ 1:56pm

When I looked at everything I wanted ComicMix to do -- very little of which is visible on the site today -- I knew it would require building my dream CMS. As I got deeper into it and brainstormed with Craig and some of my other favorite web developers, I realized I would be building something that could work for any topic, not just comic books.

On Thursday I had a half dozen long phone calls where I explained Crowd Fusion to potential customers, potential employees, possible investors and a couple of old friends from around the blogosphere. Their reactions were reaffirming. Every week I have meetings and calls and it's always more of the same. I am loving this!

We have a markup genius who is transitioning from freelancing for us to full-time in a week and our management team of three looks like it will be four strong in February. Maybe even on its way to five.

Crowd Fusion is what I like to call an eight-weapon platform, but only four of those weapons have been built. Now we need to expand our product team and add those missing pieces.

I did some web designer recruiting in the summer of 2007. Craigslist was a waste of money, even at $25. The 37signals job board was pricey at $300, but my ad appeared on A List Apart and Zeldman.com and it quickly yielded a bunch of candidates who looked amazing on paper. Four of the designers I got close to hiring flaked out for various reasons and while you can't blame that on 37signals, I'm reluctant to revisit that talent pool. Maybe it was just my bad luck?

Also, unlike Craiglist, 37signals lists your email address directly on their job listing pages. I used a disposable address only for their service and it was quickly scraped and flooded with spam. Since I wasn't on Google's mail service yet and only had Outlook's meager spam filters, you can imagine how tricky it was to find candidate email among a growing pile of spam.

The only online job hunting service that worked out for me last year was Emurse -- a service that was created by some of my Blogsmith developers a few months before I met them back in 2005. I only made one match over Emurse, but the guy we found is solid. Not a flake. A keeper.

Does anyone have recommendations on good places to find web designers and developers?

I don't mind trying 37signals again and I'll definitely do some more Emurse searches this week. One designer I trust recommended Authentic Jobs, Cameron Moll's site. That one is $250 per listing. I've even had success looking for designers on CSS Beauty -- meaning I hired at least one person at AOL who I found there -- but when I submitted a job to them last summer it never got posted. There was a week-long gap in their job postings and mine never appeared. Right now they are listing jobs as current as December 17. It doesn't seem like they are serious about maintaining their job board.

What job services have you had good results with?

Every time I ask someone if they know any web talent who'd be a fit for what we're doing at Crowd Fusion, they ask me for job descriptions. Just saying "I need two Gavins, two Mikes and a Christoph" isn't enough for some people.

So I wrote up what I was looking for in web designers and web developers earlier today and I'll be posting those descriptions on some job sites this week. I just want to maximize our efforts and not waste time on job boards that bring people who don't have serious web building experience.

Update: I forgot to mention that I had found a stellar developer once before on Emurse. We needed a XUL/plug-in genius for the Netscape team and very easily located one on Emurse back in August of 2006. Christopher Finke's comment below reminded me that Ryan was my second solid Emurse match.

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