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What am I missing? | Reply
Ok, help me understand something, because I might be missing something. TopCoder has a number of positions available for members which have opted into employment opportunities by registering here: We currently have approximately 15 clients that are looking for software engineers. The opportunities vary in technologies, locations, industry types, and the annual salaries range from $80k – $130K plus benefits. For some reason the number of people signing up to be notified of these opportunities hasn’t been what we expected.

For those that don’t know TopCoder becomes the agent for the member looking to find a new job. We will handle as much of the negotiations as possible, and get the interview set up with the client.

Now my question to the community is … Why aren’t more developers taking advantage of this service? Maybe people don’t know the salaries that are available to them. Perhaps developers don’t feel they are qualified for the positions. Or, they are completely happy with their current situation. In any event we ask for your thoughts on the matter.

Also, if you know anyone that isn’t happy with their current situation, or would like to hear about what else is out there, tell them to get rated and sign up now.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
I think it might be due to the process being somewhat unclear. Also, I don't have the statistics on this, but it's been my experience that the majority of active topcoder's are university students who might not be actively looking for positions.

As far as the process being unclear, there are two major points I can see. One, is getting knowledge about it out there. TopCoder is becoming an increasingly complicated site as you offer more services. For example, one of my friends, a frequent competitor didn't even realize there was an educational content section, a design/development competition or this service that you are providing. Getting the message out is key, I'd suggest at least pointing people towards it during SRM's. Of course there is a line at which people get annoyed with the service being advertised, but for example, adding a quite noticable image somewhere to the header of the site if you haven't signed up for the service might be an idea. Of course have an option to disable it if the person doesn't want to sign up for whatever reason.

The second big reason is lack of transparency in the process. Sure there are 15 companies there, but before this, I had no idea what kind of positions or salaries they were. Are they looking for fresh college grads, or experienced veterans? If they are looking for both, let people know that anyone and everyone is welcome to apply. What steps will I go through as a person who signs up for this service (which I have btw, I had signed up for it and I still forgot about it until TopCoder brought it back up recently)? How quickly can I expect to get a call? How many jobs are open? Etc, etc. I know some of those questions are hard/impossible to answer, but any information helps.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
Firstly, I already have a job I'm very happy with, and no interest in switching.

Secondly, I don't want anyone acting as an intermediary between me and potential employers. I did that once, and the experience was so awful I swore never again.

Thirdly, my rating isn't exactly top-tier, so I don't know how interested your clients would be. And since I don't believe TopCoder performance correlates very strongly to professional performance anyway, I'm a bit skeptical of the whole concept.

Fourthly, only 15 clients? So the 12 on the bottom of this page:

plus three more? Four of those 12 have already turned me down. At least two of them are way too evil. One is a government agency which I definitely don't want to work for. One is a game company, which is a field I don't want to get into for various reasons. A few of them look way too corporate. And half of them probably don't even have offices in the Bay Area, and I'm not willing to move. Meanwhile Craigslist has something like 50 postings per day just for Bay Area programming jobs, and you don't have to sign up for anything to browse them.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
I agree with what gladius said about the majority of contestants being university students and don't think about positions just yet. I, as a university student, am more interested in having a good internship in some good company. This is something that I haven't seen (yet?). Moreover, most of the offer is in the States (unless I overlook lots those pages). Being a non-US citizen, I feel somewhat discouraged by the nature of the employment itself (most of the company/job locations are in the States). I think this may be another discussion topic, but I'm sure those companies will like a US-citizen much more as an employee rather than some random person living in some random country, unless he is exceptionally good like tomek. (i don't know whether outsourcing should be discussed as well or not)
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gladius) | Reply
Thanks for the feedback. Perhaps we should create some type of FAQ to help answer allot of those questions. Bust just to answer a few here: They are looking for all levels of experience. The sign up process is pretty simple, rate yourself in a few categories and then we will contact you when we see a match. I will be completely honest. From where I stand it feels allot like it did back in the day when companies couldn’t hire enough developers (1999). Allot of companies are looking to hire great developers, and they can’t right now. In addition, companies prefer TopCoder because we are able to provide them with additional information aside from just a resume.

In regards to doing a better job getting the message out … this is something we struggle with constantly. Do we post stuff of the homepage or keep it lean? Should we stick with the promos on the /tc site, does that messaging go unnoticed? Is email a good way to communicate? Is RSS the way to go? Text messaging your mobile devices?
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by BradAustin) | Reply
To your third point: Any TopCoder member that has competed is a candidate. You say that you aren’t top-tier, but you are in 97th percentile. As a hiring manager if you saw someone’s TopCoder rating would you use that at all?

“Fourthly, only 15 clients? So the 12 on the bottom of this page:”
Nope they are all different clients, some are listed here: The rest we can’t post their names in a public forum yet.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by BradAustin) | Reply
"Secondly, I don't want anyone acting as an intermediary between me and potential employers. I did that once, and the experience was so awful I swore never again."

Could you elaborate on why your experience was so "awful"?
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
Not sure what you mean by "taking advantage"... I'm signed up for potential contracting gigs but so far none of the jobs are in a geographical location that is suitable for me (New York area.)

Heck, even Glastonbury is too far for me. :-P
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by dplass) | Reply
and those that have been posted appear to be full time positions anyway (not contracting gigs)
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
Creation of a FAQ would be probably quite useful. As far as the actual process, of rating yourself in various technologies and then a match being made, it appears to be suboptimal in a few ways. You are rating skills with specific technologies, but there are no intangibles. For example, does this developer love programming outside of work? Have they worked on a team before? For university students, perhaps a GPA would be useful. What kind of software have they developed before? Done any programming contests outside of TopCoder? And so on.

I realize this information is usually on a resume, but from what you have posted I'm led to believe the resume does not enter into the equation until the "numbers" match. Personally, I think this is perhaps not the best idea. It depends on what the companies are looking for though.

As for hiring great developers, by definition there are only so many "great" developers. They are a rare resource, and it stands to reason there is a lot of competition for hiring them. They can probably find a job they enjoy with a good salary without too much difficulty. This may be a limiting factor as well. Of course, anyone who puts in the time to compete on TopCoder is one (or a couple) of steps up on the crowd, but I'm biased :).
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
Just an idea that poped up, not sure whether it's a good one or not: what about having a tournament where only people who are looking for a job are allowed to participate? Not sure how that would work out in practice, I leave the details as an exercise...
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by Yarin) | Reply
Sounds interesting, but do you then rely on the person being honest about his/her intentions? Jobless? Out of school? Contractually bound to accept any offer that matches some criteria you enter before the tournament? etc.

(Not directed towards you specifically, just thinking out loud.)
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by duner) | Reply
"criteria you enter before the tournament" = "criteria the coder specifies prior to his/her participation in the tournament about his conditions for employment"
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by duner) | Reply
Right, those were the details I left for someone else to figure out :)
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
From the rating distribution, green and grey seem to make up the majority of coders at TC. So, here is a simple suggestion that might help: assign a color (or colors) to each of the specific positions available; company A may have positions available for the green/grey coder, while most others companies might desire blue and yellow applicants...I'm not sure where the reds belong, however :). This may make applying less intimidating for the greys and greens competing for positions against the blues and yellows.
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