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How to Find a Good SharePoint Person for Your Next Open Position

So who does know who is good at SharePoint?

So your organization has decided to implement SharePoint and you finally got your VP to sign off on approval to fill that SharePoint position you so desperately need filled.  With IT positions in the past, your first thought might be to contact HR or your favorite recruiter and see who they can find.  This might work in the SharePoint world, but there is no guarantee that you will get someone good.  You see SharePoint is different.  It’s a complex beast and it needs to be handled with care.  The more things you do wrong in the beginning will just make them harder to fix later.

Just because someone has SharePoint on their resume, doesn’t mean he or she knows how to administer it or develop for it.  Chances are the recruiter just told the person to add some bullet points about SharePoint to the resume after the first copy was received.   Let’s face it, just because someone has uploaded a file to a document library before doesn’t make them a SharePoint administrator.  If that was the case, then you should just hire your Vice President of Sales to take over all of your SharePoint admin work.  Most recruiters are not technical people.  They are sales people.  More than likely, they really don’t know who knows SharePoint and who doesn’t.

So who does know who is good at SharePoint?

The SharePoint community does.  SharePoint is backed by a huge community of fans.  I would venture to say that SharePoint has the largest community support of all Microsoft products (although I have no way to prove that :) ).  These people live, breathe, worship, and curse SharePoint all day and all night.  This great group of people talk about SharePoint all the time. They attend, speak, or even organize community organized events like SharePoint Saturdays.  You want an admin or developer that is heavily involved in the community.  They don’t have to be a public speaker, but you want someone involved.  This could be by attending conferences, user groups, blogging, or answering questions in the MSDN forums.  If they are a public speaker, that is great too.  This means, you can probably go out and look at the slides, code samples, and maybe even videos and see what that person knows.

How do I engage the community about my open position?

Simple answer. Twitter.  Now calm down. I know your company blocked the site months ago because it was one of those evil dreaded “Social Media” sites.  This isn’t Facebook though.  Most people that use Facebook, don’t have a clue about Twitter.  They just don’t get it.  Twitter is the backbone to the SharePoint Community.  It’s not a place where we waste time harvesting our virtual farms.   Asking a SharePoint developer to work without twitter is like asking them to work with one hand tied behind their back.  I’m not the only one that thinks so.  Why?  This is how we communicate with another.  Have some strange error on your SharePoint server and you don’t know how to resolve it?  Ask twitter, chances are you’ll have a response back in minutes.  Need instructions on how to write CAML to deploy a file via feature?  Ask twitter.  There is value there, you just have to embrace it.

We have Twitter blocked because we don’t want our company secrets leaked…

Chances are your company secrets aren’t going to be leaked via twitter.  I don’t care what sites you block or how much you lock down the computer that your employee is on.  If you have someone that wants to take information out of your company and give it to a competitor, there is not much to stop them.  Or did you forget that they can print out that spreadsheet of new prospects using the printer on their desk?   If you’re worried about productivity loss, there might be some, but its negligible.  If your employees can’t check Twitter or Facebook using their computer, they are just going to pull out their cell phone and check it there.  This leads to more productivity loss since using a cell phone is not as fast as using a computer.

I’m new to twitter…

Before you get started finding someone on twitter, you will need to post your job information somewhere.  This can be on your corporate site or wherever.  You just need to have something to link to.  If you or your company is new to twitter, you can handle this in a couple of different ways.  You probably want to start following some known SharePoint people.  If you don’t know any SharePoint people, then I recommend doing a search on the #SharePoint hash tag.  This feed will contain a slew of people that are all talking about SharePoint.  Follow these people and they will probably follow you back.  Following people isn’t necessarily required though.  If you tweet about your job and include the #SharePoint hashtag, people searching that hash tag will see and probably help you spread the word by retweeting.  Especially if the job opportunity is a good one.  If you’re not sure to post try something like this.

<Company Name> is looking for a SharePoint Architect in Dallas, TX.  Great Company.  Great Benefits.  <link to job listing> #SharePoint”

I assure you if you post something like that, you will get some great candidates.  Give it a try for your next SharePoint position.  Once you identify some candidates, you can quickly see how involved the person is in the community.

Is this candidate the right one?

Good question.  If the person you are looking to hire, can’t be found on twitter, you probably don’t want them.  Twitter is the primary means of communication within the community.  If he or she is not on there, then they aren’t very well connected.  The ideal candidate has participated (i.e.: attending, speaking, volunteering, or organizing) in at least one SharePoint Saturday.  These are free and there is one happening just about every weekend so chances are there has been one close to you (if not in your own city).  Another good measure is to look at their participation on MSDN forums.  Ask the candidate how many points or ribbons they have.  If the candidate has a few thousand points or a couple of ribbons, this means he or she is helping people in the real world solve their SharePoint issues.

Another thing to check is the candidates blog.  Hopefully, you can find it on the candidates resume, via the twitter profile, or just by doing an Internet search.  If the candidate regularly posts about their experiences with SharePoint or how to solve real world issues.  This is a great way to get an idea of a candidates knowledge outside of the resume and interview process.

At this point, you might have noticed I left out certification.  Although, certification is not a bad thing, it doesn’t necessarily prove anything either.  Honestly, from the two tests I have taken, I have found that they are really just too easy.  I’ve met people that have never done a SharePoint project and have passed the MOSS Configuring test.  I do think this will improve with the SharePoint 2010 tests, but its still too early to tell.  Certifications are still good but don’t let them be too much of a defining criteria in selecting candidates.  Now, if they have a SharePoint MCM, that’s another story.  That’s definitely an achievement.

If you take this approach to filling your SharePoint position, there should be no reason to ever pay a commission to a recruiter to find a SharePoint person.  Now, recruiters, I mean no disrespect here, but this type of position, I feel is truly different.  As a recruiter, if you are trying to fill a SharePoint position, there is no reason why you can’t look for people via twitter of course as well.  These are the types of questions you should be asking your potential SharePoint candidate.  If you have a candidate that is active in the community like I talked about above, you stand a greater chance of getting that person in the door.

I don’t write non-technical articles very often, but hopefully someone find this useful.  Am I right on any of this?  I do know of plenty of people that have found their next position via twitter, so I really think its viable.  This post of course is pretty much all opinion so if you agree or disagree, leave a comment. :-)

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More Stories By Corey Roth

Corey Roth, a SharePoint Server MVP, is a consultant at Hitachi Consulting specializing in SharePoint and Office 365 for clients in the energy sector. He has more than ten years of experience delivering solutions in the energy, travel, advertising and consumer electronics verticals.

Corey specializes in delivering ECM and search solutions to clients using SharePoint. Corey has always focused on rapid adoption of new Microsoft technologies including Visual Studio 2013, Office 365, and SharePoint.

He is a member of the .NET Mafia (www.dotnetmafia.com) where he blogs about the latest technology and SharePoint. He is dedicated to the community and speaks regularly at user groups and SharePoint Saturdays.