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Recruiting Humans with HTTP Headers

x-hello-human-maxcdn-blog

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: jobs@automattic.com

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”.

Well, during the Bootstrap CDN launch I decided the time was right, so I added the custom header with a spin:

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:

 

Here’s my favorite of all:

 

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:

Apache:

Header set X-Human 'Work for us';

Nginx:

add_header X-Human 'Work for us';

IIS:

appcmd set config /section:httpProtocol /+customHeaders.[name='X-Human',value='Work for us']

EdgeRules:

xhuman

That’s it for today: go find qualified nerds with HTTP headers.

Want to learn more about EdgeRules? Contact our sales team today.

  • http://ahmetalpbalkan.com/ Ahmet Alp Balkan

    This was cool in 2008, maybe even earlier. It’s not anything fancy anymore. I was able to view headers of pages when I was 15 and it is probably the worst way of getting applications. Instead, put up a few problems you had while development of your product and get solutions to your recruiting email. Evaluate answers and see if people can come up with similar or better things. This will make you find better engineers. Headers will get you script kiddies.

    • http://www.MaxCDN.com/ Chris Ueland / MaxCDN

      Hey Ahmet! You’d be surprised at some of the awesome people we’ve met this way over the past few years. It’s a great conversation starter with enthusiastic people.

      That being said, I really like your idea – it’s simple but very effective. Can you give an example of a question/problem you’d get a good feel of someone from in a short period of time?

      Thanks a lot and happy Friday!

  • Fabian Becker

    Can I apply by sending you a request with X-Job-Application: “Find my CV at xURL”? :-)

    • http://blog.justindorfman.com jdorfman

      haha. sure thing.

  • https://www.leftronic.com/ Cesar Del Solar

    Awesome =)

  • Dejan

    If you really want to have some fun with headers, try sending something like: ‘; DROP TABLE headers

    I’ve seen it in the wild :)

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