5 min read

Pallet Takes Miami

Pallet Takes Miami

Hello friends 👋,

Welcome to the weekly edition of our newsletter.  The Pallet Post features conversations with awesomely insightful professionals, jobs from companies they recommend, and some of our own takeaways from building a startup.

I know, it's a Wednesday, not our normal day. We've been all over the place (literally) so apologies for the delay.  

Call to all businesses: We're offering exclusive access to the talent congregating at the Miami Hack Week. You can sign up here.

Now, onto the regularly scheduled program...

This week, we've flown out our entire team to Miami for a brilliant hackathon organized by our lead investors over at Backend Capital. It's quite the event, with companies from all over renting houses all over Miami and providing spaces for engineers to hack away.

Our house sits directly on the water, which affords all of us some beautiful views as we work on collectively building. We have about 25 coders bunched up in every corner of the house and our team has somehow found a way to seamlessly work alongside them. It's been an awesome experience, specifically getting to see all the projects the hackers are pursuing: anything from hardware devices that measure white blood cell count for preventative healthcare to spectator games where you battle with NFTs.

While we are mainly here to support the hack week, we're also not going to let an opportunity like this go to waste. Hundreds of engineers, designers, and product people gathered in one place? This hackathon is as if you took a (mostly) engineering community (you know, the ones we want using Pallet), and spun it up in a single week. The talent here is unbelievable, and it's a perfect chance for us to beta test our upcoming product line: talent pools.

Of course, the fact that every house is hosted by a different company creates a situation where they'd like to poach some of the engineers they host. That's a natural by-product of these types of events. No matter the context, every tech company or startup wants engineers. We are firmly in a candidates market.

But like we've been saying, Pallet is not like every startup. We're not just here to try and convince a couple of talented engineers to drop out of school or quit their current job, we're trying to help all companies participating have a better avenue to reach talent that's interested in pursuing new opportunities.

Even at these events, where incentives from companies and candidates are quite clear, there are definite recruitment inefficiencies. At a mixer that was thrown yesterday, a founder quite literally came up to my CEO and asked "looking to leave your job?" When my CEO informed him who he was and what role he inhabited at Pallet, the nameless founder simply responded "oh okay" before proceeding to ask the very same question to the next person over.

It's kind of like that "a-ha" moment in the Social Network where a young Mark Zuckerburg is asked if he knows whether a classmate is single or not. He responds by saying "it's not like people have a sign on them that says I'm available..." before fervently running into his dorm and updating the Facebook code to reflect a "relationship status" option.

As a company, you don't know which engineers are candidates, which are semi-candidates (meaning they're employed but willing to look), and which are not really candidates at all.

To combat this, we see some founders take the approach by asking everybody regardless of how annoying it might be or how much time they might waste. And in some circles (the hustle porn ones) we reward this behavior: "look at how much they care, look at what lengths they're willing to go to find the right people," you know the drill.

And in some way, I do applaud all of those people who are willing to eat through the awkwardness and get themselves out there. We are certainly not strangers to shooting our shot (that being said, we do try to employ a bit more tact in our approach). But there is one thing I do guarantee: it doesn't have to be this way. And if it wasn't this way, if there was a better option, there is no chance you'd see this somewhat predatory behavior from founders and recruiters continue.

Onto what we're testing: talent pools. A talent pool is like a "people board" to your job board. Instead of a collection of listings, it's a collection of candidates that the organizer of a specific pool can certifiably vouch for. And like job board runners, the organizer can be anyone from a top creator in a specific space to the runners of a hackathon.

For candidates, it's our very own version of a relationship status.

In the next two months, we're entering "heads down build mode" to create the actual back-end capabilities and UI to present this product. The eventual goal is to pair people and job boards together, to create a holistic experience for hiring companies and our partners.

Sometimes, building successfully requires some no-code or low-code tests that mimic the dynamics your product is operating in. The hackathon creates the perfect scenario for us to run one of these tests. Tons of engineers find themselves in one place, and companies are circling them like sharks in deep water.

Using the distribution the hackathon offers (namely a contact list for every hacker that signed up) we sent out an airtable where people can choose to list themselves by filling out a two-minute survey. This has served as the de-facto "talent pool" for the entire hackathon.

On the sign-up form, engineers answer a short and simple survey about their specific skillset, and mark themselves either "open to work" or "actively looking."

We begin by sorting the talent by the role they're looking for and their seniority.

Once the list has taken in all the possible sign-ups, we create an equivalent form for hiring companies. We invite all the sponsor companies from the hackathon and all the awesome businesses that have signed up to the Pallet enterprise newsletter. Once both parties have indicated who they are and what they're looking for— we start the matching process.

We sort all the hiring companies via the positions they want to fill and create email lists based on their multiple-choice selection. All companies that choose "Frontend Engineer" are grouped, those who chose "Backend Engineer" are grouped, and so on. We do the same with candidates.

We want this product to feel really special. The access to talent should feel exclusive and curated– because it is. To keep this exclusivity, we've opted against giving companies unfettered access to our airtable of talent.  This also allows us to respect candidates' wishes to only approve intro requests from companies they'd actually like to work for.

This means we send an email with 10-15 candidates to each email list depending on their response to our survey. Those companies can look through our curated pool of candidates and request intros there. If any intro request is made, we ping the actual candidate ourselves to let them know if they'd like to accept. If they do, we make the connection and hope the lovebirds hit it off!

We'll let you know how it goes!

Also, if you're a business who'd like to sign up, you can do so here.