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Buffer Reports

What Happened When We Renamed a Job Listing: Hiring at Buffer in August 2015

As the end of summer nears, we’re still excited to grow the team and are getting much closer to 50 Buffer team members – you can see the live list on our salary spreadsheet over here!

We would love to share with you our hiring numbers, how Buffer Bootcamp has evolved, how we are currently set up for hiring, and what happened when we changed the name of our “UX Researcher” position. Let’s dive right in!

We start September with 15 open positions, including a few new open positions we’ve recently added: Android Developer, Press Crafter, Finance Planner, and Life Saver.

Let’s see what happened at Buffer for hiring in August..

  • 8 team members started their Buffer bootcamp!
  • Also, we’re very excited to say that Philippe (a.k.a “Pioul”) has accepted his offer and joined us full time!

Here’s at look at the August numbers. Our “Total Conversations” are the number of email conversations we have open (we sometime have duplicates), “Customers” are our applicants and “New Conversations” are the new email conversations we had through the month.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 3.42.25 PM

It’s interesting to see that we’ve had a fairly similar number of conversations as last month. July and August tend to be a little bit slower in terms of applications, so we are excited to see how September will shape up!

# of conversations Last month
Back-end Developer 85 86
Front-end Developer 48 97
Growth Hacker 75 73
iOS Developer 60 42
Android Developer 19 N/A
Product Creator 113 98
Product Designer 120 184
Traction Engineer 23 15
Reliability Developer 36 14
Happiness Hero 330 274
Community Champion 320 252
Content Crafter 152 209
Customer Development 69 N/A
Press Crafter 8 N/A

A brand new Buffer bootcamp: Meet your buddies!

Buffer’s six-week bootcamp period is a great time for both newcomers and team members to get to know more of each other. It’s an opportunity for both the new teammate and for Buffer to ensure that the fit feels perfect on both sides.

In the past, bootcampers have synced up periodically with their team lead. Since we began experimenting with self-management at Buffer, roles are a bit more fluid than they have been in the past when it comes to who is a “leader.”

As a result, bootcamp has evolved! Now, every new bootcamper gets assigned three buddies to assist them throughout the entire bootcamp experience: A Leader Buddy, a Role Buddy and a Culture Buddy.

A Leader Buddy

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A Role Buddy

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A Culture Buddy

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We feel that three buddies is a great way to give bootcampers a variety of interactions within and outside of their core areas. Bootcampers will interact with their three buddies, and they will also connect to those who have a similar role (e.g. other product creators) and team members they are paired with every week.

Here’s an email from Dave welcoming our new teammate Lorenz as a bootcamper:


Becoming a Buddy also feels like a great opportunity for Buffer team members who are interested in taking more of a mentoring role to progressively explore how to work with others in an “advising” capacity. The first step would be to become a Role Buddy or a Culture Buddy, and after a few experiences become a Leader Buddy.

Here is a timeline of how the Buffer bootcamp is currently set up:

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bootcamp timeline

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In 2014, we shared that “about 70 percent of the new hires become full-time employees after the 45-day bootcamp.” This ratio holds true today. We had 12 bootcampers start their 45-day journey in July and August, and as of this writing 3 of those will be pursuing other adventures than Buffer.

How we hire right now: The tools and process

In August, no less than 10 Buffer team members were involved in hiring through HelpScout, and quite a few more got to share their thoughts and jumped into interviews.

With a team of nearly 50 people and 15 open positions, we started thinking a little bit more about how we hire overall. At Buffer, we tend to hire based on our values and look for people who use our product.

Recently, I was lucky to investigate quite a few nice HR software solutions, and through that process we realized that we do things quite differently. We currently don’t have anyone working in HR full time, we don’t ask for CVs or resumĂ©s, and we don’t have face-to-face interviews (since we are distributed). Finally, we don’t pro-actively use external job boards at the moment (although we’re always happy to get featured!)

For now, it feels quite good to work with a combo of HelpScout and Trello to get feedback on applications and keep moving fast. It will be exciting to see how this solution works in the future! Here is how we are set up to work with applications for the Product Creator position:

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What happened when we renamed a job listing

Last month, we reported that we changed the title of our “UX Researcher” position to “Customer Development”see the listing over here!

Patrik always has such a great perspective on bringing together our intuition and data – he just ran the numbers to see what impact this change had on applicants, and it has been quite surprising!

Views for both roles

Here’s the number of weekly page views the role got when it was called UX Researcher:

  • Week of 8/24: 892
  • Week of 8/17: 1,141
  • Week of 8/10: 1,293
  • Week of 8/03: 820

And here’s the number after the role was changed to Customer Development—a 2-4x increase in weekly page views:

  • Week of 8/24: 2,331
  • Week of 8/17: 1,959
  • Week of 8/10: 3,554

Applications for both roles

  • 65 Customer Development applications since August 10
  • 16 UX Researcher applications from August 1-10
  • 48 UX Researcher applications in July

Interviews for both roles

  • 0 interviews for UX Researcher in August
  • 3 candidates + 6 interviews for Customer Development in August

It has been great to witness a serious bump in visibility thanks to a small change in language, and we also feel that the “Customer Development” title tends to attract applicants closer to the profile we had in mind. By mid-August, this listing had become the second most-visited job listing among all 13 open positions!

Over to you

We’d love to make this report as informative and transparent as possible.

What kind of information would you like to see here? Are there any questions I can help answer about Buffer hiring in the past month?

I’d love to talk with you in the comments. :)

  • Tracey

    As an executive assistant for a much smaller internationally distributed team, I am pretty impressed that you’ve grown to this size without needing a dedicated administrator. :)

    I’m interested in learning more about why you chose the title Life Saver. When someone mentioned this position on the blog earlier, it was referred to as Executive Assistant. (Which is my job title though I must say sometimes it feels as though yours is more accurate…!) From the outside, LS sounds a bit more aligned with your other titles.

    I also noticed that the pay band for that job is lower than any other currently advertised position. Any thoughts you could share about that?

  • Always interesting to get a look into how things work at Buffer. Thanks for continuing to be so transparent about how Buffer is run, Rodolphe.

    Very cool to see how changing simple things like a title name or part of the role description can have a big impact on the interest in a position. I’m sure you see the same when applying little changes the products at Buffer too.

  • So great to see Buffer growing in leaps and bounds, I’m looking forward to seeing the Team flourish together!

    Thanks for the positive update, Rodolphe!

  • Thanks Rodolphe for the update.

    I think it is so cool that you get three mentors when you start bootcamp. It really sets the bootcamper up for success. I also think it’s great that Buffer is improving in diversity. I received an email from a bootcamper (doing research) and had to do a double take when I saw their picture.

    I have a couple of questions. You mentioned that 70% of people don’t make it through bootcamp. For the bootcampers that don’t make it, is it more of a mutual decision or does Buffer feel like the fit isn’t so great? And, have you had any bootcampers that worked two jobs (Buffer and their current employer) during bootcamp?

    On an ending note, as Buffer grows I’m sure more of the HR functions will come inhouse. I think the Life Saver role has the potential to take on some of those HR functions, if not all of them.

    • I’m curious about the question about holding 2 jobs too!

    • Hi there, great question about holding 2 jobs – as a rule of thumb we often recommend Bootcampers to consider only have one activity during Bootcamp to allow for extra focus, we did have exceptions in the past though, where Bootcamp duration might have been changed a bit – the end goal being to join Buffer full time :)

      Currently, 30% do not make it through bootcamp, that decisions is always a result of a conversation between Buffer and the bootcamper over time :)

  • Wonderful update, Rodolphe! Thanks for sharing Buffer’s insights :) It’s great to see how Buffer continues to reflect, learn, and iterate with each month. Really like the little lesson about the importance of names ;)

  • Hey Rodolphe, thanks a lot for the great post and insights on how you hire. It is always amazing to see the process in a more detailed way.
    Do you experience candidate who join the Buffer Bootcamp and still have their previous job? I mean, do you even consider those who work full-time in some job and want to try the Bootcamp and don’t want to lose the previous job until they know they’re good candidates? Or is it a requirement to leave the current job to jump on the Bootcamp?

  • I believe that due to the good product that you have, you’ll only see success in the future, but really where Buffer is nailing it is in the culture piece, transparency being a “radical” value to have and one people like myself yearn to see more of everywhere. Thank you for the post Rodolphe.

    • Thanks Miguel, really glad to hear the article can be helpful!

  • Thanks for sharing all these updates and insights, Rodolphe!! I loved the closer look into the Buffer Bootcamp schedule and the buddy system you guys utilize to help set bootcampers up for success!

  • Hi Rodolphe, great write up!
    The changing of the job title section was particularly interesting to me. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about. At Zealify, we see some roles attract many more applications than others based on the job title and the quality of the job description. As you pointed out, it not only impacts the volume of applications but also the quality and suitability. Some job titles can be misleading.
    Keep up the good work – loving the focus on the hiring process and candidate experience!

  • Anca Dumitru

    Thanks, Rodolphe, for sharing in so much detail Buffer’s hiring process, especially the bootcamp’s evolution. Just to get a better understanding: by the number of open email conversations do you mean the number of applications received, or the actual conversations you guys started with the applicants that looked like they could be a fit?

  • Hey there Rodolphe, I really appreciate the progressive approach that you guys have in place for your hiring process. It really gives me a good idea of the culture and environment as a Buffer team member!

    Quick question: I completely understand why you guys prefer for your boot campers to not be actively working 2 or more jobs during the 45 day period…it makes perfect sense. But what I would like to know more about is how you guys feel about your team members not only being a part of the Buffer team but also pursuing startup companies of their own outside of Buffer as you have with Remotive. It is clear to me that Buffer obviously supports personal business endeavors but I guess I am wanting to get more clarity as to how that may or may not have an impact on a team member’s current position with Buffer.

    Thank you in advance for the “feedforward”!!! :-)

  • Carefully chosen words!
    I’ve noticed that we should always pay attention to the words we choose, when I starting researching/reading about branding and marketing.
    Words are everything! They make or brake a brand and they pull or push interested people!
    This article just shows that!
    Most people don’t pay attention to it.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • @rodolphedutel:disqus Thank you so much for the explanation. I’ll be applying to Buffer soon and I’m grateful to be enlightened in the process.

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