Wanted: Developers. Reward: A puppy

One company is offering an unusual referral bonus to attract candidates in the tight Seattle job market for developers

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Refer a developer to Rover.com and you could get the money to adopt a puppy like this plus a year of free dog-sitting

Image credit: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

It’s no secret that software developers are in demand. Just yesterday I wrote about a new job survey which ranked software engineer as one of the best jobs, based partly on hiring outlook. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, when a company looking for developers resorts to unusual methods to try and recruit candidates, such as offering a free puppy for a successful developer referral.

That’s what Rover.com, a Seattle-based company that serves as a marketplace for dog sitting services, is offering as a reward for anyone (and not just Rover.com employees) who refers a developer candidate who gets hired. Well, they won’t technically give you a puppy; instead they’ll give you $1,000 towards the purchase of one (so as to ensure you adopt an appropriate pet). The money could also be used for anything else, so, in that sense, it’s really just a traditional referral bonus. However, they really are encouraging people to use it for a puppy, which is why they’re also offering a $1,000 Rover.com credit to be used for one year of dog sitting services.

It’s an unusual enough offer that I reached out to Rover.com to find out a bit more about it and the company. Scott Porad, Rover’s Senior Vice President of Product Development, told me that the company has 25 employees, six of whom are developers. They currently have four open developer positions and Porad said that they felt, in order to attract programmers in their city, they needed to do something different. 

“The competition for experienced developers in Seattle is intense.  Every big technology company from Amazon to Zynga has development centers here, and they can afford to throw cash around to attract developers.  I wanted to do something that would stand out (from the typical cash referral bonus) and also reinforce the Rover brand, i.e. that we're about dogs.”

So far, it seems to be working. Porad said that the response has been surprisingly strong, even though it’s only been a couple of days.

As you might expect, it’s a dog-friendly place. “As I write this, there are two dogs playing in front of my desk, and another 8 or so in the office,” Porad said. “For people who like dogs, it's really fantastic!”

So, if you know a dog-loving developer in Seattle - or if you are a dog-loving developer in Seattle - send them an email and - who knows? - you could end up with a new four-legged friend and a free year of dog-sitting. The offer runs until May 22, 2013.

Have you heard of other unusual referral bonuses, or recruitment methods, for developers? Please share in the comments.

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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