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recruitment


boards. I get more traction from social media than others because it is more targeted. Further, we don’t generally advertise a lot of jobs directly, but instead put out content such as stories or titbits to generate interest in our organisation. It then turns into a “one person knows another person who might be interested…” kind of thing. We have a new LinkedIn account, and in just over two years we have 1,500 followers. Te main thing is relationships, and it takes work to build up and maintain them.’ Todd notes that Berkeley has


an applicant tracking system, and presently the top source is from their own website, number two is from indeed.com (a job-search consolidation site), and the third is referrals from LinkedIn. Facebook, he explains, is more of a casual relationship. By using HootSuite, if he posts an ad on Twitter, it automatically goes to Facebook and LinkedIn all at the same time. Todd points to job fairs as being the least effective method, because they bring in a non-targeted broad audience. And he hasn’t purchased a newspaper ad for years. Berkeley’s blog is also a way


of building relationships. Te idea is to get viewers by pulling interesting stories from the lab in areas where they are hiring. ‘Te most-read story on our blog, however, deals with a rejection letter we sent to a candidate, and he in turn sent us a rejection letter to our rejection letter.’ It’s this kind of material that draws in people. ‘I also just got a question via Twitter: “what makes a good HPC candidate?” I posted this and my response on the blog. I even allow negative comments on the blog and do little editing, although I do get rid of ads and clearly inappropriate material.’


A charter to educate Many recruiters spend time at universities looking for bright students as future employees, but CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics near Geneva, Switzerland, takes this further than most. Te institution’s charter covers not only advancing technology and knowledge, but also education and technology transfer, in this case to create


environment; perhaps the chance to learn or improve a new language; a beautiful campus setting to work in; and, above all, very challenging computing.’ One job Purvis faces is


‘branding’ – to let people know they don’t have to be a physicist to work at CERN and that there are challenging posts in many other disciplines. For this, CERN has uploaded informative, but light-


centre, so he is always trying to get junior people, but then they have a longer ramp-up time. Te length depends to some extent on which systems the candidate has worked with; CSCS uses a Cray supercomputer, so someone who has experience on that hardware will certainly ramp up faster than someone who hasn’t. For its services group, CSCS also sponsors sabbaticals. ‘R&D


WE FIND THAT IF PEOPLE INTEGRATE, THERE IS LESS PROBABILITY THAT THEY WILL LEAVE US, WHICH IS AN IMPORTANT ASPECT WHEN YOU CONSIDER THE INVESTMENT WE MAKE DOMINIK ULMER, CSCS


and train talent for the member states. In fact, CERN was created in 1954 partially to stop the brain drain at that time to the USA and create a site for advanced research where Europeans could find satisfying and challenging jobs. ‘We are involved in increasing human knowledge, rather than shareholder value,’ explains James Purvis, head of Talent Acquisition. CERN currently has hundreds of students and interns, along with some 500 graduate fellowships. Tat same charter, however, makes his job more difficult, because he has to try to maintain a balance of employees among all the member states. A great deal of technical


training takes place at CERN, for instance with more than 6,000 courses. Tis type of continuing education is one aspect that he uses to attract candidates. ‘We can’t offer private sector salaries, some of which can be as much as 40 per cent higher than here, although we do pay quite well. We offer other things: an international


hearted videos to YouTube. One famous video is the Large Hadron Rap, which has had almost 7.5 million hits. ‘In addition, using a new strategy, I recently sent an email to students working here, asking them to post their videos that show what a great place to work we have and show our high employee engagement.’ Social media such as this gets the CERN name out, and with social media in general there is significant power in referrals. One person may update their Facebook status to say, ‘I’m interviewing at CERN’ and others then learn that there are plenty of interesting opportunities there. Dominik Ulmer, general


manager of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS), notes that people with a scientific background are more mobile than systems people, who build their own ‘world’ and don’t want to leave the world they have created. He also points out that it’s necessary to have a good age-distribution in a computing


ONE PERSON MAY UPDATE THEIR


FACEBOOK STATUS TO SAY, ‘I’M INTERVIEWING AT CERN’ AND OTHERS THEN LEARN THAT THERE ARE PLENTY OF INTERESTING OPPORTUNITIES THERE JAMES PURVIS, CERN


www.scientific-computing.com


people oſten visit conferences or other computing sites, whereas we also send systems people out to get new ideas and ways of doing things. Someone must come to me with a solid proposal of how a given project will benefit our centre, and they need somebody at the computing centre they plan to visit to serve as a tutor or mentor. Ten, upon their return, they make a presentation to our entire centre. Another benefit is expanding their personal networks, which are so important in the small HPC world, and that can help us with recruiting.’ Te facility’s location also plays


a role in recruiting. Te CSCS is located in Ticino, Switzerland’s Italian canton, but people generally think of Zurich, Geneva or Lausanne as having most of the opportunities. To attract qualified candidates, Ulmer focuses on the entire family. In examining candidates, he starts with a Skype interview; then invites the person to come; and, in a third step, also invites the spouse to come, because the spouse plays a major role in the final decision. ‘We help them find housing, and now we’ve even reserved spaces in day-care centres in the city, which are typically very full and tough to find spots in.’ As for education, while there is an international school nearby giving


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