New Beginnings

Posted by Patty Youngclaus

January 31, 2013

“You must be the change you wish to see....” -Gandhi

Eight years ago today, I joined TheLadders.

Back in January 2005, we were a small startup with only 25 employees. My first job was working on building a new version of At the time, there were only a few hundred lines of code and we spent the next few months working around the clock to deliver a new and improved website. When we were done and the site was launched, I remember my father asking me, “Now what? The site’s done; do you still have work to do?”

We certainly had more work to do then and we still do now. Today, our mission is the same as when we started: finding the right person for the right job. As long as our customers face frustration with their job search, we will be hard at work trying to help job seekers find their next job or employers their perfect candidate.

As we embrace 2013, I am seeing the same kinds of change and excitement that I saw in 2005. Over the past eight years, we’ve learned a lot about the job search, and we’re making big moves to reflect a new way of discovering job opportunities and candidates.

Fundamentally, we have changed the way we work. We threw long backlogs and task-lists out the window, and started working towards shared themes and goals among the whole company; not just technology, not just a single Scrum team. Themes shared by the CEO, marketing, sales, finance, customer service, product, tech and UX groups. With this approach, we have abandoned a traditional team structure previously set by executives and, instead, empowered our staff to determine how best to organize themselves to achieve our shared goals. We try and gather the right people in a room to solve a problem and we know they will make something great.

Have we figured out the magic formula for software-development success? Perhaps. We are closer to being agile with a lowercase ‘a’ than we ever before. We are making better decisions about how to best deploy our collective brainpower and talents. We are shipping value to our users faster. We are learning to say ‘no,’ affording us more time to focus on the work that best serves our users.

Almost 20% of our traffic is coming from phones and tablets, so the new website for TheLadders is completely responsive. It renders well on desktops, tablets and mobile phones. And, we are not stopping with just some fancy CSS; more is coming on the mobile front in the next few months, so stayed tuned.

Because finding the right job should be less tedious than searching through a database of titles, our team of data scientists and engineers work relentlessly to pair our users with the jobs that suit them best. You can still search if you want, but you do not have to be an expert on crafting keyword searches and filters to find relevant jobs; based on what you tell us, and also what you actually do online, we will find you those jobs.

Matching is easy to say and hard to do well. We have to deal with a host of technical challenges, such as classifying jobs into our taxonomy, and we are employing machine-learning to do that. But, that is a topic for another blog post. If you are one of our more-than 5 million members, you may have noticed some of our job- matching efforts with our new Targeted Hiring Alerts.

Job descriptions are becoming a commodity; everybody’s got them.  So, what data do we have to augment them and provide our users with relevant job information they cannot get anywhere else? We’ve launched TheLadders Scout, an innovative (and addictive) way to get a deeper understanding for the job market and your competition. It is a start towards giving our users the data they need to make faster and more-informed decisions in their job search. Here’s our founder’s take on it.

We’ve grown a lot in the past eight years. With more than 5 million jobseekers and 31,000 recruiters and employers, we have embarked on a large infrastructure rebuild, launched powerful caching with Varnish for our web-services layer, and we are leveraging Storm for processing our long-running match and email tasks. Our move from MySQL to Clustrix continues, and dozens of DB slaves are going offline as we increase our load on the Clustrix database. And, most significantly, we are refactoring away some of the most fiddly bits of our codebase.

Additionally, we are rebuilding our data center with shiny hardware, as well as a new network and level of resource flexibility that gets the bits from us to you, that much faster. Our DevOps team has been busy designing the new data center and ramping up for a smooth transition over the upcoming months.

To celebrate our accomplishments so far, and to share our excitement about what is to come, we are re-launching our development blog, because the best decisions stand up to the harshest light of criticism. There are exceptionally talented people on this team, and you should meet them.

Want more from the product and development team? Visit the Engineering Stories blog!

Kyri Sarantakos is Vice President of Engineering at TheLadders.  When he's not playing around with iOS development, he can be found hacking all things radio-controlled.

Topics: TheLadders Dev