Where does Faithlife (and other Bible software companies) get their talent pool.

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This post has 9 Replies | 3 Followers

Posts 13
Adam S. | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Mar 19 2017 11:47 AM

Something that interests me is how do companies like Faithlife (Biblegateway branch of Harpercollins, BibleWorks, etc) find the unique talent pool needed to create their software and hire them in one place. Faithlife has virtually all their employees at their Bellingham office (I am not aware of any remote employees or other offices). 

My question is how Faithlife recruits the highly specific talent pool and does this in a confined area. The amount of detail and advanced features of Faithlife's products are amazing, but it would require tons of work with exposition of the Bible (particularly in Logos); probably with people who that sort of education. At the same time I would think that the Bible content people would have to know some things about computer design or programming to create the features.

How does Faithlife find such a unique talent pool (Bible educated people and computer people who have experience with the other or people who help them work together) in a confined area (just around Seattle and such, I didn't think Washington was a big place for Bible Scholars). Does Faithlife have some special relationships with seminaries? Are there a lot of remote workers or other offices specifically in areas with a lot of Bible education?

A related side question, is the cost of employment part of the high cost of Logos? I imagine it would take a large team (50+ people would be my guess) of Bible expositors to create all the content/data and analysis features, and I understand Faithlife had to take a risk in paying these people before it was released. 

I ask this because I plan on going into the Bible Software field myself and would like to start a nonprofit eventually, but I don't see where the workforce for this is at (and since I consider myself part of the "Bible Tech" industry I find these things interesting). I understand that this is probably a question someone from Faithlife would have to answer, but nevertheless I thought I would ask here on the public forums.

In Christ,

Superdadsuper (a.k.a Adam S.)

Posts 5242
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 19 2017 12:03 PM

Although I would bet they advertise other places as well....

-dan

Posts 13
Adam S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 19 2017 12:06 PM

Ah I see they also have an office in Phoenix Arizona 

Posts 339
LogosEmployee
Adam Borries (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 23 2017 4:04 PM

Hi, Adam S., 

Nice question. I can't speak to how other companies do it, of course, but Faithlife uses a variety of means to find talent. 

First, which is somewhat unusual for a company this size, each manager is personally responsible for finding and hiring employees (and when needed, firing). That means there are a lot of different channels through which people get hired, many of which would be familiar to any industry: LinkedIn, GlassDoor, Indeed.com, even Craigslist. It also helps to have a company the size that we do; it exponentially extends the reach of our network. We often hire one person, and later his or her sibling, spouse, or child. People hired for entry-level jobs like customer service and shipping, can show initiative, build skills, and move to a more challenging role in another department. Every one of those people also brings with them a network of people they know from school or church or previous employer that becomes a potential talent pool.

Adam S.:
How does Faithlife find such a unique talent pool (Bible educated people and computer people who have experience with the other or people who help them work together) in a confined area (just around Seattle and such, I didn't think Washington was a big place for Bible Scholars).

There are a couple of big assumptions here. Allow me to paraphrase and respond:

1. "Faithlife only hires locally."
You are correct that the majority of employees work on-site at our Bellingham campus, and at our growing location in AZ. That does not mean we are limited to hiring only in the immediate area. We often look for talent from all over the country, and some we invite to join us by moving their location. We also have a growing number of remote employees and contractors across the US and around the world.

2. "Everyone at Faithlife is a computer expert AND and a Bible scholar." 
While that is the case for some employees, it certainly is not universal. We have content creators, and designers, and programmers (many different kinds), and marketers, and salespersons, and support, and, and, and. And while many employees straddle more than one of those boundaries, the best employees are experts in one area. 

One of the best hiring tools we have is our intern program. This gives us group of enthusiastic new talent every summer who work on initiatives we often wouldn't have time to complete otherwise, and many of those interns stay on with Faithlife in a full-time capacity. I know from previous interactions that you are a young person, Adam. If you are interested in this kind of work as a career, I would really encourage you to check out a Faithlife internship. (Rapping is not a required skill, but may give you an edge. ;D )

https://faithlife.com/careers

--Adam B.

Adam Borries | Product Manager, Logos desktop application

Message me on Faithlife.com >>

Posts 745
LogosEmployee
Sean Boisen | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 23 2017 5:52 PM

Adam S.:

Something that interests me is how do companies like Faithlife (Biblegateway branch of Harpercollins, BibleWorks, etc) find the unique talent pool needed to create their software and hire them in one place. Faithlife has virtually all their employees at their Bellingham office (I am not aware of any remote employees or other offices). 

My question is how Faithlife recruits the highly specific talent pool and does this in a confined area. The amount of detail and advanced features of Faithlife's products are amazing, but it would require tons of work with exposition of the Bible (particularly in Logos); probably with people who that sort of education. At the same time I would think that the Bible content people would have to know some things about computer design or programming to create the features.

How does Faithlife find such a unique talent pool (Bible educated people and computer people who have experience with the other or people who help them work together) in a confined area (just around Seattle and such, I didn't think Washington was a big place for Bible Scholars). Does Faithlife have some special relationships with seminaries? Are there a lot of remote workers or other offices specifically in areas with a lot of Bible education?

A related side question, is the cost of employment part of the high cost of Logos? I imagine it would take a large team (50+ people would be my guess) of Bible expositors to create all the content/data and analysis features, and I understand Faithlife had to take a risk in paying these people before it was released. 

I ask this because I plan on going into the Bible Software field myself and would like to start a nonprofit eventually, but I don't see where the workforce for this is at (and since I consider myself part of the "Bible Tech" industry I find these things interesting). I understand that this is probably a question someone from Faithlife would have to answer, but nevertheless I thought I would ask here on the public forums.

In Christ,

Superdadsuper (a.k.a Adam S.)

I can only speak for the Content Innovation department, currently 15 people. We have a lot of the responsibility (though certainly not all) for the Bible data: there's also a separate (and significantly larger) team of Software Developers, and we have a different group that designs the user experience. So quite a few people contribute to our product, not to mention Lexham Press, Mobile Ed, marketing, sales, etc. Roughly half of CI staff have combined expertise in biblical studies and some aspect of computer science (including PhDs in both fields), while most others have expertise on one side or the other. Quite a few of our staff originally came from outside the Bellingham/Seattle area, however.

In many cases, the nature of what CI does requires us to train on the job: there simply aren't other people doing the things we're doing. For example, when we started what (2 years later) become the Bible Sense Lexicon (Biblical Word Senses Dataset), we hired three people with graduate degrees in biblical languages, one of them a PhD with background in linguistics. You won't usually find job postings for "biblical lexicographers" (outside perhaps academia or Wycliffe Bible Translators), and we wouldn't have found these three very capable people if we'd advertised for that: we had to look for people with the right language skills and flexibility, and then learn together how to complete the project. I believe this dataset is a major contribution to the field of biblical studies, and I'd like to see more academics engage with it.

I've never felt like we couldn't find staff to carry out CI's projects, though finding the right staff is always tricky: our main challenges are an abundance of ideas, therefore never enough staff to do everything we want, and the need to support our existing customers while growing our revenue (so we stay in business for all our customers!).

Another size estimator is the semi-annual Bible Tech Conference, hosted by Faithlife and last held in 2015 (sadly the website appears to be defunct, but there have been six: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015). Attendance has typically hovered around 120-130 as i recall, many of them Faithlife employees, but the remainder people who are professionally active or just interested in the field.

Posts 13
Adam S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 23 2017 6:41 PM

I am going to reply to both of you in this one thread to make things easier. 

@Adam B. I am glad to hear that Faithlife does consider remote hiring and the internship program is something they really believe in. This is definitely something I would have an interest with when I start college in 1 or 2 years, I specifically want to get some dual-education in Biblical Studies and Digital Communications. As I mentioned I like to start my own nonprofit Bible ministry eventually, so I am very interested in the Bible-tech field not to mention a proven track record with managing a Christian Bible Wiki. This will definitely something for me to consider, maybe I could even intern in the content innovation department to bridge my technical knowledge and biblical analysis and language skills. That would be an interesting way to fulfill internship requirements, develop some very specific skills, gather connections with people in the Bible tech industry who may be of help and maybe even point to future employment with Faithlife.

@Sean- I have done some research recently and I admire you work on the Semantic Bible, but I see the concern with specific practical applications. I notice there are several independent Bible-data projects that are very comprehensive and could be very useful, given the correct application. I would be curious to hear more specifically (yet concisely) how Faithlife finds those with language skills when you couldn't post "Biblical Language System Designer" on a job site and yield results. 

Bible Tech is something I hope to attend one day as this would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about the inner workings of the "Bible Tech" industry, develop connections, learn about new developments and from all of that be able to work to the glory of God. 

Thank you both for your replies. You two have both helped seriously sparked an interest to consider Faithlife as a potential place to "get my start" in the very niche industry I am looking into. 

In Christ,

Adam S. 

Posts 745
LogosEmployee
Sean Boisen | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 24 2017 12:35 PM

Adam S.:

<snip />

@Sean- I have done some research recently and I admire you work on the Semantic Bible, but I see the concern with specific practical applications. I notice there are several independent Bible-data projects that are very comprehensive and could be very useful, given the correct application. I would be curious to hear more specifically (yet concisely) how Faithlife finds those with language skills when you couldn't post "Biblical Language System Designer" on a job site and yield results. 

<snip />

We posted several positions on Careers - Faithlife  for "Lexical Curators", describing the project we were hiring for, and we had quite a few responses. The particular individuals who we hired were all fairly recent graduates of schools that teach biblical languages who were looking for work: so in this case, they found us.

Posts 6154
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 24 2017 1:19 PM

I did some translation work from English to Spanish a few times and got paid in Logos credit to purchase books with it.  It was nice back then when I wanted to build my library, but come to think of it, it's better to get paid in cash.  Besides, when you read how much translation companies/individuals charge for translating works or parts of works, I think I was underpaid.  Hey, I'm not complaining and I know I signed and agreed to get paid in book credit, but I don't think I'd do it again; especially, when there were "publisher's restrictions" on how I could spend my Logos credit.  I think later on they removed the "publisher's restrictions." Now, unless I get paid good and in cash, sorry, thanks but no thanks for me.  Translating isn't easy, especially when you have to be careful and not mess with the codes on Note Pad ++

All in all, if FL keeps you and gives you job security, I think is a great company to work with; but if you get laid off, then that sucks - for any company to have to do that to someone and you if you're the one getting the pink slip.

Blessings!

DAL

Posts 5242
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 25 2017 9:24 AM

DAL:
All in all, if FL keeps you and gives you job security, I think is a great company to work with; but if you get laid off, then that sucks - for any company to have to do that to someone and you if you're the one getting the pink slip.

Job security is not something I would expect. I realize there are numerous issues around why people left or were "let go", but there feels like very few long term people at FL, I can think of several on there forums here but you are working for a man who wrote a book "Fire Someone Today". I do realize there are sound business reasons to not keep people when productivity ebbs but everyone has those... I was a telemarketer for a while very successful  for a local media company, I had an ebb and was let go 2 weeks later they called me back and tried to hire me back needing me for a campaign I had been very successful on previously, I did not go back. I know there are reasons for everything but if half of what I have heard from former employees is correct, I am sure the FL ecosystem would not be a place for me but for those who fit in I am sure it can at least be a good stepping stone and wish all staff and FL itself good success.

-Dan

Posts 9964
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 25 2017 10:09 AM

It's funny how, at least for us, it's a generational thing. We career'd with the big daddy-warbucks companies for progressive promotions. Heavily team-driven, pedal-to-the-metal, and retire at 55 (actually earlier). Our son, however, is a resume builder, even in Japan. A company is a source for something you put in your career bag.  And I'd assume Faithlife has some great career-bag goodies. Certainly the expertise they need.

Old-style me, I read one of Dan's (FL) late-night tweets, and thought, no. Pedal-to-the metal's fine along with 18 hour days. But don't need the locker-room talk.


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