Another cycle of hiring is underway. The company needs engineers; that’s a fact. And the VP of Engineering probably wants to know when to expect the new hires – this is not too unfamiliar in large companies. As the company grows, there isn’t too much time to spare until you find the next best engineer to hire.
The primary reason for this challenge is the length of the hiring process, which usually extends over multiple weeks (in most cases). If only the process could be sped up, many of these burdens and lengthy ordeals would disappear.
What should directors of engineering consider for a faster hiring process?
Some of the suggestions below are probably already known to most experienced directors of engineering. But implementing them still takes a bit of effort. The natural response is to shrug off these seemingly simple tips, believing that something that hasn’t been used yet could do the trick to achieve faster-hiring processes.
That’s not always the case, so let’s elaborate a bit.
Remember that professional exposure goes a long way
Let’s discuss job boards and social media presence. You can show your company culture to job seekers through social media. Your company’s website, LinkedIn profile, and similar online exposures are significant for establishing your credibility and attracting potential hires. They should deeply depict the opportunity for progress, success, and professional opportunities.
Through social media, you can create a quality relationship with the audience, grow the network better, and show the values and goals of the company. When you do this, you are promoting the company in the best way possible, so candidates will want to hurry and “grab a seat” for interviewing.
The other option is to look for specific skills and candidates on job boards, especially those that showcase particular niches and industries (such as Kubernetes engineers). This takes you directly to the specific audience of job searchers you want on your team.
Forget the outdated job ad formats
A captivating job description is a precious asset that emphasizes the core values you’ll look for in an engineer. Interestingly, an engaging job ad doesn’t need to take up a lot of time to create.
Often, companies mistake using generalized and outdated job postings that convey little about the company culture and are probably too broad to attract specific sets of highly-skilled candidates.
Apart from mentioning the location (onsite or remote), contract type (freelancers, contractors, full-time or part-time team members), education, and previous experience, make sure to mention something that makes the ad stand out. This can be a specific engagement requirement or a skill that is quite rare among skilled candidates.
Consider the engagement needs for this one. We are all familiar with standardized job ad formats, and they are all alike. But, to find something rare and highly valued means you’ll need to describe it as it is – rare and appreciated. Perhaps this is an experience with some technology or software rarely mastered by engineers or quite complex to be used by most interviewees (DevOps comes to mind).
Whatever the specific need is, mention it in the requirements of the ad. A practical, best-case scenario is to use the job ad template from your company, add a twist to it, and expect to immediately narrow down the lengthy search in the crowd of candidates. This is a sure way to get the target audience's attention to candidates who fit the bill.
If the job ad sounds exciting and captivating to you, it would sound the same way to the candidates. Something is missing if it sounds strict or too general. If you were in the candidates’ shoes, add what you want to read in the ad. This can be anything from perks and benefits, flexible work hours, courses and equipment provided by the company, or something similar.
And, of course, mention as many specifics as possible about the (unique) traits and skills you seek in the new hire.
Instill curiosity to the candidates about the company
The IT industry has a lot of professions in demand. Developers and software engineers receive a lot of job offers – this is not a surprising fact.
The catch is to make job seekers in the IT industry want to apply to your job ad. There is a lot of competition in the IT industry, and getting qualified engineers' attention could prove challenging (but not impossible).
Use the opportunity to attract engineers faster because they are also narrowing down their work opportunities – job seekers will not waste time. They will have other interviews in the meantime while you are deciding on whether they will be the new hire or not.
This is not a single-step process; instilling interest in the candidates is not done immediately before the interview. The company’s website, social media, and professional profiles should reflect its culture and the professional opportunities it offers for future growth.
Collecting referrals is another useful option for finding and hiring engineers. This doesn’t hurt anybody and just enlarges the group of interviewees you’re ready to assess.
Referrals can sometimes prove to be a stroke of luck. Anyone in your company or professional network could know the potential team member you need without being aware of it until it’s mentioned.
Asking the employees in your company (or professional network) about referrals makes reaching desired talent easier and faster (provided that the contacts you talked with do indeed have a referral to suggest).
Be inspired by competitors and companies alike
Headhunting is a strong word to use here. But let’s try something similar.
Usually, the best talent someone wants to hire is already hired for another company, and this company can be one of your competitors. An extra effort into researching those candidates and competitors could come in handy now.
There is no harm in looking at the competitors' employees. Which are the companies that are direct competitors? Do they have an outstanding hire that you want for yourself?
Look up that specific company and its employees; would they be a great addition to your team? Have a close look at their work experience and past clients, and you’ll have a clearer picture of what to look for next. Or, more precisely, what exact type of engineer you would hire next, based on the skills you see in those exemplary candidates elsewhere?
Stay within the hiring budget or work around it if needed
The director of engineering is responsible for many things, including managing the budget for engagements within a specific timeline.
With this said, it’s crucial that the DOE follows the budget closely and keeps this in mind when they look for a new hire. It would be ideal to find a highly skilled candidate who asks for a salary that fits the budget limitations, but this is not always the case.
In some (rare) cases, accepting a higher salary than the candidate asks for is also plausible. This applies only if the candidate offers significant long-term benefits for the company and brings irreplaceable value.
Don’t discard the candidates with high salary expectations right away. Hold on to those names in the meantime. If this is not an option, then choosing the best-qualified candidate out of many that accept the salary you offer is the obvious solution to getting a quick and quality hire.
Leave it up to recruiters as well
Recruiters are essential. Even the best DOE cannot make it without their assistance.
Recruiters know exactly who to look for when they browse the job platforms searching for job seekers. The hiring managers are not magicians; they can only try so much until a recruiter steps in with a suggestion of a qualified candidate.
Recruiters can help by taking on the task of browsing for specifics (and certain work experiences) of candidates that are considered a must-have asset for the company. Utilize the strategies and knowledge of the recruiters to reach the goal (new hire) faster.
Once candidates are shortlisted, the director of engineering has an easier time in candidate selection — time is saved, as well as resources, and all that is left to do is focus on the final interviewing stages. With this, looking through (many) resumes becomes much simpler, even though it’s still not a straightforward process.
Maximize the time and efficiency before interviewing
A lengthy interview process is not boding well for anyone. Waiting a lot between interviewing stages could result in the candidate’s loss of interest, applying elsewhere or accepting another offer (or interview), and similar.
This means that qualified candidates could be already making a deal with other competitors; truth be told, people are rarely patient enough to wait for weeks until they get a response back, regardless of whether they are hired.
To shorten this lengthy stage, relying on recruiters is a must. As the saying goes, no one is an island for themselves, which also applies to the professional world. You can try and be a one-person show, but that won’t help get things done faster and well. You need specific experts to conduct one part of the hiring process and take the load off before the decision gets narrowed down (when all resumes are received after the initial interview stages).
Use straight-to-the-point interview questions
The ideal candidate will show themselves (in a way), but the whole process could still use a nudge.
As the search nears an end and the candidates’ number gets lower, approaching the final decision, an excellent selecting factor is the type of interview questions you intend to use.
The initial, general questions are the ones that almost every engineer could answer. So what is best, in this case, is to have an extra set of assessment questions that are project-specific or relate to the long-term goals and objectives of the company.
When you interview the few selected candidates who applied, you can use assessment questions that delve deeper into the niche. Reconsider the work’s needs, and guide yourself according to that to formulate any specific questions that come to mind (and such questions would surely come up even before you intentionally prepare them).
Avoid (too) abstract questions, and think specifically. You don’t need to provide a challenging, actual situation for the candidate to resolve in-depth; it’s enough to “imagine” a problematic engineering scenario and inquire how the potential new engineer would approach it.
Consider the prospective candidates
Don’t dismiss the candidates that have (promising) potential. This goes hand in hand with the company culture overall. If someone would fit in nicely with everyone else in the company, that is already a step ahead for that candidate.
If the interviewee is a curious person eager to learn and improve their knowledge and skills, this could be a good, long-term investment for both parties involved.
It’s quite interesting that sometimes, overly qualified candidates could “stop trying” once they get employed, and candidates who are almost as qualified as them can be more eager to try to prove themselves as new hires.
Hold on to the engineers’ resumes with the potential of professional loyalty, perfecting skills, and being a superb culture fit for the company.
Avoid lengthy lingering on a decision
After all the candidates have gone through the interview stages, it’s time to decide who gets a spot on your team. A big decision like this is not to be rushed but not to be prolonged too much.
Not just in this case, but overall, a decision that stretches out until “infinite times” will probably be forgotten along the way. Or, it might not even matter if it takes too long – the competitors will likely hire the engineer by that time.
When you take too long to decide, you’re not just wasting the engineer’s time but your own too. It should be relatively easy to choose who to hire once it’s time to make a final decision.
When a director of engineering needs to find and hire a potential team member faster, there are several ways to do it. Whether you implement a single tip from the ones mentioned above or use the entire playbook to your advantage, it’s important to remember that nothing is a single-step process.
It takes a lot of effort and responsibility on the DOE’s end, but external assistance is just as valued for the hiring process.
Everything counts, and if everything is considered at once, the chances of faster hiring increase. With modernized and captivating job ads, online exposure, referrals, budget reviews, recruiters, competitors, and assessment questions – consider it all to plan the hiring in a timely and efficient manner.