If you’ve been around developers in the past decade, you must have heard the expression “agile” at least a dozen times. Agile is the new method for leading development projects more quickly and efficiently, and it’s been heavily praised around the globe. So much so that nowadays, we have agile marketing, agile sales, agile management, and even agile recruiting.
Let’s see what agile recruiting is and how you can start using it for hiring software developers.
The agile methodology and agile recruiting
To explain agile recruiting, we have to start with the roots of the agile methodology, which was officially announced in 2001. Until that point, traditional development methods were slow because developers kept working on a product and the actual customers couldn’t see it until it was fully finished. As a result, the customer demands changed by the time an app was ready to launch. Clearly, a better way was needed.
In 2001, 17 developers got together and came up with the agile development manifesto. It has four values and 12 principles outlined in the image below.
In essence, the agile method emphasizes iterative development of a product or service, using lean teams with a focus on collaboration and self-organization over documentation and rigid grid structures. The idea is there is a constant and tight feedback loop between product development and customers, meaning user feedback and demand for new features can be matched very quickly with an effective agile methodology.
In short, the agile methodology was created because software is something that undergoes rapid changes. The methodology requires developers to be flexible and constantly improve their work and product to give the best possible experience for the customer while achieving maximum efficiency.
Sounds great, but how can you employ this idea for hiring?
Splitting up your hiring efforts in sprints
Much like developing an app, recruiting takes time. The average time to fill a role is 42 days. By day 42, your needs as the recruiter may have changed greatly compared to day 1, which is why it’s useful to think of hiring like agile development and run it in sprints, instead of one big chunky process.
For example, you put out an ad for a React developer and after the first few people apply, you may decide to have a short interview with one of them. You may realize that the job ad is attracting the wrong kind of candidates and that it needs extensive changes. With agile recruiting, you’ll spot this failure after a week instead of basing your entire hiring process on the wrong first step in the hiring process.
Moreover, this gives everyone in the hiring team a chance to stop and look at the kind of candidates you’re getting before moving on. You could realize that after the screening period, you’re not getting the kind of candidates you need and you can go back to square one.
You can split up your hiring process for individual roles into week-long sprints, each dedicated to a different stage in the hiring process. Following the agile methodology, you can hold standup meetings to align with your team and assess if you’re going in the right direction.
Have standup meetings
Another major part of the agile method is keeping the team up to date with what everyone is doing. This is usually done in the form of daily or weekly standup meetings where everyone in the team states three things:
– What they did since the last meeting
– What they are about to do
– What challenges they have in achieving their goals
Unlike regular meetings, these are “standup” which means that they should ideally last 15 minutes while everyone is standing up rather than sitting and getting comfortable.
If you have an HR team on board, these meetings are a great way to connect, see what everyone is up to, and guide your strategy for the upcoming days and weeks. For example, the screening team could state that after week two, the candidates they get are subpar. This is a sign for the hiring manager to go back to the drawing board and rethink the job ad, the placement, the requirements, or something else.
These short meetings are crucial if you want to spot challenges quickly and correct them in time because, by day 42, it may be too late.
Set and measure your KPIs
Being flexible and fixing up things as you go is one of the best features of the agile methodology. Of course, in order to know what’s going wrong, you first need to know what you’re measuring. The right way to go about it is to set some KPIs.
There is a decent number of hiring metrics that you can choose for your organization. More is not better in this case, so choose metrics that are relevant for the organization and role you’re hiring for. Some examples of KPIs you can use:
– Cost per hire
– Time to hire
– Time to fill
– Candidate job acceptance rate
– Application completion rate
And many others which you can see in our article above. With agile recruiting, pay attention to those metrics that can tell you what’s going on as the positions are still open, such as the candidates’ application completion rate. If lots of candidates are viewing your job ads but very few are completing their applications, it means that the application itself needs to be changed as soon as possible. If you’re hiring using the agile methodology, this is something you’ll be able to spot and fix early on.
Prioritize your hiring processes
When you create a new software product, your customers will often have feedback that could change the direction of your work. For example, customers may request a feature that they think is nice to have in the app, but the feature would be too complex, too expensive, or plain unnecessary to develop.
The same goes for hiring, but think about upper management as the customers. You’ll often hear that a certain role needs to be filled because someone from the management thinks they need it as soon as possible. So, you end up hiring a marketing manager even though you desperately need a CFO.
One of the cornerstones of agile recruiting is analyzing your current and future needs and prioritizing according to your actual needs. That way, you can fill roles according to your most immediate needs, the complexity of the hiring process, the current state of the job market, and other variables.
You can prioritize using a good project management tool, but many developers prefer using something with a Kanban board view. That way, you can get a visual overview of where you are and where you’re headed with your hiring efforts and prioritize accordingly.
Even though its original use is for software development, the agile methodology can be applied in a number of industries, including recruiting. No matter what type of role you’re hiring for, apply some of these principles and you’ll surely hire better candidates more quickly.