Where are those engineers and coders hiding?
When you’re hoping to grow your tech team, it’s hard to find someone qualified (but not impossible, as this story shows!). Finding someone who is qualified and fits into your company’s culture, loves your product, and shares your mission? That feels like asking too much.
But creating a successful tech team often requires help from non-technical people. As a technical person, how do you enable a hiring process that singles out amazing candidates and lets unsuitable candidates pass by?
It can be difficult to translate technical requirements into a one-page job description that everyone understands. Whether you have an HR department or are liaising with executives and non-technical teams, your part comes down to communicating in a few important ways. These are:
#1 Share the Data.
HR teams regularly function on a quarterly or annual basis (hiring X people per year, annual budgets, quarterly professional development, annual reviews, etc.). Tech teams, on the other hand, are constantly shifting priorities based on changing demands along the software development lifecycle.
HR teams today have to be data-driven and business-integrated. It’s up to you to provide HR with data that allows them to hire talent that is responsive to ongoing changes in your team’s priorities.
Share specific data with your HR team – bug requests per day, most common feature requests, largest obstacles, KPIs, and other quantitative and qualitative priorities. Tell them what vocabulary your ideal candidate should have fluency in. That way, your HR team can dig deeper into a candidate’s relevant experience during an interview.
#2 Schedule Visiting Hours.
Invite HR to watch your team at work. If your HR people can see the prominent qualities and personalities on your team, they’ll be able to spot those qualities in a potential new team member.
Encourage individual team members to speak with HR about their frustrations, what they’re seeking in a teammate, and what skill sets they’re currently missing. It’s easier to understand a team’s day-to-day pace when you’re witnessing it first-hand.
#3 Re-interview for Your Own Job.
Although you’ve already got the job, it can help to re-interview. Write out a job description for your own job, and then sit down for an interview. As the person with the best insight into your day-to-day, you’ll be able to map how effectively your job description translates into interview questions from HR’s side.
A candidate may have a matching skill set, but a mindset that won’t work well on your team. When you interview for your own job, you’ll be able to see how well HR can walk a candidate through the uncertainty of a software development lifecycle, and how well they can find candidates that are practiced at finding newer and better ways to deliver through the uncertainty.
#4 Highlight Team Burnout.
Presumably, you wouldn’t be expanding your tech team if you weren’t experiencing at least some burnout. Which projects always fail to get done? Which tasks put your team under the most stress, or take the most amount of time to sift through?
In addition to looking for a skillset and a personality match, your HR team should have deep insight into where your team is experiencing burnout. If you’re spending too much time on maintenance activities and too little time on development, for example, your HR team may find candidates who can come in and revamp your maintenance framework.
#5 Set Up Progress Check-Ins
Your engagement with HR is usually at its peak after an HR event – hiring, firing, or a performance review. But it’s also useful to set up check-ins with HR, outside of those times. You need a chance to say, “Here’s how it’s been going since we last checked in.”
Maybe a particular hire has changed everything on your team for the better, or maybe you’ve identified a more efficient way to evaluate your team’s performance. The purpose of these reflection sessions is to understand whether HR is delivering their intended value, and if not, what should be changed in the future to fix that.
#6 Define Expectations Vs. Reality
Your communications with HR can often be black and white – you met your goals or you didn’t, you need new team members or you don’t. But it’s beneficial for HR to have a more granular understanding of your team’s output.
Make sure you define your expectations (this quarter we wanted to onboard 3 new team members and develop a mobile app). Then give a detailed report on what actually happened (we spent X hours on Y product output and these were the results, broken down by individual team member).
When HR understands where resources are being wasted or how goals break down into action, they’ll be more likely to find the perfect technical addition to your team.
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