Inspired by a twitter conversation with Bob Marshall, Marc Johnson and Nicole Rauch.
What really are my needs when I’m looking to hire someone onto my team or organization?
This article is a great start on interviewing and the goals of doing so. (whether or not you agree or disagree with the content)
In particular, understanding :
- Can they do the job?
- Will they be motivated?
- Would they get along with the team?
I have to admit that’s a good summary of my needs – I’d add “Will they fit with the way we do things as a company?” as well.
What about the needs of the person applying?
Well there’s the whole safety, security Maslow’s hierarchy of needs type stuff for starters. There’s also Dan Pink’s work on Drive
“. Mastery, Autonomy, Purpose. Jurgen Appelo is doing some amazing stuff around this at the moment too but…
At the end of the day, this is a 2 way relationship. If neither of us will find our needs fulfilled, it’s just not going to work.
Incidentally we’ve found from talking to all of our teams recently that trust, respect, peer recognition, support and self-fulfillment are pretty key.
Chapter 1 of “Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em” has some great research on what makes people want to stay in a company that’s worth a read.
Before we even get to this point there’s a bunch of work to do though.
At the moment I see hiring as a funnel type of workflow with iterative filtering:
- Attract Candidates (Advertising, headhunting etc.)
- Perform an initial filter (CV sifting) to develop a shortlist to invest in further
- Filter again (Telephone Screen) to get beyond the introduction and get a “feel” for capability, personality and salary/role expectations (both ways)
- Filter again (1st interview) to check capability
- Filter a final time (2nd interview) to check motivation & team fit (both ways)
- Make a decision – offer or reject
- Nurture to start date
- On-board with team & company
- Review progress/probation – is the relationship working out (both ways)
Note, this is just one example – I generally see the hiring process continuing through to being a successful, happy team member with a happy team.
I’m writing this post quite hastily but if we look at that flow, there’s a value stream in terms of effort and cycle time per candidate and also a funnel at which points candidates “drop out”. There’s a lot of effort, a lot of waiting and a lot of waste. I truly think there could be something better but I’ve not tackled the problem yet (and perhaps that’s part of my problem!)
Here’s the first challenge I face…
As a hiring manager, my time is at a premium. I’m usually trying to do at least one other job at the same time as hiring (usually running a project and team) and often working on other “hidden projects” such as improving the way parts of the organization work (including adjusting and learning from feedback on the hiring process itself and the types of candidates we’re getting through).
On top of that, it’s really hard to attract the “right” people – back to skills, motivation, team & company fit.
Our first port of call in most cases is a covering letter and CV. Sometimes we start with an introduction or conversation but eventually we usually go back to a CV.
We’ve hired most of the people we already know are good that want to work here (location and company-wise), that we can honestly afford and are available. (Being based within an hour’s easy commute of London means competition for good people is tough). So most remaining applications come from strangers.
If someone’s a stranger, how are they able to catch our attention (in a positive way) to make it clear to us they’re worth engaging with, spending our limited time getting to know and developing a positive relationship with? Particularly when there may be dozens (or in my last company, hundreds) of others competing for that same attention. This works both ways – how do I get your attention too?
For my current job, I developed an early relationship through reputation first but at the point we decided to formalize things, I was still happy to present my CV. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and earlier conversations could have missed things that were relevant and valuable. In my case this was particularly true. I worked on CRM and order management systems early in my career and the conversations I’d been having so far weren’t around this area but it turned out this experience was really valuable to them. We wouldn’t have made that connection without my CV.
If someone approached us without a CV as a total stranger we’d have no idea what to expect it’s a gamble as to whether we’re dealing with someone we really want to know or not and realistically the little time I have for hiring isn’t an area I choose to gamble blind. That initial “Yes/Maybe/No” that I can get from reading a CV is a lot quicker that talking to every single person that applies to figure out what they can offer that’s relevant or valuable.
Similarly, job specs are like CVs – would you apply for a job with no spec? How do you know what’s expected of you and whether you’re a good match?
So, my needs – assuming you’re a stranger…
- (Without being a stalker) Seek me out, get in touch, say hi, invite me to stuff, find a way to get to know me and start building an interesting professional relationship.
- Make it easy for me to get you through that first sift of candidates with useful, relevant stuff.
- Make it clear what your motivations and skills are, how you work and what sort of person you are. I don’t hire assholes and I’m pretty wary of “Alphas“.
- Link up what’s on your CV to what I’ve said I’m looking for but please do share the other cool stuff you’ve done – you might have useful experience I’ve not even considered.
- If you’ve done cool things that are publicly visible and don’t need me to do a mountain of digging, point me at them. If the rest of the CV is interesting, I’ll go and look.
- I won’t have time to read your twitter stream, blog, Stack Overflow activity, Github check-ins and Linkedin profile unless I’m already interested in you. (I don’t do Facebook) But if you’re interesting, I assure you I’ll look for you on all of these.
- Don’t over-inflate or lie. It might get you through the CV screen but when I find out you can’t back it up later you’ll just piss me off.
- Show me real evidence of what you’ve achieved and how. I can’t stand all theory and no results. But if you have a love of the theory, show me how you’ve applied it and made a difference by putting it into action!
I’m sure there’s more but this is plenty for now.
What are your needs when you look for a new job and how do I get your attention?