Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
7/29/2014
10:56 AM
Jack Perkins
Jack Perkins
Commentary
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Stop Recruiting, Start Connecting

Software engineers want to talk with their fellow professionals about job opportunities, not run the HR gauntlet.

Recruiting for software engineers and other in-demand positions gives everyone the willies. Engineers suffer from spam, recruiters hate pestering people for a living, and ever-more-desperate employers wish they could just talk to some serious, intelligent developers who know how to get the job done.

We're calling for a reinvention of the entire "recruitment" process, starting with the way we talk about it. With a change of words and practices, we can start to change the system and make everyone happier: hiring managers, developers, and recruiters (except we're not calling them recruiters anymore).

Out: recruiting. In: bringing people together
Serious job candidates want to talk with their fellow professionals. They don't want to be a plug to fill a leaking req. And they don't want to run through a gauntlet of recruiters and HR screeners who know nothing about software engineering. Recruiters make them shudder. Smart, engaged, peer-to-peer conversations make them feel warm and fuzzy.

Out: staffing process. In: grooming your teams, or even hiring a ragtag band of lovable misfits
In a sector that thrives on innovation, it's crazy how engineering teams comply readily to the same old "staffing process" thrown over the wall by the HR department. They cede their responsibility, relying on HR pros to plop perfectly screened engineers into their laps. Then the engineers wind up screening out candidates anyway, which they very much dislike doing.

From the perspective of the interviewees, why would gainfully employed software engineers want to test your waters if their only option is to endure an HR grilling before talking to someone they respect as a colleague?

Let your engineers engage with their peers. They want this! So many of them are introverts, and they keep hearing that they should be networking more, but they don't have enough valuable networking opportunities. Why not let your engineers and other IT pros network as part of the recruiting process, and then bring in the professionals who most impress them?

Out: war for talent. In: finding the people who are the best fit for you
The war for talent is really a war on talent, as inboxes groan under an onslaught of recruiter spam. It's getting bad out there: Recently, a professional with no technical background -- he happened to be a recruiter himself -- got a LinkedIn InMail pitching him a job in DevOps!

Remember: Hiring doesn't have to hurt. If we make the right connections, we can do it without the inbox abuse.

[Are you looking at the right data? Read Deep Data Trumps Big Data.]

You're not selling a used car. You're bringing in respected colleagues who'll be spending nine hours a day with you. The soft touch approach is soft touch for both parties involved. Not only the interviewees, but also your engineers who talk with them, will breathe a sigh of relief.

Out: screeners. In: ambassadors
Since the engineering department ultimately must choose the right candidates, let's let them do their job in the most pleasant and productive way possible. In today's market, VCs and VPs of engineering are cold-calling engineers. If their time is worth it, so is your engineers' time. Don't be afraid to let candidates talk with members of your software development team. With proper performance benchmarks -- how many calls result in an on-site meeting, how many on-sites result in an offer, how many offers are accepted -- this more efficient hiring process can save time and money.

If a prospective candidate's LinkedIn, GitHub, and other online profiles look compelling, the engineer who talks to her shouldn't be "screening" her. That engineer should be leading the welcome wagon. The two should talk on the phone, go for coffee, whatever it takes to get the dialog going. Even the more introverted software engineer will jump on the opportunity to talk shop with a professional peer. For more on this concept, see our article Informational Interviews for People Who Don't Need Them.

Out: My boss is hiring. In: Come work with me
Opening a dialog through normal channels with an experienced and comfortably employed software engineer is almost impossible. How many great engineers read ads, pay attention to sourcing spam, and talk with recruiters

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Jack Perkins, principal of Oryx Search, has been bringing software engineers together for well over two decades. He has worked with hundreds of Silicon Valley startups as well as recognized technology icons. Always an independent and never an inside recruiter, he has a unique ... View Full Bio
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batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 1:25:27 PM
Re: Stealth candidate
interesting point, as the process itself is not a simple one...
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2014 | 3:43:14 PM
Stealth candidate
The reason why most candidates do not bother with interviewing is that they don't have to and the process of polishing that resume, doing a phone screening, a one on one meeting with HR, another interview with the hiring manager, another interview with peers including a skills test, followed by who knows how many more interviews...just to get offered a temp to hire opportunity.

Companies should get everyone in a room and then talk to the candidate. Ask questions and listen to the answers, then turn that around, have the candiate ask questions and then give answers.

OR: hire straight out of college and train your new employee the way you want. That will be more promising to find the ideal candiate than hoping that she or he magically shows up and begs for a job.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 10:05:48 PM
Re: Stop Recruiting, Start Connecting
Chris, yes that is surprising and even I would have not been initially able to relate the need of CIO or senior IT management team member sitting on the interviewing panel. In fields where you have surplus labour in the market, you can screen out a candidate if IT feels that the person is not suitable enough because that is what the new panel member will do; extra screening and eliminating candidates. If intention is only to get the candidate introduced, then there isn't any problem.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 10:00:59 PM
Re: IT
Bhori, I will count that as a negative in the hiring process. May be the colleagues would want the candidate to stay out of the company if they feel he or she would not gel in with them and that's the way when the company might lose a professional who is competant and does not think conventionally.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 9:58:24 PM
New angle
I like this concept of convincing candidates. People like software engineers or lets say almost every skilled professional is concerned also about their JD and the possible learning opportunities. Money and designation aren't always the critical factors. 
Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 8:30:14 PM
Re: Hidden gems
 reps that I would talked to were clueless on the software and projects that I had managed, even less regarding certifications.


Mejiac: And this is what get some very good prospects uninterested in the position and projects a negative impact of the organization. Company's impression on candidates is as important as on customer or someone else outside the organization, as they would also share their screening or hiring experience with their network.
Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 8:02:19 PM
Re: IT

In those old days it was as first you recruit and then connect.

@ Hammy: Very well said. Glad that this is changing. I remember the time, when team was surprised with a new member, which they find very different from them and their needs either, and the politics of power and survival began

Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 8:01:30 PM
Re: Hidden gems

IT people have a very myopic view about assessing people. They'd only focus on the technical part and not on the overall personality.

@tzubair: Agreed, this isn't just the problem of IT but almost every department. In my organization, department people and heads assess the candidate on technical grounds and ability to fit into team. Afterwards, HR assess the candidate on personality, suitability to organizational culture and negotiations of benefits.

 

JoshuaFox,RightJoin
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JoshuaFox,RightJoin,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/31/2014 | 3:43:43 PM
Connecting professionals
Glad to see these positive comments.

This is exactly why we created RightJoin.io -- to make it easy to connect professionals outside the company to their peers inside it.

We all know that the best hires come from conversations between professional peers, for example people you run into at  a conference.

We saw the need for a toolset to let software engineers and other IT folks reach out and connect into the company to learn what it's like -- recruiting as it should be.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 10:39:06 PM
Re: Examples?
@Jack: Thanks for the examples, really enligtened approach here...good to see. Looking forward to learning more about RightJoin soon. Do keep us posted.
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