Stop Recruiting, Start Connecting - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
7/29/2014
10:56 AM
Jack Perkins
Jack Perkins
Commentary
100%
0%

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

Next Page

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
We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
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.
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 7:28:31 PM
Examples?
Jack: These are all ideas that could be tremendously helpful in changing the hiring process. Can you please share one or two examples of your own experiences where you have applied one or two of these different approaches, how it was taken by the hiring company and by the potential employee? I think many of us would like to know how this approach has worked for you in practice. 
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 7:26:38 PM
Re: Stop Recruiting, Start Connecting
@Zerox203: everyone reading this post is probably in very heated agreement about what Jack is proposing here. I think it's up to all of us to make sure we're sharing this with HR and other hiring managers we deal with in our own organizations or even with the headhunters that we hear from.

While hiring software engineers definitely has its specific requirements, much of what Jack outlines here really could be applied to the hiring process for almost any position in a company. I especially like his idea of uncovering ways of finding those "stealth" people who are employed and may be interested in looking around but dont want to expend all that energy.

Right now, the only way to find those folks is to cultivate your own robust peer network so you can put out feelers to find those folks. This is something that has to happen within industry or job sectors and not something HR professionals are really equipped to do.
ChrisMurphy
50%
50%
ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
7/30/2014 | 10:33:55 AM
Re: Stop Recruiting, Start Connecting
I profiled Waste Management, in 2011 when it was #3 on our annaul InformationWeek innovators' ranking, and they talked about how every hire at every level met with a group of IT employees, including at least one of the senior IT leadership. Usually the CIO. He commented on how surprised the candidates were, especially for more entry-level analyst roles, to have the CIO as part of that group.  
Laurianne
100%
0%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
7/29/2014 | 3:58:43 PM
Hidden gems
Jack, thought-provoking piece, thanks for sharing it. I think IT loses too many "imperfect" candidates during a recruitment screen by non IT-people.  Who better than your peers to gauge your passion for learning? Smart companies are training data analysis pros on the spot right now, for example. They are learning by doing.
Shane M. O'Neill
100%
0%
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
7/29/2014 | 1:26:28 PM
Let peers talk
"Employers that keep trying to fill reqs like they're 20th century assembly line jobs will fall behind companies adept at peer-to-peer communication."

Well said. Recruiters and HR reps are still necessary of course but the hiring process at most companies has become so rigid and formal. Couldn't agree more with this article's call for more informal dialogue between peers as part of that process.
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Slideshows
10 Things Your Artificial Intelligence Initiative Needs to Succeed
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/20/2021
News
Tech Spending Climbs as Digital Business Initiatives Grow
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  4/22/2021
Commentary
Optimizing the CIO and CFO Relationship
Mary E. Shacklett, Technology commentator and President of Transworld Data,  4/13/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll