Whether you’re hiring one person or a dozen, and whether you’re hiring onsite, remote, or hybrid, the first thing you need to do is have a plan. Partnering with your internal team is a smart move - HR and internal recruiters are a great place to start.
They are, however, a limited resource in some ways. When they post a job on LinkedIn or your company’s Careers page, applicants don’t have to be qualified to apply. There will be a lot of applicants to sift through, and most of the candidates won’t get a call back. It’s a frustrating experience for both the hiring team and the candidates who wait for a reply that will never arrive - we’ve all been on that end, and I’m sure you can remember how frustrating it is.
While your HR team and internal recruiters are great, they have a lot of responsibilities that make up their job function, so they’re going to be limited in their knowledge of specific disciplines, especially in technology. Even specializing in IT won’t be enough for a mass hire - are you hiring for cloud, security, developers, etc.? Most internal recruiters are good at a little bit of everything, which is a great situation for hiring in everything but technology. If you need to do hiring for a specific skill or on a large level, you want to have a strategic partner that has experience in that area and is nimble enough to have a full gamut of a team to help with your hiring.
You as a manager will find yourself in this very particular situation when you’re in need of hiring. There are many critical roles that need to be filled when building out a team. You’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “Why do I hate this process so much?” You’ve had many of the issues outlined above in trying to rely only on your internal team or job postings. You’re hesitant to accept referrals or friends as employees, for fear of ruining a good dynamic. You may already know all of this and have a staffing vendor in your pocket, but are they really fulfilling your needs the way you want a teammate to?
It’s all about having the right partner. Everyone says they’re the best at what they do, just like every company says they’re the best company out there. You can’t just take their word for it. Make sure your potential partners have references. Some companies are great vendors; they meet all of the SLAs, never miss a payment, and they’re prompt with their responses. This doesn’t mean they’re going to be a great partner when you’re looking to make some critical tech hires. They could be great at both, but they are clearly different.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a superhero who could swoop in and sweep all of that away? Imagine a dedicated strategic partner that understands what you’re trying to do and has your hiring plan as their top priority. They’ve spoken to countless people with the specific skill set you’re looking for, and they know how to tell when someone is BS’ing them. They know how to look at a resume and know how much of it is real and how much of it is fluff. They can tell when they’re talking to someone if they’re telling the truth or if they’re not. Perhaps most importantly, they understand the importance of speed and changing on the fly.
Your ideal strategic partner should exude a great culture and have top technical recruiters who understand the newest and best technology. You need someone on your side who has been doing this for long enough and understands what you’re going through, and especially someone who can tell you the hard truths you need to hear to get you to create the best team for your business to hit its goals.
This is a vital truth to understand - when you’re hiring, you’re dealing with people, and people don’t work well with vendors. People work best with people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an uptick in remote hiring. Before, you would hire a firm that specialized in a certain geographical area. Now, especially within technology, you want to partner with a firm that has a national footprint and the ability to work all over the U.S. The goal is to expand your reach.
Vetting candidates is an important part of the hiring process, but this is a limited ability for people who aren’t experts and who can’t know exactly what to look for. This is especially important when you consider that we are in a candidate’s market and time is of the essence. The less time you spend trying to hire a candidate, the less money you will have to spend on hiring them. In short? Time is money. The longer you’re working on a role, the more money you’ll have to spend to get the candidate you want to accept because they’ll have multiple options to choose from. This is something we’ve come to refer to as A2O, or Application to Orientation.
The best way to find your strategic partner is through a referral; ask someone you know how they found their job, or how they filled roles at their company and how their experience was.
Staffing as a rule tends to have so many negative connotations - headhunter and salesperson both have negative connotations at first glance, but try to remember that reputation says a lot. It’s the same as choosing a good medical professional. Would you drive an extra thirty or forty minutes to go to a specialist recommended by a friend as opposed to going to someone close to home you know nothing about? The same rule applies to your hiring partner.
When you hire for your team, you’re bringing someone in to work alongside you. You’re adding to that close-knit work family. Our careers are one of the most important things in our lives - it’s how you make your money to take care of yourself and your family, so you want to make sure the people you are going to rely on can be trusted to take their work as seriously as you do.
If this sounds like a dream to you, realize that you will only get out of a partnership what you put in. The best teams are built with the best relationships, and you need to remember that this goes both ways. In order to get that hero, that right-hand partner to invest their time and effort in you, you need to show them that you’re worth it and that you’ll come through. If you can do that early on, that relationship will help you soar during your busiest seasons.