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Forget the Pedigree

Forget the Pedigree
Right Experience, Right Education, Right Skills


There are various hiring challenges currently. If you are reading this, you may be hiring or trying to whilst reading and listening to all the headlines. But there have always been hiring dilemmas in some form or another. Hiring is basically a supply and demand economic chain but with humans involved, making matters unpredictable. Throw in a few curve balls like Covid, Mandates and social media and boom we are in very uncertain times.

So how can you keep ahead of the curve, break a downward cycle, without throwing money at it. Yes, playing the salary game eventually is throwing money at an issue that you need to analyze internally first and externally after.

Analyze where the hiring ‘gaps’ are? Where are you feeling the pain first? Are you not getting enough candidate flow, right candidate flow, are the demands not aligned with the roles, are you losing employees to perceived or valid poaching and are people just resigning as per all the new media metrics?

Engenium is a niche staffing and HR consultancy within the engineering and simulation industry. Our daily is people. This is what we are noticing as one of the biggest gaps for many of our clients. TIME. Every part of the recruiting cycle is taking longer.

TIME TO FILL – is taking forever
Is it taking too long between posting a position and filling the role – normally called Time to Fill [TTF]? This affects productivity, your cost to hire starts to mount up, stress builds up not only on the team that needs the hire’s support but your internal hiring teams. Unless you have an incredibly predictable schedule – and the pandemic has blown this for many companies, the thought of hiring usually occurs when pain is felt. And for many clients this is already too late. Add in a longer recruiting cycle and eventually you may not meet your client demands. And you get desperate – this is usually when companies call us. It would be much better if you did it sooner!

But what are some of the factors that have led to TTF being tortuously long. What are the layers that have led to where we are now? And how can this be addressed so your recruiting cycle can improve, and you will get ahead of the curve (eventually).

Candidates want more $$. Yes, this is very true. We will discuss in future articles how we can make this aspect fairer and more equitable. But $$ is not the only factor. And it is the easiest to resolve. Let’s move on.

The Pandemic. Yes, this was probably a trigger to what we will be discussing.

  • Lack of the ‘Right’ Experience.
  • Lack of the ‘Right’ Education. Where are all the Computer Science or STEM majors gone?
  • Lack of the ‘Right’ Skills.

Let’s unpack these some more.

Right Experience. Candidates just don’t have the right experience nowadays. Experience is too broad a term. What is it you are looking for? What does this term mean to you, the role, the results that are expected of the role? Too many times, we hear – Candidate does not come from ‘x’ experience. Meaning, industry or company. Stop knocking out your candidates because they do not have the ‘right’ company or industry experience. Why? Break down the ‘experience’ required and really ask yourselves this question. For many juniors to middle level roles, skills are still being learned, translated, and applied. Skills can be transferrable. NOT industry specific. Call Engenium, to learn more on how to break down experience into understandable chunks.

Right Education. Issues with recruiting Software Engineers reigns high here. Ask yourself WHY do we need formal education – and many clients still want top tier Alma Maters. A Computer Science Degree IS very necessary. BUT – not for every role, company or project. Many Software Engineers are self-taught and today’s tech world is changing so incredibly fast, why do you need such a heavy hitting degree. Micro credentials are steadily opening more opportunities for continuous and intentional learners, while providing companies the security that the candidates have current and stackable skills.

Where are all the Computer Science or STEM majors gone? Listen up smaller companies. I won’t mention any names, but we all use the same ‘browsers’, document processing, hardware, and telecommunications now. Just hazard a guess and you can see that there is a huge migration of job shifts. Here is where the Pandemic made its greatest impact. Work from Home. Yes, many of the local graduates no longer need to move away to get those 'big' company jobs. If you cannot at least offer a hybrid model, you will fall behind.

Right skills? Well, personally I worked for a company that made the phrase ‘hire for attitude and train for skills’ a motto for many HR folks. This is still true today. Yet, many clients fall victim to the ‘skills’ interview. Attitude hiring is about finding people with the right mind-set. But I agree a good attitude is not going to get the job done if skills are completely lacking. One work around is to provide compromise. Instead of what does this job role need to accomplish right now, lean out, ask, where does this job role need to be in 2 years? And will this candidate have the ‘potential’ to get there? In other words, if a candidate has x, y but lacks z. And z does not need to be done asap, and candidate shows the potential to learn z and z++, your answer is to hire them for this attitude. Engenium can help provide with many interviewing techniques that can assist your hiring teams in recruiting outside the ‘skills’ set.

Here are some quick stats on how tight the market is and will remain. The US Bureau of Labor expects Engineering (SWE) roles to grow 22% through 2029. Right now, in this moment, Software Engineers have outpaced the Retail market for turnover of over 13.2%! We have more jobs than engineers and the engineers themselves are leaving the marketplace. This places an even greater burden on your existing teams.

We call the above the Pedigree. Clients wanting ‘Right’ experience, ‘Right’ Degree, and ‘Right’ skills. Break out of this. if you break this cycle, you will open your recruiting funnels. The more candidates you have to interview – the more you can possibly hire. More importantly, you will open your pool of Diversity, more identifiable skills, all together just these 3 will speed up your time to fill. Read up on how to HACK the recruiting funnel in our next article here…

Hack the Funnel

Hack the Funnel

Statistics show that most employers are losing 60-70% of their candidates at the Top of the Funnel. From the moment they apply. The problem with current hiring is not so much supply but early elimination, and time to fill. Compound this with a Talent Crisis and in other words, why is hiring taking so LONG with so little people!

Hope you read our last article on Forget the Pedigree. In this article we discussed how you can widen your funnels by letting go of 3 principals that have eliminated candidates from the top [early] of the funnel. Asking for too much experience, or not enough. Not understanding what that experience means in terms of results. More disconcerting is not asking for the 'Right' experience at all. Asking for the 'Right' education when it may not be needed and asking for the 'Right" skills and not compromising or looking for future potential. All 3 produce instant rejections on candidates that could have been the 'Right' hires.

We are now going to deep dive in how you can Hack the Funnel even further to increase your hiring and decrease your time to fill.


HACK: REVIEW YOUR EXPERIENCE: Let’s explore Experience further. This used to be categorized easily under ‘years’. Still to this day, over 90% of all Job Descriptions read with numerical quantifiers for experience. We have all read – “We need 5 years of experience in a particular code” - for example. Or we need "10 years of running a team". Stop using a numeric value to qualify ‘experience’. What does 5 years of coding in a software language that updates every 6 months really mean? Ask instead, what the role needs to accomplish daily, weekly or how it brings value to your company’s stakeholders and value stream. Break the broad term of ‘experience’ down into understandable and achievable nuggets (goals, OKR’s or KPI’s etc.) that can be described, measured, attained and what the expected result is. You can then break this down further into what is required 'right' now and what will be required in the future, to meet an expected result. Not only will this provide better interviewing experiences, but you will be gathering valuable information instead. And maybe the candidate with 10 years’ experience on his resume only has the same knowledge that another candidate gained or earned in 2 years.

SN: Testing. This is a big area of concern for senior technical candidates and junior alike. Senior Tech do not want to be tested. The preference is for technical interviews involving business logic complexity and code reviews. Junior SWE’s are nervous. Ensure that if you are using testing (Code tests are very popular) you are aligning them to the roles. Getting the testing part wrong can deter candidates from participation. Resulting in early elimination.

But if you do decide on Testing – make this your first part of the cycle after the initial phone screen and make it SOON OR IMMEDIATE.

We cannot stress this enough. Which leads us to the next HACK.

HACK: DEVELOP A HIRING STRATEGY [not merely a Job Description] – of course it helps if you use Engenium (from the beginning not after failing). A hiring strategy goes beyond post and pray. You must understand the market. Where the current position falls in terms of 'demand', expectations, compensation rewards, talent shortage or overages. This is where the use of professionals is a must. Call and schedule a meeting with Engenium for advice on your strategy prior to hiring. As a niche engineering staffing and HR firm - this is what we do.

HACK: SPEED: The OPTIMUM current timeline for most technical recruiting is 55-65 days, from post to fill. If you are anywhere later than that, you are way too late to the game. What are you waiting for? You post and pray, and then eliminate because you may be still recruiting to a Pedigree. But if you have taken some advice and you are not eliminating and have viable candidates. Then why is it taking so long?

Here are a few reasons we hear and experience firsthand.

We don’t have time – we are too busy. Well, yes, we understand, you are down a few members of staff and therefore the team is covering for all the extra work. But it is NOT going to improve until you make the time to RECRUIT.

Candidates are in HOT DEMAND. When companies delay so long, they feel that they must play a salary game. Well, you may have to if you have not engaged correctly in the first place. The Honeymoon period in recruiting starts before the marriage. There is no courtship, we are now straight in.

HACK: VALUE PROPOSITION: Before you even begin engaging with the candidates, you must have a hiring strategy, plus a value proposition. What is my Value? Well, it is not just your company name, how big, how many years, its growth. Candidates can and do research this. And if they haven’t – then they are not a candidate for your role, they are merely salary chasing.

So, what is your value proposition to a candidate. Talk about what they want to hear that will make them want YOUR offer rather than your competitor. With tech positions talk about the Tech Stack. Have an engaging conversation on theory, how you do things at your company and why you do it, or how you all work together on making decisions, choices. Ask questions during this exchange, not merely questions on whether they can do x, y or z. The questions a candidate asks during the interview (not at the end when you ask any further questions) provides the best insight on their fit for the role. Discuss how your company develops its developers? Do you have Hack days, or meet ups, and what opportunities to explore other tech or stretch capabilities? Not hierarchy opportunities on when they will get a promotion, but when they will be expected to learn more. Ask Engenium if you need tips on Value propositions to engage candidates.

HACK: ENGAGE: Third party recruiters are always engaged. It is what we do. What we need is for clients to engage as well. If not using a consultancy, then you need to engage even more so and you are doing it on your own. What does engagement look like?

Meet the candidate at their time, place and method of communication. This spells out …chase the candidates. Via social media, email or text. And do so immediately. Plus your message must be meaningful to the candidate for the communication to be accepted. Merely, sending out a generic automated reply that their resume is now in your ATS is a message for sure, but the communication will be ignored. The biggest complaint we get is that candidates especially in the technical markets are being bombarded with messaging, mostly unsolicited. You need to meet the candidate on their terms. If not, you competitor will instead.

Once you have a candidate accepting a first approach be that a phone screen, Zoom or in person interview, ensure all other actions move quickly. If you are testing; do it simultaneously, prior to, or immediately after. If the candidate needs to meet with others on the team, herd the cats together for one interview. Try not to exceed two interviews.

Offer? Make it straight after the final interview, and hopefully you only had two. Again, the use of a consultancy at this point will make your time to fill much quicker and smoother. Our recruiters will know first-hand, what salary expectations, WFH expectations, whether relocating or not…all the little but big matters that break down negotiation.

And the best part, you will hire, hire right, hire quick and save money and save your present teams from burnout.

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