Rebuild Your Hiring Process to Attract Great Talent

The Great Resignation is at the forefront of discussion today, as talented employees who want to work on their own terms are quitting their jobs en masse and rejecting the idea of the once-traditional 9-to-5 office culture. Businesses are only as strong as their employees, and as a result of this latest trend, they are being asked to once again reimagine the way they do business.

But the overhaul that’s required includes a lot more than rethinking office culture and perks. It’s becoming clear that the way businesses recruit and hire talent needs to be reimagined as well. The Great Resignation is bringing this whole issue to the forefront of awareness with a greater urgency than before, but traditional hiring practices have been biased and ineffective since long before The Great Resignation. In the recent Deloitte Human Capital Trends Survey, 81% report that their recruitment process is standard or below standard.

As the Head of Sales at Andela, a global talent network focused on connecting top-tier global talent with jobs at some of the world’s most innovative tech companies, I have spoken to thousands of engineering leaders and have interviewed hundreds of candidates myself. Along the way, I’ve gained a lot of insight into the ways the hiring process is currently broken, as well as identified solutions for fixing it.  

In this article, I will outline two of the most common pitfalls commonly encountered in recruiting and hiring today, and ways that employers can reimagine this process to make it more equitable for prospective employees. This, in turn, will result in greater hiring results and job retention, which is a priority now given the market for technical talent is more competitive than ever before.

Pitfall # 1: Sourcing randomly

Sourcing or recruiting teams at a typical agency are often focused on getting hiring managers a huge list of candidates as quickly as possible in an attempt to earn their commission as soon as possible  — often at the expense of being thoughtful or thorough. This can often entail superficially scanning a list of keywords and having a brief chat with an applicant about these keywords, deeming that the candidate has “checked off” the right boxes without properly assessing if they’re right for the job.

This rushed approach to sourcing talent is already problematic enough, but the issues don’t stop there. Many job postings are unintentionally filled with bias, weeding out potentially qualified candidates before they’ve even had a chance to apply. For example, countless job posts say “college degree required,” even though it’s become more and more apparent that a college degree is not necessary to succeed as a software engineer. In fact, according to StackOverflow’s 2020 Developers Survey, only 9.7 percent of professional developers believe that a formal university education is “critically important” for success. So, just this one requirement alone is enough to exclude many potentially qualified people who, for whatever reason, chose not to attend a traditional college.

Additionally, many job posts list a certain number of years of experience required for a role, but research indicates that this isn’t helpful for vetting candidates. And studies show that many women who may be qualified for such positions but have a year or two less than the listed requirement are less likely to apply than their male counterparts, continuing to propel the lack of diversity in tech further. According to a LinkedIn study, this results in women being 16% less likely than men to apply for a job after viewing it if they don’t meet all the criteria posted. But the inequalities in the hiring process don’t just impact women. A 2019 study from the University of Oxford found that candidates from minority ethnic backgrounds had to send 60% more applications to get a positive response from an employer compared to a white candidate.

Another problematic area of hiring is the referral process. Recruiters also provide employees with a cash incentive opportunity to refer candidates from their professional networks to apply to open positions. However, this is problematic too, as data indicates that women and minority applicants are significantly less likely to receive referrals than white male peers. All of which means you might be weeding out exceptional talent before you even get a chance to meet them.

Pitfall # 2: Assessing ineffectively

Throughout all of my interviews with engineering managers, one thing became abundantly clear: it’s taking too long to hire talented people. According to a recent LinkedIn report, engineering jobs take a median of 49 days to hire, the longest time of any industry listed.

The hold up can often be attributed to multiple rounds of interviews, which is an ineffective use of time for both the interviewers and interviewees. Additionally, these interviews can also be riddled with bias, often favoring a candidate who is better able to include a number of these relevant buzzwords listed in a job description in their interview, even though that’s not necessarily indicative of strong job performance. Just because someone has the right title doesn’t mean they are right for the job.

How can we fix this?

There are a number of solutions that companies can implement to rebuild their recruiting and hiring processes in a more effective way.

  • First, it’s important to pay attention to the way job posts are crafted to ensure they are written in an inclusive way. Oftentimes, this means eliminating certain requirements, like the college degree and years of work experiences examples that we previously discussed.
  • Second, introduce blind recruitment strategies where possible, removing identifiable characteristics from a resume that have the potential to introduce bias.
  • Another way to remove bias is to introduce standardized tests where possible. At Andela, we use AI-powered tools to test talent, so less human bias is introduced into the process.Our proprietary, stack-specific coding exercises developed by our talent community are paired with programming exercises that test for a deep understanding of subject matter, which is really the most important factor in hiring a quality candidate for your team.

Today’s approach to hiring won’t work tomorrow

The ability to push past the “this how we always did it” mindset and move forward can mean the difference between success and failure. Agility is key in the fast-paced tech companies, and it’s up to all of us to pivot the way we approach the recruiting and hiring process so we can continue connecting brilliance to opportunity.

Download our Ebook “Engineering Hiring and Workplace Trends: Finding, Hiring, and Managing Talent in 2021” to gain tips on how to effectively build a distributed engineering team.

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