Johanna Rothman, president of Rothman Consulting Group Inc., is the author of the highly-acclaimed Hiring Geeks That Fit along with 10 other books about managing product development.
Here Johanna discusses the challenges of hiring technical staff and offers advice to both job seekers and employers alike on making sure they find the right job fit. Read on:
How is hiring technical staff different from hiring other positions?
Hiring technical people is fraught with disaster. Too many technical people think if they hire for technical skill, they can get the right people. But, the reality is that our interpersonal skills and our qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills are more important. We can teach smart people the technical skills they need. We can’t (easily!) teach people to deliver finished product.
What are the challenges of hiring technical staff today?
There’s a ton of misguidance about cultural fit. Too many people think cultural fit is about the paint color on the walls, or where everyone went to school. It’s not. Culture is about what we can discuss, how we treat each other and what we reward. Do you want people who fit in or will cause a little disturbance? There is not one right answer.
How should businesses approach recruiting for technical positions today?
I am seeing much more success when hiring managers are involved in recruiting: going to meetups and professional meetings. Maybe, even conducting recruiting meetings at the company. When the hiring manager does this, it makes a huge impact on potential candidates.
What can businesses do to make their workplaces more appealing for these technical employees?
Offer opportunities, not just jobs or roles. People want autonomy, mastery, and purpose (Dan Pink, Drive.) The more you offer opportunity, the more the candidate wants the job.
What are the most common mistakes you see businesses making when hiring for IT/technical positions?
I see these mistakes: shopping lists of technical skills, no diversity in the sourcing strategy, and not involving the hiring manager and team early enough.
On the other end, how should job hunters for more technical roles approach their search?
Start with a personal connection. Who do you want to meet, so you have a warm connection, not a cold connection?
What are your favorite tools for these job seekers for conducting and managing their searches?
I suggest people use a personal kanban board. I also have a number of suggestions for how to organize what you have sent to whom in Manage Your Job Search.
What advice do you find yourself repeating over and over to employers about hiring?
Do a job analysis first, so you know what the job requires, and you can discriminate among the essentials and desirables.
What about advice you repeat to job seekers?
Create a target network list, so you know who you want to meet.
What job-hunting/hiring trends are you following closely today?
Agile is changing everything about the way we develop products. It has the potential to change how we recruit and hire, so I’m following that.