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Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science of Hiring Technical People

Book Description

This is the digital version of the printed book (Copyright © 2004).

Proven Methods for Attracting, Interviewing, and Hiring Technical Workers

Good technical people are the foundation on which successful high technology organizations are built. Establishing a good process for hiring such workers is essential. Unfortunately, the generic methods so often used for hiring skill-based staff, who can apply standardized methods to almost any situation, are of little use to those charged with the task of hiring technical people.

Unlike skill-based workers, technical people typically do not have access to cookie-cutter solutions to their problems. They need to adapt to any situation that arises, using their knowledge in new and creative ways to solve the problem at hand. As a result, one developer, tester, or technical manager is not interchangeable with another. This makes hiring technical people one of the most critical and difficult processes a technical manager can undertake.

Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science of Hiring Technical People takes the guesswork out of hiring and diminishes the risk of costly hiring mistakes. With the aid of step-by-step descriptions and detailed examples, you'll learn how to

  • write a concise, targeted job description

  • source candidates

  • develop ads for mixed media

  • review résumés quickly to determine Yes, No, or Maybe candidates

  • develop intelligent, nondiscriminatory, interview techniques

  • create fool-proof phone-screens

  • check references with a view to reading between the lines

  • extend an offer that will attract a win-win acceptance or tender a gentle-but-decisive rejection

  • and more

  • An effective hiring process is crucial to saving an organization the costs and consequences of a bad hiring decision. Not only is a bad hire costly in terms of recruiting expenses and the time spent hiring, it can also bog down or derail projects that may already be running late.

    You, your team, and your organization will live with the long-term consequences of your hiring decision. Investing time in developing a hiring strategy will shorten your decision time and the ramp-up time needed for each new hire.

    Technical leaders, project and program managers, and anyone putting together a team of technical workers will greatly benefit from this book.

    Table of Contents

    1. About This eBook
    2. Title Page
    3. Copyright Page
    4. Dedication and Acknowledgments
    5. Contents
    6. Illustrations
    7. Foreword
    8. Preface
    9. Part 1: Defining Requirements for Yourself and Your Candidates
      1. Preparation (Time: 2 hours per open job)
      2. Sourcing (Time: 3 hours per candidate)
      3. Interviewing (Time: 3 hours per candidate)
      4. Offers (Time: 2 hours per offer)
      5. 1. Developing Your Hiring Strategy
        1. Ask questions when creating a hiring strategy.
        2. Identify the problems you should address.
        3. Determine which roles you want to fill first.
        4. Decide which criteria matter most.
        5. Identify what process you’ll use in decision-making.
        6. Plan what you will do if you can’t find the right people.
        7. Points to Remember
      6. 2. Analyzing the Job
        1. Define the job’s requirements.
        2. Define the essential and desirable qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills for a successful fit.
        3. Identify corporate cultural-fit factors.
        4. Define the necessary technical-skill level and the required educational background.
        5. Identify essential technical skills.
        6. Identify desirable technical skills.
        7. Evaluate educational or training requirements.
        8. Define all elimination factors.
        9. Think twice about elimination factors.
        10. Complete the job analysis worksheet.
        11. Points to Remember
      7. 3. Writing a Job Description
        1. Write a clear job description.
        2. Use job descriptions to help you screen candidates.
        3. Identify who will use your job description.
        4. Learn how best to use standardized job descriptions.
        5. Develop your job description over several drafts.
        6. Points to Remember
    10. Part 2: Sourcing and Selecting Candidates to Interview
      1. 4. Sourcing Candidates
        1. Use time, not money, to attract suitable candidates.
        2. Develop a continuous recruiting program.
        3. Use money, not time, to attract suitable candidates.
        4. Points to Remember
      2. 5. Developing Ads for Open Positions
        1. Use a simple job advertisement template.
        2. Write different types of ads.
        3. Develop techniques for eliminating writer’s block.
        4. Make the ad memorable by offering a challenge.
        5. Work with HR staff members when they write ads.
        6. Make sure outsiders review the ad.
        7. Deliver the ad in person.
        8. Points to Remember
      3. 6. Reviewing Résumés
        1. Correlate your résumé filter with the openings you have to fill.
        2. Start reading each résumé at the top.
        3. Look for more than appears in print.
        4. Consider your fellow hiring managers’ staffing needs while you review.
        5. Read the cover letter or e-mail.
        6. Look for a work summary.
        7. Compare the candidate’s stated objective with the job description.
        8. Correlate the candidate’s work experience with your open position.
        9. Evaluate tool and technical expertise when hiring technical staff.
        10. Evaluate a management candidate’s ratio of management-to-technical experience.
        11. Know the reasons behind multiple career or job changes.
        12. Determine the reason behind an employment-history gap.
        13. Look for signs of merit-based promotions and initiative.
        14. Look for indicators of cultural fit and of assumed responsibilities.
        15. Assess personal qualities and problem-solving skills.
        16. Assess education and technical skills in terms of the open job.
        17. Put typographical and other clerical errors in perspective.
        18. Evaluate résumé items in terms of local and national hiring laws.
        19. Evaluate each candidacy using your résumé-review process.
        20. Inform candidates of your decision as soon as you have made it.
        21. Look for patterns in your résumé-review process.
        22. Use résumés as feedback for evaluating your advertisements.
        23. Review résumés with a team to reach consensus.
        24. Points to Remember
    11. Part 3: Preparing to Interview Candidates
      1. 7. Developing Interview Questions and Techniques
        1. Choose which kinds of questions to ask.
        2. Schedule auditions to allow candidates time to demonstrate their abilities.
        3. Formulate a set of meta-questions.
        4. Learn to avoid asking irrelevant questions.
        5. Combine question types to make the best use of available time.
        6. Ask all candidates applying for one position the same set of questions.
        7. Ask questions to reveal cultural fit.
        8. Ask contractors the same questions you ask prospective staff hires.
        9. Help non-technical interview-team members develop questions in their own area of expertise.
        10. Points to Remember
      2. 8. Creating and Using Phone-Screens
        1. Facilitate a positive phone-screen environment.
        2. Plan your phone-screen strategy and script.
        3. Select phone-screen questions to elicit job-performance details.
        4. Use written phone-screen scripts to keep track of what candidates say.
        5. Develop a thirty- to forty-five-minute phone-screen script.
        6. Troubleshoot your phone-screens.
        7. End the phone-screen gracefully and when you want to end it
        8. Consider when to use a second phone-screen.
        9. Points to Remember
      3. 9. Planning and Conducting the In-Person Interview
        1. Choose an interview team.
        2. Prepare the interview team.
        3. Decide how much time to spend in each interview.
        4. Plan who will ask which questions.
        5. Choose an appropriate interview environment.
        6. Clarify how to handle meals.
        7. Create an interview package.
        8. Conduct the interview.
        9. Verify that the candidate and interviewers are ready.
        10. Welcome the candidate.
        11. Ask focused questions.
        12. Ask lawful questions.
        13. Answer the candidate’s questions.
        14. Deliver the candidate to the next interviewer.
        15. Conduct group interviews sparingly.
        16. End the day of interviews.
        17. Points to Remember
      4. 10. Following Up After the Interview
        1. Meet immediately after the candidate’s last interview.
        2. Hold the meeting in a private space.
        3. Facilitate the meeting.
        4. Learn the reasons behind each thumb-down vote.
        5. Understand the thumb-sideways responses.
        6. Understand the thumb-up votes.
        7. Revisit the thumbs one more time.
        8. Use limited consensus to make a decision.
        9. Use follow-up forms with care.
        10. Tell the candidate what to expect next.
        11. Points to Remember
    12. Part 4: Bringing In the Candidate
      1. 11. Checking References
        1. Check all offered references.
        2. Develop your list of reference-check questions.
        3. Get your call to go through to each reference.
        4. Check references as completely as possible—even when the candidate has provided few, unreachable, or no references.
        5. Establish rapport during a reference-check.
        6. Start the conversation quickly.
        7. Listen carefully to the answers.
        8. Verify employment, salary, and education claims.
        9. Incorporate other checks that are required by your organization in the reference-check.
        10. Take action to uncover the truth if you find discrepancies.
        11. Points to Remember
      2. 12. Creating, Timing, and Extending an Offer
        1. In a strong economy, make your offer soon after the last interview.
        2. For every offer, review all components before presenting it to a candidate.
        3. Beware of making promises you may not be able to keep.
        4. Make the offer easy to accept by including perks and benefits you can deliver.
        5. Learn the reasons behind a candidate’s rejection of your offer.
        6. When the reason is salary, salary, salary, rethink the offer.
        7. Know when it’s okay to offer a job to an over-qualified candidate.
        8. Close the offer.
        9. Use a standard offer letter.
        10. Extend the offer.
        11. Points to Remember
    13. Part 5: Making the Most of Hiring Opportunities to Control Uncertainty and Risk
      1. 13. Creating a Great First Day
        1. Prepare for a smooth transition before the new hire starts.
        2. Identify the when, where, who, and what for Day One.
        3. Prepare the new hire’s work area for Day One.
        4. Explain enough of the work to help the new hire assimilate.
        5. Assign a buddy.
        6. Create and use a checklist for new hires.
        7. Points to Remember
      2. 14. Hiring Technical Managers
        1. Define the value you want the technical manager to contribute.
        2. Define the technical manager’s interactions.
        3. Define the management level.
        4. Compile a list of the desirable qualities, preferences, and skills.
        5. Don’t hire managers without the requisite talent.
        6. Define the manager’s required technical expertise.
        7. Define which activities and deliverables the manager will oversee.
        8. Points to Remember
      3. 15. Moving Forward
        1. Take action to fill your open position even when no one seems just right.
        2. Verify that your hiring work is on track.
        3. Know how long you can wait for the right candidate.
        4. Hire from within the organization.
        5. Hire a candidate with limited skills if he or she can be trained.
        6. Hire a contractor rather than a permanent employee.
        7. Replan the project to fit the current staff.
        8. Rework the project’s schedule.
        9. Rework the project’s lifecycle.
        10. Change the work practices.
        11. Change the job description.
        12. Choose your actions carefully.
        13. Points to Remember
    14. Appendix A. Walker Software Case Study: Hiring Multiple People
      1. Step 1: Walk through the job analysis.
      2. Step 2: Write the job description.
      3. Step 3: Choose a mix of sourcing strategies.
      4. Step 4: Write generic and tailored ads.
      5. Step 5: Filter résumés.
      6. Step 6: Develop phone-screen scripts.
      7. Step 7: Plan the interview.
      8. Step 8: Develop the reference-checks.
      9. Step 9: Extend an offer.
    15. Appendix B. Templates to Use When Hiring Technical People
      1. Collect the templates you’ll need before you review any résumés.
    16. Bibliography
    17. Index