How to hire the best people for your technology firm.

Hiring the right people for your company is no small task. When recruiting for a large department within a larger organisation, business owners and senior management tend to hand off the responsibility to subordinates, only getting involved at potential second interview stage, if at all. When hiring for a smaller company, if you’re busy on other projects, you may have to place that trust in someone else you hope will make the right decision. What we all value, differs from person to person, but ultimately, what we all look for in others, tends to be very similar; trust, loyalty, integrity, honesty and determination, to name just a few. If you’re nodding your head right now, you have more than likely been a part of the hiring process at some time or another, and see some of yourself in this.

Working with recruiting agencies becomes a headache those hiring have to endure at some point or another. Those worth working with, will know your company well, and match on a variety of factors beyond a standard “concentration” game-type pairing of CV buzzwords to your specification of the tasks. They will hopefully analyse CVs to determine between those who just want to be employed, by anyone, compared to those who want the job you’re offering for personal development and job satisfaction. But what about beyond this? Several Directors I have come across place faith in a solid education. Those good with Science or Maths become better programmers, those with strong English and Business Management skills become better customer service agents, and so on. I’ve personally seen this to be true, regardless of previous experience, although individuals rarely fit a mould that is perfect. Maybe, what we should be looking for, and those recruiters as well, is someone with the potential to meet those needs and fulfil a role, rather than someone who can do everything already. Of course, we need to set some benchmarks to see how that person will deal with the job at hand. But, if we open our minds just a little, we may just find excellence in the sometimes murky waters of resumes, and maybe our best business assets, at a fraction of the price.

The truth is that if this person has a strong enough background to handle the role you are seeking to fill, then anyone should be able to see this really quickly from a CV. Some of us are quick to dismiss those who have worked in local Supermarkets or Fast-food chains, when ultimately, these types of candidates often deal with some of the most difficult, unreasonable and downright abusive people that any profession has to deal with. They face adversity head-on, face-to-face, with professionalism (most of the time), and yet can be dismissed as stupid, ignorant, or unfocussed to have a career in our corporate-leaning organisation. Sadly, some of our best workforce contributors in any economy, can be stuck in minimum wage jobs, with great academic backgrounds, screaming on the inside to get out of their rut. They just need you to take the chance on them. Some people in these types of positions, are very happy to be there, and are sensible enough to see the opportunity in front of them, and go for it, regardless of what they saw themselves doing or want long-term. There are those that are happy to plod along in the same role, doing the same thing, for the rest of their lives. The brilliant part is, all of these types of people can be a perfect fit for you too. The rest is personality, something that most people, cannot fake or change.

And, mistakes will be made. Maybe you have sat in an interview with a candidate whose customer service excellence shone as soon as they entered the room. Only for them, just six months later, to become locked in a room with no windows, no phones and a grunt in the general direction of anyone who even remotely resembles a “customer”. Locked inside that person, was a hard-working, focussed and dedicated programmer, trapped behind the façade of a customer-pleasing mogul. Regardless of who they were, or who you thought they were, this person remains as much an asset as any other. The one who came in answering your questions with short, precise answers, who is currently building bird-tables at the local garden centre, and who feels nervous in an interview scenario; they just might become the head of your Programming team, whose skills and exceptional work ethic were there, hidden behind their First-class Honours Maths degree, and a dead-end job.

Many in the tech industry complain about a lack of skilled applicants in the market for their roles. If only they had invested the time and money (yes, the two things we all hate wasting) in believing in someone who does not necessarily fit their cookie-cutter definition of a good tech employee. I would say to them, if you have the scope, and enough staff around you that you trust, you can all collectively invest small amounts of time to make that lowly applicant the very best they can be, in a short space of time, on a lower wage than those with the skillset right now. Their drive to learn and thrive will soon shine out in only a few weeks of their probation time, and if it doesn’t, there’s no shame in saying, “I was wrong. This person isn’t right”. True leaders of successful businesses in many industries know that looking after their employees means their customers are taken care of, by default. If they are wanted and needed, learning and growing, your employees will give you back ten-fold what you gave to them. All because, you took a leap of faith, and gave them an opportunity someone else failed to.

Of course, we all know that some will not see the brilliant opportunity that you place in front of them. Some will let us down so terribly, that we second-guess ourselves and our own abilities to judge the right candidate. However, in the end, taking a chance on a person comes down to a gut feeling. Recent scientific research has shown that your gut has more neurons than your spinal column, and a primal connection exists between our brain and our gut. That instinct is a part of ourselves that successful business people trust time and again. Those of us who do not, who question ourselves due to bad previous experiences, tend to have had bad managers, telling them that they should be “this”, or are more like “that”. Will you make a mistake? It’s possible. But then, no one did anything right by being perfect all the time, did they? Did you, at one time or another, wish that someone had seen in you what others failed to? Trust your instinct, and take a chance. You just might surprise yourself, and those around you.

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