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Hiring Manager Lessons Learned


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Owl. Photo by Roger Bradshaw on Unsplash
Owl. Photo by Roger Bradshaw on Unsplash

This blog post is to share some lessons I’ve learned as a hiring manager.

🦉 My story as a Hiring Manager

Back in 2017, when I started building a software engineering team in Madrid, I felt pretty much on my own. I did everything, like writing the job postings, publishing them in developer communities, sourcing via LinkedIn, sending hundreds of contact invitations, scheduling interviews, extending offers, and rejecting candidates. Some things were easy, others very hard, and I made a few mistakes too. I worked with external recruiting agencies. Some were fruitful, like Akuaro, and some weren’t. I learned what great candidate experience is, both by interviewing as a candidate with other companies to learn about their process, and by being part of the recruiting network Circular and joining their meetups. It was all so time-consuming, but I learned a lot, the effort paid off, and it helped me become a confident hiring manager and build a solid team.

Nowadays, with such a strong recruiting team at Splash, I don’t do everything on my own anymore. They are experts, and they do it great. Still, the success of the previous years led me to believe that hiring managers should be actively involved in the process. This belief translates in the following principles:

Lesson 1: 🔎 Participate in sourcing

As hiring managers, we need to invest time in sourcing candidates and promoting the job posting. Let’s get our hands dirty, show ourselves to the world, and share the excitement.

Even if I have a recruiting team doing the hard work of sourcing, whenever I have an open role, I invest some time every week to promote the opportunity and source candidates. Additionally, I often volunteer to support the recruiting team’s efforts in various ways, like proactively reaching to my network or sending the right message to somebody on the fence about starting the process.

While we should have high standards of our tech recruiters and the candidate pipelines, that doesn’t mean we can just do nothing.

Lesson 2: 🌱 Always be planting seeds

As a hiring manager, the seeds we plant today can enable the best hires later. Seeds are planted when we polish our online personal brand, we network during conferences, we promote the company in software development groups, and we meet in real life with local developer communities.

My story is a good example of Ben Hindman planting seeds. Ben, cofounder at Splash, participated in a virtual interview along with 3 other NYC startup founders. That was on April of 2014, when I was a student at IIT. That day, I arrived late to class (sorry, professor!), so I tuned in to the live interview from the building hall. Ben was so energizing and motivating during the session that he stuck in my mind. A few weeks later, when I started looking for a summer internship, I remembered him. The seed he planted that day led to me to join Splash a few months later.

One of the best managers I’ve hired came thanks to a seed I discreetly planted 1 year before. In 2020, I discovered remote-es/remotes, a code repository listing companies offering full-time remote jobs with Spanish contracts, and I added Splash. Many months later, this person discovered us thanks to that repository, right when we had an open manager role. Great!

Lesson 3: 🤝 Build trust with recruiting

As hiring managers, the more trusting the relationship is with our recruiters, the more honest and precise feedback we can share with each other.

Recruiting has the goal of bringing quickly candidates that will get hired. A hiring manager must give them guidance on what to look for. Feedback, detailed scorecards, and debriefs are essential for Recruiting to develop a better understanding of what works and doesn’t, and so they can spot and correct unconscious bias in the interviewing team.

Recruiting can sometimes be pushy when we reject a seemingly good enough candidate. It’s a healthy push, though. We shouldn’t reject candidates based on unconscious gut feeling. That said, sometimes it’s hard to fairly articulate why a candidate should be rejected. It has taken me time to improve, with my recruiter’s support, at differentiating my potential biases from actual behaviors that matter for the role.

Lesson 4: ✨ Set the bar high with candidate experience

As hiring managers, one of the best ways to hire a great candidate is to personally care about the developer experience of the hiring process. We should suffer for a candidate when they haven’t heard from our company in a few days, when an interview didn’t meet their expectations, or when they didn’t feel guided through the interview process.

Having built a trusting relationship with the recruiting team, it becomes easier to share critical feedback with them abut the candidate experience we’re seeing, and offer a hand to help.

But it should go beyond that. With great candidates, we should add a bit of personal connection. I usually do it. Thanks to that, I’ve stayed in touch with great candidates that didn’t work out or that we couldn’t hire at the time, and regained their interest when we had new openings.

The recruiting team at Splash has continuously improved our candidate experience so much in the last years. It’s amazing. If you want to learn about that, why not try it yourself? Check out the job opportunities we’re hiring for.

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