The Efficiency Principle

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Youโ€™re reading an excerpt of The Holloway Guide to Technical Recruiting and Hiring, a book by Osman (Ozzie) Osman and over 45 other contributors. It is the most authoritative resource on growing software engineering teams effectively, written by and for hiring managers, recruiters, interviewers, and candidates. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, over 800 links and references, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Keep your recruiting pipeline efficient. While recruiting is an extremely high-leverage activity, an inefficient process will waste resources and create a frustrating experience for your team and your candidates.

  • Move quickly and carefully. Testing the efficiency of your process will protect you from losing out on the most desirable candidates to companies that move faster. The primary goal of efficiency should not simply be speed, however. An efficient process creates a better candidate experience, and minimizes the number of candidates that your team has to juggle at any point in time. Donโ€™t cut any corners, but ruthlessly identify and weed out any sources of delay like poor communication between recruiters and hiring managers, slow scheduling, or a lack of internal alignment.

  • Have clear cut-offs in the hiring funnel. Knowing when to let candidates out of the pipeline will help minimize the cost and effort spent on candidates who are unlikely to make it through to the end of the hiring funnel. This is also mindful of candidatesโ€™ time, since you wonโ€™t be dragging candidates through the funnel when theyโ€™re clearly not a fit and will inevitably be rejected. Weโ€™ll discuss throughout this Guide how to fairly evaluate candidates at different stages of the funnel.

  • Ramp up. Use low-effort methods earlier in the funnel, and only increase investment and effort (from both sides) as you both gain more confidence. Many hiring funnels are designed for quick screens at the beginning, then larger investments culminating in a full day or a few days of onsite interviews.

  • Give recruiting the time it deserves. If youโ€™re sure that you need to grow your team, make sure youโ€™re spending enough time on recruiting. Depending on your hiring needs, some managers spend as much as 50-80% of their time on recruiting activities. Most hiring managers and founders agree that recruiting should be their top priority, but when we ask them if they think they are spending enough time on it, most of them say they arenโ€™t. Thatโ€™s because recruiting is hard, with delayed feedback loops, rejections, and what may seem like wasted effort. It takes grit and discipline. You might need to block off time for it on your calendar, and set expectations with your team about how much of your (and their) time will be spent on it. Throughout this Guide, weโ€™ll also highlight ways to make recruiting more fulfilling and enjoyable and less of a chore or burden.

The Improvement Principle

โ€‹importantโ€‹ Underlying each of these principles is a commitment to measure the success of your hiring process on an ongoing basis and over time, and make adjustments and improvements where necessary. As companies grow, measuring and improving the process can become a major area of focus. The sooner you can start understanding why, when, and how you hire, the more likely youโ€™ll be to build an unstoppable team.

  • Focus on both the process and the end results. Recruiting is a complex activity, and most hiring managers are strapped for time. It might take time for changes in your process to yield results. A lot of time spent on recruiting might be repetitive, and it might be frustrating as you realize that most candidates donโ€™t end up being a fit and joining your team. Paying attention to the trees instead of just the forest can actually help.

  • Break your process down into day-to-day activities. Each activity should be clear and concrete. Most of these activities will involve moving candidates from one stage to the next. It should be clear who is responsible for each activity.

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