You’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.
Definition The candidate is the person being considered for employment at the company. Some companies refer to candidates as applicants, but we use the more expansive term candidate, since not all candidates apply directly. At the top of the hiring funnel, candidates can be either inbound or outbound.
Definition The hiring manager is an employee, typically a manager with an open position on their team. The hiring manager is also usually a key interviewer, and they will be a crucial voice, if not the sole decision maker, in determining whether to extend an offer. They may become the candidate’s manager if the candidate joins the company.
Some companies employ a “bootcamp” or “team-matching process” that allows for some flexibility in final team placement after the candidate joins, and in these cases the term hiring manager is used more loosely to refer to the primary decision maker.
Definition The recruiter is a specialist in the hiring process who partners closely with the hiring manager to find and attract candidates. A recruiter contributes to crafting a job description, sourcing and screening candidates, conducting informational chats, delivering offers and rejections, and negotiating compensation packages, among other activities. Companies split responsibilities between hiring managers and recruiters in different ways, and as a company grows, recruiters may become increasingly specialized. Internal recruiters (or in-house recruiters) and external recruiters differ in their relationship to the hiring company. An internal or in-house recruiter is a full-time employee at the company, an arrangement which is common at companies that are growing quickly or have achieved a certain size.* An external recruiter is a contractor, typically has more limited duties, and may work with many companies.
DefinitionTechnical recruiters are subspecialists in hiring for engineering roles, particularly those requiring full-time, more experienced candidates. This requires enough familiarity with the technical space for which they are recruiting to enable them to effectively screen candidates and converse with them about their technical experience.
DefinitionExecutive recruiters (or leadership recruiters) are subspecialists in hiring for senior roles. Their work often requires extensive network-building and a high-touch approach to candidate engagement.
DefinitionUniversity recruiters are subspecialists in hiring full-time employees and interns directly from colleges and universities. This can involve building a relationship with certain universities, attending and sponsoring career fairs, organizing social gatherings or technical talks, and so on.
confusionRecruiter is a job title that may apply to generalists and any of the above subspecialists, but it is sometimes used expansively to refer to anyone engaged in the project of recruiting.
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Companies sometimes break out the tasks associated with searching for and identifying potential candidates into a specialized sourcer role. Sourcers may also conduct the initial outreach to a candidate.
When a sourcer reaches out to a candidate, they may do so under their own name or, less frequently, under the hiring manager’s name. In the latter case, sourcers and hiring managers may agree on a template for the sourcer to use. A sourcer handling the initial outreach typically is not involved past a successful phone screen of the candidate. At this point, a recruiter takes over.
Recruiting coordinators manage the logistics of the recruiting process, including scheduling interviews and arranging candidates’ travel and accommodations. The contributions of recruiting coordinators are more important than may be apparent; for a busy team that is hiring quickly, scheduling is a demanding, critical job.
Interviewers are the people selected to meet formally with candidates to assess their suitability for the company and role (and hopefully to help convince them to join the company if given an offer). After conducting an interview, the interviewer usually provides their assessment to the hiring manager in the form of a rating and written feedback, and may attend candidate debriefs to provide feedback in person. When multiple people are assigned to interview a candidate, this group is often referred to as the interview panel (not to be confused with a panel interview).
startupEarly-stage startups may have a network of investors, advisors, mentors, or even clients and customers that can help out with recruiting efforts for a small team. These advisors or advocates might refer candidates to you, talk to candidates about your company’s potential, or even step in to help assess candidates for skill sets that you are not equipped to test for yet.
The Hiring Manager-Recruiter Partnership
An effective recruiting process requires the entire cast of characters working together toward a common goal: successful hiring. A crucial part of this process is the relationship between hiring managers and recruiters. Hiring managers (and their teams) are the ultimate beneficiaries of successful hiring, so they’re particularly motivated to take the process seriously every step of the way. They also know the team’s needs, values, and expectations better than anyone. On the other hand, it is a recruiter’s job to recruit. In addition to (theoretically) being able to devote more time to the process than a busy manager or founder, recruiters often bring insights and skills to the process based on their role-specific experience and qualifications. This may include natural talent or personality; your recruiter will likely be extroverted and describe themself as a “people person.” Additional practical knowledge may be accumulated through years of experience spent figuring out what people need and want, what attitudes or motivations they respond to, and what they will or will not compromise on, because a recruiter may see more candidates and hires in one year than a hiring manager might in their entire career. The relationship between both parties can make or break the entire recruiting process.*
startup A great recruiter is an invaluable partner to many hiring managers and teams, though not every company needs or wants to employ an outside party in their hiring. For most early-stage startups, having a full-blown in-house recruiting team may be unnecessary and too costly. Initially, hiring managers (or, very early on, the founding team) might take on most or all recruiting activities, simply out of necessity. Other functions may pitch in; for instance, company admins may also serve as recruiting coordinators. As many companies grow, however, they begin shifting recruiting activities onto a specialized team.
Never forget that hiring is the most important thing you do. Lots of people say this, but then they delegate hiring to recruiters. Everyone—EVERYONE—should invest time in hiring.Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Alphabet*
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