A New Way to Hire Tech Talent?

23rd May '184 of your Earth minutes

A New Way to Hire Tech Talent?

Hiring goes a little something like this:

  1. Hire traditionally — firewall interviewing (resumé culling, technical testing, group interviewing) to whittle candidates down and pick the ‘best’ of the bunch. Time-intensive, unfair to candidates who may be better a few weeks in than on paper/at interview. Usually involves a probationary period. Risky if candidates are able to fool HR and interviewers. Costly for failures to make the right hire.
  2. Make all potential hires interns for a while — Basecamp, Buffer. Kind of like a more intentional probationary period to see if you’re a “good fit”. Still have to normally go through some version of (1) to get to this stage and even then might not be guaranteed a role at the end. But they are getting paid!
  3. Rotate freelancers / contractors in. Expensive. Usually no intent to join the team fully. Typically a throw-away resource, only needed in extreme cases. Tough to get them to be truly passionate/super committed.
  4. At times all or some of the above in tandem and also with recruitment agencies involved. Even more cost. Still can’t guarantee candidate quality. Recruiters sometimes have to use dicey tactics to keep themselves in the picture.

For a change, why not try this?

After a single round of resumé checking and a brief telephone discussion to get a sense of character, why not bring the best interviewees in for a few days of paid work on a non-contract, freelance basis?

You could see them working, interacting with the team, get a feel for their skill level… and they’re more likely to be relaxed than at a rigid technical interview.

Have them shadow someone — preferably a member of the team they’d eventually be part of. Take precautions sure, but give them the benefit of the doubt and some trust early on.

It could work out way less costly overall.

Let’s run some numbers…

Let’s be conservative. Say you have 2 staff ($100k combined salary) and 100 applicants. Reviewing resumés, emailing and calling candidates to whittle them down, ending up with maybe 3 candidates who mostly go through 2 rounds of face-to-face interviews.

Let’s say they’re fast at doing a resumé scan and they’ve managed to get through 100 resumés in half a day: 1 day, $420.

Emailing and calling the 10–15 candidates that seem to fit the bill takes them each 1 day: 2 days, $840.

Interviewing the 3 remaining candidates (prep, scheduling, the interviews, follow-ups) amounts to 1.5 days each: 3 days, $1,260.

Factor in the work they should have been doing. Let’s say that would have made the company $1,000 per day: 6 days, $6,000.

Total: $8,560!

Ouch! The cost of hiring is high.

Now imagine that none of those candidates are successful and that whole process has to be repeated! Yikes.

Obviously these numbers are just examples and it’s oversimplified for easy math (and a convincing argument), but I bet this is less than the true cost in some cases.

It’s even more costly if you use a recruitment agency! And the most expensive option? Falling back on contractors who will demand top dollar and strong contract terms.

Now for the other option

Remember 100 resumés: 1 day, $420.

Emailing and calling the 10–15 lucky candidates: 2 days, $840.

Cost of lost efficiency: 3 days, $3,000.

This time though, let’s not do formal interviews, let’s just spend some money on each of the best candidates to come in and work for a few days (let’s say 3 days x 3 candidates x $300): $2,700

Now it turns out that you actually recover some lost efficiency because these candidates do some meaningful work in their few days: -$2,000

💵💲! CHA-CHING ! 💲 💵

Total cost: $4,960

That’s over 40% less cost! And that’s not all…

We’ve been super fair to our candidates:

And we’ve done more than save a few pennies… some of our key staff have:

I call that revolutionary.

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