It’s no secret that the engineering industry is hyper-competitive. Finding and attracting the best talent is difficult, but a critical part of any manager’s overall success. Yet, I see far too many managers sit back and rely entirely on their recruiting team to build the hiring pipeline for them. To build the best team possible, hiring managers need to play an active role in building the recruiting pipeline, not just sit in the interview.
An effective hiring pipeline starts with outreach and extends all the way to the start day. This also needs to connect to the on-boarding, development, and coaching of individuals as well, but that’s a (somewhat) separate topic. Hiring managers are better equipped to find and attract top tech talent, knowing their teams better than recruiters and having a better handle on what’s important and interesting for candidate. Managers need to build up a network of connections to aid in recruitment efforts, drive and participate in hiring events, review resumes, screen candidates, interview them, sell them on the team itself - after all candidates are also interviewing the manager, and convince them to take the offer if made. It goes far beyond the interview itself.
Managers tend to be pretty busy in their day jobs, but perhaps no activity is more important than team building. Many managers, especially new ones don’t realize how much time they need to be dedicating to this though, and miss out as a result. Hiring and developing team members should be the top priority of a manager, with everything else coming after. Nothing can impact the delivery, strengths, and weaknesses of a team as much as a manager’s approach to hiring. Here’s why taking an active role in hiring and recruiting needs to be at the top of every manager’s list.
1. It’s the best way to find and attract the best talent. Managers tend to participate in more industry events, have more connections, and sustain a greater presence within the tech sphere. As a result, they are better positioned to discover and meet the best talent in the industry, or talent joining the industry through these connections. Many technical managers - I’m no exception - have a natural hatred toward “networking”, but building up these connections is the best way to stumble upon a friend of a colleague who is the perfect fit for the team. 2. Hiring managers need to foster diversity and inclusion. While a recruiting team certainly can as well, these connections hiring managers have often result in a more wide and varied network. Managers also need to focus on increasing team diversity and inclusion due to the numerous benefits to team performance. Increased team diversity has been shown to lead to teams with more creative ideas, more retention and attraction to the team, and higher measures of innovation in ideas. Focus on these priorities can help managers improve the productivity of their teams and hold a competitive advantage. 3. They are best suited to identifying the right skills and levels for the team. Hiring managers understand exactly what their teams need and what skills would help the team most. Good recruiters do a great job of working closely with their partner teams to understand their needs, but they’ll never get the same level of understanding as a manager who spends every day with the team. Managers will know what skills are beneficial, which are absolutely necessary, and which are nice to have. Many times these aren’t explicit on a resume, and a hiring manager can parse these out and get a better sense of the candidate’s experience, knowledge, and value to the team. 4. Hiring managers can drum up excitement for the team. It’s easy to forget, but a mistake to do so; candidates are also interviewing the company and team that is interviewing them. Managers are far more effective at explaining what makes a team unique and compelling to a candidate. Managers know what is important to their team, the vision, and what exciting things are coming down the pipeline, all the exact things candidates want to know before taking an offer. The best candidates will have offers from multiple companies, so a manager needs to do everything in their power to convince them that their team and organization is the best fit for them. Hiring managers can use this information to make a compelling case to the candidate for joining the team as part of extending the offer. 5. Managers need to understand a candidate for when they become an employee. Successful managers know new hires well before they even join the team so that they can draft a meaningful onboarding plan for the hire. This should play to both their strengths and weaknesses, and ensure they have the right support, challenges, and opportunities provided to them to grow and become successful. Getting to know a candidate before and through the interviewing process enables a manager to get to know the candidate and form an impression of these strengths and weaknesses. It also helps build a relationship of trust so that the employee can help develop this plan by explaining their values, priorities, and places they want to grow to the manager. Knowing a candidate early on not only helps the manager formulate their onboarding plan, but also can help with selling the candidate on the position based on that mutual trust.
Effective hiring managers lean into the hiring and recruiting process while less effective ones sit back and leave it all to their recruiting team. In such a competitive landscape, the best talent will only be discovered by, and attracted to, the best, active managers who build their own recruiting pipelines. Managers who take this active role build better networks, discover better talent, and form better relationships with their prospective team members. This all leads into the actual development and growth of these team members and translates to growth on the team. Managers who take this approach also tend to build more skilled and diverse teams, which can result in teams that exhibit more creativity and innovation, increasing performance. For all of these reasons, hiring managers can’t afford to forget that first word, hiring, and need to build their own pipelines to be successful.