I’m gonna start this post with “there is no perfect or correct process here”.

OK, so let’s talk about the somewhat convoluted process of hiring, and getting hired. If you are reading this, pretty good chance you clicked a link via LinkedIn or Twitter, in which case you probably already have or had a job, and so you have at least one reference point. I hope it was a good one.

Let start with hiring.

I’ve had to follow some insane hiring “policies” at various companies around the world. Some of these policies are founded in appropriately good boundaries (but often poorly executed on) and some are just based on historical or bias based practices. I’ve hired for technical engineering roles, marketing roles, and sales roles. They vary a little in how you establish ability to do the job, but fundamentally, hiring is IMO about the person and what they bring as a whole. So here’s my approach:

  • I am always open to an outreach. If someone is willing to make contact (and this is really hard for some people) and they are within the ballpark of suitability, I will take 25 minutes and have a chat. Worst case, I have met a person and they get confidence in talking to a hiring manager, best case I have a candidate to refer into the process.
  • I am looking for transferrable skills, not just direct capability. If you are a perfect fit for a role and have all the knowledge and all the skills to do the job on day 1 … what are you going to learn and be challenged by? You’ll be bored and quickly be looking for more or something else. There are also nearly always skills and experiences that will allow a person to be able to “figure it out” even if they have not done it before.
  • Hiring is a 2-way discussion. Both sides have to kiss a lot of frogs before they find that right one. The interactions I have had that have led to me removing myself from a role application or just letting it drift and disengaging are nearly always due to the way a recruiter or hiring manager approaches the conversation. The worst ones for me … the recruiter who is demanding why you’re interested, and the hiring manager who wants to microcrawl through previous work. #nope
  • I deeply believe that the discussions need to be balanced, if not tilted towards the applicant, in terms of leading the conversation. I usually do a little setup to explain the role, why it’s open, the expectations and accountabilities, and then hand over to the other person. It’s both so they can show me they can lead a conversation, and so that they get what they need out of it. I get all I need from seeing how and what questions they have and where they take it.

And now for getting hired.

With a couple of exceptions, for the last 25 years of my career I have been more pulled towards roles and opportunities than cold applications. This has been by design, and the reason why this is possible is two-fold: I actively work and maintain my network, and even when leaving roles with two very specific exceptions I have left the door open to return or work together again. In one case I actually have worked for the same manager twice, and I left that team the first time to go to a direct competitor! It’s about how you do it.

So, a few thoughts on approaching roles and getting hired:

  • Take your time. I have always explored widely at first and been open to reading about any role that catches my eye and taking a look at the people who work there and company websites. Unless you are in a dire situation of having lost your financial stability or an awful situation, pacing yourself and letting your brain process will lead to a certainty in decision making and a confidence of making good choices.
  • Do your research on the company, the hiring manager and the company leadership. Take a look at Glassdoor (and take with grains of salt some of it, but also look for ongoing themes), look at the hiring managers history and where they are in their journey, who are the leadership team and what are their backgrounds and is there sufficient diversity in the makeup of that group (not just the important D&I aspects but also different histories, backgrounds and knowledge). These are the people that you will be working with and will be directly impactful in your success and happiness. It matters.
  • In what might be a controversial statement, I will disconnect from a process immediately if you ask to see my previous work. Unless it’s a website or other publicly visible resource, it’s inappropriate for me to show you, and gives me significant pause in how the hiring manager and company operate. I am totally open to doing some homework, putting together thoughts on a topic of your choice, whatever will help you gain confidence in my abilities. But let’s stay true to the commitments we make to previous employers, just like you will want when and if I ever left your company.
  • Understand that there are systems, scanners and processes that will not be helpful to you. It is a sad reality that the recruiting teams and tools in place at many companies today are actively looking to exclude candidates when they don’t have the “right” words in resumes and profiles. I get it, I really do, it’s a game of numbers. And so be prepared for moments of “WTF”. I have myself had rejection notes of “not qualified” for roles that I can provably show I have done and can do. I was part of the early team that created what is now a $16B business at Microsoft from literally zero, and yet 2 companies in that same business line told me that I did not know enough to work for them. Sure thing, you go ahead and think that. You can only shrug and move on.
  • Offers. OK, many many approaches here. Whether you look to negotiate or not, that’s up to you. My approach is to be transparent on what I believe my market worth is based on a combination of current and what I see being posted on open roles. It’s ballpark. Personally, my approach has been to make it clear that the offer made is going to be an indicator to me on how the company looks after people. You don’t have to go silly overboard, but if you come in super low, I’m gonna assume you’re taking the piss and pass. I can and have done this in recent times.
  • Levels and titles. Ask what they are, and where you fit into them, and relative to others with the same role and scope. IMO it’s one of the easiest ways to detect bias and inequality.

The last thing I will close with, is for both people hiring and looking to get hired, leverage people you trust to help you think things through. Sounding boards are always helpful, either to confirm what you think, or help you process to get to the best outcome.

If you have hiring or getting hired thoughts, let me know!

Be awesome. And nice.