Human specialist. Former VPE at New Relic, Gremlin. Engineering advisor.
Why should someone work at your company? Every company answers this question differently.
Here are some valid strategies for hiring:
“We’ll pay the median rate in your area, but we’re investing heavily in making this the place for you to do your best work — the best work culture.” - (early days New Relic)
“We’re working in a compelling technical area, which attracts a lot of talented people, so you can work with a great team and solve interesting problems. Plus we’re making a great people-focused work environment.” - (Gremlin during my tenure there, also early days New Relic)
“We’re making Disneyland for engineers, lots of perks and top pay, in a university-like environment. - (early Google strategy).
“We’ll pay really well for you to work your ass off, and in return you get a chance to work at a scale you won’t otherwise.” - (Amazon today)
“We won’t pay you the most, but you’ll get to spend time each week working on open-source software.” - (a local software consultancy my friend ran for a while)
In practice, when you haven’t done the work to articulate why someone should work there, your hiring strategy looks like this:
“Work super hard at a stressful startup for low pay and equity that is probably worthless.”
You need to create your hiring strategy. Ask yourself, how are you going to stand out as a place people will want to work? Like any strategy, you should consider what your unique strengths and weaknesses are.
Some dimensions you can flex or emphasize to attract candidates:
Remote Versus In-Person:
Having a strong stance on this will attract people who care about either of those options.
Perks You are Willing to Offer:
Consider offering allowances for teleconferencing (high quality cameras and microphones, for example). Flatfile offers an office makeover, with a designer helping you renovate your workspace. You can offer top of the line developer machines, or quality monitors. These are things that also help your team work more effectively together, so it’s offering a benefit that serves two purposes! If I were making my own startup nowadays, I’d focus on top-tier videoconferencing equipment (DSLRs and external microphones) as a main perk.
Freedoms You’ll Offer:
You can offer a 4 day workweek. You can craft a narrative around offering no deadlines and no meetings. Or something else entirely.
Transparency on Salary and Equity:
Research shows diverse teams produce better business outcomes. There are a few things you can do to make your position stand out for candidates from diverse backgrounds: list the salaries (and equity!) for the positions you’re posting, and emphasize how you’ll make the workplace fair and equitable for all employees. Share your philosophy around how salary and equity are determined. Being more upfront about this than competitors will make you more desirable and competitive.
Start by implementing pay equity, and then tell people you’re doing it. How bizarre is it that your hiring manager is expected to advocate for and win the trust of their team member once they’re hired, but they’re expected to negotiate against their best interests during the hiring process? Starting off the relationship without having to negotiate salary can be a huge relief for candidates.
A Haven for People From Diverse Backgrounds:
The experience for many people in tech companies is far from ideal. Many people leave our field because they’re treated so poorly. Most companies haven’t invested the time and energy to build a work culture that retains and delights people who aren’t overrepresented in tech.
Impact People can Have on the World:
Consider ways your company helps employees connect their work to something meaningful or interesting to them. Are there ways you can emphasize this more? People at Patagonia are given the option to volunteer once a week, paid by the company. Working at a nonprofit can have direct impact. For most companies, you can think of the value of what you produce in a way that people will find meaningful. Think about how that ties into your narrative for why to join your company.
Attributes of the Team:
What is the team like, and how can you use that to attract the type of people you’d like to come to the company? For example, you might be good at hiring people that are collaborative, and not assholes. You might be in a place with a lot of creative thinkers.
As you look through these, come up with a one sentence description of why people should join your company.
You’ll know you have a real strategy if it is rational for a certain type of person to select your company over all the other companies out there.
This post is originally from my course on engineering leadership. You can find a permalink for it here.
Did I miss anything? Please share your favorite ideas with me, I’d love to hear them!