Books for software engineers and managers

Technical Recruiting & Hiring

Technical Recruiting &  Hiring

by Ozzie Osman, Formerly Head of Product Engineering at  Quora

Engineering Manager,
Tech Recruiter

How strongly do I recommend Technical Recruiting &  Hiring?
7 / 10

Review of Technical Recruiting & Hiring

What this book is: a tactical guide for job descriptions, early candidate evaluations, interviews, reference checks, and offers. For the most part, this book assumes that the candidate is already within your pipeline.

What this book is NOT: a guide to recruiting. I hoped that this book would provide strategies and tactics for recruiting software engineers, for instance through outbound marketing, but that’s not what this book is about. Although the book title suggests the focus is technical roles, the tactics mentioned apply to non-technical roles as well.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and think it’s useful particularly for companies who feel like their hiring process is broken. However I didn’t learn much from this book and my company is already executing most of these tactics as advised.

The most useful part of this book is the lengthy section on diversity and inclusion, which explains counterintuitive points, areas of controversy, and opportunities to consider.

Write candidate personas that describe employment background, motivations, and  behaviors

Just like we use customer personas and user personas to find product market fit and deliver customer value, we can use candidate personas in recruiting to craft our message and find candidates.

This book provides a useful outline for candidate personas covering areas like:

  1. Employment history
  2. Job search behavior
  3. What excites them
  4. Decision making process

I recommend extending the candidate model to include 3am anxieties and what timelines their mental model works within – anticipated promotions, bonuses, performance reviews, holidays, etc.

Diversity and inclusion practices combat lazy hiring  practices

Many people think D&I efforts lower the hiring bar. They’re worried the company will hire unqualified candidates. Those unqualified candidates may even take your job!

This view makes sense when you consider the long history of fear based marketing and propaganda. But here’s the problem:

Diversity initiatives open us to more candidates. More options to select from. More choice.

As a consumer of candidates, I want more choices. Especially in the software engineering market where traditionally demand greatly exceeds supply.

Osman doesn’t make that point, but I noticed it. Here’s Osman’s underlying reasoning though, which also resonates with me:

When we rely on heuristics to assess candidates, we are more likely to lower the bar in addition to introducing bias. For instance, evidence shows interviewers favor candidates with similar backgrounds and even appearance to themselves. They lazily push these people through, assuming that their similar experience is sufficient. This laziness lowers the bar.

Optimize all stages of your recruiting funnel, not just the interview  process

Think of this book as conversion rate optimization for recruiting.

Your funnel contains multiple fallout points and all of them need addressing. You need persuasive copywriting in job ads, effective engineering interviews, timely communications, and everything in between to be running smoothly so that candidates don’t fall out.

This is where a better-not-perfect mindset will help you continuously improve your operations.

Use “bar raisers” from outside your team to ensure consistent hiring  standards

Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Coinbase have special interviewers called bar raisers – interviewers from outside your team specially trained to look for alignment on values and company standards.

Although my team has informally used bar raisers before, I hadn’t thought about a formal implementation.

Technical Recruiting & Hiring