September 27, 2022

4 things I learned about hiring new skill sets for the 1st time


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Hiring is not the same as recruiting

If you’re a growing company, you’ll have a lot of firsts.

Like hiring a totally-new-to-you skill set. Or managing someone who does things you haven’t.

That’s us right now. This year we’ve hired a Chief of Staff, a Product Marketing Manager, a Head of Learning and Development, a VP of Finance, and a few others.

Brian Heil is our product marketer. A+ hire. (I mean he even helped me put this list together.)

It’s worked out great. We (Brian and I) suggest the following:

1. Don’t pretend to know what they know.

Conceptually, it all makes sense. But the devil is in the details. And I don’t know all the details.

More important: I don’t know how long stuff takes.

What’s a realistic workload? Realistic timeframe? The process to completion?

Screwing this up leads to excessive work. Double work. Burnout. No one wants that.

????Don’t dictate this. Take direction. They’re the expert, not you. That’s why you hired them in the first place.

2. Use a (paid for) test project in the interview process. 

Projects in the  interview process have upsides and downsides. Some people are too busy or may not want to do it. (To be fair: that usually happens when you’ve done a sh*t job of building mutual interest.)

And there’s nothing worse in all of hiring that getting free work out of people.

But a paid project? Their time isn’t wasted, offer or no. It gives both sides an idea of what it’s like to work together. And you’ll learn more about how they *actually work* (vs how they answer interview questions.)

Worst case scenario: they get paid, you get something you might be able to use.

????Best case scenario: you both feel really good that you’re aligned on day 1.

3. Structured onboarding (especially when remote).

In the old days, onboarding was pretty simple. We had the basics down: training plan, structured agenda, etc. But a lot of it was just for recruiters. Shadowing (and 1:1 guidance from that) was a huge piece.

Needless to say, the pandemic drove a need to 10x our onboarding. So we did.

Still, I wasn’t expecting Brian’s feedback:

????“It was the best onboarding I’ve had. Partly because there was onboarding at all. Most companies skip this step or do a half-ass it. I felt truly connected with the different parts of the business. That is especially important to someone new that isn’t the same type of role the company has ever had.”

4. Transparency

At some point in the interview you’ll have to drop “are you sure to want to work with us? Literally everything you’re doing is new to me.”

????You’re not for everyone. And that’s ok. As long as you both walk in eyes open.

That should continue after they start, too. A little “friendly reminder I have no idea wtf you’re talking about so I’ll take your direction” goes a long way.

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

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