February 28, 2023

How To Hire Your First (Of Any Skill)

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Episode Highlights

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Hiring is never easy. But when it’s a skill set you’ve hired a hundred times before, you’ve got an ironed-out process of what “works” at that point.

But what if it’s your very first marketer? Or accountant? Or product manager?

Good chance you won’t know what you’re doing. And you’re hiring this new area for a reason; it’s the last thing you want to mess up. So how do you get it right?

Jeff Smith and James Hornick take away the guess work in the next The 10 Minute Talent Rant, Episode 60 “How To Hire Your First (Of Any Skill)”

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith, and we are on the clock. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series we’re break down all the things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space. Maybe even pitch a solution or two. I think today’s like all solutions. Yeah. Anyways, before we dig in, all of our content can be found on talent talentinsights.hirewell.com. And have to apologize,

we’re like a week behind, so if I forget how to even do this, like I feel like I’m rusty. Hopefully we, hopefully it irons itself out. Yep. This week, episode 60 “How to hire your first of any skill”. Ready for this one? Yeah. Yeah. It’s going to be like this is the easiest takeaway post of all times. So yeah. Hopefully

So here’s what we’re seeing right now and why we wanted to do this. This is what I’ve wanted to do for a while now, but I want to wait for the right time. We’re seeing a lot of companies trying to do more with less. We’re seeing a lot more hybrid roles. Companies that are hiring generalists who are doing multiple skills, trying to combine them, not in a crazy way, but just like how the best way to cover the things they might need.

We’re seeing a lot of more seed series and series A startups. The smaller startups tend to be doing more of the hiring- which is interesting. Like you would think the opposite. And that was a key takeaway here. Yeah. And kind of with all this, what this means is a lot of companies are hiring a lot of skill sets for the first time ever.

Mm-hmm. So maybe they’ve hired lots of developers before, but they never hired a marketer or a head of sales or some of these type things. And it’s hard and you might not think it is or it should be until you’ve done it and you completely botch it and you realize you had no idea what you were doing, and you’re like, why didn’t someone tell me all the things I need to know to get this done?

And it would’ve saved me a lot of time and aggravation, wouldn’t set me back and whatnot. So that’s the episode. So if you’re making your first ever hire of some other skillset you’ve never done before, we’re going to help you out today. Yeah. Newsflash, we’ve lived the life, literally. So we’ve been in business 20 years.

We have hiring recruiters, down pat, hiring everything else, ops, F&A, HR, marketing. We’ve gotten more wrong than we probably have gotten right. There’s some key stuff that we’ve learned and we want to steal a lot of this. Kudos to Brian Heil, who is one of our A+ hires in this realm. He even helped us put together this list.

But we have five key takeaways. So James, do you want to start us off with number one? Yeah. So kind of the first thing, you bring someone on board, and I’ll use Brian’s example- he was a marketer. Like I’m kind of a content marketer, but not a real marketer. But Brian’s a real marketer.

Don’t pretend to know what they know, when you’ve never been in that seat before. Now conceptually, like all these roles make sense. You might be hiring an HR person or a marketer or something else like that, and you get what they do. But like the devil’s really in the details and like the granularity of it.

So specifically, I don’t know how long any of this stuff takes, right? Like I know what tasks need to be done, but I don’t know- if I haven’t had to do it before, I don’t know like the granular process and things you have to go through to get it done correctly. So I don’t know what a realistic workload is or realistic timeframe is, or a process to completion these types of things. And misunderstanding that or screwing that up or making an assumption, it leads to excessive work, double work, burnout, like all the things you don’t want. So don’t dictate these things. And these are things you can kind of talk about the interview process, like you have a slate of work that needs to be done and making sure you have an idea. But take their direction. They’re the expert, not you.

And I mean, that’s why you hire them in the first place. So just making sure you’re kind of aligned on kind of what’s realistic from a workload standpoint. Best way to hammer that out. There’s nothing worse than walking into a seat that you were told. You were going to be the subject matter expert in and then having no autonomy to do any of the stuff that you sold to them,

so. Yeah. Two, structured onboarding, especially when it’s remote. So in the old days, everything was simple. You had the basics down. We had the basics down. We had a training plan, a structured agenda. But most of this was just recruiters, shadowing one-on-one, sourcing strategy.

It wasn’t that difficult and we repeated it so many times that we had it down pat. Covid hits, drove a need to absolutely supercharge our onboarding. We did it and almost all of it had to be remote given we started to hire in mass outside of Chicago and like the “too long didn’t read” is

overcommunication is onboarding. Structure is onboarding. Simply handing out an employee handbook and signing onto your benefits, not onboarding at all. So it’s also not like a set it and forget it exercise. It’s a living activity. We learn something new every single time we welcome a new team member to Hirewell, and being able to adjust those things accordingly is super, super important. So Brian’s feedback specifically was, and warms my heart, it was the best onboarding he’s ever had. I don’t know if that feels a little Kool-Aid-y, but whatever. Partly because it was an onboarding at all, that was his takeaway.

Most companies skip the step, kind of throw somebody into the fire, you know, connecting people to other parts of your business. Remember, we’re just a recruiting firm. This is the first product marketing manager. So him understanding what all the different groups was, was super crucial for him. And it was especially important

to someone new that isn’t in the same type of role, same type of company, for all the recruiters to understand what Brian was doing as well. Yeah, I was also shocked when I got that feedback, but it also warmed my heart. Yeah. Number three, consultants are actually good. There’s always an anti consultant bias when you’re hiring for perm roles.

I think people think that, “Oh they’re are consultant, they’re going to want to jump on the next project”. But there’s a lot of consultants out there who were ready to kind of do their first job, but more important their first perm job or get into that back into that life that they did before.

But more importantly is, I think consultants give you the best path to actually do a shared experience paying them to do a project just to see if there’s actually a solid work fit. Because I’m not a huge fan of just asking- like I’m never a fan of like trying to get free work or just asking people to do projects or whatnot.

Right? But the idea of doing kind of like, “Hey, let’s do a quick like one month, two month engagement or something like that” which is what we’ve done a few times now, it gives you an experience where both sides understand, is this really a need? Are we really aligned? Do we work well together? They’re getting paid.

No one’s getting kind of put out. It’s actually a great way to, when you’re making these kind of never done before hires, to get a good idea if it’s actually a good fit, kind of from both sides. And so like worst case scenario, they get paid, you get some work you realize, you’re going to be able to use still and you realize, okay, this wasn’t a fit or maybe we got the position wrong, or something like that.

But best case scenario, you both really feel great day one going in, you know. It’s a great fit before the official perm hire part even starts, so. Yeah. Part of this is you don’t know the job. We’re acknowledging that. Mm-hmm. The consultant comes in and validates that it wasn’t a full-time job in the first place and you got a good work product. Anyway. Okay. Number four, transparency. King, Queen. At some point in the interview process, you’ve got to drop, “Are you sure you want to do this?” Right. Everything we’re doing, everything that you may do will be new to this organization. I promise you will be annoying because we don’t know what we’re talking about and hence you.

Right? So the saying goes. Our job isn’t for everyone and and it truly is okay. As long as both sides walk into the partnership with a full understanding of what needs to be done and the challenges each think that they’ll face, at a minimum it’s based on a foundation of mutual understanding and empathy.

So the other thing that I think needs to be thought about is you have to think about this well after they start too. So just friendly reminders of, “I don’t know what is going on or what you’re talking about, and I need your direction, new person” will go a long, long way. Yeah. All right. Number five,

bringing us home here. Got a minute left, but we’re going to go over. When’s the last time we actually held on to 10 minutes. I don’t even know. Hire more of a generalist than you think you need. I think the entire world has this specialist obsession. People think their initiatives are so big or so hard, they need someone who

does just this and that’s like the main focus for what they want to hire for. And even if it does occur to them, hey, there might be some other things that come up. But if you get the right specialist, they’ll be able to kind of figure those things out. Mm-hmm. But a lot of times you’ll find out that whatever that hyper specific need you thought you really needed was, is you think it’s like a super complex and huge job,

it ends up being not a big deal. It ends up being way smaller than you realize. Yeah. And then you have other- back to the contractor stuff. Yeah. Then you have other things pop up. You realize, oh wait, we have these other needs that are even harder. And you’re like sh- sometimes when you hire a specialist, it’s not something they want to do. It’s not something they were focused in, and you’re asking them to kind of pivot into something versus- so just like don’t bank on, you know- don’t. I don’t think many job seekers are trying to oversell their ability to kind of take on something they don’t want.

But of course everyone’s going to say, “Yeah, sure I’ll do that”. I mean, it’s just typically the way that the interviews kind of work out. But focus on hiring someone who’s got a broader range of skills to pull from, more life experience, a generalist who’s done different things, broader responsibilities is an easier lift if you do- when you do realize that some of these initiatives you have aren’t as big as you realize, and there’s other things that are also pressing come up, it’s an easier lift for someone who’s more of a generalist background to kind of take on.

And lastly, I’d like to throw in a little mini ageist rant. Like people who are a little bit older in their career have more life experience to pull from, you know, wanted to shoehorn that in here too. Might be a good, might be a good area type of person to hire for, for these kind of first time hires.

Throwing that out there. Don’t be an ageist. Yes, don’t be an ageist. We are short on clock. That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for tuning into the 10 Minute Talent Rant, part of the Talent Insight series, which is always available for replay on talentinsights.hirewell.com as well as YouTube, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and Amazon.

Jeff, thanks again as always. Everyone out there, see you soon.

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