By Marina Djordjevic, Director of Talent Acquisition at Idean
The rapid rise of the digital economy and sharp focus on delivering an excellent user experience has made it challenging for companies that aren’t Google or some other tech giant to recruit the creative talent they need. Big companies can throw money at candidates with hard-to-find skill sets, an option that isn’t available to most startups or smaller app development businesses.
That said, smaller companies can still find the experienced talent they need if they use creative practices and focus on relationship building.
If you’re the hiring manager for your company, here are five tips that can help you find the right people — and do your job more successfully:
1. Make sure candidates can handle every part of the job.
For smaller companies especially, team members wear many hats, so explore your candidates’ ability to perform each function. An incredibly talented interaction designer who lacks presentation skills might not be the right fit if she’ll be expected to also pitch ideas to clients. That same candidate would likely thrive in an environment where she could work in the background while others present to clients. Keep expectations like this in mind rather than focusing solely on the candidate’s qualifications for the technical aspects of the job since other duties matter too.
2. Keep in mind that you’re hiring coworkers and acting as company spokesperson.
It doesn’t matter if HR is in your official title or not: If you’re involved in hiring and recruiting, you are building a company culture and serving as company spokesperson. That’s an incredibly large responsibility, so make sure you’re representing the company well at all times by treating candidates with respect (whether you hire them or not) and choosing people who will be able to hit the ground running and work well with your existing team. Skills and experience are important, but so is a good cultural fit.
3. Don’t forget regional dynamics when evaluating candidates.
Sometimes hiring managers have fixed ideas that prevent them from objectively evaluating candidates when putting together national or global teams. For example, it’s not unusual for tech talent in Silicon Valley to move from job to job fairly quickly, so don’t automatically hold job-hopping against those candidates. Freelancing and project-based work is more common in Los Angeles than it is in most US markets; it’s also common in Europe and doesn’t indicate an unwillingness to take a full-time job. Austin has a relatively small tech community, so reputation is a stronger factor there than it would be in a huge market like New York City.
4. Get creative with candidate sourcing.
For some jobs, traditional candidate sourcing strategies like university and trade organization outreach is ideal. It can be trickier when you’re looking for experienced candidates with hard-to-find skill sets. Less traditional approaches like a “Designer Appreciation Night” happy hour can get your company noticed — and convey a fun, informal vibe that might attract candidates to open positions. Informal networking can also yield dividends, such as talking to people you happen to meet within your industry who may know someone who is perfect for the job. By taking a proactive networking approach, you can ensure a steady stream of referrals.
5. Focus on the user experience — as applied to candidates.
The focus in the tech sector these days is all about creating a great user experience, as it should be. Think of the hiring process as a type of user experience, and look for ways to continuously improve it. Are processes clear to everyone who interacts with them? Is it easy for users (i.e., candidates) to interface with your company, learn what is expected of them and follow the procedures necessary to advance to the next level? Considering the recruiting and hiring process from the user perspective can help your company build a positive brand in the tech community.
Interview processes are an important part of the effort to add creative talent — in-person meetings, panel interview formats, portfolio review, etc., are all vital components, and hiring managers should map out a consistent formula that works for their team. But relationship management is the most vital process of all, and succeeding at that underlies successful implementation of a recruiting and hiring roadmap for any company.
By keeping the candidate’s user experience in mind at all times, being creative in your outreach and evaluating each applicant respectfully, fairly and consistently, you can find the people you need to help your company succeed while creating a great reputation for your business. You never know when the applicant who isn’t right for the position you’re hiring for today will be seated across from your team as a client tomorrow, so making sure everyone who interacts with your company has a positive experience isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s good for business.
Marina Djordjevic is the Director of Talent Acquisition at global design firm, Idean. She spent the majority of her career recruiting in Silicon Valley for agencies, startups and large companies like Google and Facebook. The past few years her focus has been in creative recruiting which she loves.