Branding Yourself Through the Hiring Process

Hiring

12 March, 2020

Tim Barnes

Tim Barnes

Senior Engineering Manager at Instacart

Tim Barnes, Senior Engineering Manager at Instacart, believes that you can retain employees by spending time soft-selling you and your company’s brand before you begin the hiring process.

Problem

In the past, I’ve spent nearly half of my work time on hiring. I decided that if I am going to spend that much time on hiring, I want to ensure I get quality candidates through the door and retain them. So, I proactively developed a method of branding myself and the company before recruiting candidates.
 

Actions taken

Sourcing

It’s important for a hiring manager to be actively involved in the process and to not rely solely on recruiters. Building a network is critical. Get involved in tech communities, go to meetups, participate as an attendee at industry events, be a speaker, or volunteer. You are not only building a brand for your company, but also for yourself. This is a great way to attract candidates.
 

I receive countless emails from recruiters at prominent companies - but there’s no real sell there. I can’t get a feel for an organization from an email without any indication of “why me” or “why this company.” In contrast, during public speaking engagements I can share real life examples - like how my company chose a certain technology, or my thoughts on professional development for engineers. These presentations give potential candidates an inside look into our company and our culture.
 

Screening

The phone screen should be a two-way conversation. Instead of spending the entire time drilling candidates with questions, let them ask you questions as well. Remember that you are representing your company and should be selling the candidate on an opportunity. Don’t assume that they have no other options. Letting candidates ask questions will show that you value what they have to say.
 

Interviewing

I often limit on-site interviews to four hours, though this may vary depending on the role. Senior-level and management roles may be longer. In either case, if scheduled midday, be sure to provide lunch for the candidate. Lunch should be casual, with the candidate and one or two employees in attendance who they would potentially work with. This gives them another perspective of what it is like to work at the company. Give them time to eat and ask questions to the non-interviewers.
 

Lessons learned

  • The role that I play in the hiring process varies. The role of a manager is to fill in whatever gap there is on the team. If I need to be the top of the hiring funnel, finding and sourcing candidates, I will do it. My role changes depending on where our needs are.
  • As a hiring manager, you can make a big difference by being one of the earliest touchpoints with a candidate. Reach out to them early and let them know why you are interested in them.
  • Ensure that you’re vetting candidates based on their profiles. You should know where they are coming from, what technologies they’ve been using, and what their core contributions are. If you want to move forward after this, have someone at the company schedule a 15-minute phone screen.
  • Don’t ask questions about things that you could learn from a candidate’s LinkedIn profile. It’s a waste of your time and the candidate’s time. Be informed and prepared at each step to get the most out of the time you have.
  • I do think the use of recruiting services to hire and vet candidates can be very useful when timed correctly. If a candidate hasn’t spoken to anyone at the company before an introductory call with a recruiter, they may not value the call because they don’t know anything about the company. Potential candidates should first be exposed to your brand so they’ll welcome the recruiter call.

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