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How To Make Your First Hire

Expanding your team is an exciting prospect. Even if you’re not managing a team directly it’s motivating to be part of a group that has worked hard to reach a new level of expectations. The “business as usual” agenda (ie. daily or weekly recurring tasks) is running like clockwork and everyone has their own projects to work on. The team is on track to achieve their OKRs and life is good.

Now that you’ve reached this new level of sustainability, it’s time to reassess your ambitions. Perhaps this means branching out into something new, or raising the bar and exploring a current project a bit more. Either way, the team has achieved a certain level of productivity and now you’ve been awarded a new hire to help bring you to the next level.

First things first- get excited!

Every business understands the battle of the budget. Teams all across the business are constantly requesting money for people and resources, and more often than not they’re being denied. Gaining approval to hire a new person shows that they understand your need and trust that you’ll find the right person to help the business scale.

This is all well and good… but a little bit daunting, right? If you’ve never been in the position of hiring before – don’t stress. If you work in a large organisation you will probably be working with your in-house recruitment team, they’re your closest allies in this process.

Here are some of the key things to bear in mind when you’re hiring for the first time.

Learning a second language

Congratulations… You’re now what’s known as a Hiring Manager.

You are the person who will be working with the recruiters to find the best candidate for the open role.

You may be used to the word ‘recruitment’ but what about talent acquisition?

Recruitment refers to filling open vacancies, talent acquisition focusses on the ongoing planning and strategy to find the best people to help companies progress.
Of course, there’s a lot more jargon that floats around the recruitment industry, if you’re keen to learn more, Wilbur von Biscuit has written an excellent summary called Recruiting, Staffing, Sourcing, Headhunting, Talent Acquisition… What’s the difference?

Now it’s time to get working on your job spec (job specification). This is a list of all the skills- soft and technical, education and experience levels that are required.

Get working on this list and you can start developing it and working on a job description – a document listing all the requirements and responsibilities of the role and job ad – a document that will be published which sells the role to candidates.

Embrace responsibility

This is not a single meeting process, you won’t leave a recruiter to tap their magic wand and find candidates before you appear again for the interview stage.

As a hiring manager, you have a responsibility to deliver a full brief to the recruiter. Do not lazily copy and past an old job description or download a template. Although you can use them for guidance, they are often dated and could repel top candidates.

When you first meet with the recruiter for an intake meeting, it’s the recruiter’s job to interrogate your job spec. If they’re doing their job correctly, they will go through it sentence by sentence and discuss your reasoning.

– Is seven years experience a requirement? Would you accept a stellar candidate with only five years experience?

-You say here they must have experience using a certain type of software- can you teach them to use this? Is this software still relevant? 

It’s their job to help you help yourself. Sometimes recruiters can see hiring managers as a barrier– there’s even training to help them deal with you! But if you take the time to understand what type of candidate you really want and stay open to working in partnership with the recruitment team, it will open your eyes to the world of hiring and make you a much more savvy thinker.

Think strategically

It’s tempting to think about the type of person you need right now. Perhaps someone has left the team or there’s work piling up that’s causing stress and anxiety. It’s important that you think long-term. What skills are required to help your team in a year’s time?

Frankly, nearly all teams feel over-worked and under-resourced. Hiring is about future-proofing your team so you can take on the work that the business requires of you and the work that excites you.

Do some high-level reading about workforce planning to help you understand the process as a whole. It’s one of the best way businesses can support their in-house recruitment team.

Ask the experts

Not even in a recruiter’s wildest dreams would they expect you to take up language courses, study workforce planning and build out their own hiring plan… They are used to educating hiring managers and building a process that works for both parties.

Just like you have a set of skills that you can apply to your job- the same applies to recruiters. They have a wealth of knowledge that you can draw on to make sure you draft the best job description possible.

Take note of the aspects they push back on- they are accustomed to being tasked with finding top talent for the best price. They have exposure to the market that you can learn from- if they tell you your salary expectations are too low or your benefits package isn’t competitive then listen! Be prepared to review the job spec again so you are better aligned with the talent available

By using a recruiter’s expertise you can make sure you are writing really competitive job ads that catch quality candidates’ attention.

Keep an open mind

Prepare to learn a lot from this process!

Interviewing for the first time is an eye-opening experience. Sometimes a candidate comes along that completely changes the way you think about your team and the work you’re doing. It could shine a light on a whole new aspect of your open role.

It can be a great insight into the way other companies are working and can give you a different perspective of the market as a whole. Don’t be put off by candidates who apply if they don’t come from a background that you traditionally associate with the role. They may bring a fresh perspective that could elevate your team’s performance.

Not only will you learn a lot from the candidates you meet, but you will also learn a huge amount from the recruiters you work with. You will learn how important it is to communicate your needs so your shortlist of candidates meets your expectations.

When you blend all of these aspects together it can feel like a lot to take on board. Don’t forget you’ll be working with a recruiter who has seen all of this before and is keen to help you understand how to make the most of the hiring process.

Take this opportunity to learn from them and you will become a better asset to your business as a whole.


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