#26 Recruitment - A mini-series

Over the coming episodes I'm going to take a deep dive into recruitment.

Recruitment is singularly one of the most important roles of management.

Our businesses are run and operated by people.

Yes processes, tools and a hundred other things can help, but ultimately it is the people that make the business.

So over the coming few episodes I want to talk about various characteristics that I believe are important in recruitment. And while I believe many of these themes are universal, I will of course be focusing on software development.

In this episode, I will be summarising the themes that I plan to look at over the coming weeks.

Or listen at:

Published: Wed, 29 Jan 2020 17:12:23 GMT


Recruitment & Employment Confederation Press Release


When is the best time to plant a tree?

20 years ago.

When is the second best time to plant a tree?


But that isn't going to be a lot of use to us if we need timber tomorrow.

And recruitment can be just like that.

The worst possible time to recruit is when we need someone.

The more critical the need, the more likely that we will rush it. And by rushing it, we use poor practices in the hope of getting lucky.

We are too busy to do things right.

And we pay the long term cost for that.

Recruitment should be a considered, thoughtful, thorough activity. Something that is planned and executed to the best of our abilities.

As I say, its singularly one of the most important roles of management.

Thoughtful and thorough planning and execution will be a common theme through this mini-series and something I come back to time and time again.

The UK's Recruitment & Employment Confederation released a report in 2017 highlighting the hidden cost of bad hires.

They believe that hiring mistakes are costing UK business billions a year.

Their report stated that:

  • 85% of HR decision-makers admit their organisation has made a bad hire
  • a poor hire at mid-manager level with a salary of £42,000 can cost a business more than £132,000
  • the hidden costs involved in bad recruitment include money wasted on training, lost productivity, and increased staff turnover
  • four in ten employers admit that the interviewing and assessment skills of their staff should be improved.

I'll provide a link to the press briefing in the show notes.

As far as I'm aware, there is no perfect recruitment method.

So much of recruiting the right person is down to luck.

Is the right person available at the time you look? Do they happen to come through any initial process? Do they make it to the interview and come across well?

There are just so many factors involved in getting the right person - and so many of those factors are effectively managed through chance - through luck.

But I do find, that like most things, the more prepared I am, the luckier I get.

Somewhat at odds with the title of the mini-series, in the first episode I will ask the question if you should be recruiting at all.

I find many organisations are recruiting when they shouldn't be ... Along with more than a few that should be recruiting and aren't.

I believe our traditional management techniques would have us recruit to solve certain types of problems - which can often produce the opposite of the desired outcome.

In that episode, I plan on looking at some of the reasons why recruitment may not be the right thing for you.

I'll then use an episode to talk about if traditional recruitment is the right approach.

While the first inclination maybe to advertise and recruit for a permanent employee, it may not be the right way of getting that extra help.

And with the rise of the gig-economy and a shortage of skilled software developers on the market, sometimes you may have to look at alternatives.

In that episode I will also talk about the alternative options such as using contractors or outsourcers.

I'll then use an episode to talk about defining the role.

Regardless of if you are looking for a long term permanent employee or short term contract help, you should always put effort into defining what you are looking for.

I find that too often an organisation will immediately reach out to a recruitment agency - with little to no real thought about the role or indeed why an individual would want to work for them.

In the episode, I will talk about putting in the upfront effort to not only define the role but also why your organisation will be a great place to work.

Spoiler alert - that episode will ask uncomfortable questions about what it is like to work in your organisation. This is something that generally needs work BEFORE you recruit. When you recruit, you can only work with what you have.

The output from that episode should be a briefing document that can be used with recruitment agencies and potential employees to help get the best out of the recruitment process.

I'll then devote an episode to understanding worth.

Before going out to the market, I advise on having a good understanding of that market.

Software Development remuneration has risen steadily for quite some time. Dependant on the skills and experience your role requires, you may find that any previous recruitment may not be an accurate guide to current market rates.

Blindly going into the market with a figure based on historical recruitment can quickly affect you ability to attract the best people.

Also, given that many organisations has a recruitment sign off process, having a eye on the market before getting any rates signed off can avoid recruitment stalling for lack of enough approved funds.

I'll then take an episode to talk about dealing with recruitment agencies.

For better or worse, most software development recruitment is undertaken through agencies.

While it is possible, and desirable, to attract potential employees directly - most organisations are not appropriately placed for this.

In that episode, I will talk about how I engage with agencies for best affect - as well as touch on some longer term activities that can help to reduce your reliance in them.

I'll then spend an episode giving some advice on interviewing Software Developers.

Interviewing an individual for gauging future performance is far from a fool proof means of recruitment.

Unfortunately it is commonly the only option available to us.

I provide advice from my own experience on how to get the best from the interviewing process.

I'll then use an episode on the need to act quickly.

There is a shortage of software development skills - as such the market can move frighteningly quickly. As such its important that your organisation can match that pace.

I talk about some of the practices that can reduce delays and delight both the candidates and recruitment agencies.

And in the final episode of the min-series, I'll close out with a brief discussion on that what happen next - possible the most important part of the recruitment process - getting the most from them and keeping them engaged.

There are two things that you to need to operate a successful business.

To produce something that your customers value.

And to have happy engaged employees.

Everything else is a side effect.

Financial earning are purely a result of those two factors.

Too often the focus is on the outcome - revenue & profit - rather than then inputs that generate them.

In the episode I will talk about motivation and how it applies to keeping new and existing employees happy and engaged. I will lean heavily of the book Drive by Daniel H. Pink - a book a consider mandatory reading for any manager or leader.