The go-go days of the '90s are gone, and with them extravagant hiring budgets. Most companies are being more conservative in making offers to candidates. If you're working on a tight hiring budget, how can you make the most of your hiring power? Esther Derby offers some advice on how to increase productivity after the candidate is in the door.
Back in the late '90s, both demand for qualified people and salaries were high. Hiring managers scrambled to make offers within hours of seeing a promising resume, and bidding for the best people was intense. It was a seller's market and qualified candidates could pick and choose from among the top compensation packages.
Those days are gone, at least for now.
Many companies (and candidates) are taking a more sensible and reasoned approach to finding a good fit between the needs and wants of both company and candidate.
But in some companies, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. Instead of an obsessive focus on chasing the top candidates and offering top salaries, some companies are now focusing on hiring at the lowest salary possible.
My friend Roxanne works for such a company, Pennywise Corp. Pennywise immediately eliminates candidates who are asking for the high end of the salary range for a job. Of the candidates who meet minimum skill qualifications, the job goes to the candidate with the lowest salary requirement-not the best qualified within the range Pennywise can afford.
The people Pennywise is bringing in with this strategy aren't bad people. But as Roxanne points out, "The people the company is hiring don't have the experience to do the work the company wants to do. With all the inexperienced people we're hiring, we're actually falling farther and farther behind."
Even if you aren't working with truly silly hiring policies, you're probably working within a budget and have limits on what you can offer candidates. When you can't find or can't afford the perfect candidate, what can you do to enable less-experienced or less-skilled candidates to do the work you need done?
Here are some strategies to keep work moving forward:
Hone Your Hiring Skills
In good times and bad, you want to hire the very best people you can afford.
Look for value. The fact that a candidate lists a lower salary requirement doesn't mean that he isn't competent. It may mean that he has less experience or is willing to take a lower salary to move into an area where his experience and skills are not a perfect fit. These may be just the people you want to find.
When you interview, focus on functional skills and ability to learn. Look for how well the candidate's work style and personality fits with the group. (For more on hiring, read Johanna Rothman's forthcoming article, "Ready, Aim… Hire," which will appear in STQE magazine, March/April 2003.)
Development managers and test managers are always juggling more work than the staff can handle. If you can't adequately staff all the projects on your agenda, staff the highest priority projects appropriately. Put the lowest priority projects on hold. You can always pick up low-priority projects again when the more important work is complete. (But check before you start them up again. Sometimes those projects slip from "low priority" to "no priority.")
Avoid Spreading People Too Thin
Some people believe that if you move forward a little bit on every project, somehow all the projects will be accomplished. This may work when there is no time frame and no quality criteria specified. For most people, 10 percent time here, 15 percent there, in bits and pieces adds up to much less than 100 percent productivity. To get the most work done most effectively, assign people to only one or two projects.
Manage Coaching Proactively
Mentoring and coaching are part of the job description for many tech leads, test leads, and team leads. There are limits to how much coaching one