About hiring

The best thing you can do as a team leader is to find new talents.

The best team is the team where everyone trusts each other.

Those statements are hard to speculate.

So why are we so ignorant by letting other people do this job. Because we are too busy reviewing PRs and attending gazillion useless meetings?

Working with different setups on many different roles in big and small companies, I concluded that the team without trust inside is useless.

The easiest way to build trust is to hire everyone in that team personally. But, of course, that's not always possible. Still, if you have an open position, you'd better work to close it yourself and not rely entirely on the company recruitment resources or even worth when this has been outsourced to an external recruitment agency.


How is that helps?

You're better than many trained recruiters. Just believe me here.

You can read between CV's lines, and you can gain much more from the social network than any recruiter would ever do. So you don't approach anyone who is not relevant for the position.

Now is the time to joke about Java and JavaScript, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Even reading a poor Linkedin profile, you can feel someone's path because I assume you've been there on that path. If you have a chance to look at a CV, then you can get even more.

You can see how it is structured, looks excellent or sloppy, etc. You might say: what the fuck, I hate doing my resume, and it looks like shit, but I am an excellent engineer!

Yes, you're right. It can be. But what gives me data is when someone does something and can't do anything poorly, including a CV. That tells about attitude and attention to the details.

Next is a background check, and this is very important.

Unlike a recruiter, you can do a lot.

You can find GitHub profiles and check public data: open source contributions, issues, some pet projects, and so on.

Find twitter and get some data about professional interests and reactions to the industry news, communities, and professional news sources that person reads.

Of course, this or any other tool on its own shouldn't be considered as a filter.

Some people do not care about CV, have empty GitHub, or use social media for things utterly unrelated to the profession, yet they are brilliant engineers.

But piece by piece, it might tell you a lot.


Cultural fit is the next thing you need to consider that most recruiters don't do.

I believe you're smart enough to detect a toxic person before the approach and detect people with empathy and emotional intelligence. Maybe someone proactive: volunteering in professional communities, organizing educational projects, etc.


The last thing you want is to hire, maybe a smart but wrong person.

Many articles have been written about this. And the main idea is: if you have doubts, that means that this journey most likely wouldn't be pleasant for the team or the newcomer, so don't hire.

If you do search by yourself, the risk of hiring the wrong person is minimal, and if you get someone from the recruitment pipeline, the risk is higher.


And one more thing.

You and your team, I don't say it is like a family; however, it is a group of people within which you have to spend a lot of time. Each day, It is almost half of your time!

So I started questioning myself: why should I be daily around people I don't particularly like for such a long time? So I'd better give some effort to find both intelligent and good people, with whom our team will enjoy being around.

Some practical bits of advice.

The best source known is friends and colleagues.

So the first thing you have to do is participate in professional communities.

The best is to create them or actively help to grow. Don't just parasite the existing groups; you should be part of it.

Usually, any local communities are struggling without leaders and resources. So make yourself and your company participate in professional life. Get resources for organizing meetups, help to find and train local speakers, help with everything you can.


Don't require anything back.

Explain to the company that those investments are not for the early return.

Don't allow to gather participant's data, so your recruitment team could approach them, don't put your advertising everywhere, and don't promote positions in the company. It will have the opposite effect.

Instead, ask your company to prepare an exciting tech talk that will be helpful for the audience.


As a team leader, you're dealing with technologies and people. You may not love people, like House, M.D. However, you should enjoy (and detect) clever people. So I strongly recommend you be an active part of the professional community, in your city, country, or worldwide.

Being part of the professional life will help you find people you admire and would love to work together: this is your primary source.


Next are your peers.

If you have competent and friendly people in the team, they probably know other smart and good people they met during their career path.

Ask them. My advice is to ask personally, not using wide channels. Personal requests have a bigger chance of answering than email to a group or message to a channel.

Imagine yourself reading requests to a broad group comparing to "hey, you worked in that nice company, have you met there someone smart for this position in our team, maybe someone you liked to work with?". To what request would you respond more likely?


The next thing is first contact.

When you have a person in mind, it is easy if you know each other, but usually, you don't.

If it is a recommendation from someone you know, ask them to be a contact person and introduce you.

We, engineers, are getting so many cold messages about different positions, so it became a habit to ignore them.

If you just found someone you want to approach, try to find shared contacts, someone who knows that person: maybe one of your colleagues worked at the same company, or studied same time at the university, etc. Ask them to introduce you.

It is often impossible, then try to find a personal email. Never, never write on social media or messages or call. It is annoying and breaks a person's private space.


Write a nice personalized email.

Explain as soon as possible that you're not a regular recruiter, that you're leading the team where this position is opened.

Explain why you chose to approach. Why do you think it might be a cool journey for both team and the person you are approaching.

Explain the role, don't hesitate to go deeper into tech details, put a few words about the team structure.


Ask for a personal meet or, if more convenient or impossible, for a video call to explain more about everything: role, team, company.


Be very honest.

Don't interview candidates; encourage them to interview you and the company.

Don't hide imperfectness: of course, it is the time to 'sell' your team and position, but there is no place without problems, find the right time to talk about them as well, and that you committed to solving them (you should be committed, yes).


Use any other possible tool besides your network, friends, and peers. Except for obvious places like Linkedin, I like to dive into unknown for me professional communities. Do you have a popular local or global conference or meetup? Check the list of Twitter (or other social media) followers; you might find few names.

I always think about where I can find brilliant and good people; this background task should always be running somewhere in your brain if you're leading a team.