You Have to Put in the Time

This is the fifth blog post of a series titled Hiring for Engineering Managers. I plan to write a few posts on this topic since I'm incredibly passionate about how to hire for, and grow software engineering teams.

There’s a recurring theme in this series that keeps coming back to my mind. I wrote about it in Hiring Never Stops, but also in Getting Creative with Looking for Candidates. This should be one the main takeaways from the entire series, so I decided to write a very short blog post just about it.

The gist of it is that as the hiring manager for a set of open positions, you have to put in the time. There is no magic bullet here. In fact, I highly recommend looking at your calendar every week and counting how much time you’re allotting to hiring-related activities.

I recently wrote a blog post about how much time I spent doing interviews per week, but you don’t have to measure it with so much granularity. It’s completely possible to just do some simple math at the end of each week. For instance, here’s a breakdown of my past week:

  • Two 30 minute calls with candidates (although I usually spend much more time interviewing candidates).
  • Spent about 1 hour reviewing resumes in our applicant tracking system.
  • Spent about 30 minutes going through people I found on “Who Wants to be Hired” on Hacker News. I reached out to 4 different people from there.
  • I also posted my own comment on “Who is Hiring” on Hacker News, and received a few emails from there that I had to respond to, and sort out.
  • Probably spent about 30 minutes in total throughout the week talking to various recruiters about some offers we’ve sent out, figuring out scheduling issues, reviewing the process, answering all kinds of logistical questions, etc.
  • Spent about 20 minutes in total talking to some engineers about interviews, and talking to other hiring managers about the current status of their hiring processes.
  • (I don't track time spent on very future-looking activities like preparing talks for conferences, writing technical blog posts, etc.)

Overall, including the cost of context switching, I dedicated about 3-4 hours to hiring-related activities. For me, this is not a lot. In fact, there’s been some recent weeks where I’ve more than doubled that. But not all weeks are the same, and what’s important is to track the weekly average over time.

One thing that can be frustrating about hiring is that the time put in now will only yield results in several weeks or even months. Therefore, it’s very hard to get motivated to spend a lot of time on hiring, there is no instant gratification.

This is why tracking the time spent on hiring is so important for me, because then I can look back and realize that I’m only getting new people to join if and only if I put in the time. There is no magic, just hard work. Is it fun to spend hours looking at piles of resumes, and writing carefully crafted emails to people I’ve never met who may not even respond? Not really, but that’s the job.

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