Chris Hares has been active in the tech scene for over 30 years. He started his career as a software engineer and has held roles in software management, software engineering, and software architecture. At the start of his career, Chris worked on a flight simulator project, giving him the opportunity to build hardware and software technology. He also transitioned to a data role, working with reasonably sized data at the time.
Chris has had his fair share of working across businesses in different industries and in diverse roles. However, he became interested in the commercial aspect of the tech business and not just software development, which spurred his interest in management and the Chief Technical Officer role.
He is currently the Chief Technical Officer of Yoello—a company that provides contactless mobile payment and ordering solutions for the hospitality industry. With the Yoello platform, customers can place orders to get table and delivery services without going to the bar, delegating someone to place the orders for everyone at the table, or calling a waiter to take their order. The Yoello platform has been very useful for restaurants, bars, and hotels to improve their customers’ experience.
This article covers our discussion with Chris extensively. However, you can also watch the full live session via the link below instead:
A team is only as good as the people on the team. Hence, the importance of hiring the right person for the job cannot be overstated. However, many tech leaders today struggle with finding the right candidate or finding a candidate with the relevant background because of the diverse technology now available in the field.
Chris notes that there were only a handful of programming languages to learn and platforms to master in the past. However, there are tons of programming languages, platforms, and techniques that engineers feel pressured to learn in recent times, making hiring a bit challenging for tech leaders.
To overcome this challenge, Chris recommends hiring candidates willing to upskill rather than focusing on candidates with the latest skills. Candidates willing to upskill are teachable and flexible, and they will be willing to move with the trends in the future.
Hiring is a lot of work. It takes time to find candidates, screen, interview, and hire them. Technology has been a great help in shortening the process, but as recruiters became technology-dependent in their recruitment process, job seekers have also responded to the new recruitment trend by editing their CVs, social media profiles, and portfolios to feature buzzwords and skills that they know recruiters are searching for. As a result, you may end up shortlisting or hiring a candidate based on skills even when they don’t actually have them.
Chris describes this as “keyword-based recruitment rather than skill-based recruitment.” Unlike the traditional method of recruiting that requires recruiters to review the candidates’ CVs and profiles to figure out their skills before putting them forward for interviews, recruiters search for the skills and shortlisted candidates based on social media or search engine algorithm predictions. This often leads to superficial yet well-labeled candidates making the cut.
The downside to keyword-based hiring, especially for tech talent, is that it focuses on just a couple of technical skills. Chris recommends focusing on the candidate’s overall skills instead, since, in his words, “A good engineer can learn technical skills quickly.” Hence, it’s easy to miss out on candidates with strong soft skills if the focus is on technical skills.
It’s also not a great way to build a diverse team, as search engines will usually rank people who are likely to apply for the roles you’re looking to fill. This may not be a diverse demographic based on limitations such as location and gender.
While keyword-based recruitment can save you the cost and time spent scouting for the right candidates, it’s best to optimize your search efforts to find the right candidate and not rely too much on search engine predictions.
Keyword-based hiring may not be a great way to find good candidates, but social media and technology undeniably remain useful tools for hiring and finding strong talent. For starters, they have made it possible for recruiters to access expertise and talent from different locations with just a few clicks. Hence, if the recruitment process is modified using the following strategies shared by Chris, you will still find the right people.
Many social media networks rank profiles based on their content and the level of engagement their content receives. A candidate who shares content that shows possession of the skills or knowledge in an industry relevant to your organization’s talent needs may be a good fit.
Social media algorithms often recommend profiles to connect with and pages to follow based on the industries you have expressed an interest in. Building a network of people in the industries you’re looking to recruit from can make your search results more optimized to find the right candidate.
Candidates who can show their achievements in a given industry might be the right fit for your organization. This way, there’s some form of evidence that they have the skills or industry expertise on their profiles or CVs. These candidates may be a better fit than the top of the search results, even though they may not necessarily come up in them.
Recruiters work with the information they receive. Hence, it’s best to guide them properly. Give them in-depth information on soft skills, industry expertise, and the years of experience you need for the ideal candidate. Chris recommends defining the candidate profile for the role, because, in his words, “The more criteria you give recruiters to work with, the more relevant the search result is.”
As a tech leader, you’ll probably be responsible for screening candidates and making hiring decisions after candidates have been scouted and shortlisted by recruiters. Therefore, you must make the right decisions to maintain your team’s efficiency and the organization’s culture.
A new hire could either add to your team’s value and culture or dilute it. Also, candidates can form an impression of your organization from their interaction with you during the recruitment process. Hence, it’s important to be thorough and strategic when hiring. Luckily, Chris shared some tips that can tell you more about the candidate and help you make the right hiring decision when recruiting tech talent.
According to Chris, “Good software engineers need to have an eye for detail, as people’s lives may just depend on them.” Their thoroughness may not be a tech skill you can discern from some certification. However, Chris recommends paying attention to the quality of their CVs.
Candidates with common spelling or grammatical errors and inconsistent formatting on their CVs may not be as detailed and thorough as candidates with a well-formatted and error-free CV or CV with minimal errors. You can trust that the candidate with an eye for detail will not make frequent coding mistakes and other costly errors.
An interview is an opportunity to learn a lot about someone, and you’ll appear to be more credible if you remember the candidates you’ve previously interviewed. In addition, it gives candidates the impression that you valued your conversation with them. According to Chris, “While you may have spoken to several candidates about the role you’re looking to fill, each candidate would have spoken to just you and will most likely recall the conversation.”
Chris recommends keeping records of your discussions with each candidate. It can be a short interview note in a file that you can access anytime. The same thing applies to people who leave your team. Keep a record of their time with you, as you may need to recruit them for other roles in another organization, and you’ll make a better impact if you remember them.
Organizations often rely on data insights to build and maintain customer relationships and predict sales. However, data insights can be very useful for internal processes, especially when building your team.
Chris recommends capturing as much data about your team as possible, because you never know what data point you may need. For example, you can collect data on your team with time tracking to figure out what tasks are typically easy and difficult for your team to deliver, how your team manages time, and what activities take up most of their time.
You can use such data insights to determine your team’s strength and learn what skills you need to teach your team or hire someone with such skills.
A diverse tech team allows your organization to tap from local and foreign expertise to significantly improve your organization’s performance. However, the algorithmic recruitment process may not encourage diversity and inclusion.
As a tech leader, you’ll want to find the right person for the job, and the right person for the job may be in a different location or of a different gender from the suggestions you may have gotten from your search results. However, you can still build diverse teams by ensuring that you advertise to a larger pool of candidates. You can achieve this by promoting the jobs worldwide on social media platforms.
Chris also recommends reviewing CVs with less bias, and to do so, you can start reviewing the candidates’ CVs from the bottom to the top. This way, you’ll be able to find out their interests, hobbies, professional experience, skills, and qualifications before you know their location, gender, age, and other details that may create a bias against them.
Finding and recruiting talent can be time-consuming and tedious. While technology has made the process easier and simpler, it may have also introduced a hidden bias in the recruitment system.
Many tech leaders and recruiters have become more interested in finding candidates with the technical skills they need and ignoring important considerations. This may make their hiring decisions less objective and cause tech leaders to miss out on good candidates.
As a tech leader, you’re responsible for building your team with the right talent, which involves objectively shortlisting candidates based on their skills instead of relevance based on some algorithmic predictions. We’re confident you’ll be better positioned to optimize the use of technology when making hiring decisions with the tips shared here.
Thank you for reading our article. If you’re a Chief Technical Officer or are aspiring to become one, we recommend watching the whole video to learn the three must-have skills for every CTO. We also encourage you to read the following resources for managers on our blog:
We also invite you to join us on Tech Leaders Hub to stay on top of trending tech issues discussed by industry experts and connect with other tech leaders.