Interview with FogCreek About Hiring for Technical Fit

Several weeks ago, the nice folks at FogCreek interviewed me. It’s here: Technical Hiring and Cultural Fit – Interview with Johanna Rothman. The interview ranged over many topics: Cultural fit Diversity What to do when you look for a job Much more I hope you enjoy it. If you want to read more about how to hire, check out Hiring Geeks That Fit. To read more about how to find a job, see Manage Your Job...

Differences Between Hiring a Contractor or Consultant

In my session at Agile 2015, (Agile Hiring: It’s a Team Sport) one participant asked me if I hire contractors the same way I hire employees. I do. I use the same approaches for reviewing resumes, phone screens, interviews and decisions. The one difference is the offer—instead of a yearly salary paid in some form of incremental approach, contractors get a dollar/hour over a timeboxed period. One of the people in my session called contractors “consultants” and tweeted about it. She wanted to make sure the contractor had the same respect as a consultant. That concern goes to why the hiring manager hires a contractor or a consultant. If I need an extra pair of hands for a limited period of time, I hire a contractor. If I need guidance—which might include some hands-on work—I hire a consultant. You might like this perspective on how consultants work, from Choosing a Consulting Role: Principles and Dynamics of Matching Role to Situation, by Champion, Kiel and McLendon: What’s important to me is who has the responsibility for client growth. I expect a consultant to help me (or my team or organization) grow in some way. I expect a contractor to provide extra pair-of-hands services. I do not expect them to help me grow. I might get that, but I definitely don’t expect it, especially when hiring a developer, tester, project manager, Scrum Master, or some other individual contributor position. To me, that is a big difference between contractors and consultants. I don’t expect contractors to contribute to anyone’s growth. I do expect consultants to contribute to growth. That’s why I expect to...

Negotiating for an Increase in Starting Salary

You have an offer. It’s lower than what you expected. You know that the higher your starting salary in a job, the more money you make over your lifetime. If you get “behind” in your salary, it’s difficult to catch up. How do you know what to ask for and how can you do it? Understand your value. Read Four Tips for Defining Your Value. Now you are prepared to explain it. Select three or four recent scenarios at work (or at school if you are a new grad) to show your value to the hiring manager. Ask about the salary range for this position. Have they offered you something up to the midpoint for that range? Many organizations do not offer past the range midpoint. Make sure you talk to the hiring manager. HR is not your ally. Your hiring manager is your ally. Explain your value. Explain where you want to be in the range. Decide what you want for your entire package. I have taken book allowances, conference attendance, and not-quite-40-hours/week as part of my compensation. In one job, when I negotiated an increase in salary, I also took an extra week of paid vacation at the same salary. In effect, they paid me for one more week a year. What is your rock-bottom minimum? Decide what you will not take, what makes the job not worth it to you. I recently coached someone to do this, and she successfully negotiated an extra few thousand to her yearly salary. Once you know your value, you can ask for what you are...

Job Search Trap: I Owe My Team

You’ve been at your company for a while. You’ve hired a number of the people you work with, or you work closely with them. They are your “work family.” Now, you’re thinking about looking for a job. You think you owe something to your team. Do you? Consider your perspective. Who do you owe what? Who are you protecting? Who deserves your responsibility? When you think about “owing” your team, you take responsibility for their careers. Is that your intent? When you take responsibility for other people’s careers by assuming they can’t make decisions about their work or their careers, you take a parental view of your colleagues. When you think you can’t leave because you “owe” something to other people, you assume a parental role. Do you want to do that? But, you say, I’m not like that. I don’t treat people as if I’m their parent. I just want to make sure I don’t leave them without a champion, or an architect, or a manager, or a tester, or a something. If a new job is right for you, you are not leaving them “without.” You are asking them to make a decision you have not yet asked them to make—can they find a way to work without you? Are they ready for that decision? Maybe the real problem is that you don’t want to leave, or you can’t imagine your team being able to work without you. Just as in the myth of being too valuable to take a vacation, your team can survive your departure. Survive definitely. Thrive? That’s a different question. Is the ability of...

Great Review of Manage Your Job Search

I spoke about hiring for cultural fit at Communitech in Waterloo, CA earlier this year. While I was there, I met another author, Yvonne Chypchar. (She wrote a terrific book about knowing your value, Be the Smart Girl: Money and Your Value: Navigating the world of part-time and summer jobs for girls 12 to 17.) Yvonne enjoyed my talk and we emailed each other about our books. She wrote a review of Manage Your Job Search at How to ease the pain of your job search and thrive. I love the way she adapted her kanban board to what she needed. You can, too. Thanks,...

When is an Interview Free Consulting?

I’m a big fan of auditions in an interview. (I have many posts about auditions in this blog.) However, some hiring managers and teams push interviewing and auditions too far. When you’ve had three interviews, and your interviewer asks you to solve a problem for them—again—is it a hiring issue, or are they asking you to consult for free? Here is a way that works for auditions and interviewing: Create the dirtbag phone screen, if that matters to you. Use a technical phone screen to make sure you want to bring the candidate in. Interview in person with solo interviewers, for 45 minutes each. Use behavior-description questions and one 20-minute audition. Use the interview matrix so all the interviewers ask different questions. At the end of that interview, if you have several great candidates, ask them to come in one more time, and meet with up to 4 people. Maybe use another 20-minute audition. That’s it. You don’t need a third round of interviews. You don’t need that person to meet with more people. You should be able to decide based on your data to date, assuming you have organized your questions and auditions. You don’t need the perfect candidate. That candidate doesn’t exist. You need someone who fits your culture and can learn fast enough for you. If you have people do more than two 20-minute auditions, and/or meet with more than 8 people, you are dangerously close to asking for free consulting. Do you mean to do that? I find it demeaning to the candidate. It doesn’t show your company in the best light. You might want...