Improving Diversity in Your Engineering Team

Struggling to diversify your technical hires? You’re not alone if most of these hires are men, but by now you probably know the value of having diverse teams. So, how can you attract and keep more female and minority engineers? It’s tough, but doable!

Many of our clients quietly express interest in hiring female or minority engineers. Some HR folks worry about appearing discriminatory, but actively seeking diversity is not only smart but legal too. Look at Etsy – they boosted female engineering hires by 500%. It’s not about the numbers alone; it’s about meaningful change. Etsy revamped their interview process to be fairer to women, resulting in more female engineers joining them.

Here are three practical steps you can take:

  1. Publicly Commit to Diversity: Don’t keep it a secret. Let everyone know you’re actively seeking to hire women and minorities – add it to your marketing, careers page, all of the above. Transparency matters.
  2. Maintain Standards: Don’t lower the bar for just diversity’s sake. Stick to your hiring standards while actively seeking diverse talent. They’re out there!
  3. Involve Female Leaders in Hiring: Representation counts. Have female leaders lead the hiring process for engineering roles. They can bring valuable insights and help attract top female talent.

Remember, fostering diversity takes time and effort. Start small, but start now. Your engineering team’s future depends on it!

Don’t Just Wait to Be Discovered

As a recruiter, we’re always on the lookout for talent. Whether we’re at work, running errands, or enjoying time off, we are constantly searching for people with the right skills and drive.

But, I’m here to tell you, opportunities won’t just land in your lap. If you’re waiting for someone to find you, you could be waiting forever.

Because recruiters don’t stumble upon talent by accident. They look for people who are actively showing what they can do. Every single day. It’s like trick-or-treating – we only go where there’s a light on.

Too often, I meet people who want a new job but aren’t doing anything about it. They’re afraid to let their current employer know they’re looking. But that’s not the best way to get noticed.

Instead of waiting around, get involved. Connect with others in your industry and community. Let people know what you’re looking for.

Even in today’s job market, there are plenty of opportunities out there. But you have to put yourself out there to find them.

So stop waiting to be discovered – go out and make it happen. Success isn’t luck; it’s hard work.

Online Ghosts or Privacy Hosts

Ever come across a candidate who seems to have almost no online presence? No LinkedIn profile, no Facebook or Instagram account, not even a trace on Google? It’s like they’re a digital ghost, right there in front of you with a resume in hand, but little else to go on.

Let’s say you meet someone like this – let’s call her Karen (not her real name, of course, I’m in HR – her name is Jill). She shows up for the interview with a solid resume, work history, and references, but beyond that, she’s pretty much a mystery online.

In today’s world, where social media is everywhere, this kind of absence can be scary. Usually they’re an Instagram story away and I know what you had for breakfast, how you like your steak, your husband’s name, cat’s name, the whole damn thing.

It raises questions. Why the secrecy? Is it a deliberate choice for privacy reasons, or could there be something more to it?

During the interview, ask about it. Karen might mumble something about valuing her privacy – a word that still holds a lot of weight to some. As an employer, it’s tricky. Privacy matters, but so does transparency. Trying to balance these can be tough.

In the end, you might not get clear answers. But it’s a reminder that in today’s world, having no online presence can be a red flag when hiring. Or not. What do you think?

Ditching the Generics

You might say you’re only hiring ‘top talent’, but you’re probably settling for generics. It’s like choosing between store-brand and name-brand meds – sure, generics might seem like a good deal, but do they really measure up?

Here’s how you can tell.  Ask yourself why you hired one of your recent hires.  If it was because they had the skills to do the job, a nice personality, and didn’t smell funny, you hired a generic.  If you hired them because they can do the job and you can specifically say why they fit your culture, you hired a brand name!

There lies the problem, you have a generic employment brand. It doesn’t have to be generic. You made it generic because it sounded safe and professional. Because it sounded like every other boring brand you have heard or seen. “Timmy, you don’t get it, we aren’t Google or McDonalds”.  Thank God. No one likes that crappy food and Google probably hires worse than you.

At my company, we keep it real. We’re all about being down-to-earth, welcoming families and pets into the office, and valuing hard work over clock-watching. Yeah, we swear in meetings. We’re not afraid to take risks, and we value building strong client relationships. And yes, we’re pretty loyal to our alma mater, but that’s just part of what makes us unique.

We don’t settle for generics; we look for people who fit our brand. Those who don’t, well, they don’t stick around for long. Because generics and brands just don’t mix. Brands build strong cultures; generics leave people feeling disconnected.

So, it’s time to ditch the generics and start building a team that’s as unique as your brand. Because when it comes to talent, being generic just won’t cut it.

Getting Recruitment Right

Sometimes we get so far into the weeds in recruiting that we forget what is actually important.

We have to have a brand!

We have to have an ATS!

And now, a new ATS!

We have to have a CRM! What the hell is a CRM!

Our job descriptions need a refresh, and let’s face it, our career site could use some work too.

And don’t get me started on the employee referral program.

There’s always a million things to do in recruitment, and it’s hard to keep up.

But here’s the thing: recruiting isn’t rocket science. It’s just about finding people to join your team. There are plenty of potential candidates out there; you just need to let them know you’re hiring.

That’s the golden rule of recruitment: Spread the word that you’re looking for new team members.

It’s pretty straightforward, yet so many good candidates slip through the cracks because they didn’t know there was an opportunity.

Recruitment is all about getting the word out. Sure, you might get some applicants who aren’t quite the right fit, but that’s part of the process.

To find the right people, you need to cast a wide net and let everyone know you’re hiring. Cast that net people!

It’s not just about posting on job boards or your career site; it’s about creating a culture where everyone in your organization understands the importance of spreading the word about job openings.

Unfortunately, many companies miss the mark on this. Whether it’s because they’re too proud or they think it makes them look desperate, they don’t make enough effort to let people know they’re hiring.

This is a big mistake that can sink your recruitment efforts.

Recruitment isn’t about showing off; it’s about being humble and inviting talented individuals to join your team.

The Real Game-Changers

I can’t stand hiring managers who don’t want to hire moms because they might need to stay home with a sick kid or take an early lunch to catch their fourth-graders play. Both men and women managers have told me they’re not into hiring moms. It doesn’t sit right with me.

Why? I grew up with a single mom. I remember her choosing where to shop based on how many times she’d bounced a check there. I’d hand back stuff at the checkout ’cause they wouldn’t take her check, and we only had enough cash for a few items.

My mom started her own business, paid her mortgage, and raised two kids. It wasn’t perfect, but we made it. Those experiences shape a kid for life. It makes you appreciate what you have when you know you can live with much less.  My mom became hugely successful after I got out of college and my kids only know her as the grandma that has so much.  I can’t even describe to them the struggle, they have no concept.

The moms I bring in are some of the toughest workers on my team.  They come to work, which for many is a refuge of quiet and clean, and do work that is usually less hard than the other jobs they still have to perform that day and night.  They rarely complain, and usually are much better at putting issues into perspective and not freak out.

When I have a rough day, I try to remember that most of my day is done, but theirs won’t be until they hit the pillow. Old people and moms are the most disrespected of the working class. I swear by that. They are the most underutilized workers of our generation. A woman takes a few years off to raise a kid and somehow she’s now worthless and has no skills.

I don’t even want to write this post because I feel like I’m giving away a recipe to a secret sauce.  All these national recruiting companies are hiring the youngest, prettiest college grads they can find to work for them, and they mostly fail in the recruiting industry. Moms find this industry rather easy as comparable to what they are used to doing.

The real recruiting secret? Moms. They’re the main ingredient that makes it work.

The Truth About Reference Checks

When I started in Talent Acquisition and HR, I was sold on the idea that checking references was the key to snagging top-notch hires. The whole “past performance predicts future performance” spiel is practically carved in stone tablets right?

But around 100 reference checks into my HR career, I stopped believing it. Either I was a hiring genius (mostly true), or the reference check thing was a massive hoax.

Reference checks are the perfect scam. And not just any scam, but a scam that everyone is in on. Everyone knows the set up: The candidate wants the job, so they want to make sure they provide good references. The candidate provides three references that will tell HR the candidate walks on water. HR accepts them and actually goes through the process of calling these three perfect references.

Let’s face it: When was the last time a company passed on a hire based on a reference check? Most draw a blank; we hire based on references every single time. Is that a solid system? If you’re struggling for an answer or it’s always ‘never,’ maybe it’s time to rethink the whole reference check circus.

  1. Get Your Own References: Ditch the usual references candidates throw at you. In interviews, get the names of their old bosses. Give them a call – you might get some real talk even if official references are a no-go.
  2. Go Automated: Use fancy tech for reference checks that doesn’t make references feel forced into singing praises. It spills the beans on a candidate’s work style without giving away the game.
  3. Fact-Check with Tech: Google, Facebook, LinkedIn – they’re not just for stalking. Use them to fact-check a candidate’s story. With over half of people stretching the truth on their resumes, tech is your truth serum.

Smart HR folks should question a system that gives the green light to almost everyone. Catching less than 0.1% of fakers isn’t a sign of quality; it’s just lazy.

Break the mold, try new things, and maybe your company will see you as the one who can pull off walking on water.

What are your tips for checking references?

Your Nose Is Growing! Top Candidate Lies

This is a rerun that I like to share every few years because it never misses the mark. What other lies, excuses or categories am I missing? Drop your favorites in the comments!

Every Monday morning I have a meeting with my recruiting team – it’s a great way to kick off the week – we share what we are working on, we talk about problems we are having on specific searches so the team can share ideas and tips, maybe even a possible candidate they know of, etc.  We also share stories!  Monday mornings are great for sharing recruiter stories – horrible interviews, funny excuses candidates have, negotiating nightmares – you name it, we talk about it!

I was reminded this week how bad of liars candidates can be – we get a lot of candidate lying stories in Monday morning meetings!  So, as a shout-out to my Recruiters – and all recruiters – I wanted to put together a list of the Top Candidate Lies.  When I started thinking about all the lies, I found I could break it down by category – so here goes – hit me in the comments if you have a favorite that you get – or think of one I missed:

The Education Lies

– “I have all the credits, I just didn’t graduate.”

– “I did all the classes, I just need to pay the fees to graduate.” (so you spent 4+ years going to school, got done, but that last couple of hundred dollars stopped you from graduating…)

– “I graduated from ‘State U’, but it was a long time ago, I’m not sure why they can’t verify my degree.”

 “I had a 3.0 GPA in my ‘core’ classes, but a 1.9 GPA overall…”

– “Well, it was an Engineering/Business degree.”

The Background Check Lies

– “No, I’m not on drugs.” Then fails drug screen. “Oh, you meant Marijuana as a drug…” 

– “She told me she was 18.”

– “They told me in court that never would be on my file, so I didn’t think I needed to tell you.”

–  “No, I don’t have a felony.” (Oh, that felony! But that was in Indiana…)

The Experience Lies

– “When you said Java, I thought you meant experience making coffee.”

– “I was a part of the ‘leadership’ team that was responsible for that implementation.” (So, basically you knew of a project that happened while you were working there…)

The No-Show Interview Lies

– “My car broke down.” (Either through some fantastic wrinkle in space, or gigantic amount of lying, candidates have more car trouble per capita than anyone else ever in the world who has driven a car)

– “I couldn’t find the location.” (So, your answer to this dilemma was to turn around and go home and not call and let us know you got lost?)

– “My son/daughter got sick, so I can’t make it.” (Again – crazy coincidences that happen with candidates and sick kids…)

The Termination Lies

– “It was a mutual decision that I left.” (“So, you ‘mutually’ decided that you would no longer have a job?”, is the question I always ask after this statement! Candidates – this statement sounds as stupid as it reads.)

 “I (or any family member) was in a bad accident and in the hospital, so they fired me for not showing up to work.” (No they didn’t – there are some bad companies out there, but no company does this.)

 “I play on a softball team and after games we go out and have a couple drinks. The next morning my boss smelled alcohol and fired me for drinking on the job.” (This was a true lie I got from an employee – it started out as me just giving him a written warning – until I went lunch, not joking – 10 minutes later at the Chili’s down the street from the office, and there he was belly up to the bar drinking a beer…upon cleaning out his desk we found a half a fifth of vodka.)

Here’s my take on candidate lies – candidates continue to lie because Talent/HR Pros don’t call them out on it.  We (HR) also perpetuate this problem by hiring the folks who give you the crappy lie but don’t hire the folks who come clean and tell you the truth.

Your Recruiting Process Is Doomed

Here’s the real talk: sooner or later, you or anyone in recruiting will feel the itch to shake things up, thinking it’ll make the process smoother, sharper, or just better. The old ways failed, usually because you didn’t create them, so you figure a makeover is in order to match today’s standards. The revamped process promises to make hiring managers happy and completely change how talent flows into your organization.

Sounds legit, right?

It does, been there, done that. But here’s the kicker – it won’t work. The ‘new’ process is just the same old one with a fancier look. Sure, it might be somewhat ‘better,’ but that’s not the issue. The real problem is you’re missing something crucial. Why the urge to ‘re-process’? Let’s say it’s about getting “more” out of your recruiting game – more talent, more compliance, happier managers, better retention, just more.

But let’s be real. If your current setup was delivering, you wouldn’t be fixing it.

Wondering why the ‘new’ process won’t be your golden ticket either? It’s not because you don’t want ‘more.’ You’re scared of it. ‘More’ means facing things you could dodge in the old routine.

That’s the real reason your ‘new’ process is set up to fail. Deep down, where water cooler talk doesn’t reach, you don’t actually want it to work.

Having a successful process means opening up to failure. It needs hard numbers, accountability, a clear line in the sand that screams “we own this.” Those things spell out success and shout out failure. Success is cool to show off, but no one wants to flaunt failure. So, you go on this ‘re-processing’ spree, hoping to secure success without risking failure. Newsflash: that’s not happening. Success only matters when you know what failure looks like.

Sure, failing as a team isn’t the end of the world, but on a personal level, it’s terrifying. This fear keeps you from building the process your organization actually needs. A process that calls out the winners and the not-so-great players. A process that pinpoints where things need fixing. A process that calls for clear decisions.

Why is your new recruiting process doomed? Because you’re not willing to build one that shows your failures.

Here’s an idea, just do the job you were hired for

Every day, people get worked up over stuff they can’t control. Everyone’s telling you to be this or that, depending on the latest trend or generation.

I’ve stopped listening to people who don’t know my job or haven’t been in the field for ages. Instead, I talk to my employees – the young, the old, and everyone in between. They all matter because they all contribute to moving the organization forward.

I don’t care about what others think; I focus on what my employees are telling me. Their problems are personal, from daycare and student loans to health scares. Forget the big world issues; help them with the close ones first.

Your employees are individuals with their own problems, and millennials aren’t college kids anymore. The newbies might have different labels, but they’re still young people with their own issues.

At the end of the day, employees want to succeed. Helping them be successful is my top priority as a leader. Success is personal, so I figure out how to tie it to the organization’s goals.

We keep letting others tell us how to do our jobs. I’m sticking to doing the job I was hired for because, frankly, no one knows it better than me. Maybe we should all just focus on doing the job we were hired for.