Amid The Great Resignation, here's what the hiring process looks like at 4 tech companies - Technical.ly Philly

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Amid The Great Resignation, here’s what the hiring process looks like at 4 tech companies

The soft skills like culture fit and communication might be more important than hard tech skills these days. Check out insights from hiring leads at growing Philly companies.

At Power Home Remodeling's HQ.

(courtesy photo)

Even before the pandemic, the average tech worker was looking for a job at a faster rate than those in most other industries.

A 2016 Dice report showed that employees at some high-growth companies like Uber or Airbnb averaged about 1.5 years of tenure, while some longstanding companies like Pixar kept employees for more than eight years. On average, the report found, tech workers are looking for a new job just about every three years.

The Great Resignation, an ongoing shakeup of the job market following nearly two years of pandemic work and lifestyle shifts, has meant candidates are looking for companies with great pay, work-life balance and interesting projects. Learning management system TalentLMS, recently released a survey showing more than 70% of tech workers said they’ll be looking for a new job in the next 12 months.

And there’s no exception at Philly companies, where hiring mangers and tech leads have told us that the search for top talent is persisting. At many growing companies, more tech roles are opening before managers can fill existing positions. During How to Get a Tech Job month here at Techncial.ly, we touched base with companies around the region for insight into what hiring processes look like right now.

For QuotaPath founder AJ Bruno, something that’s changed amid this era of pandemic hiring has been how proactive the company has to be. It’s a “seller’s market,” he told Technical.ly. With rampant competition from other companies, they have to put their best foot forward for candidates.

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“I’m not sure that’s directly related to the market other than the macro supply/demand markets quickly shifting,” the founder said in a Slack message. “From a sales standpoint, I’m really enjoying it!”

‘Culture, tech and soft skills’

Power Home Remodeling‘s Vice President of Application Development and Infrastructure Jenny Gray has been with the company for about two years, and helps lead hiring for its tech teams. She said the company is “constantly hiring” and has about 140 people working in tech roles out of the company’s 2,500 employees.

The company has a program to bring business folks into tech roles, called Power Code Academy, for training in order to retain and train folks interested in the tech industry. The company is also constantly hiring externally, and Gray said current in-demand roles include Ruby on Rails developers, mobile developers, site reliability engineers and those proficient in Kubernetes.

“I’d like to think we cover three main aspects in the interview process — culture, tech and soft skills,” Gray told Technical.ly.

The first step for applicants is a 10-20 minute phone conversation to see if the role and company would be a good fit for the candidate’s skills. A second interview is an hour-long conversation with Gray, getting to know each other, their work, processes they’ve completed before and questions that will help her to “understand the business value of the work they’ve done before.”

“It helps to talk about it as a piece of the bigger picture of the company,” she said.

Power Home Remodeling’s 2019 internal conference for developers. (Courtesy photo)

At this point, she’s assessed their resume or portfolio and has a good understanding of their technical abilities. Gray also usually asks what makes that candidate excited about current technologies, what drives them and how they handle conflict or obstacles, she said. She also asks how they feel about mentoring or leadership, and what they do to grow outside of work. Gray also spends about 20 minutes informing the candidate about Power’s culture.

Gray said insights like revenue, growth and culture ideals are key to share with a candidate during the interview process.

“Power has a lot to offer people, and we think that’s pretty darn important,” Gray said.

Those who make it to the third round of the interview process take a two-hour technical assessment, working alongside two senior developers on a Ruby on Rails or mobile exercise so that the candidate and the team get a feel for each other. Depending on where the candidate is based, this process happens remotely, if they intend to be a fully remote candidate, or in Power’s Chester-based HQ. Currently, local employees are going in to Power’s office at least two days a week, where the sixth floor was recently revamped to a tech center.

“We’re doing everything we can to attract talent. We’re just trying to put ourselves out there as much as possible,” Gray said. “We can’t grow fast enough.”

‘We really like each other’

Quick growth is also the name of the game for dental care startup Kleer, as the company is looking to scale from 32 to 50 employees in 2022. Melissa Richardson, the company’s VP of team success, currently screens resumes, schedules and conducts video screens and coordinates the onboarding process for new employees. They’ll soon be moving these recruitment efforts to a talent acquisition manager, she said.

"Tech skills are important, but when you find the right combination of raw materials in a candidate — passion, drive, coachability, and so much more — and you harness them correctly, that's when the magic happens."
Melissa Richardson, Kleer

Right now, Kleer is focused on finding candidates with full stack — JavaScript, Python, Node.js, SQL — development experience with preferred backgrounds in DevOps, software development and data engineering with extensive knowledge in AWS services for data storage, processing and delivery.

After a video screening, a candidate with complete in-person or video interviews with hiring managers and current employees. They’ll also take an objective-based assessment, though Richardson said they do put emphasis on the candidate’s “soft” skills.

“We can teach the hard skills of our openings through the use of training, shadowing, mentoring, and professional development courses. The new hire just needs to have a willingness to learn and an openness to coaching,” Richardson said. “Tech skills are important, but when you find the right combination of raw materials in a candidate — passion, drive, coachability, and so much more — and you harness them correctly, that’s when the magic happens.”

In order to retain current employees during this period of high turnover in tech, Kleer is aiming to be as transparent as possible. The company holds a weekly all-hands meeting to go over financials, process and product roadmaps and talks often about goals of the company moving forward. Richardson said the company also champions employees’ individuality and diversity.

“Oh — and we really like each other, so company events are planned both in and outside of the office regularly so that we can hang out in a non-work setting,” she added.

Communication is key

At another small but growing company, Sage Founder Peter Yeargin said those soft skills will be super important as the seven-person company expands.

“For the developers themselves, I think it’s very important that they can not only code very well, but also that they can explain what they are building and how it integrates into the entire software system,” he said in a Slack message. “Soft skills and general communication skills become extremely important when it comes to velocity of code releases. The more effective your dev team can communicate, the more efficiently they can also work alone without constant interaction with other developers.”

Yeargin and his two cofounders usually narrow down a candidate list through resume reviews and LinkedIn, then find their top few candidates through phone screenings. Then, they each conduct a 45-minute interview to assess technical proficiency, passion, soft-skills, ability to work in a startup environment, “and just generally assess their culture fit for our organization.”

“Culture is such a huge part of our company operating at peak performance. If we don’t have people that believe in our values and that work well with each other, the entire system comes to a grinding halt,” Yeargin said.

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