Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science of Hiring Technical People [NOOK Book]


This is the digital version of the printed book (Copyright © 2004).

Proven Methods for Attracting, Interviewing, and Hiring Technical Workers


Good technical people are the foundation on which successful high technology organizations are built. Establishing a good process for hiring such workers is essential. Unfortunately, the generic methods so often used for hiring ...

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Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science of Hiring Technical People

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This is the digital version of the printed book (Copyright © 2004).

Proven Methods for Attracting, Interviewing, and Hiring Technical Workers


Good technical people are the foundation on which successful high technology organizations are built. Establishing a good process for hiring such workers is essential. Unfortunately, the generic methods so often used for hiring skill-based staff, who can apply standardized methods to almost any situation, are of little use to those charged with the task of hiring technical people.


Unlike skill-based workers, technical people typically do not have access to cookie-cutter solutions to their problems. They need to adapt to any situation that arises, using their knowledge in new and creative ways to solve the problem at hand. As a result, one developer, tester, or technical manager is not interchangeable with another. This makes hiring technical people one of the most critical and difficult processes a technical manager can undertake.


Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science of Hiring Technical People takes the guesswork out of hiring and diminishes the risk of costly hiring mistakes. With the aid of step-by-step descriptions and detailed examples, you'll learn how to


  • write a concise, targeted job description
  • source candidates
  • develop ads for mixed media
  • review résumés quickly to determine Yes, No, or Maybe candidates
  • develop intelligent, nondiscriminatory, interview techniques
  • create fool-proof phone-screens
  • check references with a view to reading between the lines
  • extend an offer that will attract a win-win acceptance or tender a gentle-but-decisive rejection
  • and more


An effective hiring process is crucial to saving an organization the costs and consequences of a bad hiring decision. Not only is a bad hire costly in terms of recruiting expenses and the time spent hiring, it can also bog down or derail projects that may already be running late.


You, your team, and your organization will live with the long-term consequences of your hiring decision. Investing time in developing a hiring strategy will shorten your decision time and the ramp-up time needed for each new hire.


Technical leaders, project and program managers, and anyone putting together a team of technical workers will greatly benefit from this book.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780133492217
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 7/29/2013
  • Series: Dorset House eBooks
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • File size: 14 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Johanna Rothman is president of Rothman Consulting Group, an international consulting firm that helps organizational leaders to see problems and risks in their product development, recognize potential risks, seize opportunities, and remove impediments. In addition to Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds, she is author or coauthor of five books on various aspects of management: Manage Your Job Search, Hiring Geeks That Fit, Manage Your Project Portfolio, Behind Closed Doors, and Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management, winner of a 2008 Jolt Productivity Award. Known as the Pragmatic Manager, Johanna writes three blogs as well as her monthly Pragmatic Manager email newsletter, and has published more than 200 articles in such places as Cutter IT Journal, Computerworld, IEEE Software, projectmanagement.com, and stickyminds.com. For more of her writing, see jrothman.com.
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Table of Contents

Illustrations         ix


Foreword         xi


Preface         xiii


Part 1: Defining Requirements for Yourself and Your Candidates          3

Chapter 1: Developing Your Hiring Strategy         5

Ask questions when creating a hiring strategy. 7

Identify the problems you should address. 8

Determine which roles you want to fill first. 16

Decide which criteria matter most. 18

Identify what process you’ll use in decision-making. 20

Plan what you will do if you can’t find the right people. 22

Points to remember. 24


Chapter 2: Analyzing the Job         25

Define the job’s requirements. 27

Define the essential and desirable qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills for a successful fit. 32

Identify corporate cultural-fit factors. 37

Define the necessary technical-skill level and the required educational background. 39

Identify essential technical skills. 43

Identify desirable technical skills. 46

Evaluate educational or training requirements. 47

Define all elimination factors. 48

Think twice about elimination factors. 49

Complete the job analysis worksheet. 51

Points to remember. 54


Chapter 3: Writing a Job Description         55

Write a clear job description. 56

Use job descriptions to help you screen candidates. 58

Identify who will use your job description. 61

Learn how best to use standardized job descriptions. 63

Develop your job description over several drafts. 63

Points to remember. 66


Part 2: Sourcing and Selecting Candidates to Interview         67

Chapter 4: Sourcing Candidates         69

Use time, not money, to attract suitable candidates. 70

Develop a continuous recruiting program. 80

Use money, not time, to attract suitable candidates. 81

Points to remember. 84


Chapter 5: Developing Ads for Open Positions         86

Use a simple job advertisement template. 87

Write different types of ads. 90

Develop techniques for eliminating writer’s block. 100

Make the ad memorable by offering a challenge. 100

Work with HR staff members when they write ads. 101

Make sure outsiders review the ad. 101

Deliver the ad in person. 101

Points to remember. 102


Chapter 6: Reviewing Résumés         103

Correlate your résumé filter with the openings you have to fill. 103

Start reading each résumé at the top. 105

Look for more than appears in print. 106

Consider your fellow hiring managers’ staffing needs while you review. 106

Read the cover letter or e-mail. 107

Look for a work summary. 107

Compare the candidate’s stated objective with the job description. 108

Correlate the candidate’s work experience with your open position. 109

Evaluate tool and technical expertise when hiring technical staff. 110

Evaluate a management candidate’s ratio of management-to-technical experience. 113

Know the reasons behind multiple career or job changes. 114

Determine the reason behind an employment-history gap. 116

Look for signs of merit-based promotions and initiative. 116

Look for indicators of cultural fit and of assumed responsibilities. 117

Assess personal qualities and problem-solving skills. 117

Assess education and technical skills in terms of the open job. 118

Put typographical and other clerical errors in perspective. 119

Evaluate résumé items in terms of local and national hiring laws. 121

Evaluate each candidacy using your résumé-review process. 122

Inform candidates of your decision as soon as you have made it. 122

Look for patterns in your résumé-review process. 123

Use résumés as feedback for evaluating your advertisements. 124

Review résumés with a team to reach consensus. 124

Points to remember. 126


Part 3: Preparing to Interview Candidates         127

Chapter 7: Developing Interview Questions and Techniques         129

Choose which kinds of questions to ask. 130

Schedule auditions to allow candidates time to demonstrate their abilities. 135

Formulate a set of meta-questions. 139

Learn to avoid asking irrelevant questions. 140

Combine question types to make the best use of available time. 142

Ask all candidates applying for one position the same set of questions. 144

Ask questions to reveal cultural fit. 146

Ask contractors the same questions you ask prospective staff hires. 146

Help non-technical interview-team members develop questions in their own area of expertise. 147

Points to remember. 147


Chapter 8: Creating and Using Phone-Screens         148

Facilitate a positive phone-screen environment. 150

Plan your phone-screen strategy and script. 151

Select phone-screen questions to elicit job-performance details. 156

Use written phone-screen scripts to keep track of what candidates say. 157

Develop a thirty- to forty-five-minute phone-screen script. 158

Troubleshoot your phone-screens. 158

End the phone-screen gracefully and when you want to end it. 159

Consider when to use a second phone-screen. 162

Points to remember. 165


Chapter 9: Planning and Conducting the In-Person Interview 166

Choose an interview team. 167

Prepare the interview team. 169

Decide how much time to spend in each interview. 171

Plan who will ask which questions. 172

Choose an appropriate interview environment. 174

Clarify how to handle meals. 176

Create an interview package. 176

Conduct the interview. 177

Verify that the candidate and interviewers are ready. 177

Welcome the candidate. 178

Ask focused questions. 180

Ask lawful questions. 181

Answer the candidate’s questions. 184

Deliver the candidate to the next interviewer. 185

Conduct group interviews sparingly. 185

End the day of interviews. 186

Points to remember. 187


Chapter 10: Following Up After the Interview          189

Meet immediately after the candidate’s last interview. 190

Hold the meeting in a private space. 191

Facilitate the meeting. 191

Learn the reasons behind each thumb-down vote. 192

Understand the thumb-sideways responses. 194

Understand the thumb-up votes. 195

Revisit the thumbs one more time. 195

Use limited consensus to make a decision. 195

Use follow-up forms with care. 196

Tell the candidate what to expect next. 200

Points to remember. 201


Part 4: Bringing In the Candidate         203

Chapter 11: Checking References         205

Check all offered references. 206

Develop your list of reference-check questions. 208

Get your call to go through to each reference. 213

Check references as completely as possible–even when the candidate has provided few, unreachable, or no references. 214

Establish rapport during a reference-check. 215

Start the conversation quickly. 215

Listen carefully to the answers. 215

Verify employment, salary, and education claims. 216

Incorporate other checks that are required by your organization in the reference-check. 216

Take action to uncover the truth if you find discrepancies. 217

Points to remember. 219


Chapter 12: Creating, Timing, and Extending an Offer         220

In a strong economy, make your offer soon after the last interview. 221

For every offer, review all components before presenting it to a candidate. 222

Beware of making promises you may not be able to keep. 223

Make the offer easy to accept by including perks and benefits you can deliver. 226

Learn the reasons behind a candidate’s rejection of your offer. 230

When the reason is salary, salary, salary, rethink the offer. 231

Know when it’s okay to offer a job to an over-qualified candidate. 232

Close the offer. 233

Use a standard offer letter. 235

Extend the offer. 237

Points to remember. 237


Part 5: Making the Most of Hiring Opportunities to Control Uncertainty and Risk        239

Chapter 13: Creating a Great First Day 241

Prepare for a smooth transition beforethe new hire starts. 242

Identify the when, where, who, and what for Day One. 243

Prepare the new hire’s work area for Day One. 244

Explain enough of the work to help the new hire assimilate. 246

Assign a buddy. 247

Create and use a checklist for new hires. 248

Points to remember.  250


Chapter 14: Hiring Technical Managers           251

Define the value you want the technical manager to contribute. 252

Define the technical manager’s interactions. 255

Define the management level. 256

Compile a list of the desirable qualities, preferences, and skills. 260

Don’t hire managers without the requisite talent. 263

Define the manager’s required technical expertise. 264

Define which activities and deliverables the manager will oversee. 266

Points to remember. 267


Chapter 15: Moving Forward          268

Take action to fill your open position even when no one seems just right. 268

Verify that your hiring work is on track. 269

Know how long you can wait for the right candidate. 270

Hire from within the organization. 271

Hire a candidate with limited skills if he or she can be trained. 272

Hire a contractor rather than a permanent employee. 274

Replan the project to fit the current staff. 274

Rework the project’s schedule. 275

Rework the project’s lifecycle. 276

Change the work practices. 276

Change the job description. 277

Choose your actions carefully. 278

Points to remember. 279


Appendix A: Walker Software Case Study: Hiring Multiple People         281


Appendix B: Templates to Use When Hiring Technical People         315


Bibliography          327


Index          331

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2004

    Comprehensive, timely manual for technology field

    In this comprehensive, detailed handbook, Rothman recognizes what employers have to do to be able to attract the best technical workers. It's not enough simply to advertise for job openings, but the technical work has to be properly described to attract the right kind of prospective employees. Otherwise, the hiring process will be inefficient, murky, and errant. Reviewing resumes, screening potential candidates for interviews and preparing for these, and conducting an interview are other topics. A consultant to technical firms, Rothman also goes into a personal touch with individuals looking for employment which gives them a favorable impression of the company. This is desirable because a company might want to hire an applicant at a future time; and it creates a favorable image of the company among technical workers. This specialized hiring manual is timely considering the present pick-up in activity in the technology sector of the economy. Many technology companies have to start now preparing to hire new technical workers to be able to capitalize on the opportunities shaping up.

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