Whether you are currently hiring or currently evaluating your company’s recruitment and onboarding processes, I want to let you in on a little secret: the old ways of hiring will not build your organization the team it needs to be successful.
The Old Ways
Most companies start their search by targeting graduates of top universities. They’re confident in this approach because a graduate has gone through a tried-and-tested educational system and survived. They’ve passed tests and earned a diploma. Basically, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting.
You could then ask these college graduates if they know more people like themselves. You could start a referral program. You could hire their friends and get more of the same. You won’t have to worry about cultural fit. They’re already friends with your employees. They play softball together. They go out drinking together. They “fit.”
But what if you want more than fit? What if you want people who bring something into your culture? What if you want cultural additions, not just cultural fits?
Imagine a different way of hiring that doesn’t care if you went to a fancy college. Doesn’t care if you have a CS degree. Doesn’t care if you went to college at all. Doesn’t care if you even graduated from high school.
What might happen if you took this even further?
People are always very confused when they apply for jobs with 8th Light because nowhere in the process do we ask for a resume. Seeing the list of companies you’ve worked for or schools you attended won’t tell us if you’re going to be successful working with us. A resume won’t show us what we’re looking for. It won’t show us if you’re curious. If you care about the quality of your work. If you’re hungry for feedback and know what to do with it. A resume won’t tell us if you checked out all the ‘learn to code’ books from your library and worked your way through them on a public computer because you didn’t have one of your own. A resume won’t tell us if you attended weekly meetups, seeking out a mentor because you were hungry to start your career as an engineer. If you couldn’t afford a boot camp, so needed to find other ways to learn.
Looking beyond the resume lets us meet candidates with an amazingly diverse range of experiences. Think about the multitude of problem-solving approaches this brings to the table. We’ve hired artists, lawyers, comedians, art teachers, and more. Imagine working on a team with all these different skill sets at your disposal. If you hire people who’ve only worked in software after studying software in college, they’ll probably have similar ways to solve client problems, and similar ways to contribute to your culture and company. But think about how an artist, a lawyer, a comedian, and an art teacher might solve a problem or enhance your culture.
Learning the Craft
We’re able to hire for passion and desire to learn, not resumes, because we’re not putting new hires right into a job. We believe the best way to ensure your hires deliver the level of service you promise your customers is to teach them yourselves. We’re spending around 6 months teaching people we hire as entry-level developers what they need to know to be successful. Our paid apprenticeships let us hire crafters with no previous professional software experience because we know if they’re curious and hungry to grow, we can teach them.
Every novice engineer who joins 8th Light goes through an apprenticeship where they focus on not just learning new languages and environments, but learning how to learn. We cover leadership, consulting, and communication skills. This prepares them to adapt skillfully and gracefully to unfamiliar situations when beginning new client engagements. The duration of an apprenticeship will vary based on previous technical and consulting experience, and the speed the apprentice picks up new skills.
Continuous Investment in Employees
After completing a series of milestones, apprentices become crafters and transition onto billable roles on client projects. We don’t expect a new crafter to know everything, and they’re supported by their teams and by a mentor as their career progresses. We allocate 10% of our week to continual learning, and provide education and conference stipends. We also host public and private conferences and meetups. Even once the formal learning of the apprenticeship ends, our focus on learning continues.
By hiring differently, we’re able to be a different company. By looking for curious minds that are hungry to learn and grow, and then feeding that hunger, we’re able to hire beyond the resume, providing paths to careers in technology to candidates whom many other companies wouldn’t consider. By doing this we’ve built a company that delivers high quality software though high functioning teams that doesn’t look, or act like every other tech company.