Despite the waves of layoffs, Gartner notes that demand for tech talent still outstrips supply, and predicts that this will be the case through 2026. Coupled with economic uncertainty, this means that building a resilient talent pipeline that fosters and attracts talent will be critical to the success of any team.
We’ll talk about how engineering leaders can support the recruiting team, for example:
We’ll also talk about how engineering leaders can support new talent at work, including:
Throughout, we’ll talk about how to build equity into the pipeline (e.g., looking beyond ‘brand name’ schools), setting up broader company DEI efforts for success.
About the speaker
Arnelle Ansong is CTO & Co-Founder of Edlyft (YC W20), a startup that helps companies nurture and up-skill their future workforce. She is passionate about education and career changes, given her varied experiences that include software engineering, product management, and management consulting. Arnelle is a Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur.
See below for:
You can view the slides from the talk here - and see below for the full recording
Transcribed by software, please forgive minor errors.
Arnelle Ansong 0:02
Awesome. Yeah. So today, our goal really is to just be talking about how to build a resilient talent pipeline, what that looks like over time, both for the different kinds of talent you might be looking to recruit. And also thinking about the lifecycle of your company. And so how things might develop over time as your company itself changes. And it's probably goes without saying, but I would love for this to be as interactive as possible. I know that there's a lot of knowledge in the room. And things are more fun when there are discussions and not lectures. And so feel free to raise your hand interrupt, participate as much as you're able to. So you can go to the next slide. Yep, okay, great. And so before we get into the meat of what we're talking about today, I would love for everyone to kind of take a moment to think about the best team you've been on, ever. Do you think back to high school sports team, maybe a particularly effective roommate group that you had maybe that one time you built a shelf with a sibling, and it worked out really well. I would love to have people post in the chat, what the group was and what you accomplished together, what you worked on. And just take a moment to think through that. And it doesn't have to be the best ever, but just one that you know that you really enjoyed being on. Okay, seeing some, some company live. So working with James, that's great.
They can kind of be anything, don't feel shy. Awesome. So Andrew at the startup sounds like there was a small team, just five, everyone was kind of just working together on the common purpose and vision. From Emma, I'm seeing awesome working on an ISP. Yeah, and you were just answering emails, and it was excellent. That's really, really great. Thank you for that example. Seeing some others cross functional teams and say like having outcome so you save the company a lot of dollars. And that's a really great example, another small scrum team in South Africa. And you laughed while you got things done. And so it sounds like that team just felt good. I'm seeing another one, a small startup that created freelancing friends. Yeah, it sounds like there was probably some connection on that team. I'm seeing another I'm seeing a trend here in what people liked around the small close knit teams. Awesome, really close to the team and relaxed from Sarah stressful, but you know, you're getting a lot done. Yeah, the early days of a startup, there's drama that you are working together as a team. These are all really, really good examples. And as we kind of pause and think about what made the teams that you are on so special, does anyone want to kind of voice over and share like what like catch them about the teams that they just reflected on. Maybe if one person wants to come up and share
Speaker 2 3:19
I could do that. I really liked the fact that we we could be open with each other, we could have disagreements that were you know, amicable, we could you know, have really healthy conflict about ideas. And none of us ever took it personally because we all knew that we were trying to reach the same goal. You know, we we wanted the best idea to win, not the loudest person.
Arnelle Ansong 3:43
Awesome. That's great. Thank you. For that example, Andrew, we can go to the next slide, James. And so the reason I wanted to start with thinking about teams was generally when you're hiring, the talent you're looking for wants to be on a good team. This feels intuitive, but I think is really important to just state as true. In generally good teams have two things in common. You are forming meaningful connections and relationships I saw again, so when he comments about teams being small, it's because you are connected to those people. And there are growth opportunities. And that can come from the form of growth in your career, but also growth from the perspective of kind of a goal that everyone is marching towards. And the thing I have to propose for you all today is that there is the sense of present goodness. So the people I'm connected to feel really good, and future goodness are kind of both of these things are held in the relationships and the connections you have with your teammates alongside how you imagine the future unfolding as you're spending time on the team. Especially in our current culture. People want to grow and advance and feel like they're making progress, especially with the work that they do. And they also really importantly want to feel like they like where they are and who they're doing things with and So the team has to be a good team. And as we're working through our presentation today, we'll talk through just the fact that these meaningful connections and growth opportunities are things you can give your candidates before they even start on the job to kind of signal to them the kind of place that they're going to be in, can go to the next slide. And before we go in, I feel like it's probably important to just understand who's in the room. And so I'll give an intro to lift. Just for my context, it would be helpful if you all could just share in the chat what your role is. And so if you're an engineering manager, maybe you can say em, if you're a founder entrepreneur, give it an F. But curious to kind of understand who I'm talking to today. Who, backer Hey, you're on the multitudes team, awesome. Auto engineering managers, awesome, CTO, great. Okay, so everyone here is technical, which is awesome to see. Managers. Okay, great. Congratulations on the promotion to the newly minted engineering manager. Alright. And so my name is are now as James mentioned, and I'm Ed live CTO. And we as an organisation, help companies nurture and train their future workforce. And so from the pre hire perspective, this looks like upskilling tech on technical interviews and other things to kind of build your brand. For the candidates, you're hoping to hire, post hire, but before the candidates actually start, it's about managing those communications with that talent to make sure that they stay engaged. And then also giving them tools to have a personalised onboarding experience. So it's not just you know, they're going to be a front end developer on your team, but your specific stack is XYZ, let's make sure that they're least a little bit familiar with it before they start. So they can really hit the ground running when things get going. Awesome. Okay, so we can go to the next slide. One of the things that's generally really important here as well is being really clear on on our why and so we know generally where we're headed, right? So connectedness and growth opportunities, sharing those with candidates day one. But in order to accomplish this, we want to make sure that we're clear on why we even want to have a strong pipeline, like what will it do for your team, and the why it matters will enable a way. And so on the right hand side, you'll see some examples. Maybe you want to have a really deep bench, and because you're hiring now, and you know that you will be hired over the next five years. And so you're going to constantly want new candidates in the door, I believe you all had a conversation with Vitor about building flexible, and each team is part of that being, for example, having a deep bench and so I won't really go into that. But that is an example. You might want to add the cultivating relationships in a pretty Euro geography. And so again, a lot of you all are based in New Zealand, maybe you're moving to Australia and you want to start opening business. They're having teams there. And so what does it look like for you to be building out a strong pipeline, and that in that geography, and other pieces, you might have a particular hiring timeline, or the talent you're looking at, might have a particular timeline. And so you need to be flexible there for folks, hiring candidates in the United States in the university system. It's a very peculiar timeline, where often candidates are getting roles six to nine months before their jobs start. And so what does it look like to have a recruiting process that supports that? And so again, when you think about building a strong timeline, what is the thing that you're actually trying to accomplish with that, and being clear on that will help you have the right strategy. Okay, and so we can go to our next slide here. And there's a framework or schema that I want to set up that I think will be helpful for us and having this conversation on the right hand side about the timeline that students will go through, or not students, candidates, broadly, we work with a lot of junior talent. So I might slip and say that as we go. And so it's important to understand this timeline, because again, there are different strategies to use based off each each time, each area has different strategies to pull. And so you might have different memories associated, for example, pre hire versus post hire before you start. And maybe, if you all, so maybe not the CTOs because you probably started your companies. But maybe if you were hired in SCTA, you can answer this question curious to just see an A or B, where do you have the most memories related to when you got your first job? So it was it pre hire when you were kind of just engaging courting the other company? So if that's true for you go ahead and type in a in the chat or was it after you got your offer but before you started in that kind of engagement period, and they were trying to you know, get you really excited to start on the job? Where do you most of you have memories associated? For me, it's not the strat but the job I was in beforehand, I'm seeing a lot of A's Great, yeah. Awesome. The results in the chat are not surprising to me, I think a lot of folks pay attention to a, which is very important. And we'll talk through some of the things you can do to actually leverage be in a way that's going to set your talent up for success and support you, as you look to onboard more more folks. So we can go to the next slide. Awesome. And so as evidenced by what we're seeing in the chat, generally, you have the most leverage in terms of driving talent you care about into your profit process versus being passive at the beginning of the pipeline, before you've made any offers. And so that is the fact the pre hire stage is just very, very important. And again, as we think about what we're wanting to do with candidates, we want to help them connect. So we want those meaningful connections. And we want to cast a vision for them about what the future will look like once they join you at your company. And when we think about those two things, right, so how do we bring both in, I'll go through each of the items below. And so the first learning opportunities is so important. We've already talked about this a little bit. But generally people want to grow, especially when you're talking to engineers, and especially engineers that are earlier in their career. And it's important for them to feel like they're going to come and learn and actually contribute meaningfully into the work that's happening at the company. And so when you're thinking about Junior talent hosting events, when you're doing something where you're doing an interesting technical deep dive on a specific topic, often we've seen work incredibly well for companies, some early hosting hackathons or maker sessions of some sort, where people again can kind of get that taste. For the growth, that's going to be the growth and the learning that's going to be for them, once they come on. All of these things show that your company is ideal, as it is a dynamic place for people to learn, and be challenged and to grow. I've seen companies do interesting blogs that showcase the new products that they're developing. And again, the goal, there are a lot of different ways to do this. But the goal is to make it clear to your candidates that they can learn and grow. And you're giving candidates a taste of the learning that can happen for them before you've actually even hired them. Another really important thing is leveraging internal experts. And people generally as fundamental humans want to be seen and known. How can you tap into this and also their desire to grow in your hiring process. There's so much power and being known by who you consider to be an expert at the comp at a company. And so if you're looking for a job, and you feel like the smartest engineer at that company, or one of the most inspiring leaders knows who you are, as a candidate, it's gonna make you really excited to go work at that company.
Yeah, and you know, it's very normal for people generally to find people that they admire and like, and you want to be close to those people and proximate to them. And so, further ways in which you're able to leverage your broader team to make connections with candidates, especially candidates that you're really excited about, that will have really huge impact. And the special thing about working with experts also is that they can showcase your product and the things that you're doing, and then really start casting that vision again, for the growth that's going to be happening. And this works best, of course, when these connections feel genuine and real. And so really, it's just about humans connecting with each other with, you know, the stuff in the middle being about the awesome work that's happening at your company. And the last thing I'll share here is around expanding your team's capacity. And so there are lots of organisations whose bread and butter is to connect candidates to companies. Often we're under a lot of pressure in our companies to execute. So you got a long product roadmap, the product managers and others on the team are, are excited to get through things. And so you can partner with organisations to augment your team's capacity, to connect you to talent and also to connect you with great moments to connect to talent, so that you're not having to, you know, create the event yourself. I think this is particularly important if you have specific diversity goals. And you know, you're wanting to not just recruit at one or two schools. And it's hard for you, especially if you're on a small team to go to a myriad of different places. And so when you're able to connect with an organisation that can kind of multiply your reach impact, it can be a pretty good use of time from an ROI perspective. On this, I think it's important to give a note on early talent. I spend a lot of time with engineering teams and recruiters that want to connect to junior talent. And here are some things that I've seen noticed help from a tactical perspective. So it's intuitive for a lot of companies to want to go in to some community or school and give a here's my company, and why you should care about it talk. well intentioned, but generally, no one actually cares. Students don't want to just learn about the company, because if they just want to do that, they would read your website. And so instead of just doing kind of a steal session about your company, maybe showcase some of the things that are hugely important to your team, something that you yourself are excited about that your company is building, because students want to learn. And you can use this time to again, educate, connect, build out this sense of relationships and future future growth. Yeah, students are hungry to learn uses use event as a as a mechanism for teaching. And again, relationships here also really matter for all kinds of faults. But generally, early talent matters a lot to James mentioned, our first job at being R is one of the first things I did, and I turned down a salary that was 1.5x, I turned down a job that had us out base salary that was 1.5x might be an offer. And because of the connections to the people that I'd made, while I've been before even started, there is just this sense that people I'd be working with would be so great. And I've learned so much. So that to me felt like an investment. And so it's really great to just think about what's unique about your company, from the product to the people, what are you fundamentally excited about. And these are the kinds of things that you want to share with candidates. And you can do it in combination. So I have, of course, my own examples. But I'm really curious to just hear from you all, if anyone wants to come off of you and share why they talk maybe one of their first jobs, and what convinced them to apply to the company in the first place. So thinking about this, before the candidate has accepted space, what has encouraged you to say yes.
Speaker 3 17:08
I guess for me, what encouraged me the most was the domain itself. So specifically, like what the work looks like. And also for that matter who the potential mentors could be, so when you start meeting other people in higher positions as well. And if they come across as the kind of person that you want to learn from, then that's all the more motivation that you want to join the company.
Arnelle Ansong 17:32
Yeah, that's a great example. Yeah, it's a you see what you're going to do what you're going to be learning and you're able to imagine yourself kind of being proximate to these internal experts who can show you the way as you grow. That's a great example. Anyone else want to share an example from their, from their experiences, applying to jobs?
James Dong 17:58
People are popping in the chat. So Andrew really liked. There was autonomy. And then Jason talks about meeting genuine. With their excitement for the work, yeah.
Arnelle Ansong 18:10
Awesome. Yeah. Those are all great examples. And yes, often when we first started, our jobs are very green. And so there's a lot to learn. And so I'm sure we've all we've all developed and learned since then, thank you all for sharing those examples. They're great. Okay, we can go on to our next slide, James here. Okay, and so, one of the things that I think is particularly exciting right now is this post hire, post offer pre start period of time generally is one that I we don't spend a lot of time and energy on from, uh, thinking about how we can be setting up our candidates for success here. And so, again, just so that I know who's in the room and the kinds of companies you all are at, I'd love you can just put a number in the chat for the number of months someone has before they start on average at your companies. And so, if it's, you know, you're hiring someone and they're starting the next day, feel free to put a zero. If it's one or two, go ahead and do that. I'm curious about the range that we're working with. Okay. Perfect. Okay, super, super helpful context. Okay, great. And so when we think about this, a very unique period of time, generally when someone is signing up to do a new job. Relationships are critical. There's so much excitement when you receive an offer. And there's all of this momentum and we want to make sure that the momentum keeps going. less so. Now, but generally, if someone is a top engineer and thinking or just top talent, generally they'll have multiple options. So it's important to Start on the right note as we think about making sure that talent is actually retained and set up for success of the initiatives that they're going to be driving. And so, one thing to think about here is communication with that talent. And so who within your team is in charge of communicating with that talent? Are they on email campaigns? Do you add them to the weekly product update list so that they can just be aware, you know, the, the movement that's happening, and again, the call here is, how do you make sure that you're keeping, you're keeping the momentum that started once you gave them that offer, and there was all of that excitement. Next piece here on leveraging relationships. And so we've spoken about this a little bit. But having a connection to someone who's within the company, before you start is really, really meaningful for creating a sense of belonging and starting to build a consent a mental conception, the impact you'll be able to have as an employee of that company. And so it is not light to start helping candidates build relationships with people. And, again, if it's only a month or two out, it's not a huge burden for the person you're connecting them to, to have like a coffee style, chat with them maybe once, and that person can give them a download on the kinds of things, what it's like to work at the company, what the culture is, because every company's culture is just a little bit different. And they can also that candidate will then have the opportunity to start preparing in a way that feels very human. Yeah, and again, when we think about growth opportunities, we want to think about how we can set candidates up for success, giving candidates a clearer understanding of the tech stack for the teams processes, overall culture. And so tools like Atlas, so the one that our company is developing, are all about managing the information sharing, which can sometimes be hard to coordinate, when you're a larger org, or if you're trying to move really quickly, it's hard to make sure that the manager of the person is you know, emailing them a month beforehand with all of the information that they need. But that like one quick communication can actually save the NG manager themselves a tonne of time once that talent actually starts, because they're, you know, not having to answer kind of the, the repeat mundane questions. And so there are a lot of tools like this out there to support you, on the communication stand in front. And then of course, on the leveraging your employees to build excitement and relationships. So happy to share more about tools like I'd left and, and others as, as I know, kind of explain again, like how companies can really leverage this time, so that candidates are retained once they start and you're really getting the ROI that you're spending on recruiting them in the first place. Awesome. Okay. And so we can go to the next slide. And really here, there are so many things you can do. This is really a whole people operations. Org. So what are companies doing to make sure that talent is learning while they're there, there's internal mobility. And you know, people are performing well. So of course, there are tools like multitudes and many others, to really highlight what you can be doing post art to make sure that your talent is resilient. Or we can go to next slide. Okay, so this is what I have prepared for you all, it was really nice to be able to share this with you. And I'm open now for questions, if anything kind of came up as I was chatting that you all have questions about. So I'll pass it over to James now.
James Dong 23:32
Cool, thank you so much for sharing that, or now, the one takeaway that I thought was really unique and interesting that has not ever happened to me, is in that post hire but prestart stage, getting the product update the the emails from the company, I thought that was a really that's a really creative way of bringing someone on board in a very, like light touch away, like you're not giving them work, you know, because I did get, I also had a different company. I got like a pre assignment. And I was like, Oh, interesting. Eight for this pre assignment. But this is really cool. Really interesting. I want to kick off the q&a with some questions that were submitted online. So I know Anna, you had asked what is the and this is a little bit. This is a little bit from with the the post start stage, but are now I wonder if you can speak to this. How would you think about getting more talent out of a small team? I think especially up front, we talked, almost everyone talked about small teams being you know, places that they remember the most when they had the best time on the team. What's the what's the best way of leveraging that?
Arnelle Ansong 24:40
Yeah, really, really great question. So especially if you know that, you know, you're a small team, and you're about to bring someone on board, who's new to the team, I think critical to us to use a tool like I'd love to get your engineering manager to spend or whoever's going to be managing that talent to spend 30 minutes writing them an email just preparing them for what is about to happen. Because our research finds that managers will spend up to 1020 hours with talent that's new, because they're just not acclimated to the way the team works. And maybe there's tech debt that they're not familiar with, etc. And so the more time you can cut out there, so that candidates just have time to be building your product, or just working towards the unified goal, the better. And again, when there is a small team, thinking about the connectedness and the growth opportunities, you want to make sure that every person on the team is feeling both of those. And so what kinds of things can you be setting up so that there is really high connection on the team? And what can you be setting up to make sure that everyone's working on something that's mission critical and feeling like they're contributing to this broader growth for the company. One thing that deadlift does that I'm really proud of is we'll have stand ups Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, for 15 minutes. And before the 15 minutes before standup, everyone sends in their stand up update asynchronously. And so when we get on the call, first half, and then in that 15 minute period before the call, we're answering each other's blockers, that kind of thing, though, so that when we get to the call the first half of it. So the first seven, eight minutes are an icebreaker. And we rotate who asked the icebreaker question. And the last half is just giving, like one or two liner on what you did yesterday, what you're up to today, and if anything didn't get resolved, in Slack, setting up an action item to connect with whoever you need to connect with. Again, these like in person, moments are really critical. So how can you make sure that you're using them for the combination of connectedness and growth? That's
James Dong 26:42
great. I love to ask another question that also came from a previous tech leader chat, which is, again, on the internal side, how do you make the case for hiring, hiring students or hiring people that are more early in their careers, more junior engineers, because a lot of times, you know, if you're a startup, you're like, oh, we need more senior people, we need people that we don't have to manage so much you can deliver immediately. But then as you grow, those delivery pressures don't necessarily fade. As you start, you know, meeting the bigger expectations of VCs or if you IPO and you meet public expectations. How do you make that case internally?
Arnelle Ansong 27:21
Yeah, again, a really great question. A lot of the people we talk to are in this bind, where they want to hire cheap talent, because the economy's hard and you want to hire top talent. But Junior talent takes so long to ramp and it's sometimes frustrating to work with them. We hear lots of really interesting stories like, you know, talking to this junior talent. And maybe they don't give good they don't know how to write a good Slack message. And so they're very verbose. They're asking you a question, you tell them, you can tell that they're stuck, but they're just you're not able to kind of penetrate and break through to be able to help them quickly, they just take a lot of time. And so that often is the mindset that people are in. And it just feels easier to go with someone who's done it before, because you have a faith that they'll be able to execute. And so totally get the question. There are a couple ways to think about building a case here. One of the first things, again, is doing some work on your team to make sure that the talent that you're hiring in the recruitment process before they start, so either the candidates that you're screening or the preparation, you're giving these candidates before they start will allow them to to ramp a little bit more quickly, often with junior talent. Part of the reason why starting a first job or an early job is difficult as you don't even have the right buckets in your brain for the information that you're going to be grasping. I think a really obvious one is something like Git, if you've never used it before, haven't touched it very much. This idea of thinking about version control is just confusing, similar to deploy processes, and so the more you can kind of seed those concepts with talent ahead of time, you'll you as a team will have the opportunity to spend less of your team time thinking through that. So that is a very strong recommendation. And the other is just to be future thinking like you hire someone who is senior, they'll probably be able to get a PR up in the first day, which I'm sure everyone on your team is excited about. But if you're you're you're hiring the right talent and really priming them for success from the data from day one, they're often what we find is their learning trajectory is much faster and much steeper and so you'll end up potentially even getting more from them over the course of the time they're at the company than that person. And so there are sometimes is a smaller upfront investment tools like add lift can help reduce the amount of investment you're having to do from a time perspective. But often again, if you're interviewing for the right skills, that junior talent will learn really quickly and will soon be able to be contributing just as much if not More as that, you know, staff level engineer.
James Dong 30:02
Awesome. Thank you. questions in the chat from Jason, how do you balance keeping in touch with someone in that pre start period by keeping them engaged and motivated, but also wanting them to have a break before the job starts?
Arnelle Ansong 30:14
I love that question. And, Jason, the fact that you're asking it is a sign that you care about the people you're bringing on board. And so that's great. How we manage on it I left with our product is it's optional. So it's opt in, and then the minimum amount that to use, the product will take about two to three hours. And each module on the product is is snackable. And so you can consume it and learn within 20 minutes. And so you're not having to, you know, sit and do like a four hour course, but instead are able to do little bits, and you have the energy to learn. And so, yeah, I think one thing is you don't want to tell someone, you must now read all of the documentation for Kafka before you start, because that'll put pressure on them. And so I think using external tools can kind of support with this. But if you want to go directly to the candidate, I would just let them know, Hey, this is probably the stack. These are some resources that are frequently shared internally on the team, when people have questions, you don't have to. But if you'd like here, you can feel free to take a look at them. Generally, people will want that because it's it's stressful to start a new job and you want to sit you want to put the right foot for it. And so generally, that is a service. And I would just recommend that you keep the suggestions that you give to two to three hours and don't send them a 40 hour course. Because that I think is what's going to prevent them from feeling like they can fully disengage in between their jobs.
James Dong 31:38
Great. And then a final question here from Kayo in the chat, which is how can establishing a career clear career ladder, especially in engineering contribute to the attraction and retention of diverse talent?
Arnelle Ansong 31:51
Hmm, that's a really, really great question. And so I'll kind of take a different tact effort answering this question. career ladders are important. People want to know how they're going to succeed and higher. And so having that clearly laid out is important from a transparency perspective. But I think more than just the career ladder, I think it's making it clear how to learn and what it's great to know, you know, there's a 45 year 67. But being really tactical about at this company, what by that, you know that you're ready to get promoted to the next level when you can do X, Y, and Z things really clearly. And so it's being super specific about the skills that are required. And if you're managing someone, hearkening back to those skills regularly to point out, hey, you know, you need to learn, you're doing really great exceeding expectations on these things. But you know, maybe these kinds of these other skills need some improvement so that you can give that person opportunities to grow along those dimensions. And so for your ladders are great, it's great to have them. Even more important is making sure that the skills line up to the work that they're doing every single day, and that you can create clarity around that so that they know where to be putting their effort and Andrey
James Dong 33:11
amazing. Thank you so much. Again, this was really great. I'm gonna go ahead and pause the recording before we break out into our breakout rooms.
Arnelle Ansong 33:19
One thing I'll just say is, anyone who wants to kind of chat about this a little bit more has questions or thoughts on how, what it might look like to be able to hire talent in a sustainable way. If you're curious about our tooling and want to understand how it might support you and your hiring process. Feel free to email me
James Dong 33:37
so. Okay, and with that stopper
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