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5 keys to strong partnerships between recruiting and engineering leadership

What can you as a recruiter do to improve the relationship you have with your hiring manager? It’s not uncommon for there to be tension between the need to fill roles quickly and the need to be thoughtful and equitable in the process. You want your counterpart in engineering to feel like a partner in solving this challenge, not the one carrying the burden. 

At the OneReq Summit: DEI in Recruiting, Tigran Sloyan, Co-founder and CEO of CodeSignal, spoke with Mamuna Oladipo, VP of Product at Shopify, and Wahab Owolabi, Founder of OneReq, about forming a strong partnership. Here are five key takeaways that you can use to build trust and properly prepare for diversity and inclusion conversations and initiatives with your organization’s engineering leaders.

1. Communicate about values and expectations from day one

When you’re debriefing on a candidate, that shouldn’t be the first time that you’re interacting with your engineering counterpart. Instead, begin by sharing who you are and what you value, and ask about their goals and values as well. Both sides will benefit from leadership being on the same page and clearly communicating the value of what’s being done and what needs to be done to meet your hiring goals.

Tigran noted that “recruiters can go into those relationships expecting it to be strained or difficult…I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies.” The right attitude goes a long way, as does being upfront about how you work and what you need for support. Since the hiring manager already has a full-time job, they’ll probably appreciate having clear and simple processes to follow. Let your hiring partners know if you’ll require certain training (e.g. interview training, bias training) and audits (e.g. tracking diversity metrics across your funnel). 

2. Diversity is a journey, so meet people where they are 

If you find that there’s misalignment between yourself and the hiring manager in terms of your values and goals for the team, try taking a step back and think about diversity as a journey that everyone is on. When you look at a company, a team, or an engineering leader, everyone might be at a different point in that journey. If you can show empathy in understanding where someone is and try to meet them in that space, they’re more likely to see you as a trusted partner. 

3. Talk about representation when you talk about diversity

“There’s this misnomer that diversity means black. Or diversity means women. I don’t think of it that way and when I’ve worked with hiring managers in the past, I try to define my philosophy on it,” Wahab said. “To me, diversity means representation. We’re in a tech space where there’s a lack of representation of women and of people of color—and it’s possible that we will get to a space where we don’t have that lack of representation anymore.” 

Mamuna added, “You’re trying to build the best products and tools for everyone and there are questions and opinions that you miss when you don’t have full representation on your teams.”

4. Build trust by building your domain knowledge

It’s easy to say that recruiters should try to build trust with the engineering team, but how does that translate into action? One way is to invest time in the systems and processes that the team uses, down to the tools themselves, so that you can speak for the team and let candidates know what the job is really like. The easiest way to break trust? Get caught not knowing something essential about how the team operates—like whether the designers use Figma or Adobe. 

5. Understand the skillset the team is looking for

From a hiring manager’s perspective, “I think the frustration comes from giving feedback and not seeing the candidates changing,” Mamuna said. As a recruiter, it’s your job to understand what a hiring manager is looking for in a candidate. And as someone who cares about diversity, it’s also your job to push back if the “fit” is a certain profile or background instead of a set of objective skills. 

On the other hand, Tigran added, “sometimes the friction comes from, as a recruiter I have no idea why someone was qualified as a yes or why they were qualified as a no.” So how do you learn about that skill set if you’re not technical? Wahab suggests partnering on a structured feedback system. From the notes that the team provides, “I can get a sense of ‘here are the gaps the candidate had,’ and I can have a trend and look for that and understand where the team is coming from with a successful candidate and one who is unsuccessful. What I do is take those notes back and use them in general conversation.”

We hope these tips have been helpful! OneReq is a community for recruiting leaders passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion. CodeSignal is a platform for top-of-funnel assessments and remote interviews that lets you objectively measure a candidate’s real-world coding skills. Request a demo today and find out how CodeSignal can help you reduce the overhead for your engineering team while also broadening your candidate pool and fighting bias.