Determining What Levels to Hire

William Anderson

VP, Software Engineering at Forbes



Throughout my career, whether it has been through my experience of working at Forbes to my prior career path that was focused on working at agencies, I have been responsible for building out teams. Hiring for an organization varies depending on the structure and focus of the company but ultimately it boils down to recruiting based on company culture fit, and if that's around quick delivery or long-term careers.

Actions taken

"In a startup it is completely acceptable to hire people who are fresh, career ambitious, and looking to move on to another company in a year or two. This doesn't mean that you have a toxic or bad workplace, it simply assumes that people will be rotating and churning relatively quickly."

With this in mind, it is in the startups best interest to hire people who tend to be more senior (or mid to senior) level, ambitious, and who can get up to speed fast. A startup is in need of people who can deliver value and take charge of projects and so hiring at the senior level is a great practice. Agencies taking on fresh projects should follow the same strategy.

In contrast, a heritage company can take a varied approach to hiring. For example, at Forbes we tend to give a lot of prioritization to work-life balance and long-term career growth. One of the benefits is that it allows us to hire more junior engineers. Not exclusively, but primarily junior level engineers - some very junior like those who have recently graduated from bootcamp and only have three months experience - are hired on the promise that we are going to grow their career while at the company. The trade-off is the time and energy put in to mentoring and overcoming the learning curve. So if you are building out a company culture where people have lengthy tenures than recruit more junior level. However, be sure to have this strategy in mind beforehand so that you know what general timelines look like and so that you can speak about them and the exceptions.

Lessons learned

Know whether or not you are hiring for immediate delivery or you are hiring for building your culture. If you are hiring for delivery than you need to make sure you have senior people who can deliver fast and get themselves up to speed quickly. If you are hiring for long-term growth within your company - building a team that is going to be with you for a while - than lean towards hiring more junior and build people up through their careers. Of course you are still going to make senior hires but those hires need to be strategic and focused. They need to be individuals who are going to raise the bar, lead, or fill gaps that have emerged.

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William Anderson

VP, Software Engineering at Forbes

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementTechnical ExpertiseTechnical SkillsCareer GrowthCareer Progression

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