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How to Strengthen Your Team Pitch

Alignment
Personal Growth
Hiring
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Changing Company

29 November, 2021

Vadim Antonov
Vadim Antonov

Engineering Manager at Facebook

Vadim Antonov, Engineering Manager at Meta, details his journey to improve his personal hiring process and team pitch.

Problem

When I transitioned into a management role, I received a fully staffed team and was not required to do any hiring. I was involved in interviews as an engineer, but I was less responsible for sourcing and closing candidates. At the time, I needed to hire a niche group of candidates with specific backgrounds and experience. My pipeline included talking to sourcers and recruiters that would help me with this process. However, it was slow when I began to execute, and I didn't receive many applications. The challenge was that I struggled to determine the balance between my ideal candidate and my willingness to train. In my process, I had to sell my company and the team, as candidates were able to select a team they wanted an offer from. During my interviews, I found it challenging to sell my team and gain excitement.

Actions taken

Eventually, I transitioned companies and, in turn, my team. I switched from a specialized growth team to a more generic data platform team within my new company. I found it easier to hire at my new company, as we sold autonomous cars, and it was easy to get people excited about the company's mission. However, the most significant barrier for our closing was a lower compensation scale. When we gave offers to candidates, many declined for the reason of less pay. For this reason, we had to sell the company based on the mission and the exciting projects we worked on.

While working at this company, I heavily invested in the whole recruiting pipeline. I partnered with recruiters, so we could work to build a pipeline from scratch. The first step in this process was sourcing so that we could identify ideal candidates. We created a document that outlined all of the critical steps of the hiring process with the best matches. There was a job description from LinkedIn, a definition of an interview loop, and a selling point for individual teams. I used this to help my recruiters engage with candidates without having to involve engineers.

After creating our job description packet, we looked at the recruitment funnel and what was slowing our process. We realized our interviewers were not calibrated, and when asking questions, they were looking for separate answers. To combat this, we standardized our question descriptions and documented a list of expectations people should look for. We used questions and answers from experienced interviewers who thoroughly understood their expectations and aligned this with the rest of our hiring board. By standardizing the top of our funnel, we found that our company was receiving definitive candidates.

The next step in our process was to sell specific teams successfully. Again, we had to align our hiring board with the opportunities and projects teams were working on. We connected with high-ranking candidates and brought them into our workplace, allowing them to get firsthand experience working with our teams. We significantly increased the closing process from this simple action and grew a team with three engineers to twelve.

I finally transitioned to another company, where the hiring process was different. Employees were hired into our company's boot camp and then were able to pick a team. I met with my director to find some of the company's strongest team leads and asked them to share their hiring process with me. I shadowed and reverse-shadowed these leads, observing their skills and hearing their feedback on my shortcomings. Their pointers were about simplifying my pitch and concisely sharing the mission statement. During the first three months, I wasn't able to hire anyone, but as I began to increase my knowledge about hiring, I could staff a full team.

Lessons learned

  • Sell your company in the simplest way possible. You need to use simple language without technical details or company specifics. A young child should understand your pitch and be excited about the opportunities you're offering.
  • The most important step when improving your pitch is to keep practicing. Shadowing, reverse shadowing, and taking steps to improve your skills from experts in your company will strengthen your abilities.

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