Vishwastam Shukla, Chief Technology Officer, HackerEarth

Vishwastam Shukla is Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at HackerEarth, graduated from Indian Institute of Information Technology, he started his career as an intern at Amazon as Software Development Engineer. Rising through the ranks to become a software development manager and site leader at Amazon in 2013, Vishwastam is known to be a hands-on leader. He spent several years building large scale distributed payment systems and related web-services at Amazon, his team was responsible for launching Pay with Amazon in Germany and UK markets.

 

2020 changed the way the globe went to work. While business continuity plans were quickly activated to offset the volatility of the pandemic, and people grew accustomed to the new normal of virtual meetings and remote working, talent hiring on the whole presented a challenge for HR and other people teams.

In the face of it all, remote hiring turned out to be a convenient, efficient, cost and time-effective option for both recruiters and candidates. In the post-Covid world, remote hiring has emerged as a common phenomenon in contemporary HR practices. The use of online AI-enabled talent management platforms such as the one provided by HackerEarth, has now made it possible to hire from anywhere in an objective and skill-first manner, while rooting out the inherent biases that have been the bane of traditional hiring practices.

Creating an effective remote hiring and onboarding process

Regardless of the differences between in-house and remote work, there are some fundamentals of employee screening and hiring that remain unchanged.  At HackerEarth, we have always believed in matching skills to the best opportunities – which is what talent hiring is, in a nutshell. The hiring organization needs a skilled developer who will meet or exceed performance expectations. The candidate, on the other hand,  is looking  for opportunities to showcase their gamut of skills and experience, meet their financial and benefits goals, and feel empowered, engaged, and appreciated.

For this matchmaking (pun intended) to be successful, there are few criteria that need to be met. As an employer here are some tips that can help you create better processes to accelerate remote hiring in the current global scenario:

#1. Imbibe a skill-first approach to tech hiring and change processes as needed

Before the pandemic, location-specific hiring was at its peak. Recruiters preferred candidates who were in the same geographical location or were ready to relocate. Post-pandemic, we know that code can be shipped from anywhere in the world as long as the developer writing it is skilled. Remote hiring puts the spotlight on objective bias-free hiring, because when you take parameters like location, academic pedigree, race, ethnicity etc. out of the picture, all you are left with is core skills.

While this shift towards a skill-first approach to hiring is welcome, it also means that companies have to change their traditional processes. In a recent survey that we conducted, we found that companies that use assessment tools for their tech hiring report having a more standardized process. The process is also more objective, and evaluations more accurate.

What may have worked before may not necessarily work in the post-pandemic world where candidates are more sensitized to flaws in the process and are demanding change. Our annual Developer Survey showed that about 40% of developers would like to be interviewed via dedicated platforms, and by not making these tools a part of the process, companies are only losing out on top talent.

Along with these tools, a mindset change is also needed; and I couldn’t stress this enough. We need to break the conventional mould of a good developer, and hire candidates who demonstrate excellence in real life, and not just on paper.

#2. Provide opportunities, pay, upskilling initiatives, and other benefits that distinguish you from other employers

Remember, the talent you are vying for has many opportunities knocking on their door. In the candidate’s market we are living in, employers are being pitted against each other. Mercilessly, if I may add.

How do you distinguish yourself from all other employers then? High pay aside, student developers, who are just starting in the tech world, say a good career growth curve is a must-have. Working professionals can be wooed by offers of a good career path and compensation.

The last two years have taught developers the importance of self growth, personal happiness, and fuelling their creativity. They would not want to go back to a job that feels like a rut when there are better opportunities elsewhere. Diversity and inclusion policies are also prominent asks. As remote hiring opens up the talent sourcing funnel, it also lends itself to this new and improved archetype where equality is paramount.

This is again, proof of how ‘traditional’ just won’t work anymore in the new post-pandemic paradigm. We have outgrown the phase where only candidates were required to prove they had that ‘X factor’; employers too have to prove that they are worthy of the talent they are hiring.

#3. Check for culture, emotional, and psychological fit before making an offer

The terms ‘culture’, ‘collaboration’, and ‘commitment’ have different meanings in today’s world. Collaborating on code from halfway across the world requires a different etiquette. It’s not the same as turning around in your swivel hair in your office and asking your colleague for help.

Remote work has its own mores. Code needs to be shipped on agreed timelines, a common repository has to be maintained, communication needs to be succinct but also frequent. The frameworks for processes like promotions and appraisals also change.  Goes without saying that the candidate you hire must be emotionally and psychologically fit to work in such an environment. Coding is, in many ways, a synergetic process, and it is not always easy on individual, remote contributors. Hire someone who can shoulder the burden without crumbling under the pressure, and who can work seamlessly with the tech team you have already built.

And thus, the takeaways…

When I look back at the last two years, I am amazed – as many others have been – at the amount of resilience the technology sector has displayed in the face of a massive outswinger (the World Cup hangover still holds fort as you can see). Adopting a remote-first work policy will, in my opinion, only increase this resilience. It will open the doors for more diverse talent, foster pay and gender equality, and nudge companies to appreciate and nurture talent. It is not easy, and it requires us to change processes, use new tools and platforms, and bid goodbye to traditional mindsets.

As tech hiring begins to scale again, and businesses look to future-proof themselves, the need for top-tier tech talent is only set to increase. It is a war out there, and the only way to win it is by adapting to the ‘new normal’ and taking a fresh, improved approach to tech hiring.

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