When Scaling Your Engineering Team Make Sure You Do These 5 Things

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When scaling a company, onboarding new hires can be a bit of a process. Not only does it take time to train them but getting new employees comfortable with the company culture can be a slow process, too. However, these obstacles shouldn’t necessarily slow you down. In fact, these growing pains can serve as valuable learning experiences that can ultimately help make the hiring process smoother.

At NerdWallet I oversee the engineering division, which has experienced significant growth in the last year.

Here is how we scaled the team.

1. Maintain company culture. While it’s crucial to find skilled software engineers who have the coding chops to complete big projects, potential hires also need to gel with the rest of your company. As important as it is to hire the right engineer, it’s equally important to hire the right person. Software engineers will collaborate with employees from other verticals on a daily basis, making it essential for newcomers to be able to communicate effectively with everyone in the company. Hiring people who are good cultural fits will help make this possible.

Related: How to Intentionally Build Your Company Culture (Rather Than Leave It to Chance)

2. Create a detailed job description. When advertising job openings, we’ve found that it’s best to be as detailed as possible. This can be challenging, as engineering positions at startups tend to be fluid. Potential hires will need to be prepared to take on tasks that weren’t listed in the job description. Still, certain aspects of the job can be fleshed out in a fairly straightforward manner. How much time, for instance, will engineers spend coding? Should new hires expect to switch between back-end and front-end work? What processes and standards does your team use? Being as transparent as possible will ensure that only the most qualified applicants throw their hats into the ring.

3. Make recruitment a company-wide effort. Getting the word out that your company is hiring software engineers is everyone’s responsibility. The chances of acquiring great new talent are much better if everyone taps into their networks. Consider sending an outline to your colleagues that details what stack and systems your team uses, as well as its structure. That way, everyone in your company -- not just those in HR -- can answer questions from potential applicants. It might even be worth providing a reward for employees if someone they’ve referred gets hired.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Company's First IT Support Person

4. Implement a consistent screening process. Every applicant should go through the same screening process. What this entails, of course, will differ from company to company. While there’s no such thing as the perfect formula of the right number of phone screens and interviews, you’ll want to create a system that works best for your team. This might take some trial and error. So be it. Eventually, you’ll find a routine that works, which will make the screening process much more efficient. Lastly, make sure your company’s recruiting team keeps candidates up to date about their status in the hiring process.  

5. Establish a thorough onboarding process. For a new hire to contribute to projects right off the bat, he or she will need to know the ins and outs of your engineering team. A formal onboarding process will ensure that all of the necessary bases are covered. Although it’s fine for this process to be rigorous, a new engineer shouldn’t feel completely overwhelmed during the first few days on the job. If possible, include meetings with the heads of other verticals. This will help new engineers become familiar with their employer and will introduce them to the company’s unique mission and culture. These meetings will be less technical and could serve as a welcome change of pace. A top-notch onboarding process will result in two things: Your new engineer will learn your team’s technology as well as feel more comfortable in their new workplace. Even something as simple as introducing them during a company-wide meeting can go a long way in fulfilling that last objective. 

Related: The 6 Keys to Build a Recruiting Team Worthy of the Battle