9 Lessons from My Adventures in Hiring

Reflections from a first-time manager on recruiting my first direct report.

I haven’t sat to “blog” in a while. So I thought I’d take a moment, to let you all know what’s going on in my work life.

I’ve been hiring. And it is quite the ride!

Now, I’ve been part of a few hiring processes: sitting in on interviews, taking notes, even participating in the deliberations. But this is my first time recruiting as a manager. So as I’ve been scrambling to schedule interviews & debriefs, my mind is also exploding from all the newness.

So many things!

I’ll be honest: parts of this process are less energizing than others. I knew recruiting would take time. I didn’t appreciate that it would take just as much mental energy, too!

But it’s a welcome challenge. I need the help, and it’s probably good for me to get outside my comfort zone. Plus, I’m learning tons about my work-self just by going through this process.

Let’s dive in.

1. There’s more drudgery to my work than I realized.

Hear me out gang: I like de-duping, updating records, and all kinds of cleanup! Sometimes it gets repetitive, but there’s something super satisfying about freeing your org of unnecessary baggage. (It’s the same part of my brain that comes alive each time I clean out my closet.)

Still, it’s drudge work. And when it came time to list those tasks, I realized that I wasn’t even getting to everything – because of how busy I am. There’s a lot of drudge work that goes into maintaining a clean database, so I’m excited to finally get a helping hand.

2. The maintenance tasks I’m good at are keeping me from the visionary tasks that are challenging.

In my org, I’m not just the person maintaining our systems. I’m also the person proposing much of the direction where our systems are headed. That means staying on top of our needs, and proactively identifying the enhancements/integrations that will push our work forward.

It’s the meta, vision-setting work that’s easy to put off when you have thousands of duplicates and enough data requests on your plate. And being one person, I just can’t balance it all anymore.

3. I may or may not have a delegation problem.

The “may not” part of this statement is thanks to The Management Center, which has my vote as one of the best resources out there for nonprofit managers (along with Ask a Manager). Seriously, without these two, I’d be a lost, micro-managing chicken without her head. 🐔

When you’re used to being the person who does it all, it’s tough to be honest with yourself about what can be delegated to someone else. Also, when the database is your work baby, it’s easy to get overprotective! I recognize this, I’m aware, and I’m working on it. ^_^

4. I took job hunting too personally.

Alison Green has probably said this at least 50 times in her blog. I’m here to confirm: hiring (or rather, rejection) really isn‘t personal.

At least not when you’re swamped with resumes. (FWIW, I found my handful tough to wade through. I have no clue how HR/hiring managers deal with hundreds of applicants.) In the past, I’ve definitely gotten attached to a job and felt bummed when I didn’t even get a chance to interview. But having been on the other side, I now see how difficult it is to get a feel for someone by looking at words on a paper (or screen). And when you’re comparing one person’s words to another, or when you’re on a deadline, it’s totally possible to pass over some great candidates.

5. I actually like interviewing.

This one shouldn’t have been a surprise. After all, this process is introducing me to people interested in data work, who I can then talk to about data and their careers! In a very roundabout way, it’s as if I’m living this blog through the hiring process.

I also love the idea of interviews being mutually beneficial. Hopefully I can provide an experience that will inform someone else’s next steps, regardless of how they advance.

6. I really don’t miss LinkedIn.

You may recall that I deleted my LinkedIn account. What I didn’t share was that I had this process in mind. Yes, the career nerd in me was curious to look at people’s profiles. But honestly, I didn’t want to field a ton of inMessages from applicants trying to get a leg up. (Yes it happens, and yes it can be frustrating when not done properly.)

So I deleted it at the very start of this process. And truly, I didn’t miss it.

7. I need to work on my own resume.

Doing interviews and realizing when someone neglected to include a skill on their resume (“wait, you can do xyz??”) was a good reminder that I need to update my own resume. Even though I don’t plan to leave anytime soon, I know myself: I’m going to forget a bunch of accomplishments unless I start writing them down!

Besides, I now appreciate that a few extra bullets can be the difference between a rejection and a phone screen invitation.

8. I can roll with change.

Beginning this process was only a matter of time. But I put it off a few times last year: when I thought I had too many other priorities, when I questioned if there really was enough work to justify it, or when I decided that maybe I wasn’t meant to manage at all.

But things are happening at my org, and it finally clicked for me one day. If our tech ambitions are growing, then of course our staffing needs should too. I was putting off the inevitable due to the uncertainty surrounding it, when I really just needed to hit the ground running.

9. I can be better at asking for help.

I’m more than happy to clarify details when I’m unsure about something, or to run to the Salesforce forums for tech advice. Those things are givens.

But something about working in this sphere (nonprofit data? Tech? Salesforce?) can make it tough to recognize when to ask for help. It likely has to do with being the one who’s always asked/tasked with finding the answers; you just fall into this trap of tackling everything that way.

I’ve had so much newness crop up in this process, and fortunately, a hiring team that knows to offer input that I may not think to ask for. The fact that I now recognize “oh, I don’t know how I should phrase this, let me ask so and so” or “I know this person has x experience, maybe they can tell me about how they see y” is pretty powerful for me these days. And I think that awareness will impact how I go about my daily work going forward.

Share your thoughts!