I’ve spent a lot of my time at Reclaim trying to scramble up the steep learning curve. Hoping to catch on before anyone could get annoyed enough to say “you should know this by now”. It’s a whole different ballgame from the work that I had been doing on the IT team at Yoga Alliance. And, if I’m being honest, imposter syndrome set in hard during those first months.

It wasn’t until we decided to hire two part-time support team members that I felt like I had a little foothold. I knew this task wasn’t going to help me understand the acronym alphabet soup I was swimming in. *But* it was finally something I knew how to do.

Full disclosure, Tim and Jim work with a fabulous consultant, Justin, that takes care of the stuff they “don’t want to do”. A good chunk of my hiring process fell into that bucket. Justin executed one of the smoothest (albeit rigorous) hiring processes I’ve ever experienced. In doing so, he left a foundation that was easy to build on.

Step 1 – The Listing

I aimed to create a job description that was attention-grabbing while still accurately reflecting our wants and needs. I pulled ideas from postings at other web hosting companies, Netflix, Hulu, Google, and the listing that Justin created for my position.

Work Days and Hours –

The end goal is to get Tim and Jim away from support as much as possible, especially during Reclaim’s non-business hours. With that in mind, I came up with two different options for days.

Option 1 – a weekend and a weekday employee

This option presents some oversight and inclusion difficulties. Unlike Tim and Jim, I just don’t have the gumption to check in on Reclaim every single weekend.

Option 2 – split the days

This option allows for easier oversight and inclusion, more evenly distributes support tickets, and would give each person at least one weekend day off.

But, do the numbers validate us bringing in extra help? Or are there so few tickets coming in on nights and weekends that Tim and Jim could feel comfortable stepping away from support during those hours? What range of hours gives us the biggest bang for our buck? And do the numbers actually support my feeling that option 2 is optimal for ticket distribution?

Enter my endless use of spreadsheets and metrics.

After looking at the numbers my hunch about option 2 was correct and the greatest number of tickets come in during a span of hours that are fairly reasonable.  Thankfully we don’t receive a ton of tickets between 10 PM and 7 AM.

Compensation –

This was a decision for Tim and Jim to make, but I wanted to put together numbers that would allow them to easily make a decision. I pulled pay statistics from four different sources. Including information about differential percentages for evenings and weekends. True to form Tim and Jim were incredibly fair with the range they selected.

Step 2 – Evaluation Plan

Justin used a set of criteria to score different applicants during my hiring process. Jim didn’t think that we needed something quite as extensive for this search and I probably could have used the Indeed software. But, in the end, having my own spreadsheet and criteria was crucial to staying organized, consistent, impartial, and sane. A lot of the criteria had a threshold for rejection.  For anything above that threshold, I assigned a 1-5 score. Some of the criteria I looked at were:

  • Location – we were not willing to navigate the logistics of international employees, but remote workers in the US were fine. This requirement was in the job listing.
  • Assessment Score – Indeed.com provides a list of skills assessments.  I selected the one for Customer Service. After taking the assessment myself, I decided on an acceptable minimum score. Any applicant with a score below that number or those that simply didn’t complete the assessment did not continue on in the process.
  • Customer Support Years of Experience – the required minimum was 2 years. To score this criterion I looked at whether the years listed matched their resume and if the experience related to what they would be doing in their role at Reclaim.
  • WHMCS, cPanel, WHM, DNS, FTP, Apache, and/or PHP Years of Experience – We didn’t have an experience requirement. However, like the customer support criteria, I compared the listed years of experience to their resume and role.
  • Online Help Software Years of Experience – not to be redundant, but this was similar to the above two items.
  • Availability – Anyone that couldn’t work during the listed days and hours obviously wouldn’t work out.

Step 3 – Opening the Floodgates

I plopped everything into Indeed.com’s job posting area and opened the announcement. On the first full day that the application was open, we received 82 applications. Thankfully this pace slowed but we still ended up with 339 applicants at the end of the month-long posting.

Using my spreadsheet I was able to sort and select a list of the top 5-10 applicants to show Tim and Jim each week. We would review the apps and decide if we had follow-up questions or wanted to schedule an interview. What flabbergasted me about this part of the process was the number of unresponsive applicants or interview no-shows.  Even for remote interviews!

When all was said and done we found two new employees that fit nicely in with the organizational culture. They both have a unique set of technical and customer service oriented skills. The weight lifted by adding Danny and Chris to the team was felt almost immediately.

Lessons Learned

Having seen the response we received to the posting, I feel confident that if/when we hire at the Tier 1 level again we can increase the position requirements. Particularly by adding a required amount of experience with the different tools and platforms.

We had a lot of people say that they had years of experience with the listed technical tools (for lack of a better umbrella term). But it was difficult to figure out when or where they had gained this experience from their resumes. I’m inclined to think that one or more of these acronyms exist in another career field. So with that in mind, next time I will spell out each tool rather than provide a list of acronyms.

I will continue to keep a spreadsheet separate from Indeed’s interface. While it may have added burden it saved my bacon when Indeed changed the assessment scoring and again when they removed the schedule availability question. It allowed me to easily adjust my spreadsheet without having to rely on their software. This helped me to feel confident that I was giving all applicants a fair shake.

This process was a lesson in empathy for me.  In the past, I would get frustrated with HR folks during the hiring process. Why did an initial screening take so long? Why are all the applicants funneled to me seem so far off the mark? Why do I need to fill out a rubric for each applicant? Etc. I had no idea the effort that went into managing the applicants, scheduling, and follow-up. Time for a slice of humble pie.

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