Phase 1 of Hiring, Getting from 0-30

Towards the end of 2017, we reopened hiring on the mobile team at Automattic which had been shut since the start of the year as we got things in order. I think of this as phase 1 of hiring on the team – nailing the basics of the process, and making some progress with diversity numbers.

An up front note about diversity: Diversity is more than gender, and gender is not binary. However whilst acknowledging the limitations and flaws, we can use gender as metric as to how our hiring process is doing with respect to inclusion. We can use it as an indicator for diversity at every phase in the process, and use that to identify where we can improve the process for everyone.

For reference, I was the first woman on the team, which was ~24 people when I joined at the end of 2016. When we opened hiring, there were two women, although both in leadership positions – this helps a lot.

The TL;DR of how our funnel looked at the end of phase 1 is this. You can see that using our raw (and flawed) metric, the diversity improves at every step in the process. This makes sense given that data shows women hold themselves to higher standards when applying for jobs.

Q4 20173 people
Q1 20185 people
Q2 20182 people
Q3 20185 people
Q4 20181 person

Revamping the Process

Whilst we didn’t change any of the steps in the process, we did revisit each one and improve it.

  • We revisited our job postings to appeal to a broader spectrum of people, emphasising impact and collaboration. The job postings now score 95 and 96 in Textio.
  • We diligently posted a hiring stats update each month (the way we review all our projects on the team regularly!), breaking down progress at each step of the process. Monthly was a good cadence for this – it allowed us enough data to make good decisions, but short enough timeframes to meaningfully iterate.
  • We standardized code tests with checklists of what we were looking for, what was necessary, what was nice to have. This also helps us give better feedback.
  • At Automattic, everyone who is hired does a (paid) trial project where we work together to determine mutual fit. We treated our trial projects as a pre-onboarding. Every new hire has completed a shippable feature and has meaningful interactions with at least three people on the team.
  • Previously, onboarding had been inconsistent and hit-or-miss. We got serious about onboarding, identifying good first projects and teams, and working to make sure every new hire felt welcome and set up to succeed.

Successes

  • 31% of our new hires are women.
  • We added teammates in six new countries: Chile, Turkey, Germany, Serbia, Hong Kong, and Ireland.
  • 63% of new hires speak English as a second language.
  • We added three languages to the ten already spoken on the team (helpful for internationalization!): Hebrew, Serbian, and Polish.
  • Outreach:
    • WordCamps – we presented at WordCamps in Montevideo, Montreal, and Taipei, as well as WCEU and WCUS.
    • People from the team also presented at various local meet-ups and ThatConference.
    • We hosted a Women’s Brunch at 360AnDev.
    • I did my usual slate of presentations and started writing for Quartz.
    • Eli (the new mobile lead) and I did a webinar with Women Who Code in both English and Spanish!
    • I did an interview with GitPrime about our hiring and onboarding process, and Amanda followed up by sharing her own experience.

Areas for Improvement

Whilst we’re pleased with the progress we made in phase 1, it’s clear we have more work to do. 2019 marks the start of phase 2, where we will be focusing on:

  • Racial diversity.
  • Under-represented geographies based on our user base: APAC and Brazil in particular.
  • LGBT.
  • Gender diversity.

We’re also keen to take advantage of the openness that working in Open Source allows – so we’re supporting our teammates in sharing more about their work online and IRL at events.

If you liked this post, you might also like being part of our team: we’re hiring.


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