The final phase was a six-month work-for-hire period. SPR Consulting hired seven candidates from the boot camp as entry-level automation engineers to work under the direct guidance of Morningstar senior automation engineers. During the contract-for-hire period, SPR and Morningstar monitored the work performance of each contractor.
“There was definitely a learning curve,” says Whaley with a chuckle. “The first month was the honeymoon period. The second month, that’s when the work really got challenging.” Whaley points out that, for many candidates, this was their first job. “We knew these candidates had it in them,” adds Whaley. “We spent time with our managers figuring out what each person needed to succeed. And Nancy immediately stepped in to help.”
Oleksii “Alex” Liulka, one of the seven contractors, was no exception. “The first month, you didn’t get thrown on a project, you had some assignments with guidance. The second month, that’s when you entered the deep water,” he says. “But my main objective was to succeed, so I just put in the work, day by day, and I learned how to manage it all.”
At the end of six months, Morningstar reviewed the performance of each contractor, performed hiring interviews, and made full-time job offers. Based on their budget, Morningstar hired six candidates as fulltime employees. By all measures, it was a very successful program for addressing the talent shortage.
“I think one of the key success factors was the Automation Boot Camp,” says Whaley. “We could recruit and train people in a customized, tailored program, based on our test automation framework, business, methodology, and culture.” The result was a group of primed candidates with the knowledge to be productive from Day One. “We told our business owners, ‘Hey, you can wait two months for a candidate and do some of the training, or you can hire someone right away and lose headcount over time when they don’t work out.’ Now they get it.” In fact, some managers were so convinced that they asked to hire their SPR candidates before the 6-month trial period was up.
“The partnership with SPR Consulting was awesome, they really helped us solve a problem,” Whaley continues. “Nancy and her team participated throughout, right from the beginning to understand our unique culture, tailor the program, and screen for the right kinds of candidates – all the way through. Nancy would even come to have lunch with the candidates to offer emotional support and understand their concerns.”
“In the end,” Whaley concludes, “SPR helped us find people who really wanted it, who have the hunger to do this kind of work.”
“I can truly say,” adds now-employee Liulka, “that Morningstar is the first place where I enjoy coming to work every day. The people are absolutely great: everyone is ready to help you; if you have questions, you always have people to ask; and you’re not micromanaged, you get a task and get it done.”
It’s fair to say that Liulka speaks for all new SDET employees when he says, “Thank you, SPR and Morningstar, for giving us a chance. I am so grateful that they gave us this opportunity and invested the time in us.”
Mark Twain also said, “Necessity is the mother of taking chances.” Morningstar and SPR Consulting took a chance on a new hiring process, and it seems to be paying off for everyone involved.