Recruiting technical talent isn’t easy, whether you have the background for it or not. But we have some tips to help you succeed nonetheless!
With new coding languages invented practically every year and different languages cycling in and out of popularity, it’s no surprise that companies are constantly looking for employees with not only a solid foundation but who are also willing and able to continually learn new languages. Sounds great in theory, but we get it: finding qualified tech talent is far from an easy task!
To give you an idea: only 6.4% of software developers are currently unemployed and looking for a job (hint: it’s the perfect opportunity to tap into the passive candidate pool), and according to Indeed.com, only 29.4% of employer demand for software architect jobs is being met.
Employers often settle for candidates to prevent burnout or use technical recruitment agencies and independent recruiters specializing in filling technical positions to navigate the talent shortage. That’s where you come in.
The Basics of Recruiting Tech Talent
Put yourself into the mindset of a technical recruiter.
Your job is to work with hiring managers to deeply understand their job requirements, communicate those requirements to qualified candidates, and sell an opportunity to place the candidate successfully. Responsibilities will vary depending on the organization’s size, how specialized their open roles are, and whether you’re using tools to assess candidates. Essentially, you’re playing matchmaker between talent and organizations, handling everything from sourcing to extending offers.
Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, you’ll probably still face several challenges, including:
- A high level of competition with other tech recruiters
- Identifying truly talented people
- General dislike of recruiters from the talent pool
Best Practices to Help You Recruit Tech Talent
The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to have a background in technology to start recruiting technical talent. Either way, it will take some work on your part, so we’re here to offer these strategies to help make the process just a little easier:
Do Your Homework
Tech companies want recruiters who know the industry, its jargon, and its specialized roles because they’ll naturally be able to speak the same language as candidates. So, make sure you’re up to date on technology, trends, standards, and risks, because the tech landscape is constantly evolving.
Even if you don’t have a background in tech, you just need to know the basics of your technology stack. Today’s resources make it easy to sign up for an online tech literacy class or coding bootcamp. You’ll be able to quickly screen resumes and be on the same page as the company and the candidates, which will help you make a better first impression, making it more likely to end up placing a candidate.
Plus, did you know that tech employees require a slightly different approach than other candidates? For one, 22% of developers don’t use LinkedIn but still receive several job offers each week. These are often for unrelated roles, which has caused candidates to become wary of or annoyed with recruiters. Also, keep in mind that more than 90% of tech talent is male, most are younger than 35, 57% of developers have less than 5 years of professional experience, and developers generally value their salary and equity more than additional benefits like gym memberships.
Refine Your Non-Tech Skills
Even though you’re filling technical roles, you’re still a recruiter, which means you need to have a lot of soft skills in your arsenal. Make sure to refine your decision-making, communication, presentation, negotiation, and listening skills.
Additionally, remember that unconscious bias exists so be sure to take active steps to eliminate that bias. For example, before recommending that a company advances or rejects a candidate, use a standard interview rubric and record assessments for the hiring team to review. This will help combat not only unconscious bias but also miscalibrated and inconsistent technical assessments.
Know Where to Find Talent
Passive candidates aren’t actively looking at job boards for their next opportunity, and most developers won’t be on LinkedIn. This means that you need to find out where they spend their time. Consider using tech community forums, local events, talent marketplaces, and Stack Overflow, GitHub, or other similar tech community websites.
Today’s digital tools can help you efficiently find candidates or automate repetitive tasks so you can focus on establishing a positive candidate experience. Send personalized, targeted messages to offer candidates relevant positions, and try to source diverse candidates.
Connect With Talent on a Human Level
Once you have interested candidates, you have to nurture those relationships, or else all that effort you had put in to get them to this stage goes to waste. This means conducting timely follow-ups, learning about the candidate’s motivations, and expressing (and ensuring!) that the opportunity meets their needs.
Also, candidates often withdraw when the interview process contains too many steps, interviewers are unprepared, or take-home assignments are too lengthy (more than 90+ minutes). Another common complaint is that assessments can feel impersonal, don’t test actual skills and day-to-day requirements of the job, or inaccurately reflect candidates’ skills and career goals.
Your client can gain a competitive edge by being more flexible with the interview process. Bypass unnecessary steps, like skipping the coding challenge for a Google or startup background engineer, and instead focus on testing their skills for product, collaboration, and leadership. Asking if the candidate would like to chat with someone in a leadership position (a CTO or VP of Engineering, for example) to get a better sense of the company would also help sell the opportunity.
The final stage where you’re making an offer or providing feedback to a candidate is also crucial. The offer-to-hire rate in San Francisco, New York, and Seattle is around 50%, so don’t expect your candidate to automatically say yes. However, if you have to reject a candidate, try to share unbiased company feedback with them. Not only will this improve their future interviews, but it will also help keep your candidate on good terms with the company, meaning they wouldn’t rule out working for the company (and with you) in the future.
Refine Your Hiring Strategies Accordingly
When reflecting on your own strategies, look at common metrics such as your time to fill a position, candidate engagement, quality of hire, cost per hire, source to hire, and offer to acceptance rates. You can then see what parts of your hiring strategy are or aren’t working and then optimize your recruiting process accordingly.
Want to discuss with other recruiters? Head on over to the Independent Recruiter Life community board to network and refine your strategies together!
Tony’s bread and butter is in recruiting top technical talent for early-stage and high-growth startups. His human-centric approach has made him an integral part of the recruiting teams at Uber, Tempo, Clockwise, Caption Health, Pear Therapeutics, Hippo Insurance, and many more. Alongside his work with Betterleap, Tony is also a talent consultant at one of Betterleap’s client organizations.