A technical recruiters job isn’t always like recruiting for other roles and requires a particular set of skills. Alongside engineers and sales people, in my experience, tech hiring is one of the toughest markets to recruit in and to do so consistently, requires an innovative and well thought out talent attraction strategy. Despite this challenge, a lot of companies still rely on the same strategies they have been using year over year – agency submissions, regular job postings, and social media messaging.
While using the "standard" talent attraction strategy can, and will, generate candidates seeking careers in technology, however, it is likely going only to produce active candidates or those on the verge of becoming active. The truly passive candidate is not speaking to an agency, is not looking through job boards, and is not checking their LinkedIn daily and will continue to allude you.
In the current climate, quality talent is what gives your organisation its strategic edge over your competition. To ignore your talent acquisition strategy is to accept that your business will not attract the best talent and likely not meet its objectives. In this article, I am going to explore ways in which you can revamp your strategy for attracting technology candidates, and create an environment that ensures continuous improvement and thought leadership.
The first area that is critical for launching a successful recruitment strategy is moving away from those built around the ‘recruiter mindset’, focus instead on the ‘candidate mindset’. A recruiter mindset is a recruiter-centric approach such as, the recruiter posts the role where the recruiter thinks candidates will be and what the recruiter thinks is attractive about the position.
We need to be identifying, ‘where does the candidate hang-out' and 'what interests the candidate’. In the technology industry, it’s relatively easy for us to gain this knowledge as there are two well publicised networking sites/code depositories that we can source and approach through – StackOverflow and GitHub. Both of these have significantly large user bases and provide greater insight into the candidate. Ready to sell your particular role to them? First, understand what site, code, challenges and questions they are contributing and then tailor your approach accordingly. Build your knowledge of their contributions to these sites and customise personalised tech-focused messages and break away from the ‘I saw your profile on LinkedIn and thought it was good’ approach and move into a tailored, personalised and informed method.
Understanding the complementary tools such as Sourcehub, Recruit’em and Prophet will allow you to x-ray sites, like StackOverflow and GitHub, for tech hiring. These act in a similar way to what you might be doing on LinkedIn. When combined, these websites and tools offer you a much more powerful way to identify, explore and engage with tech candidates. They will undoubtedly lead to increased responses, better qualified and more engaged candidates when compared to those sourced using the ‘recruiter mindset’. If you are recruiting for tech jobs and have significant challenges, perhaps it’s time you considered revamping your strategy with some of the 'candidate mindset' ideas shared.
The second revamp that will significantly improve your ability to recruit for tech jobs it is to engage in industry events and meetups. Few industries tailor this networking appropriately, and a quick search for events in your target market area will bring up numerous results. Whilst attending these events is certainly beneficial, hosting and promoting your own is what sets you apart.
Looking to use the latest programming language, or do you have the integration of it in your roadmap for the year ahead? Do you know you’re going to be recruiting for a specific technology in the future? Start hosting events focused on the particular technology your company is looking to begin using today! Through promotion and continued engagement pre-post event, you will build a healthy pipeline of high-quality talent within your talent community. I have seen companies realise success, being able to take their pick of Scala developers, within reason, while other companies continue to struggle.
The above two methods may be new to recruiters reading this; however, even the traditional methods that we are all familiar with can (and should) be revamped for technical recruitment. Let’s start with advertisements – copying and pasting a job description is one of the least effective ways in which to recruit candidates. I’m sure many of us have uploaded one only to be inundated with irrelevant candidates that we need to sift through and finding we’ve made no progress afterwards – but how do we make them better?
If you scroll through LinkedIn news feeds often enough I’m sure you’ve come across a ‘coded job description’. Essentially the posting is written as it would be coded, and created to attract the attention of those candidates that can ‘read’ the advertisement. These are also the candidates that can do the job – thus the ad certainly stands out and can filter out candidates not already equipt to do the job.
You can even take it up a notch by going one step further as companies such as Google and MI5 have. That is to rent out billboards (or another medium) and hide a job advertisement or set of challenges within them. Upon deciphering you are re-directed to the company’s career page and invited to apply. Now, I’m not saying this is the right approach for every technical candidate – but for data teams, hackers, even developers, there are ways in which to tailor this per your demands.
There are many other areas I could cover, themes such as personalising every outreach, being honest and transparent, managing the role expectations vs. market reality. These are all critical to ensuring your technical recruitment is a success and if they aren't part of your current strategy they should form the initial revamping. Follow this with adjusting your mindset and understanding where the target candidates ‘hang out’. Make sure to create and engage with your talent community while innovating the traditional methods you use. The different approach and use of tools will allow you to be significantly more successful as a technical recruiter.
Luke is a recruitment business partner and co-lead of WilsonHCG’s Sourcing 2.0 committee. Having graduated from the University of Essex with a degree in history, he began his career within IT recruitment, specialising within the testing and QA space. Luke decided to make the move into a RPO as he considered it a stronger value adding proposition for clients whilst also allowing him to have a greater influence from a strategic perspective. Since joining WilsonHCG, Luke has worked globally for a range of Fortune 1000 companies, covering a wide array of job functions whilst maintaining his personal interest in technology.