Talent Acquisition

Avoid These Outdated Tactics When Recruiting Technical Talent

The demand for talented developers is at a fever pitch, and the supply just isn’t there to meet it. With 87 percent of developers stating that they’re currently employed and only 13 percent actively looking for their next job, it would be easy to conclude that growing your engineering team this year is essentially an impossible task.

However, keep in mind that over 75 percent of the developers who responded to the Stack Overflow 2017 Developer Hiring Survey, which fielded responses from more than 64,000 developers, told us that they’re interested in hearing from recruiters about job opportunities. While that doesn’t change the fact that technical hiring is a unique challenge, it does show that you can find great developers—if you’re willing to change your approach to recruiting them.

Here are a few of the most common (and outdated) recruitment tactics that you should avoid when you need to fill some critical openings on your engineering team.

Impersonal and untargeted recruitment emails

When you’re under tight deadlines to hire developers, relying on email templates can seem like an ideal way to save yourself a few precious minutes. However, developers pay close attention to every email they receive—and if there’s any hint that you haven’t personalized your message, they won’t hesitate to hit “delete” and move on with their day. Your initial recruitment email is often the first (and only) opportunity to make a positive first impression on a candidate, so it’s important to make it clear that your message was written just for them.

Start by using the candidate’s name in your greeting, and make sure that you’ve spelled it correctly. Additionally, do some research about their background, and point out a few things you’ve admired about their previous work that’s led you to believe that they would be a strong match for one of your open positions. Not only will these details flatter them, but it will also show the candidate that you’ve taken an interest in helping them meet their career goals.

Recruiting without a basic knowledge of technology terms

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a developer who insists that you take a coding exam before you begin recruiting them. Developers care deeply about their craft, but they don’t expect you to know as much about programming as they do. But while they’re empathetic to the fact that your job is to identify technical talent, they still want recruiters to have a basic knowledge of the technologies that their open positions require.

When it comes to displaying a basic understanding of technical terms, there’s a fine line that recruiters need to navigate. On the one hand, you shouldn’t recite every single programming language you’ve ever heard of to show developers you’ve “mastered” the ins-and-outs of their jobs. But on the flip side, you do need to show them that you understand how the programming languages you’re recruiting for are relevant to the job you need to fill. If you’re ever unsure of how the required technical skills for your open developer roles are related, don’t be afraid to ask one of your current engineers or an engineering manager for additional clarity.

Interview questions related only to their coding aptitude

Relationships are crucial in developer hiring. Programmers have no shortage of job opportunities, but they’re highly selective and are far more responsive to recruiters who take the time to get to know what makes them tick. Of course, your job is to evaluate their technical capabilities, but the best recruiters understand that developers are real people with real career goals and concerns—and that they want to be treated as such.

In addition to asking them about their technical aptitude, sprinkle in a few questions about their interests outside of work. Be wary of getting too personal and asking questions that are illegal, but if you know that a candidate has a particular hobby or side project, make sure that you give them the opportunity to share details about those things as well. Having non-technical conversations during the recruitment process can set you apart from the competition, especially as companies of all sizes and industries find themselves in need of talented developers.

About the author: Rich Moy is a Content Marketing Writer and Developer Hiring Expert at Stack Overflow, where he covers the latest in tech recruiting and hiring. When he’s not writing, Rich can be found spending time with his wife, watching his favorite college football team with his dad, or training for his first marathon.

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