Tech recruitment presents distinct challenges that set it quite far apart from recruitment for nontechnical roles. Software development roles in particular can be very complicated and challenging to hire for. How you assess your tech hiring needs from the start will dictate how successful you are at finding and closing tech talent.
This article discusses eight core principles in tech hiring that can help you in your search.
How Digital Transformation Changes How Businesses Hire for Tech Roles
There’s a plethora of job boards and websites in existence today in various international markets too, but you already probably know that hasn’t significantly made tech hiring any easier. In fact, the proliferation of job boards may have made it a bit more complicated to source for candidates due to processing the same task multiple times and fielding doubled applications. But that’s not your biggest problem. Your foremost concern is that you’re probably short on candidates to begin with and need help with the hiring process.
Ongoing globalization and democratization of technology has seen companies around the world increase the need for tech roles, but this explosion in demand isn’t being met with sufficient supply. The tech graduates and upskilled professionals will take some time to enter the market. It definitely won’t be as fast as setting up a company and posting a JD on LinkedIn.
At the same time, the rise of remote work has given that much more leverage to tech talent to demand hybrid or fully remote setups from companies looking to hire. You’re lucky if you can accommodate them, because otherwise, that shrinks your talent pool even further.
When assessing your hiring needs, you also need to take into consideration that tech roles are more easily impacted by digital transformation changes.
How Should You Assess Your Hiring Needs?
Hiring tech talent requires a careful combination of the business fundamental and technical considerations. Sure, you need to take into account your budget, but you also need to take a closer look at the tech stack for which you’re hiring. You need to consider which platforms you’ll actively source from, but you also need to make sure they’re ideal for the sort of candidates you want to find.
Deep Dive Into Business Needs
The fundamental question is, “What does the business need right now in terms of personnel?” From there, you can refine the line of questioning with some help from a senior technical personnel like a product or project manager, even a CTO.
For many tech recruitment efforts, you won’t need to start from the beginning. Usually, business needs have already been discussed and agreed upon by administration, and you’re then given roles you need to fill. If this is the case, then your current line of questioning relates to, “What sort of personnel do we need?”
The answer to that lies in a few factors:
The project itself. Not all software are created, or in this case developed, equal. Is the project for embedded software, or perhaps a standalone desktop program? Web apps and mobile apps can potentially be vastly different too, so you’re going to need clear direction and project specs.
The skills required. The projects specs should include the tech stack and methodology that’s going to be used, so align all skill requirements with those. You’re looking for programming proficiency in relevant coding languages and knowledge and experience in the tech stack the project will be using. Familiarity with the development methodology will also be a factor that drives team efficiency and productivity.
The team composition. If you’re starting from scratch, consult with a technical senior developer as mentioned earlier to plan out a software development team. If you have existing roles, consider if there are opportunities for restructuring existing teams or borrowing resources. Again, specific projects and methodologies may not have the same team members. PC software and mobile apps, for instance, are definitely not going to be composed of the same team members with the same skills. Even if they code in the same programming language, the skills sets of one are not readily transferable to the roles of the other.
Look Into Unfinished Projects and How Support Could Move Them Forward
For many businesses, software development may enter start-stop periods where development can stall or fail outright. The code base for projects is not immediately scrubbed for future use or reference, so there’s always a chance that hiring tech talent could restart unfinished projects, and it wouldn’t hurt to consider those when planning out your recruitment drive.
It’s added value indeed, but note that it would make your efforts much more difficult if unfinished projects are technically far removed from the project for which you’re hiring. Again, there should be careful consultation with a senior technical role on this matter.
8 Tips for Tech Hiring
If you’re ready to dive in, these core principles are of utmost importance. Take them and customize them for your purposes, and you’ve got a good starting point.
1.) Define the Process for Interviews
The all-important interview is a critically important part of the hiring process. It’s no exaggeration to say that a good interview has few alternatives when it comes to its efficacy in weeding out candidates who are only selling themselves and finding candidates who can actually do what they say they can do. Additionally, good interviewers can reveal so-called “whispering talents,” or those who do not immediately stand out and recruiters need to work on and analyze to realize they’re hidden gems.
The process for interviewing tech talent is a combination of the usual procedures with customization suited for technical roles. It is vital that the interviewer knows exactly what they’re asking, otherwise they might end up wasting everyone’s time and turning candidates off from the company. Not many things spell out incompetence more than a recruiter pretending they know what they’re doing only to ask irrelevant questions.
The interview process needs to incorporate internal policy but also reflect the brand experience, but most importantly, it needs to surface previous projects and hands-on experience that’s relevant to the project. Ask about and dig deep regarding programming languages, tools, methodologies, and frameworks that candidates have experience or expertise in, and always follow up with proof to back up claims.
One way you can prove a candidate’s proficiency is through a code review of a project or contribution that’s verifiably theirs. Ask a senior developer to help with code reviews, and you can uncover a lot about the candidates.
2.) Have Each Candidate Take a Skills Assessment
So what do you do? You carefully make sure you understand the assignment and pick specific skills tests and assessments that fit:
- The appropriate programming languages
- The appropriate roles (regarding where in the tech stack the candidate’s responsibilities will lie)
- The right levels of skill (senior or junior)
- The proper frameworks and practices
- The right development methodologies (e.g., Scrum, Agile)
- The proper platforms (e.g., embedded, stand-alone, mobile)
- Any other specs that may be required by the project or company
Clearly, you need to consult with a senior developer or technical leader who knows what you need.
One potential catch-all is a paid programming task, where two developers concurrently perform the role of coder and reviewer, and then switch roles, for a given task. It’s a face-to-face display of proficiency in a task very similar (or exactly the same) to what their roles are going to be doing, so it’s going to be near impossible to cheat. Additionally, it can simulate real-time demands and pressures that candidates will be facing in the role. Of course, you’ll need to make sure the paid programming task design actually achieves what you’re after and that it’s implemented in a way that doesn’t accidentally weed out promising talent.
3.) Take Into Account the Current State of the Job Market
In so many words, there’s a talent shortage, and nobody wants to work in an office all the time.
There’s a tech talent crunch out there, so you’ll be competing with large tech companies for the top talent, all over the world. At the same time, with the pandemic proving hybrid and remote working setups actually can work, especially for roles like software development, you’ll be faced with a lot of candidates who will prefer not to spend too much time in an office if they can help it. And because they’re in-demand, they have much more pull than you might be used to.
Additionally, because of a shortage of talent, you need to expand your sourcing (e.g., consider fully remote jobs), and also strongly curry favor from great candidates. You might think the first demand is higher pay, and you’re not off the mark, but for the top tech talent, what they would usually want is more autonomy, more say in the project, and more appreciation from the company and team.
Be prepared to offer something that appeals to these wants and needs, because it’s going to be stiff competition out there.
4.) Post Job Openings Across Multiple Websites
Obviously, it’s a good idea to post accounting jobs on AccountingJobs.com and software development jobs on an equally appropriate website, but as mentioned earlier, you have to expand your sourcing. Post job openings across multiple job sourcing websites and proactively reach out to people on social networks.
But the real key is structuring your approach. Your approach to posting on a specific platform should correlate to how much you expect to gain from the effort and always match their value propositions. For instance, some job boards are for remote-only positions, and others are more generalist (though usually with dedicated software development pages). Some places are only for premium, senior roles, while others are open to any level.
At the same time, centralize the effort. Make sure all candidates across all job postings end up in the same place if they decide to apply. Also make sure that even with slightly different approaches per job board or website, you still make sure you’re not inadvertently misrepresenting your job description details or hiring process.
6.) Outline the Interview Questions To Help Evaluation Criteria
This is important for tech recruiters because it’s not really often that a recruiter clearly knows how to properly evaluate a tech candidate. Even if a tech recruiter has senior developer experience, the candidates they’re looking for might be for an entirely different programming language, role, or methodology — or a combination of these.
Outlining interview questions helps evaluation criteria because you can map which question applies to which criteria. Tech roles are complex and overlapping, and the criteria for evaluating candidate suitability (and questions to be asked) can also be complicated and interrelated. Outline interview questions and map out how the answers are supposed to match with evaluation criteria to better understand how the questions are designed to find suitable candidates.
This endeavor needs to be guided by a senior technical leader or developer. The good news is, it’s a one-and-done affair. Once you consult with a subject matter expert, you can repeatedly use their insights as long as it applies to the situation.
Being knowledgeable about the questions and evaluation criteria will also reflect on your competency as a tech recruiter, which in turn leads to improved candidate experiences.
Speaking of excellent candidate experiences…
7.) Don't Forget About Candidate Experience
The top senior developers on LinkedIn receive dozens of contact requests and pitches a day — every single day. Most of them aren’t even a good match between the senior dev’s profile and the project for which they’ve been shortlisted. That is a good example of a bad candidate experience.
Worse, the recruiter might get it right, but during the process of hiring, the senior developer may encounter coding tests and questions that are ultimately not relevant to the role (and they should know, they’re senior devs!) while also being time-consuming. That’s a good way to turn a senior developer away from your company for good.
The candidate experience for tech talent is all about transparency, clarity, and accuracy. They want to get straight to the point, not waste time on specs that don’t fit, and definitely not waste time on skills tests and interviews that only prove your lack of due diligence or consultation with a senior technical leader.
There are some core concepts to stick to to ensure excellent candidate experiences for tech talent:
- Be on spec — Match the right profile with the right job opportunity.
- Don’t beat around the bush — Deliver a pitch like you would a software requirements specification document. You don’t need to sell them anything, they’ll see for themselves, and any hard pitching can potentially backfire.
- Be transparent about the process — In the same way developers typically don’t want to be sold a position, they also don’t want to be misled or given a black box to work with — they already do that a lot in their line of work!
- Bonus: try to meet their professional growth needs — The reason why many developers feel the need for more autonomy and say in projects is that many management methodologies spec them to a position where there’s little flexibility. Often, the autonomy and involvement they yearn for only becomes a reality once they reach the level of senior developer, so if you can somehow meet those needs, you can earn their trust.
8.) Consider a Remote First Approach To Widen the Applicant Pool
It’s a crowded market out there for tech recruiters. Demand far outstrips supply, and the situation will stay the same for the next few years. Many tech recruiters are expanding their nets byc onsidering outsourcing to international markets that are secondary priorities and offering more hybrid or remote setups for qualified candidates.
Obviously, those go hand in hand, and the common denominator is the remote-first approach. While software development by and large lends itself well to remote work, there are sectors in the industry where it is not recommended. Some examples are where the tech roles are vital for constant security and maintaining project uptime, especially for live projects with thousands of users at a time.
However, you can widen the applicant pool and address these potential difficulties at the same time by considering international markets that not only provide the technical expertise you need but are also close in proximity to the time zone in which you’re operating. Here at Revelo, for instance, the top tech talent we source from Latin America work in a time zone that is just one hour ahead of North America.
Most of the objections for outsourced or remote first approaches are easily resolved if you can guarantee team cohesion. Proximity in time zones is one such way to do so.
How To Fill Your Company Needs During an Economic Downturn
Markets around the world are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic and ongoing influences of various international issues. Against this backdrop, tech talent is in high demand, but supply is low, and you need to fill your open roles as efficiently as possible.
The information contained in this guide can help you get started, but if you need more comprehensive, expert counsel, Revelo can help solve your tech talent hunting issues. Revelo sources the best software development candidates in Latin America. Having worked with some of the top tech talent in the world, Revelo is perfectly positioned to help you build remote software development teams cost-efficiently.
Contact us and get matched with vetted developers within three days.
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