Recruitment is hard. It has all of the challenges of sales and more as you are dealing with a number of people, intangible factors influencing the decision, and innumerable unknown background influences on behaviors and actions of companies, hiring managers and candidates.
Technical hiring is perhaps the most difficult form of recruitment as on top of the above, recruiters are tasked with working in a complex world with constantly changing terminology and technologies, a highly dynamic and competitive talent environment, and extremely discerning candidates.
Even the most experienced recruiters can get lost when recruiting for technical positions but there are some key tactics recruiters can pursue to be successful in this specific domain.
1. Know your talent markets
Not all companies and roles are created equal and it is imperative in technical hiring to know your talent markets. Understanding the relative strengths of companies in your market, the types of technical challenges they are facing, and the quality of their employees can help you identify those candidates who not only have the skills on paper but have the capability to meet the requirements of the role and company you are working for. In addition to this, understanding your company’s competitive position in the market when it comes to areas like compensation and benefits, employee popularity and brand association is valuable to craft the right messaging and recognize those areas where you have the best chance of competing.
2. Expand and narrow your talent pools
Being an elite sourcer is important when it comes to technical hiring. Depending on the role this can necessitate the ability to either expand your talent pool and find new avenues and edge cases. Recruiters can consider alternative paths to certain roles and titles, different keyword and Boolean combinations, sourcing in alternative areas like Github, Behance and social media and more. At the same time, understanding how to narrow a talent pool to identify those candidates who may be best suited is valuable at times too – leveraging increasingly tight searches, consider company history and company profiles, recognizing technical projects that would align well and holistic profile evaluation helps to cut through the noise of a vast candidate pool and connect with those who may be both attracted to and aligned with your company.
3. Work with your hiring manager
Technical hiring can often end with recruiters working on roles that are new to them or with subtle differences from ones that they have recruited from before. The relationship between a hiring manager and a recruiter is massively important in technical hiring. Recruiters should work with hiring managers to understand the plan for this role and the type of person who would fit well beyond the core elements of the job spec. As well as this, recruiters should act as advisors to hiring managers giving them insights into the talent landscape and the complexity of hire to recognize where concessions may be required or how best to approach a role. Finally, hiring managers should be leveraged as a key part of candidate engagement and conversion to speak to candidates as peers and build on what recruiters have detailed to prospective candidates.
4. Know your profile of hire
Tied to the above is your ability to understand your profile of hire beyond the top level of key technologies. Are there common characteristics about the candidates that are hired for this role that can help fill in some blanks about who they hire? This may be something immediately associated with sales and ops roles rather than with technical hiring where hard skills are explicitly required for certain roles. Despite this, understanding the typical trajectory of past hires, the soft skills and additional experience they may have held, additional technologies and tooling, and beyond can help you refine your sourcing, collaborate with hiring managers and screen candidates more effectively while helping them understand the fit with their profile.
5. Know your stuff and speak the language
6. Cut through the noise
Technical hiring is most commonly taking place in highly competitive markets. Candidates are inundated with recruitment outreach and often look to escape the platforms like LinkedIn due to the noise. Having the ability to cut through this noise is essential to success to begin those conversations at the top of the recruitment funnel. Combining your knowledge of the market and competitors, your profile of hire, the role and the technical ecosystem can help you craft compelling messaging that both demonstrates authority and clarity and answers questions quickly on candidate fit and opportunity. In addition to this, it is necessary to build recruitment collateral to stand out whether that is in the form of short podcasts and videos, hiring manager infographic, tech stack breakdowns and beyond. When based on a solid knowledge foundation and understanding of the role and candidate, recruiters can experiment with the medium to find the best approach to engage and attract potential candidates.
7. Smooth the process and be an advocate
As mentioned above, technical hiring often takes place in highly competitive markets and efficiency is vital in the recruitment process. This starts at the very beginning in deciding your sourcing strategy and having the right knowledge and insights to guide this, through the engagement and qualification, by having access to the right resources and content to convert candidates and the right materials to quickly screen them and finally through the interview process – in streamlining interviews, feedback and overall pipeline management. It is a delicate balancing act to maintain the right volume and focus of activity to deliver a result while delivering an excellent candidate experience throughout, and swiftly reaching a decision to ward off potential competing offers.
8. Leverage the right recruiting tools
Recruiters don’t have to go it alone. Technical hiring is challenging enough without making use of the right recruitment tools to support your day to day. Beyond the core tools across candidate database, applicant tracking system, candidate relationship management and jobs board it is quite a contextual decision based on the budget of companies, the skillsets of recruiters, the volume and type of roles hired for and more. The best tools are those that allow recruiters to be more productive and engage with candidates and internal stakeholders in a more informed manner. These tools could be company solutions or more personal resources but the right infrastructure can enable a recruiter massively and give them an advantage in this highly demanding field.
9. Build a community
The talent pool for most technical skill sets is not a large one when compared to demand. A key tactic for technical recruitment is community building and maintaining a candidate network. This can be pursued by companies but recruiters should look to cultivate their own communities. This can be done through a combination of strong candidate experience, community engagement, event and meetup attendance, content creation, and candidate offboarding from interview processes. It pays to be nice and build relationships for future opportunities as it is likely you will end up targeting similar profiles and will want to have left the previous conversation or touchpoint with a positive impression.
10. Learn, refine and sweat the data
Technology and technology roles are continually evolving and to be successful in technical hiring, recruiters must have a growth mindset and be constantly looking to learn and refine. The best recruiters will be looking to be knowledge-led and be incorporating new data points to refine their strategy and tactics throughout the process. These data points can emerge suddenly in the form of new market events, market entrants or shifts in hiring or as a result of your efforts as you identify new talent pools, sourcing strategies, shift the profile of hire, and more. Equally, recruiters should be looking to analyze the data through the recruitment funnel and identify bottlenecks and “at risk” areas to rectify. Looking to incorporate both external and internal data and constantly looking to optimize will help recruiters close the immediate headcount and improve their performance for the future.
As mentioned, technical hiring has all of the challenges of recruitment combined with its own layer of complexity. To be successful, recruiters need to have a combination of the right knowledge and insights, be highly systemized, and leverage creativity. The above tactics can help recruiters in achieving this.