14 Things I’ve Learned in 3 Months of Recruiting Tech Talent

I’ve been recruiting developers for a few months now as the head of talent acquisition for a rising ecommerce software company in Connecticut. Since I‘ve spent the majority of my career as a vendor of online recruiting sites, my new role has given me a unique perspective on the job market for tech talent. I’ve taken a lot of my knowledge from the past and applied it to talent acquisition, trying to be as creative and efficient as possible when it comes to managing open requisitions and candidate flow.

Its been about 3 months since I started (yes I’m still running CareerCloud) and I just placed my first developer, a Lead .Net Architect. He came from a Craigslist posting and we made him an offer within 1 week of first contact. As I look back over the past several weeks, I’ve finally had a chance to reflect on what I’ve learned so far. Now you get the chance to learn as well.

1. Reaching out/connecting with developers is not easy if you don’t have a well known brand. Smaller companies like mine have to work a lot harder to break through. I have to keep building our employer brand every day. I’m constantly tweaking and adding things to our career site in order to “sell” the opportunity. It never stops.

2. Sourcing developers is an art not a science. The more customized and personal your initial message to them is, the more likely they will reply. Sourcing is also the most time consuming part of my day. It can be a time suck so I try to set aside a certain part of the day for that activity.

3. Following developers on social media is a helpful strategy. No, I haven’t recruited anyone off of Twitter yet but it has been useful in establishing a relationship with them and “getting on their radar”. Once I found a developer on twitter, replied to one of his tweets about something he said, and he replied back within a few hours. The next day, I noticed he had signed up for our career newsletter. Obviously, the interaction made him curious and he found his way to our career site to sign up.

I also recommend searching Google+ for developers (using boolean) and then adding them to a circle so you can keep track of them. Doing so also allows you to share an update and have it emailed to that circle (I believe the limit is 100 per day).

4. Job boards still work. I’ve gotten decent candidates from Indeed, Craigslist, LinkedIn, Dice and even one or two from places like Monster and The Ladders. Sites like Stackoverflow are good but not if you are recruiting in the middle of Connecticut.

5. The highest volume of resumes I receive, by far, come from the H1B candidates. The market seems flooded with them! We’ve interviewed several but their communication skills have left a lot to be desired. I estimate that 75% of all of the resumes I receive come from H1B candidates.

6. Most developers I talk to have multiple options…and they know it! One candidate (.Net guy) told me he got 40 emails in one week from recruiters. Then he actually showed me his gmail inbox for proof. I let out an exasperated sigh.

7. Some developers have egos and follow their own path. They are much harder to woo and motivate when it comes to your hiring process.

8. I’ve had little luck sourcing on Linkedin. Thats probably no surprise to most of you. Many developers don’t have updated profiles  If they do, good luck getting them to read your inmail. My open rate was maybe 10%. Out of all the candidates I was able to source, I only got one to actually interview. He removed himself out the process citing a long commute. Which brings up my other main problem with Linkedin—not showing what city the person lives in. I truly hate that!

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9. Stackoverflow and Github are helpful tools but I haven’t had much luck. My posting on Stack for a .Net developer in Connecticut only brought in 4 or 5 resumes and they were all candidates in other states. From a sourcing perspective, I was able to find a few decent candidates using Boolean searches.

Note: Stackoverflow has the best customer service of any job board I’ve dealt with, by far. I think if you have openings in New York City or other major tech hubs, you should have better luck.

10. Putting the phrase “work remotely” in your job title really helps. Do it, if that is an option.

11. Recruiting developers is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and patience. Be prepared. Repost your jobs every month. Tweak your job titles and descriptions.

12. There are lots of online “groups” for just about any skillset. Find them and use them. My 4 best sources are Meetup, Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin groups. But when you go there don’t just post jobs. Post useful information and become a trusted resource. The first thing I did when I found a .Net – Connecticut group on facebook was post a link to a podcast show about .Net that a developer candidate had mentioned to me. That link brought me some “street cred” with the members.

13. Gild is a cool tool for sourcing developers. I was able to try it out. The only problem for me was there weren’t many developers in my target location. The farther away your job is from a major city the less candidates you find. Its simple math. Pretty soon, people aggregators like Gild will be as ubiquitous as job boards.

14. You must move quickly! Once you have identified the right candidate you need to shorten the hiring process for them as much as possible. Remember, they’ll be gone in an instant.

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