Hiring software developers: Strategies and Talentry best practices

Whenever I talk to recruiters or HR professionals from my network about the challenges of modern tech recruiting, they always reach the same conclusion: “Traditional, reactive recruiting is history. Be proactive and creative! Build relationships and candidate networks with (mostly) passive candidates!”

The competition for quality candidates, and especially software engineers, most of whom are passive job seekers, is fiercer than ever. How can you attract software developers and awaken their interest in your company?

When no one is actively searching, creativity is king

According to the most recent Stack Overflow Global Developer Hiring Landscape, only 15.9% of all software engineers are active job seekers. That means all the well-known recruiting activities such as job board postings are reaching very few engineers and even smaller numbers of a much larger talent pool. Most (59.8%) job seekers are open to proposals but passive. Tech recruiters need different and more creative strategies to convince them.


What do developers want from an employer?

It’s not just money. True, overall compensation and the tech stack take first and second place in order of attractions. But career potential, the office environment, and company culture, as well as home office options, also play a significant role. In fact, these are the Top 5 decision drivers.


A 2-step strategy

What do these findings mean for your recruiting initiatives? How can you catch passive candidates’ attention, and keep it for the long term? How can you as an employer provide the desired tech stack information developers want to see at a glance? I want to discuss two different ideas you should think about in this context and show you how we have put them into practice at Talentry.


1. Present your corporate culture in a catchy, authentic way and communicate details about the tech team and environment

Before all your tech recruiting efforts to start, you need to complete one critical task: Come up with an authentic company story and provide the insights into your company culture that will make developers want to be a part of it. At Talentry we have an employer branding video on our career page and on our Stack Overflow company profile that has already generated lots of positive feedback from developers, largely because they see it as authentic and appealing. We discovered that this was actually driving their motivation to apply or respond to the message we had sent them on LinkedIn, for instance.

Since developers are always curious about the technologies and frameworks in use when assessing a job, we also created a product team page that informs potential candidates at a glance about our tech stack. Every single product team member has their photo on the page, which helps create a strong, initial emotional connection.

Take a look for yourself: http://b9v5o8z.myraidbox.de/team-product/ 


2. Stay in touch with sourced candidates who signal interest in your company

At Talentry, we source candidates on different platforms across all departments. We also try to add a personal touch to our messages, especially for vacancies in the product and engineering teams. We always try to make those messages stand out from our competitors, aka other recruiters. And we realized on more than one occasion that personalization really pays off in terms of above-average response rates.

Referring to the current individual Tech Stack of the developer approached and pointing to the parallels we see when looking at our tech stack is essential. Moreover, we explain for every position what challenges we have ahead technology-wise and what kind of projects we plan to implement in the near future. We experienced that following this personalized approach resulted in an average response rate of 30%. We often receive also replies from candidates who are currently not open to a career change but telling us that they would like to stay in touch for future opportunities.

Even so, every recruiter knows that receiving a response from a potential candidate does not mean that he or she will join your candidate loop with immediate effect. I bet every HR professional knows that timing is everything–especially when it comes to active search.


Proactive relationship building starts early

An interested candidate might tell you that he or she is currently not open to a career change, but that person might also inform you that this could change within the next few months. And this gives you a starting point for possibly forming a long-term connection with the candidate. His or her interest in your company is already there. The challenge now is to convince the passive talent to start the interview process.


Digital support

To keep track of the candidate pools it makes sense to use tools for Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) and active search, for instance on LinkedIn. Browser extensions, for example, make it efficient to add candidate profiles from business or social networks to a talent pool. A CRM enables you to mark them with tags, which you can use for powerful search capabilities or you can leave notes. Whatever solution you might choose, make sure it’s GDPR-compliant.

In my experience, persistence definitely pays off. Getting in touch with candidates you have in your pools on a regular basis and saying ‘Hi!’ at different times will boost your chances of the right timing. In this context, I remember several candidates from abroad who were not able to change their job due to personal or family-related reasons thus not being able to leave their home country. Keeping with them in touch and telling them what is going on in the company, helped to become their first point of contact they remembered when thinking about taking the big step to relocate to another country or continent. I am absolutely sure that sooner or later you will succeed in getting a formerly passive candidate into your active recruiting pipeline with this approach.


Creating desire is the key

There is, in short, no other way for recruiters to think about creative and less reactive approaches to attract developers in today’s job markets. Build a company story and communicate your culture in such a way that you make developers want to join you. You should also consider creating candidate pools and thus maintaining relationships with a passive talent for the long term. The time will come when passive candidates who hear from you regularly and have an existing connection with your company will say: “Yes, now I am ready for a change. Let´s talk!”.

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