The Ultimate Playbook for Sourcing Engineering Talent Fast
A complete guide on how to find and hire tech talent in this hypercompetitive and ever-changing market.
The huge employment gap in the tech world was evident long before the pandemic. Covid-19 just moved things fast-forward, making the world shift to remote work while diminishing the borders of working locally. The world has become a large talent pool, and the competition for top tech talent is fiercer than ever.
With numerous opportunities opened for tech talent worldwide, knowing how to hire tech talent, finding and hiring the perfect fit has become a mission impossible. Companies need a better strategy for finding tech talent and a more effective hiring process.
This in-depth guide will help you create a strong strategy for finding and hiring software talent fast.
Note: This is the first part out of three. You can find the second part ‘The Ultimate Playbook for Interviewing Software Talent’ and the third part ‘The Ultimate Playbook for Scaling Engineering Talent Fast’ on the hyperlinks.
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What Makes It Hard to Hire Tech Talent
In this technology-driven world, there’s a huge employment gap when it comes to tech talent. More and more vacancies are constantly opened with no top engineering talent to fill them.
With the Covid-19 pandemic stirring up the digitalization process across companies of all sizes, the competition for tech talent became fiercer and additionally emphasized the global tech talent shortage. And if your hiring process takes too long, before you know it, you might find your perfect fit accepting another offer.
Why is it so hard to hire strong tech talent?
Tech Talent Shortage
With the world going remote and all talent markets blending into one large talent pool, the competition for qualified tech talent is fiercer than ever.
According to Gartner, Covid-19 has sped up tech adoption by at least five years, with more than 58% of workforces reporting massive skill transformations since the start of the pandemic. It doesn’t come as a surprise that based on the 2021 McKinsey Global Survey, 87% of organizations are currently experiencing a talent shortage or will feel the shortage in the coming years.
Pandemic aside, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projection, 1.4 million job positions are expected to open up in the technology field while only 400,000 students are graduating computer science a year. That’s three job openings for every engineer who is looking for a job.
Long and Inefficient Hiring Processes
Tech companies strive for precision as their hiring strategy for software engineers, not speed. So, to ensure a proper fit for a given position, they take candidates through several interviews, tech challenges and finally, approval from a few different managers. This process can take weeks or even months.
According to a detailed study conducted by LinkedIn’s Economic Graph team, technical positions in engineering are filled out in a median of 49 days. Moreover, the slowest 10% of hires in the engineering talents sector took 82 days, while the fastest 10% took 16 days after application. The analysis was made on 400K confirmed hires on the platform that involved applicants who applied for jobs from June 2020 to March 2021.
With an abundance of opportunities to choose from, chances are that senior candidates won’t be very patient with a hiring process that’s too long and inefficient.
Now that the whole world is familiar with the concept of working remotely, limiting your sourcing playbook and hiring to a single location makes less sense than ever. Many companies are taking advantage of remote work and are expanding their hiring globally. Not getting on that wagon means facing additional talent shortage while many of your potential local candidates take on jobs with remote companies.
Inability To Keep Up With Rapid Technology Innovation
Year over year, technology is rapidly evolving and with it, the entire tech market is in constant change. Inability to keep up with the new technologies can make it impossible for recruiters to hire the right people for the job. This asks for walking the extra mile when recruiting for a new job position. How well recruiters understand the needed skills, potential alternatives and relevant experience can determine the success of the hire.
Passive Job Seekers
With the tech skill shortage and all of the global opportunities that opened up for tech talent worldwide, the tech job market has completely shifted. Senior tech talent is rarely actively looking for a job. They are usually open to new opportunities, but companies need to do a better job than ever in convincing potential candidates that they're worth their time.
Looking for Purpose in Work
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic has inspired people everywhere to reflect on their life and work purposes. According to 2021 McKinsey research, 2 out of 3 US-based employees reported that the global pandemic has caused them to rethink their purpose, and 70% said that their work mainly defines their purpose in life.
There are more job opportunities for skilled tech talent nowadays than can be filled and location restrictions are slowly disappearing. So today’s candidates don’t want just another job. They want to join a mission, to leave a footprint in the world by becoming part of a purpose-driven company.
Lacking a clear vision and values that resonate with your candidates can be one more reason for not seeing good traction when posting a job position.
Finding Tech Talent in a Hypercompetitive Market
The tech skills shortage has made the professional market more aggressive and a good recruitment strategy is a key for attracting top tech talent. The entire situation entails that recruiters need to be very detailed when selecting the right tech candidate sourcing in order to meet hiring expectations.
In the last few years, the tech market has become hyper-competitive and companies are working on their strategies for reaching and hiring top tech talent.
10 Strategies to Help You Find Top Tech Talent
In the following chapter, you’ll learn some tips and tricks for finding and hiring the top tech talent your company needs to stand out from its competitors on the saturated market. Here is a list of 10 helpful strategies to make your organization unique:
Build Your Talent Brand
According to Glassdoor, around 70% of people look at online employer reviews before making a career decision. Having a clear brand online that shows your values and principles will take you a long way. Help your future employees understand what makes your company special and why they should join you.
The most important thing to demonstrate when building your brand is your why. Why does the company exist? What change are you making in the world? Communicate your vision and core values clearly in a way that can attract potential candidates who want to contribute to the same purpose.
Next, show some social proof as you would if you were trying to attract new customers. Employee testimonials give first hand information to potential candidates about what it’s like to work for your company. Aim to use external websites for this purpose like Glassdoor, Trustpilot or Google reviews - seeing that the employees have added the review themselves and it’s not sugar coated increases trust in potential candidates.
You can go a step further and make your employees your brand ambassadors. People who are happy in an organization are naturally advocating for it. You can add some incentives like referral bonuses to additionally motivate them.
Finally, learn where your potential candidates go, what they do and what they read. This can help you promote your brand in the right places. Present your company at tech conferences, organize meetups, sponsor virtual events, and publish content your target audience would read.
If you need some extra inspiration about creating your brand, take a look at Airbnb’s branding story. They do a great job emphasizing their purpose and creating their whole brand around it.
Invest In Your Recruitment Team
With the rapid tech innovation and ever-changing industry, it’s paramount that tech recruiters keep up to date with new technologies and upcoming industry trends. How deep they understand what they’re hiring for will define their success. Having this in mind, it’s key that you invest in your recruitment team and make sure they have a structured way to keep learning.
As a first step, define your talent personas and make sure everyone in your recruiting team is well aware of the type of candidate they’re going after. They should understand what their potential hires are looking for, what concerns they might have about joining your organization etc. This will help your team prepare well and address all potential issues with the candidates early on.
Next, organize ongoing training sessions to educate your recruiting team on the technologies they’re hiring for. They should understand how the tech stack works, what technologies are interconnected, and whether they can substitute one skill with another.
Understanding the talent persona and the technologies they’re hiring for will help recruiters in all stages of the hiring process: sourcing the right talent, evaluating candidates and conducting effective initial interviews.
As most tech talents are passive job seekers, your recruiting playbook strategy should rely on building relationships. A potential candidate should know that your organization clearly understands their career goals and will only make an offer if it’s a good fit. The first step is to initiate the connection and then to nurture it until the candidate is ready to jump on board.
Every candidate that applied for a current or past job opening, as well as everyone that your recruitment team contacted, is a potential employee. So, you need to start building relationships from the moment of first contact with your applicants. Building and maintaining a relationship requires building trust and having genuine conversations, respect, and honest follow-through.
Be as transparent as possible when reaching out to potential candidates. Share as much as you can about the project, budget and other relevant details. It will demonstrate that you appreciate their time and you’ll start building initial trust.
For the candidates that take the step forward, the initial interview should feel like a genuine conversation, not an interrogation. Understand what they’re looking for in their next job and be honest if your position is not the right fit for them. It’s better to avoid bad hires than to deal with the ensuing problems later on.
Finally, do not burn bridges because you didn’t have time to send a follow-up email. Always reach out to people with feedback, even if the answer is a hard ‘no’. People appreciate honesty and transparency more than anything. A simple reply would offer an open door for you in the future. Over time, you’ll build your talent network and you could easily reach out to them for new positions.
Write Clear Job Descriptions
The job description is the first contact a potential hire has with your company. It’s important to make sure it’s not purely technical, but it paints a picture about you as a company.
Start with a description of your company that’s focused on your purpose and culture. Make sure the person reading it can understand the impact you aim to make in the world. Candidates that apply because they align with your values are not only going to be good for the tech tasks, they will be ambassadors for your company.
In addition to this, a good job description should clearly state the required tech stack and the skills a candidate needs to be considered a good fit. Don’t get into the temptation to put down as many skills as possible, thinking it will make you look more professional. This could turn away potentially strong candidates. Only look for the must-have skills and leave space for the person to learn on the job.
Finally, publish the budget or a suitable range for the position so the candidates know what to expect. This will show your transparency and help you build trust with potential hires.
Create Effective Application Process
You can easily lose potential candidates if your application process is too complicated. Senior tech talent often gets frustrated when a lot is requested from them without any input from the company they apply for. So, make sure you appreciate their time and invite them for an initial call before asking them for a coding challenge, for instance.
When it comes to the interviewing process, it should be as effective as possible. Ideally, a 3 or 4 step interview process shouldn’t take more than 2 weeks from start to decision. Taking longer than this puts you at risk of losing your top candidates.
One reason why it takes companies too long to hire tech talent is lack of a clear talent journey map - a visual representation of all touchpoints candidates have during different stages of their journey. For example, a candidate might go through an initial interview, coding challenge, tech interview, and culture fit call. All of these should be steps of your talent journey and every candidate should follow the same path. This will help you identify bottlenecks and improvement points for each of the stages so you can constantly improve the process.
Keep a Consistent Talent Pool
Having a consistent stream of potential candidates is crucial for keeping up with the firce competition. This talent pool will allow you to reach out to relevant tech talent when a suitable position comes up and they are ready to move through your talent pipeline.
The goal of having a steady pipeline and consistent talent pool is clear: to get the right tech talent when you need them. This requires effective recruitment management as well as strategic planning. With the strategies above, you can create a brand that your talent respects and build relationships with your potential candidates before the need to hire them.. Together with past candidates that weren’t a good fit for some reason, they can start filling your internal talent pool.
A good strategy is to create some method for predicting the future needs of your tech team. Are you going to need a designer in the next few months? Are strong frontend engineers constantly in need? Then open your job positions in advance and take applicants through your pipeline as they come.
Design Your Benefits Package
Even if you’re tight on budget, you can attract top tech talent with a clear vision and a benefits package that shows you care. The benefits you're offering will be another testament to your values, so choose them wisely. Some things tech talent appreciates are flexible working hours, learning opportunities and certifications, health insurance, and paid time off if they're contractors.
Keep in mind that the tech market is very dynamic, so you need to evaluate your benefits package once in a while. Remember how remote work was considered a perk a few years ago, but now it’s the norm.
In terms of salary - if you think what you can offer is not competitive, consider compensating for it with stock options. For people who are aligned with your vision and values, chances are this will be more attractive than the paycheck.
Connect with Relevant Communities
One of the best ways to introduce your company to new talent is to utilize tech communities. There are different groups and communities out there, sharing specific principles and values. They might be established around general topics like security, new trends like web3, or specific technologies such as Laravel, React, Goland, etc. Tech communities will open doors to new tech talent that shares the same passion for tech as you.
In addition to tech specific communities that you can find talent fast online, make sure to look for local communities in the areas your potential candidates live. These are smaller, but more personal networks where people trust each other. You can have someone from your tech team engage, attend their meetups or you can sponsor events they might organize to get directly in front of the members.
You might be shocked to learn how many people share the same values for sourcing tech, and purpose as you. At Adeva, for example, we’re all about work without boundaries and our mission is to enable 1 million people to work remotely by 2030. People who join our network are passionate about remote work, so if you are looking to hire remote tech talent, Adeva’s tech hiring platform and community might be the one you’re looking for.
Diversity & Inclusion
Being part of a diverse and inclusive company is becoming an increasingly important factor for tech talent. This survey on diversity and inclusion in the workplace made by Glassdoor shows that about 76% of employees and job seekers report that a diverse workplace plays a huge part when evaluating companies and job openings. Plus, 1 in 3 people said they would not apply to a position if the company lacked diversity.
Show potential candidates how your company embraces diversity and inclusion. Aim to engage people from different genders, ages, and races in the interview process. A good example for showcasing a company’s dedication to creating an inclusive workplace is Apple. They have created an entire campaign on diversity to show that they are open to embracing faiths, disabilities, races, ages, personalities, ideologies, and differences.
It’s a good idea to explore options about engaging with talent partners, recruiting companies, and tech communities and groups that can support your growth. Even if you have strong in-house recruiting team, talent partners can bring excellent support when you have spikes in your hiring needs or your need to hire faster than your team can handle. In fact, most of our customers are companies that have dedicated recruiting teams, but need an extra help to manage their aggressive growth.
Filling open positions quickly with the help of a talent partner will save you time and money, and it will help you make sure you’re on top of your hiring plan. Common scenarios we’ve seen at Adeva are:
- Companies kicking off multiple projects that need to staff complete teams for mid to long term.
- Startups that raised funds and have aggressive milestones to achieve fast.
- Fast-growing companies with planned hiring dynamics that need support filling all positions.
If you find yourself in any of these scenarios, check out how Adeva can support you.
Accelerate Sourcing of Tech Talent
With the tech talent shortage, it is not surprising that recruiters are having a hard time finding and then hiring top tech talent. Long gone are the days of ‘build and they will come’ engineering talent acquisition strategies. These days and the years to come, organizations are going to need to proactively engage talent and put in a lot of effort to fill out tech positions. Finding and hiring top tech talent will become the holy grail of the recruiting world.
According to a 2021 Stack Overflow Survey conducted on about 90,000 developers across the globe, 81% of professional developers are employed full-time, 12% are working as independent contractors, freelancers, or self-employed, while less than 2% are looking for a job. The numbers are stating the obvious: recruiters ‘must’ do the impossible to find the perfect fit.
Best Places to Source Tech Talent
The low unemployment rate in the tech industry shows that tech talent is not actively looking for a job and don't hang on job boards. They are passive candidates. So, how can you find this gem?
Below is a list of the best sourcing channels where you can find top tech talent.
Personal networks are always the most reliable but, at the same time, limited source. It's especially smart to utilize this channel when it comes to hiring software engineering talent for management positions. Reach out to people you've worked with who might be interested or know other qualified professionals.
Similar to personal connections, referral programs give you a more scalable way to hire talent that's directly recommended by someone you trust. They're one of the most effective ways to hire tech talent. There is no better way to find like-minded individuals to work for your organization than through employee referrals.
Referral programs allow your current employees to receive some compensation for referring talent who eventually gets hired. As a bonus, you might get help in the onboarding process since people tend to look after the candidates they refer.
Even though it might seem like an extra cost, establishing a referral program will drastically reduce your cost-per-hire rate.
Tech events can be very effective for building strong relationships with future candidates because they are usually conducted with in-person interactions. Events such as hackathons, meetups, career days, etc. can increase your company’s brand awareness and show your aspirations and capability.
You can also host your own events at your offices or online and show a glimpse into what it's like to work for your organization.
In this modern, online-first era, there are multiple platforms you can use to find and reach top tech talent from all over the world. Most of them have a professional digital presence that showcases their relevance for your positions. Some of the places to look for a tech talent include:
With over 73 million developers actively using it, GitHub is the main hub for developers. You can use it to find users that work with a certain programming language. Most of them have their email addresses public, which makes it easy to reach out.
If you feel like you need professional support in to find engineering talent in your hiring process, platforms for hiring tech talent are the right place to go. These companies have their own talent networks and can send over strong candidates based on a job description only.
If you’re looking to go in this direction, make sure to check Adeva. We’re a global talent network that connects high-scale organizations with distributed engineering talent across the world. You could hire as fast as 2 weeks, scale up and down flexibly, and convert contractors to full-time employees as you see fit.
Even though there is a huge employment gap in the tech world, there are numerous strategies to source tech talent that can help you stay on top when finding top tech talent.
Some of those strategies include focusing on building your brand, creating relationships, having an engineering playbook, and connecting with tech communities. Another critical strategy is creating a clear vision and values that will mark the change of working.
But first, make sure you reevaluate your hiring engineering talent process and make it more effective by communicating your goals clearly. Don’t let candidates see you as just another company; become the company that drives innovation by giving purpose to its employees.
Finally, find new ways to source tech talent. There are many places to find high-quality candidates. Simply put, try new strategies to see what's working and what's not in your tech talent sourcing. After a while, try something else. That's the only way to stay on top of finding and sourcing software engineers who are top talents.
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