Last night, our team at Stack Overflow hosted a happy hour and crash course on tech recruiting, teaming up with WeWork members and some other New York companies looking to beef up their recruitment efforts. Joe Humphries, our senior recruiter, and Will Cole, the product manager talked through some tricks of the trade that they’ve picked up along the way.
In case you missed it, here’s our crash-course guide of things to think about while recruiting, knowing exactly what developers want, and how to make the most of it during your recruitment process.
Whether you’re a two-person startup or a 1,000-person company, it’s a really bad idea to start recruiting before you’ve laid out any groundwork. So start from square one. Determine your business needs so you can figure out the team structure and size before you start searching for candidates. You’ll optimize your hiring process and make sure that the people you hire today will still fit in with the model you’re putting in place for a few years down the road. Along those same lines, be realistic about your recruiting timetable—about half of customers surveyed said it takes more than 8 weeks to fill a developer position, so plan accordingly. And perhaps the most important of all: Take some time to dig into the things you can offer candidates, whether it's salary, equity, benefits, or just a chance to work on something really cool.
At Stack Overflow, we have a very specific process for vetting candidates. To get there, we first identified the core characteristics that we’d like to see in an ideal developer who works at our company and why that’s important to us. Every single person on our team can articulate these qualities and reasoning behind each one. If that’s not true at your organization, then that means you need to press “pause” on your hiring search until you get your whole team on the same page.
Plan out the entire candidate experience from start to finish before you post that position online. For one, it will help you and your team to stay focused and make sure that you’re using the right evaluation techniques that help you identify the core criteria you have already identified. Second, it makes a huge difference from the candidate’s point of view to know exactly what they should expect: You never want to run the risk of losing candidates in the pipeline.
Sure, money is great, but the fact is: It’s not the most important thing to developers when looking for a job. In our Stack Overflow annual user survey from last year, we learned that 9 in 10 developers would choose a job that paid 10% less in favor of one that offered other benefits that they cared about. What type of benefits? To start, they want an opportunity to learn and grow on the job, a chance to work with smart coworkers, and good management (with no bureaucracy). If you aren’t calling out these elements in your recruitment pitch, then you’ll potentially miss out on top talent who can easily find another job somewhere else.
The best way to stand out from your competition is to…well, show how you stand out. Ping pong tables, free lunches, and unlimited amounts of candy won’t get you very far when it’s become the new norm to offer these types of amenities. Resist the urge to splurge on flashy benefits and instead focus on the elements unique to your company. What’s your product and what makes it cool? Who’s on your team and what have they accomplished? What is your mission and how is it going to make a difference in your market? These elements are the undeniably crunchy bits about your culture that set you apart. So figure out how to talk about yours in a way that’s going to engage the type of candidates you want to hire.
We’ve already mentioned that the caliber of the existing team is the second most important thing that developers consider when evaluating a job opportunity. But this doesn’t just mean you need to hire smart people—it means you need to show them off. Whether your current developers are avid bloggers, contributors on Stack Overflow, or hosts of local technology meetups in your area, be sure to promote them in any way that you can. When messaging passive candidates, send links to the open source projects or writing samples of your current developers. You'll find candidates who are just itching to work alongside your current team. P.S. You can show off some of what makes your organization awesome by setting up a