This post was updated in November 2017 with new information.
Tech hiring hasn’t gotten any easier in 2016. In fact, 87% of the developers we surveyed recently told us they’re employed at least part-time. It’s clear that a majority of candidates you’ll reach out to won’t be actively searching for a new job, but there are some best practices for recruiting passive candidates that aren’t always as obvious. With competition for tech talent as fierce as ever, which of these best practices are the most effective tech recruiters turning into habits?
If you haven’t already figured this out, developers hear from a lot of recruiters who haven’t done any research into their backgrounds. While there’s no need to lock yourself in a room until you’ve learned every detail about a developer you’re interested in engaging with, it’s important to remember that you are the one reaching out. As Joe Humphries, Director of People Operations here at Stack Overflow, told us recently, make sure to have a few bullet points about a passive candidate ready to go before you do any initial outreach activities.
Even though you're trying to attract passive candidates who aren’t thrilled with their jobs, they’re still in a strong position to tell you they’re not currently interested in switching jobs. However, even when a developer tells you this isn’t the best time to discuss your opportunity, that doesn’t always mean they’re saying they’d never like to hear from you again. Quite the contrary, as 62% of the developers we surveyed told us they were open to entertaining new job opportunities.
While this doesn’t give you free reign to send passive candidates as many emails as you can write, it does reinforce the importance of building relationships with developers, even when they tell you they’re not interested in coming to work for you. Of course, this isn’t a guarantee that every developer you engage will eventually approach you about a job, but investing the time in these relationships will help you stand out amongst the competition.
It would be easy to admire another tech recruiter who’s a whiz at engaging passive tech candidates and think they were just born with that ability. However, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who simply woke up one morning and realized they were incredibly skilled at building meaningful relationships with developers. Like most of the skills a good tech recruiter has in his or her toolbox, engaging passive candidates is something that’s learned over time, which means that most (if not all) of them have made their fair share of mistakes. Developers will ultimately gravitate towards the recruiters who can apply these learnings to how they engage with candidates.