Finding and hiring top developers is a tall task, but it’s even more difficult when you’ve just begun making the transition into tech recruiting. While it can be exciting to learn about the different nuances of recruiting tech talent, it often requires less experienced hiring managers to break a lot of old habits. Even when a recruiter understands the challenges of hiring tech talent, simply getting used to them is enough to keep even the most confident people up late at night.
However, even with this learning curve, many of the issues newer tech recruiters think they’ll face never actually come to pass. Tom Harvey, a recruiter here at Stack Overflow, told us about three things he wished he knew when he made the transition into tech recruiting, which we think will put you at ease as you start to hire developers.
Your knowledge of basic technology terms will go a long way when you need to hire developers. But as Harvey points out, most developers understand that your job is to recruit talent. He adds, “Unless they’re being really harsh, a programmer won’t ask, ‘How much do you know about Java?’ in the middle of an interview.”
Do your best to understand what candidates actually work on everyday, but whenever you’re in doubt while interviewing developers, feel free to own your shortcomings and ask developers a lot of questions about what they do on a day-to-day basis. “The best thing to do is to admit that you don’t actually know much, but are excited to learn more,” Harvey says. “When a developer is really excited about a project they’ve worked on, they’ll be more than happy to tell you all about it.”
When Harvey started recruiting developers, he was asked to take advantage of a large battery of traditional online recruitment platforms, only to find that he didn’t get the kinds of responses he expected. In fact, he found that he was getting few responses at all, which he had a hard time understanding. That is, until he realized that developers weren’t just ignoring him—they simply weren’t spending a lot of time on those platforms.
“You need to be a bit inventive when searching for tech talent,” Harvey adds. “The reality is that developers just don’t find sites like LinkedIn useful. But there are so many online communities where developers spend time not only during the work day, but also in their free time. Get involved, be willing to learn something, and start getting to know developers in these communities.”
With certain roles, qualifications are a bit easier for a recruiter to confirm on his or her own. Sales recruiters, for example, can typically make the case for candidates who are a culture fit and have a track record of hitting goals. However, when it comes to hiring developers, there’s a great deal of technical knowledge most recruiters simply don’t have, and it can be difficult for new tech recruiters to adjust to relying on hiring managers so heavily to evaluate code.
“There are times when you’ll say to yourself, ‘I really like this person and would be disappointed if we didn’t hire them,’” Harvey says. “But when they’re not up to par from a technical standpoint, it can be difficult to wrap your head around the idea of not making that candidate an offer.”
Ultimately, Harvey says it’s up to newer tech recruiters to let go of some of the control they’re used to having throughout the developer interview process. While this might seem unnatural at first, leaning on the expertise that your tech team has will pay huge dividends when you’re adjusting to the unique challenge of hiring developers.