Your ability to meet your tech hiring goals in 2017 will boil down to the relationships you build with developers. While most recruiters would probably say that they’re confident in their ability to create rapport with candidates, it’s important to know what developers look for when they’re approached about a new opportunity. We were curious to find out, so we reached out to a few developers to hear their thoughts on an ideal approach to candidate relationship management.
The pressure on tech recruiters to hire talented developers is undeniable, but it’s still important to keep what passive tech candidates want in mind when you engage them. David Mercer, an experienced tech entrepreneur and blogger, tells us that recruiters tend to let the open roles they’re hiring for dictate how they interact with potential candidates. He adds, “They tend to ask for what they need and hear what they want from potential candidates without really listening to what those people do or are interested in.” Instead, Mercer suggests that the key to building a relationship with a developer candidate is asking about projects they’ve completed recently. While this might lead you to discover that someone isn’t the right fit for a role today, you’ll earn that developer’s trust for not shoehorning them into a position that isn’t a match.
Because the majority of software developers are currently employed, the reality is that many of your target candidates won’t be anxious to leave their current jobs. However, showing a little restraint and respecting their time is a fundamental component of relationship recruiting, especially when it comes to the competitive developer market. Brian Gill from Gillware Data Recovery tells us that while he finds many technical recruiters to be aggressive, he once chose to work with one who was empathetic after learning that he was happy in his current position. Gill adds, “He asked if it would be OK if he reached out every six months and honored that request. More importantly, he wasn’t just recruiting developers for the sake of it—he understood that I was on a particular career track.
When you’ve found a developer who’s a fit for your role and is interested in accepting, it’s easy to assume that your job is done. However, relationship recruiting requires you to make sure you’re on the same page with a candidate at this stage of the process. Tom Brusehaver told us about a time in which he told a recruiter that was ready to accept a new position, but that he needed it to be finalized before his children were scheduled to start school that fall. Instead, he got radio silence from everyone at the company until that September. Because he didn’t have a clear idea of the employer’s timeframe, he ended up having to turn down the job. More importantly, he ultimately lost any interest in engaging with the recruiter in the future.