This post was updated in November 2017 with new information.
So you’re thinking about transitioning from a general recruiting role to a technology-specific one. Great! But before you apply for a role as a technical recruiter, you want to make sure it’s something you are truly interested in and that you are aware of the potential challenges. We asked a few technical recruiters to dish on their previous experiences, talk about some of the challenges, and give advice to those looking to break into the field.
Our annual developer survey revealed that while salary is important, there are a variety of other factors programmers care about when evaluating a job opportunity. These include work/life balance, building something that matters, the quality of their colleagues, and an opportunity for career development.
Stephanie McDonald, a Recruiter at Hire Performance Recruiting Solutions, agrees, stating that “Most technical candidates like developers or engineers want to be solving problems and have challenging work. I always include information about the work in my job postings, not just a laundry list of job duties. I want the candidate to really understand what impact they will have on the company and their products.”
Andrew Alcott, a Recruiter at VonChurch, echoes this sentiment. “For technical prospects, it's not just about the money, it's also about the best environment and cultural fit. Your website should be very descriptive about the workplace and full of attractive descriptions and photos.”
All it takes is a quick Google search to see just how “hot” the technology industry is. One example is Glassdoor’s annual list of “Top 25 Highest-Paying Jobs in Demand”, which included 14 tech-related jobs for 2015. Additionally, our survey found that 87% of developers are employed in at least a part-time capacity, which means finding candidates in this particular job market is extremely tough.
“With tech being one of the most in-demand industries, individuals are being hit up with recruiting emails weekly -- or even daily. Prospective programmers are usually more apt to be a passive candidate, but also have more specifications for their ideal job. You need to create the best hiring experience. You need to make the candidates believe that you are the best company to work for -- and you need to actually be the best company out there”, says Alcott.
Glenn Medalle, Senior Manager of Global Talent Acquisition at AppDynamics, says, “The competitive market is the biggest challenge since candidates have multiple interviews and/or offers. Furthermore, a recruiter must effectively manage the candidate and hiring manager’s expectations, such as resume flow, profiles, compensation, and the interview process.”
“…the unemployment rate in IT is under 3% nationwide. This makes for a very small pool of candidates that are actively looking for something new. When you get a new job opening with one of your clients, you’ve got to be quick on the trigger to call your active, qualified candidates for that position, because if you don’t, there will be 10 other agencies that do before you”, says Kevin Oill, Senior Recruiter at Matrix Resources.
Most of us have received a few spam recruitment emails, but due to the overwhelming demand of technical talent, developers and engineers tend to get flooded with them. Whether it’s a spammy LinkedIn message or, even worse, an unsolicited phone call, some candidates take to the internet to create a recruiter email wall of shame.
“Most engineers have had at least one very negative experience with a recruiter at some point in their career. They tend to want to find jobs on their own, and very rarely create LinkedIn profiles or visit job boards,” says McDonald.
Instead of sending an unsolicited, one-time recruiting email, focus on forming relationships with your candidates. This goes for any niche you are recruiting for but is even more relevant for the technology field. A developer is far more likely to listen to what you have to say if you’ve spent time learning about them and interacting with opposed to if you sent a mass email blast.
Shane Bernstein, Managing Director at Q, says “At the end of the day, recruiters are only as good as their network, so understanding technology, getting more involved in the local tech community, and continuously striving to refine your craft will only help you.”
Alcott agrees, saying his biggest piece of advice would be “…to network heavily, but with respect! Networking has always been an important part of the recruiting industry, but I would say it would go double for tech. Due to the massive amounts of generic reach outs, off-base offers or lack of transparency, a lot of the technical industry has shied away from recruiters. In a market that puts most of the power into the candidate, taking the time to really build a connection works wonders.”
There’s nothing worse than being recruited by someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. If you’re reaching out to a developer about a job, you should have enough knowledge to understand what each job requirements means and be able to field questions the candidate may ask. Recruiters who are dealing directly with technical candidates should be well-versed on the different web development languages, types of software, and more. It is part of your job, after all.
McDonald puts it well, saying “Do your homework. Understand what motivates your targets. Go sit with someone who is writing code, understand what they do. Take an online class on simple coding principles. It's people who go the extra mile to understand their prospects that are successful in making the transition. Understand the difference between one coding language and another.”
Lior Naveh, an HR Recruiter at Logz.io, agrees. “You need to learn what professional and technical languages are being used in the positions. I don’t need to know how to write the code, but I need to know the languages that the coders are using.”
Eric Lyublinsky, National Director of IT Recruiting at Valintry, has been recruiting technology professionals since he was 16 by working for his mother’s NYC staffing firm in the 90s. His advice for recruiters looking to move into a more technical role is to be a sponge.
“This industry changes every day – new technologies are coming up all the time – you must be a student of the game and ask questions. Learn from other experts and take the time to ask quality questions about a candidate’s background and story. They will appreciate the time you’re taking up front.”