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With 98% of developers already being employed, software engineer positions are perhaps the most difficult to recruit for. The developer community is largely made up of passive job candidates--that is, candidates who aren’t on job boards but would be open to an amazing opportunity if it crossed their paths. Actively sourcing and messaging those passive candidates is a major key to developer hiring.

We don’t have to tell you twice that reaching out to developer candidates can be an exhaustive process. Once you’ve identified where to find developers, you need to craft personalized messages to candidates who seem like a right fit. You may be disappointed to see that you’re sending out dozens of messages but only getting a small fraction of the responses. At this stage, candidate response rates are a reliable way to identify what you’re getting wrong (and right).

Understand the Value of Data

Even if you’ve made a placement recently, it’s hard to tell whether you’re doing a good job. For smart hiring managers, this is where recruiting metrics come in. 77% of companies believe people analytics matter and are using data to objectively analyze and revamp their hiring processes. It’s much clearer to see where you’re landing along your recruiting goals when your results are measurable.

While you can use existing research to dive into what to expect when emailing developer candidates, nothing will be as tailored as your personal company data. Tracking response rates can be as simple as logging your findings into Excel or a Trello board. As long as you have a way to continually re-evaluate your numbers, you’ll be more effective at testing new strategies.

"52% of developers do not want to be contacted about job opportunities over Facebook."     -   [Tweet This

Discover What Works For You

Response rates are made up of the number of responses you’re receiving over the number of communications you’re putting out. Sending out mass messages to any developer who fits your criteria will lower your response rate and leave a negative impression. Think about the spam messages you get in your inbox, and you’d be hard pressed to disagree.

Use your archived messages to calculate your baseline response rate and gauge where you stand. There are plenty of ways to reach developers, from social media networks to developer forums. In our developer survey, we found that 52% of developers do not want to be contacted about job opportunities over Facebook. Get to know where developers actually spend their time and what they enjoy talking about before building rapport. Which platforms are you finding a higher developer engagement with? Are you getting better candidate response rates when you reach out over phone call or email? (That one’s no surprise: 44% of developers hate being contacted over the phone).

Revise, Revise, Revise

Data can be a great asset, but it’s important to not obsess over the numbers. See response rates as a guide rather than a hard indication of how you’re doing as a team.  

A combination of your first-hand experiences and research on what developers want can help you implement new strategies when sending out emails. If you’re seeing better response rates with a specific style of email, keep using that while looking for other ways to improve. Notice who on your team is having the most success and look for those consistencies that you can implement in your outreach. Ask your hiring managers and engineering managers for regular feedback on subject lines, email content, and the medium of messaging developers. tech recruiting 101


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