Many recruiters I know got into the profession because they truly enjoy building relationships with people. But with long lists of recruiting tasks that are primarily administrative at times, it’s easy for technical recruiters to say that building relationships with developers is a nice, but unrealistic idea. The problem with this mindset is that developers have made no secret of the fact that they expect recruiters to do their homework before they reach out.
Although you might be tired of hearing about the importance of getting to know developers on a personal level, your willingness to embrace relationship recruiting in 2017 could be the difference in meeting your developer hiring goals and missing them.
Most technical recruiters have an anecdotal understanding that developers are difficult to find and hire, but a recent CareerCast report found that software engineers and data scientists were two of the ten toughest jobs to fill in 2016. In the same breath, The Conference Board also predicted that there would be three jobs available for every new college graduate with a computer science degree last year.
This hard truth might make a technical recruiter say that developer hiring is so uniquely challenging that it’s an exercise in futility. However, it’s important to keep in mind that candidates are more inclined to interview with recruiters they have pre-existing relationships with. As counterintuitive as this might sound to most recruiters, many developers I know appreciate hearing from recruiters who just want to shoot the breeze. Sure, you can always reach out to ask about a developer’s interesting side project, but if a potential candidate has some free time and just wants to talk about a movie he or she has seen recently, don’t be afraid to dive in. It might not seem like a productive use of your time, but getting to know developers on a basic level now will make them more excited about interviewing with your company in the future.
Early on in my recruiting days, I was so overwhelmed by my interview calendar that I’d lose track of how our new hires were feeling about their jobs. It eventually became apparent that some of the people we hired weren’t quite as happy in their new roles as we thought—and ultimately that led to a few earlier-than-expected departures. This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me at the time, especially since a study by Indeed found that two out of three professionals look at new opportunities within three months of starting a job.
You could defer to your engineering manager to ensure that your team’s newest developers are excited about what they’re working on. However, effective relationship recruiting requires you to ensure that developers feel confident that they chose the right company. Even after you’ve hired a developer, be proactive about scheduling time to check in with them after their first month or two. Give them space in these meetings to tell you how they’re truly feeling about their new jobs. If there’s something that’s not lining up with what they were expecting, identifying and addressing it quickly could be the difference in retaining a talented developer and losing one to a competitor.