Building the right tech team will have one of the biggest impacts on your company’s success. But it can be difficult to do it all by yourself. Hiring a technical recruiter can greatly increase your chance of getting the right people to fill those roles. This person will take ownership of your recruitment process ensuring that your tech roles are filled with perfectly fitting candidates.
Do you need a technical recruiter?
First of all, before you hire a technical recruiter, you need to decide if a technical recruiter is actually going to be necessary. To figure this out, you first need to understand what a technical recruiter can do for you. After all, the role of recruitment is often not specialized in smaller companies.
What is a technical recruiter and how can they help you?
Peter Kazanjy, Cofounder of Atrium HQ argues that a technical recruiter serves a few different functions
There’s only so many hours in the day that a tech lead or CTO can spend on all of the different tasks that they are responsible for. A lot of the work technical recruiters do involve simple tasks that can be easily scaled. These include screening CVs, conducting interviews, and getting back to your candidates. A technical recruiter’s most basic function is to simply take these tasks off the plate of technical leaders.
A technical recruiter can bring in a specialized skill set that doesn’t currently exist in your company. This can be anything from are specific technical knowledge to exceptional sales skills that your hiring team does not currently possess.
A network of passive candidates
The vast majority of recruitment in tech is passive. Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey 2018 found that 58.9% of developers are not actively looking but are open to new opportunities. This means that most of your potential candidates will come from passive sourcing techniques. These are built from well-developed relationships. A good recruiter should already have a solid network of developers that they’ve built. They’ll bring this candidate pool to your organization so you won’t need to spend time and resources building up your own relationships with software developers.
The knowledge required to build a recruitment process
Good technical recruiters should not only be able to interview people and bring their network to your company. They should have a thorough understanding of the tech recruiting process and be able to build a robust candidate pipeline.
Types of technical recruiters
In-house technical recruiters
The advantage of these types of recruiters is that you are their primary stakeholder. This means that your incentives are very closely aligned and any candidate pipeline that they generate will become your company’s property.
These are full-time employees with a permanent position at your company. They’re particularly good to have if you have strong and continuous hiring needs (at least 10 a year).
If your recruiting needs aren’t as consistent or large, you might not need to keep your recruiter on after building your team. For these situations, there’s always a consulting or contract recruiter. These were just like full-time recruiters but they only work on a limited project basis.
Outside technical recruiters
There are times when you may not need an in-house recruiter. This might be if you have a temporary surge of hiring, or don’t have the resources to take on a full-time employee.
Recruit Process Outsourcing
Recruitment process outsourcing or RPO is not surprisingly when you outsource part or all of your recruitment process to an outside agency. These can be useful if you have so many positions to fill that they overwhelm your in-house recruiter.
Contingency recruiters can often be useful for filling positions quickly since they usually have a large candidate pipeline. But beware, they are paid only when you hire somebody. This incentivizes them to throw as many candidates at you is they can find in the hope that one of them matches the job. This means you will have to spend extra time sorting through the candidate they send.
If you work in the startup world, VC recruiters can be a useful resource. Since they work for your investors, their incentives are often more closely aligned with yours than other outsider recruiters. Better yet, they often have pre-existing relationships built up with software developers and can help you get a big pipeline going quickly. They won’t hold your hand for you though and are more useful for sourcing then for building an entire recruitment process.
If you are looking for a particularly high-value position, retained search is the way to go. These recruiters are brought on to hire a very specific position like a CTO or head of engineering. They are expensive but you have a very high chance of success with the person they bring you.
Levels of in-house recruiters
Within your organization, there are different levels of both full hire and contract technical recruiters. Just like you have junior, middle, and senior developers, you have different levels of recruiters. Each level has different responsibilities and can give you different sorts of value. Anderson Tran does a good job of explaining these levels on Geekology Blog.
This is often an entry-level recruiting position. They are particularly useful for administrative support and maintaining contact with candidates in your recruiting funnel. When looking for one of these, you should select an enthusiastic and organized self-learner.
This is like a recruiting coordinator except they don’t need the same level of hand-holding. When recruiting one of these, look for somebody who can do everything that a recruiting coordinator can but it is also able to do more advanced competitive analysis on the job market. They should also be able to do research on passive candidates.
Full technical recruiters
A technical recruiter can run a full recruiting cycle. They work with hiring managers and engineering teams to find the best candidates. They should be able to source passive candidates, find prospects through multiple channels, and understand the different software tools used in the recruiting field.
Senior technical recruiter
This person is simply a more experienced technical recruiter. The benefit of hiring one of these is that they will be able to enter into a more equal partnership with a hiring manager and generally have more advanced technical expertise. They’ll also need to manage your team of recruiting coordinators and associate recruiters.
Lead technical recruiter
A lead technical recruiter should be highly proficient at all recruiting functions. They should also be able to mentor your recruiting coordinators, associate recruiters, and technical recruiters. In addition to managing your team, they will be able to refine your recruiting process to get better outcomes.
Skills and assets to look for in technical recruiters
Being data and results-driven
Recruiting is all about being able to move people into the right positions in the most efficient way possible. Since it involves a long process, great technical recruiters are data-driven, constantly looking for efficiencies in the process and opportunities to improve conversion rates. A data-driven mindset is also a manifestation of what Stack Overflow calls a willingness to learn. The best recruiters constantly analyze data to refine their process and are results-driven, meaning they achieve the “goals set beforehand.”
According to MRINetwork’s 2017 Recruiter Sentiment Study, over 50% of all job offers in 2017 didn’t go through because either the candidates accepted other proposals or compensation wasn’t sufficient. A great technical recruiter shouldn’t just be focusing on one candidate or one process. They should understand the larger picture of the industry and the market. They also need to have perseverance and not be put off by inevitable setbacks.
Social recruiting skills
According to Glassdoor, 79% of candidates use social media to look for jobs and 86% of people use social media in their job hunt and within the first 10 years of their career. Social recruiting is particularly relevant in the tech space where the response rates to traditional job ads are comparatively low. In these situations, the ability to brand a company and nurture leads through your social channels is invaluable.
While “tech” is in the name technical recruiter, it should be emphasized that being a strong technical recruiter means that you understand the technology and the industry that you recruit for. This doesn’t mean that a technical recruiter should be able to step into a developers job and do it for them. The recruiter should instead have a foundational knowledge about the technology that they recruit for. A good trait to look for is curiosity. The most curious candidates will be constantly going out to find how about new technologies and industry trends.
According to DK Burnaby, Senior Talent Acquisition Leader on the Amazon Alexa team and President of Seattle Talent Acquisition Collaborative, a curious technical recruiter will go beyond simply matching candidates to positions and actually investigate more about the skills they are recruiting for. This means that they will be able to understand how the position fits into the product. All too often, candidates are put off by bad technical recruiters who treat them as one-size-fits-all. To combat this image Stephanie McDonald, a Recruiter at Hire Performance Recruiting Solutions, says this:
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.
Advanced negotiation skills
Given how valuable tech positions are, it’s important to have technical recruiters who can negotiate and understand the value of offers beyond simple salary rates.
Flexibility and adaptability
Developers, for the most part, have no problems finding high-paying work. According to Kevin Oill, Senior Recruiter at Matrix Resources, the unemployment rate in IT is under 3% nationwide. For a technical recruiter to effectively attract the talent they need, they’re going to have to be able to offer something extra in addition to a competitive salary. The best recruiters are able to understand how to construct an attractive offer that includes benefits beyond a simple paycheck. This means selling the position on work-life balance, the chance to work with interesting colleagues, and opportunities for career development.
A technical recruiter should be able to manage the expectations of all stakeholders. They need to understand the candidate and hiring manager’s expectations to find the best fit and the best opportunity to cooperate. They also need to create an amazing candidate experience. This means going out of their way to find out what their target candidates are after and how to give them a favorable opinion of the company.
Advanced marketing skills
A technical recruiter should be very good at employer branding, content recruiting, and finding the right people to tell your company’s story. They should be able to create a careers page and social profiles that bring in the right types of candidates.
Good judge of fit
Finding a candidate with the right fit is essential. A promising developer could turn into an expensive mistake in the wrong environment. As a result, a technical recruiter above all needs to be able to judge how well a candidate fits in the culture of the company.
A strong network
One of the greatest assets a recruiter can have is an established network of leads that they’ve worked with. Passive recruitment can take a long time and often companies will need to recruit in a relatively short time frame. Recruiters already invested the time to build relationships with developers will be able to leverage those relationships immediately to fill positions for your company.
Technical recruiter interview questions
The important thing to remember when interviewing a recruiter is that they are just like any other candidate. These questions can be used to get a better understanding of what skills and assets a recruiter has. You can find these and more good questions here and here.
- What are the technologies that you have worked on?
- On which technologies can you technically interview the candidate?
- What have been your accomplishments as a technical recruiter?
- How would you learn about technology?
- How would you learn about recruiting?
- Do you have coding experience? If not, would you be willing to learn as part of this job?
- What is your awareness of employee branding?
- What builds a good candidate experience?
- What can you do to shorten the hiring process? What should you put into the job post?
- What is your favorite website or app?
Decision making and process
- If I told you I needed to hire an exceptional full-stack engineer ASAP, where would you start?
- How do you rate yourself in different areas (roles and responsibilities) in an end to end recruitment process?
- How will you distinguish among team players, loners, and team leaders?
- What methods would you adopt to grade four apparently equally competent candidates so that you can select two, keep one on call and eliminate the other?
In addition to asking questions, it’s important to get a sample of the recruiters interviewing skills. We are firm believers in using work sample tests for developers but they are just as useful for checking the skills of technical recruiters. Interviewing is an essential part of tech recruitment and how they do in an interview will give a good indication of how well they deal with and get information from candidates.
A good way to do this is to give the recruiter a mock interview.
Step 1: Give the technical recruiter candidate a position they need to fill.
Step 2: Come up with three different developers to interview for the position.
Step 3: Your technical recruiter candidate will have a chance to interview you as each one of these developers.
Step 4: Afterwards, ask to get their opinion on what they’ve learned and whether they think it would be a good fit.
A good recruiter should be able to ask insightful questions and then make a judgment about who they would make an offer to.
Certificates to look for
A candidate who has passed Devskiller’s tech recruitment certification course should have a strong foundation in the principles of technical sourcing and recruitment. The course covers all aspects of the tech recruitment process including how to source technical candidates as well as well as giving the technical recruiter a basic overview of the types of technologies they will be hiring for. Passing the course ensures that the candidate is curious about the field and can immediately start sourcing technical candidates.
What to do now
Hiring the right technical recruiter can be the key to assembling an amazing technical team. But it is important to remember that a technical recruiter is a specialized position. On top of the normal recruiting skills, look for someone who is curious, technically aware, and really good at passive sourcing. Find the right person and their skill quality will be reflected in the quality of the developers they recruit.