4 Strategies for Recruiting Tech Talent

In today’s job market, companies that want to hire talented programmers need to offer more than just the basics.

A great salary and benefits are important, of course. But they’re just one small part of the total package. Talented developers often have multiple job offers to choose from, and little pressure to move from their current roles. What will you do to make your offer compelling enough to stand out?

It pays to spend time perfecting the sales pitch you’ll make to potential candidates.

The perfect pitch will require a strong grasp of your company’s values, meaningful conversations with current developers, and an understanding of all benefits your company has to offer — both traditional and non-traditional.

Your company probably spends plenty of time positioning your product or service to appeal to customers. It’s time to use that same level of energy to get potential tech hires excited about working for your company.

1. Clarify Your Brand

Most of us think of a company’s brand in terms of the outward-facing impression it makes to customers and the public. But every good brand is actually based on a company’s values and “personality,” so its brand should be consistent with internal culture, too.

To make sure you’re making the right impression on job candidates, get clear on your brand values as they relate to your office culture. Then, you can start finding candidates that are the right fit for that culture.

Odds are, you can’t offer every single perk and benefit that programmers would like to have. The key is to be honest about your company’s strengths and weaknesses, and what makes you unique.

For example, developers often prioritize the ability to work remotely. However, that benefit is not available to Uber employees. Quoted in the Stack Overflow blog, Chris Haseman of Uber explains why he doesn’t apologize for that:

“Part of building a team is deciding what you want to be good at and what you want to be bad at. And what we’ve decided to be bad at is remote working. It induces the kind of communication and overhead that we just don’t have the technology to conquer yet.”

This kind of transparency is appealing to job candidates, who appreciate clear and consistent expectations on cultural factors like work hours, remote work policy, and dress code.

You should make sure that these cultural values are reflected in all hiring materials, as well. For example, a company that projects a sense of playfulness in its design and language shouldn’t have stiff, buttoned-up job descriptions. Similarly, if your company’s aim is to appear professional to cater to big ticket business clients, your job descriptions shouldn’t be playful and irreverent.

2. Highlight These Benefits

Salary, benefits, perks, vacation days: These all need to be competitive. However, just like all employees, programmers want to know that they’ll enjoy coming to work each day — and that it will be a step forward for their career.

In fact, this Smart Recruiters post mentioned that “9 in 10 developers would turn down an offer that paid 10 percent more for a job that better fit their other criteria.”

Not all of the benefits that programmers love are super expensive, either. Stack Overflow surveyed programmers about which benefits they prioritized in a job. Remote working options and vacation days topped the list, but, as they note on their blog, benefits such as reasonable expected work hours, great work equipment, and professional development sponsorship were also high on the list.

In particular, companies have found ways to be creative with offering employees educational programs at low costs, such as pair programming sessions, lunchtime book clubs, and show and tell sessions.

Software developer Michael Shao, with 5 years of experience, notes that companies tend to underemphasize some of what he considers to be the most important parts of a job: work-life balance, career growth, and interesting work.

That’s why tech writer Rich Moy sums it up this way: “Even though developers have been a broken record about what they look for in new jobs, it’s clear that you can still set yourself apart from the competition by highlighting these things in your employer branding content.”

3. Emphasize Personal Career Growth

People who are career-driven, talented, and ambitious typically make great hires. To attract them, you’ll need to make sure they see a clear path for career advancement.

In some cases, this might be a predetermined path for promotion within the company. However, in others, it simply means finding out exactly what a potential hire wants to put on their resume, then making sure you give them a way to do that in the role you’ve created for them.

As former tech recruiter at Greenhouse Lauren Allanson says of her recruiting process, “My conversations with these candidates focused on what Greenhouse could do for their careers, and not why they were a good fit for us. You have to believe it, own it, and sell it.”

To get deeper knowledge about what your company can offer these candidates, Allanson suggests spending more time with your current engineers. Talk to them until you understand what motivates them and what keeps them coming back to your company each day.

Ask what has helped them grow in their careers at your company. Perhaps it has been access to other important members of your team, or access to the best equipment and learning opportunities. Perhaps it’s a flexible work arrangement that lets them work during their peak hours. Perhaps it’s control over their work and the ability to spearhead new projects.

The important thing is to get to the bottom of the unique career advantages your company can offer and make sure you leverage them.

4. Reconsider Your Office Environment

Your office is the physical embodiment of your company’s values. Candidates will know as soon as they walk into your office whether your culture is consistent with the impression you’ve been trying to make in the job description and phone interviews.

As we mentioned, many programming jobs offer remote work options. But even if your tech staff will only be in the office periodically — or even will only be in for interviews — your physical workspace says a lot about how you operate.

Here are a few things to consider about your physical environment:

  • Design and Aesthetics – Color, lighting, use of space — they all come together to make an on-brand impression and a pleasant working environment. For more, read this: 3 Ways Your Reception Area Makes an Impression.
  • Dress Code – The way your employees present themselves says a lot about your culture. If you assure programmers that they can dress casually but they walk in and see ties, they’re going to hesitate. For more on how to create your company’s dress code, read our full post on the topic.
  • Equipment – We already mentioned that offering the best equipment can be a big sell to programmers. But equipment can extend to other parts of the office, including something as simple as the software that’s used to check visitors in. (For more on our tablet-based visitor management system, check out The Receptionist’s features.)

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