Understand the skills and best practices needed to succeed at technical recruiting, and avoid mis-hires in the process.

A blind report found that virtually all (96 percent) of tech employees do not believe recruiters are the best at evaluating a potential candidate. The majority of respondents (66 percent) felt coworkers would be better at recruiting candidates.

What was their rationale? Is there a mismatch between traditional recruiters and tech recruiters?

The employees surveyed believed recruiters are less qualified to evaluate a candidate's technical prowess since many recruiters do not have a tech background themselves.

As a recruiter, this is probably unsurprising.

What is also unsurprising is the recommendation that AI is a more viable tool for recruitment than actual recruiters. Many blue-chip companies like Amazon jumped on the AI bandwagon until their AI recruiting tools showed bias against women.

Is their assertion true?

Are employees or AI better at evaluating potential candidates than technical recruiters?

The answer is no. Though AI software can help you initially sort through resumes and applications, it’s not the end-all-be-all.

The employees listed in the blind report above, like many other tech employees, operate under a faulty assumption.

Tech workers assume that having the right skills is all that a candidate needs to have to qualify as an ideal candidate.

The data shows this assumption is false.

Take a look at the following table. It outlines core competencies and behaviors a candidate can or cannot change.

Core Competencies Are Not Always Based On Technical Abilities

The vast majority of these core skills are not based around details like technical prowess. Instead, they are indicators of character, personality, and competency. While many employees believe they are adequately suited to evaluate these competencies in prospective candidates, the table above shows otherwise.

As a technical recruiter, you are uniquely equipped to solve this problem.

When it comes to hiring decisions, managers and executives set the tone for expectations. They provide recruiters with the values, culture, and job requirements needed to ensure a candidate- company fit.

Why is this important?

Technical recruiters have the training and resources needed to assess potential candidates accurately. Recruiters know:

  • Who they are looking for ahead of time and how to find them
  • How to evaluate candidates in a way that accurately predicts on-the-job performance
  • How to align their assessment methods with their client's (or company's) processes
  • The evaluation process is a two-sided affair. They are assessing candidates, candidates are assessing them
  • How to compensate for hidden or unconscious biases
  • How to move candidates through the hiring process rapidly — without being sloppy or careless
  • That the recruitment process requires a certain amount of courting and nurturing to be effective
  • Recruiting needs time to be effective
  • Which metrics and KPIs will measure the health of the recruitment pipeline

Recruiters are specialists who work with hiring managers to find that attract A-player candidates for a particular role or position.

What Is The Role Of A Technical Recruiter?

Technical recruiters differ from general recruiters for apparent reasons.

A general recruiter needs to know just enough about a broad category of industries to be effective.

Technical recruiters, on the other hand, are subspecialists; they have specialized knowledge about a specific segment or subset of the tech industry (e.g., IT, SaaS, ecommerce, agency, etc.).

  • Internal recruiters are full-time in-house employees of the hiring company. These roles are typical in well-funded or mature organizations. Their loyalties fully align with their company, but they typically do not have the access, reach, or influence that external recruiter, executive search firms, or recruiting firms have.

  • External recruiters and recruiting firms are contractors; they typically have fewer responsibilities than their internal counterparts, but they work with many more companies — this gives them tremendous access, reach, and influence. Experienced external recruiters have extensive networks and highly responsive contacts; they can fill roles quickly, more so if they are specialists.

Here is an article from First Round that provides a framework, outlining when to hire in-house recruiters and when to outsource.

The hiring manager-recruiter relationship requires a consistent amount of give-and-take.

Why give and take?

According to the Holloway Guide on Technical Recruiting, " A recruiter may see more candidates and hires in one year than a hiring manager might in their entire career. The relationship between both parties can make or break the entire recruiting process."

What does this mean for recruiters?

Different Responsibilities For Hiring Managers And Recruiters

Hiring managers and recruiters split their responsibilities in different ways.

The division of responsibility varies from company to company; these responsibilities may also change as a company grows. These responsibilities include:

  • Identifying and establishing recruiting networks
  • Creating and implementing recruiting strategies
  • Representing the company at recruitment events and job fairs
  • Creating a job description
  • Attracting, sourcing, and screening potential candidates
  • Conducting informational chats
  • Starting the interview process and assessing potential candidates
  • Relaying job offers and rejections
  • Negotiating compensation packages

The nature of these roles and responsibilities will vary from company to company. You may be asked to change your approach for a particular position or to take on more than you did previously.

Be prepared to adapt.

Technical recruiters are adept at hiring for engineering and IT technical roles. These roles require full-time, T-shaped candidates with a significant amount of experience within a specific technical space. This means technical recruiters need enough knowledge to converse with, assess, and screen potential candidates effectively. Recruiters also need clear feedback from hiring managers and teams.

To quote The Holloway Guide:

"The relationship between recruiters and hiring managers is akin to a vendor-client relationship. Teams have hiring needs and make requests, and recruiters take the order and deliver the candidates. This works some of the time, but it takes a partnership between recruiters and hiring managers to be truly successful. The goal is for both parties to be aligned around a common goal, to agree on priorities and expectations, and to be comfortable working together and giving each other feedback. This allows a recruiter to truly understand a hiring manager's needs, and a hiring manager to understand the complexity and commitment required to hire successfully."

Hiring managers and teams and recruiters need to function as partners to survive.

Are Technical Skills Needed For Technical Recruiting?

Recruiting comes with variety.

With technical recruiting, this variety requires consistent learning. The tech industry, specifically IT, is in a constant state of change. Elite technical recruiters rely on systems and IT recruitment skills to feed them the tools and information they need to converse with sharp candidates.

Elite technical recruiters will have these inputs:

  1. Feeders. Information sources that keep you updated on significant trends, must-have information, and deep pockets of information. They provide you with access and curate data. Examples include CRN.com, BaselineMag.com, FCW.com, InternetNews.com, ArsTechnica, and IDC.
  2. Organizers provide focus, clarity, and structure. They limit demands on your time, resources, or energy. They can be used to organize anything - emails, people, information, or time. A feeder without an organizer is overwhelming. It feels like you are drinking from a fire hose. Organizers include apps like GetStation.com, virtual, personal, or administrative assistants.
  3. Unloaders relieve burdens. Unloading a mundane, unsuitable, or repetitive task gives you more time and energy, enabling you to focus your attention where it is needed the most. Unloaders could be a virtual, personal, or administrative assistant, a software tool like IFTTT or Zapier, or something as simple as email filters.
  4. Dealers create opportunities. A dealer could be a job coordinator at a college or university who wants to put their graduates in touch with an elite recruiter (you). Interest or topic-specific clubs (e.g., IT or computer science clubs, or LAN parties) filled with exceptional candidates. Dealers create opportunities and provide access - how you use it is up to you. Dealers work best in a quid pro quo relationship.

These are the skills needed to become a technical recruiter. How do you become a technical recruiter? It is a commission-based job that does not have a degree track you can follow. First, it is important to note that most recruiter jobs require a significant degree of discipline.

It can be stressful, especially if you are used to a steady paycheck.

Here are several steps you can follow if you are interested in becoming a technical recruiter.

  1. Earn a degree. This is not mandatory, but it is definitely helpful, especially if you have the right major. A recent study by LinkedIn listed the most common majors as psychology, business, marketing, human resources, or sociology.
  2. Gain the skills you need. Interning at a staffing agency, or working in sales, operations, administrative, support, or research roles helps you develop the necessary skills you need to win a recruiter role. Seek out formal and informal training to build your experience and set yourself apart from other recruiter candidates.
  3. Earn relevant certifications. Some certifications function as a replacement or substitute for your bachelor's degree. It is helpful to have both, but certifications are a useful first step if you do not have a degree. You can pursue certifications from AIRS, Certified Personnel Consultant, LinkedIn Recruiter Certification, or the American Staffing Association.
  4. Pursue recruiter roles. Use the training you have received so far to win a spot in a company or staffing agency. Going through the hiring process with fresh eyes post-training will provide you with a clear look at the ins and outs of your role as a recruiter. A better way to earn your spot as a recruiter? Recruit your recruiters; reach out to recruiters using the strategies and tactics they use to attract highly qualified candidates. Quote them tastefully

These are straightforward steps you can follow to earn a recruitment spot.

Create A Hiring Plan For Technical Recruiting

A hiring plan is indispensable.

Recruiters do their best to fill the necessary roles in their client company. Inexperienced recruiters, and even hiring managers, work to fill the positions without ensuring that there is a proper fit. This means the risk of a mis-hire is quite high —6 to 27 times an employee's base salary as we saw earlier.

If 69.3 percent of organizations make the wrong hiring decisions (as noted at the beginning), this means both recruiters and hiring managers get these details wrong the vast majority of the time.

A hiring plan clarifies company needs.

With a hiring plan, you will have a clear sense of whether you need to hire (or not), the candidate you are looking for specifically, and whether the "who" already exists in your organization. For instance, here's a plan for hiring PHP developers and hiring software developers.

What Is In A Technical Recruiting Hiring Plan?

  • Whether you need to hire
  • Who you need to hire
  • Whether your search for a candidate should be internal or external
  • How will the role be filled?
  • Which candidate types should we target?
  • How will you connect with your target candidates?
  • What is your timeframe and budget?

Before you define roles and create job descriptions, your hiring plan should dictate:

  • What the client company goals are
  • What is preventing your team from achieving these goals
  • What should your team be doing that it is not already?
  • Do you have the execution bandwidth needed to achieve these goals?
  • What is the structure of your team, and what do you need to add to it?
  • Do you have a plan to create positions for strong candidates, even if that position does not exist now?

It is also a prudent move to measure the quality of their hires.

Ideal sources for candidates

You will want to choose the right sources, job boards, and staffing agencies for tech and IT talent.

  • Github helps you understand a developer's expertise and skillset

  • Reflik is a sourcing platform that is tailored towards independent recruiters and agencies

  • Toptal helps employers source the top 3 percent of freelance and contract-to-hire talent in the world

  • LinkedIn Recruiter app to search and review profiles of potential hires and respond quickly to candidates

  • Reddit r/TechJobs tech jobs listed in various subreddits

  • Dice 70K+ job openings from tech employers

  • Hired a job board with an emphasis on tech

  • Angel.co tech and startup jobs from tech companies and startups

  • WhiteTruffle allows you to apply to 7,500+ tech jobs via one application

  • CrunchBoard TechCrunch's job board for all things tech

  • TechCareers 200K+ tech and engineering jobs

  • IT job pro the self-proclaimed second-largest IT job board in America

  • Hacker Noon the community-driven tech job site

  • YCombinator Tech and startup jobs

  • TechFetch Access to 100K+ Tech Jobs and 1M Tech Resumes

What Are The Strategies For Recruiting Great Tech Talent For Your Company?

  1. Employer branding. Your brand is your reputation. According to LinkedIn, good employer branding produces a 50 percent increase in qualified candidates, a 50 percent cost-to-hire reduction, and 1-2x faster time-to-hire.
  2. Partnerships. A job coordinator at a college or university who wants to put their graduates in touch with an elite recruiter. Interest or topic-specific clubs (e.g., IT or computer science clubs, or LAN parties) filled with exceptional candidates. This can also be tangential relationships with leaders of hackathons, meetups, and hackathons.
  3. Mine your professional network. Nurture pre-existing contacts with previous relationships in the tech industry. This is mining weak connections using the 5-50-100 rule. With the right connections, you can get in touch with top tier candidates for virtually any role.
  4. Create an employee review management campaign. Send review requests to current employees, asking them to write a review about your client's company. Give them the opportunity to opt-out, and the trust needed to write whatever they want.
  5. Build an audience via thought leadership. Create consistent content for developers. Work to provide them with helpful tools and resources to further their careers. Building an audience of tech employees who trust you, as a recruiter, is an easy way to attract new clients. Earn their trust, and they'll reach out to you for job placement assistance.

In addition to common tactics like advertising, these strategies and tactics are reliable ways to build long term trust and support.

Conclusion: Technical Recruiting Can Attract All-stars And Prevent Mis-hires

As we have seen, the cost of a single mis-hire is astronomical, especially once you realize organizations make the wrong hiring decisions seven times out of ten. The vast majority of tech employees don't believe tech recruiters can deliver.

Are employees or AI better at evaluating potential candidates than technical recruiters?

Not a chance.

These employees do not have access to the same information you do. As a technical recruiter, you have the training, knowledge, and resources needed to identify, screen, and attract all-star candidates. Use this beginner's guide to stand out from your peers. With consistent effort, you will find you have the tools and resources you need to draw qualified candidates into your company.

What are some strategies and tactics you use to attract candidates for a particular role? Share your thoughts below.