If you’re worried about planning an effective recruiting strategy, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers:
- 63% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of essential skills in the labor market;
- 93% recognize that they need to change their recruitment strategies; and
- Only 34% feel that their HR department is well prepared to adapt to the challenges of the future.
- Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that 95% of hiring is done to fill existing positions. Most of those vacancies are caused by voluntary turnover.
- LinkedIn data indicate that the most common reason employees consider a position elsewhere is career advancement—which is surely related to employers not promoting to fill vacancies.
These insights give us a glimpse into the struggle to find an effective recruitment strategy by businesses in any industry.
Why do employers struggle to fulfil their employee’s potential?
According to Artur Meyster, CTO and founder of Career Karma, workplace culture is the reason.
One of the strengths that companies might be overlooking is just being on the same page with everyone. It could be things like making sure:
- Your executive and management teams set the right goals and communicate those goals to the wider organization.
- The organization knows what the quarterly goals are so everyone is working towards that North star.
If you’re not on the same page, not providing feedback to your employees, if people don’t know what your expectations are, fulfilling expectations can get difficult. You’ll find out very early on because you’ll see that. People will voice that.
You can get to a common place by providing them feedback and advice on how to overcome any challenges they face.
Why you need best practices for hiring top talent in tech
Nearly every CEO knows there are issues with their strategy, but they’re not sure exactly how to address the problems and devise solutions.
The exponential growth in the tech industry means companies must adapt to changing trends fast. This is especially true when it comes to hiring tech professionals in key areas of your business. Finding the right talent for tech jobs in your organization will require you to develop a more savvy and focused recruitment strategy.
The root cause of most hiring problems, therefore, is drastically poor retention combined with poor practices for finding top talent. Here 23 best practices for hiring top talent in tech that you can incorporate and make your own for your business:
- Why do employers struggle to fulfil their employee’s potential?
- Why you need best practices for hiring top talent in tech
- 1. Have a good “why” for the position that you’re trying to fill
- 2. Create a process for developing best practices for hiring top talent in tech
- 3. Decide on whether to use recruiters to hire top talent in tech
- 4. Put your people first
- 5. Encourage your employees to be brand ambassadors
- 6. Treat hiring top talent in tech like a sales function
- 7. Use the mission of your organization to filter the right candidates
- 8. Have a distinct employer value proposition
- 9. Be flexible in your employment requirements
- 10. Invest in education
- 11. Consult with your managers
- 12. Understand the full candidate experience and the life cycle
- 13. Relate work/tasks to the overall mission of the organization
- 14. Use social media to acquire the right kind of talent
- 15. Consider hiring talent who are switching careers
- 16. Use your intuition in hiring
- 17. Be authentic
- 18. Involve more than one person in interviews
- 19. Network even when you do not have an open position
- 20. Measure results
- 21. Persuade fewer people to apply
- 22. Validate your talent acquisition strategy
- 23. Build your team
- Create your best practices for hiring top talent in tech
1. Have a good “why” for the position that you’re trying to fill
Without a good enough why for the position, chances are you’ll be hiring too early or too late—or even make the wrong hire. That will negatively impact your work culture and financials.
Another factor to take into consideration when looking at best practices for hiring top talent in tech is: how big is your team, how big is your company?
Because hiring your first engineer is very different from hiring your fifth engineer or 10th engineer.
In making your first hire—you need to know exactly what you are looking for. You aren’t likely to be looking for someone that’s going to architect a solution or create something very advanced. Instead, chances are that you are looking for an individual contributor who could take some of the things off of your plate. Understanding what that role entails and then finding the person with a specific skill set will enable you to start scaling your team.
Let’s say you get bigger, and now you have a team of five engineers. As a team, you can identify the weak spots, recurring issues that are happening on the team in terms of outages. Maybe you can’t scale at the same pace as your traffic. You can then hire accordingly.
2. Create a process for developing best practices for hiring top talent in tech
Having a well-planned, thoughtful recruiting process that you actually follow time and time again should be a critical part of your approach. You also need to determine the best time and situation to hire someone.
Artur says having a process for:
- sourcing candidates
- interviewing candidates
- leveling the playing field when you’re up against stronger competitors
- eliminating biases from the hiring process
These are important pieces to have in place, especially for companies that are looking to scale their teams.
Artur says he takes more of a “right fit” approach as opposed to a “we need to get this job done” kind of an approach. Though in reality, it is a mix of both.
- Hire people that have demonstrated in their personal projects or in their past work experience that they’ve done something related to the biggest challenge that you are currently facing. That way you know that by bringing them on board, they’re able to help with your immediate challenges.
- When interviewing candidates, look for someone who can adjust. For example, are they flexible enough to learn additional skills or technologies? That’s where the interview process comes in.
If you can identify someone who can help you immediately, who takes ownership of their code, and also has the potential to scale with the team and with the company’s needs, you’ve found someone who is up to the challenge.
3. Decide on whether to use recruiters to hire top talent in tech
If you are a small organization, you might not want to use recruiters.
Speaking from his experience, Artur says —
He felt it was his responsibility to spearhead recruitment as the ramifications for bringing people onboard didn’t just impact the work and the people but also the financial side of things. Now that Career Karma has grown, he is still actively involved in the hiring process.
Whenever they have a new candidate or referral, Artur is usually the first one to interview them. He feels that’s important because he wants to be able to use their small size as an advantage and ensure the culture is preserved.
Hiring is one of the most important things that executives can do.
Because hiring the right people allows you to bring on force multipliers.
Artur says that in interviewing candidates for an engineering position he had expectations for the person with regards to their role.
4. Put your people first
When you truly care for your employees, they’ll care for one another, your customers, and the community. Go beyond amazing benefits. Foster a workplace that thrives on trust and respect for all individuals—and protect that culture every day.
As a result, word will spread. Your employees will talk, and they’ll refer like-minded, talented people who believe in your culture and your mission.
5. Encourage your employees to be brand ambassadors
Your leadership team and employees can significantly impact your ability to attract top talent through their LinkedIn profiles.
- Educate them about this and encourage them to reach out to high-potential candidates.
- Encourage them to leave reviews on platforms such as Glassdoor and Indeed.
- Ask them to help create content that reflects the organization’s ethos and culture
6. Treat hiring top talent in tech like a sales function
Treat hiring as a sales function—because it is. The only difference is that you are not trying to sell a product. Instead, you are trying to sell the idea of a position in your company.
7. Use the mission of your organization to filter the right candidates
To attract top talent, an organization must be able to articulate and share the vision and mission of the organization—and the employee value proposition.
Just as organizations focus on branding for their external markets, they need an “employee brand” that effectively communicates the employee experience.
At Career Karma Artur shares his story with potential hires of how they got started and the purpose they are working toward.
Artur says, at Career Karma it is important for them to find out what people love to do, then help them acquire the skills they need and match them with job training programs and companies where they have the best chance to find fulfillment.
Whenever he interviews people, he always asks them:
- How did you learn what you know?
- How did you know that this was the right job for you?
- How did you learn that skillset?
In other words, he is looking for people who are naturally curious and who do things because they enjoy doing them, even if they weren’t getting paid to do it.
8. Have a distinct employer value proposition
Having an employer value proposition will help you hire the right talent.
Because your mission will be very much aligned with a lot of your employees’ missions.
At Career Karma, the employees enjoy building things and they enjoy expressing themselves through their work. As a company that’s what Career Karma is about. Trying to enable people to find careers where they feel fulfilled.
Companies with purpose attract and retain better talent. Finding out your “why” translates into your unique value proposition to candidates (and employees).
The employer value proposition is not a marketing statement. It is informed by the purpose of the organization. The purpose is not a mission (where you are going) or vision (where you would like to be). Purpose defines why you do what you do, which motivates candidates to join the movement and apply.
9. Be flexible in your employment requirements
Here is why Artur says we should be flexible in employment requirements:
- The “traditional” office environment and compensation models are no longer as appealing as they used to be.
- More people are coming into jobs from nontraditional backgrounds being. Some can do a better job than classically trained software engineers from traditional backgrounds. This is another change that is increasingly being accepted as normal.
- And in today’s marketplace is actually a global marketplace. There are amazing engineers in Eastern Europe and Asia and Africa. So, being open to people from different backgrounds is actually a great way to build a culture where even if you aren’t a big tech giant, you’re not limited to looking for engineers with the right culture fit only in your city.
10. Invest in education
Learning opportunities have become a key part of workplace engagement for your employees. So, invest in making the employees you already have—make them feel valued and foster their loyalty.
By developing new experiences for top talent and tailoring learning initiatives to career growth.
11. Consult with your managers
In building out your best practices for hiring top talent in tech, it is important that you build a strong, consultative relationship with your hiring managers.
Hiring managers are obviously under pressure to fill the position as well and quickly as possible. But that should be done in light of other considerations—especially that the cost of a wrong hire can be detrimental to the organization’s culture and your financials as well.
12. Understand the full candidate experience and the life cycle
Whether you like it or not, your organization’s reputation factors into a candidate’s decision to join your organization. A candidate’s experience is a continuum that begins even before they start to imagine a role with your organization (brand awareness), and it extends well beyond the time they leave.
So, there are lessons you can learn from brand and marketing colleagues to better position yourself in the market so you can attract and hire top talent.
13. Relate work/tasks to the overall mission of the organization
Best practices for hiring top talent in tech should also include relating tasks that candidates and employees will be working on to the overall mission of the organization. This way you can show people how their work contributes to the overall mission of the organization and the people they serve.
Artur says that, usually, he’ll share with a potential candidate a piece of code that’s broken. At times he’ll share a real-world bug or issue that the team struggled to solve. These aren’t straightforward problems; they are complex or multidimensional challenges. He then asks them to debug it iso he can see how they approach problem-solving.
You can even do this over Zoom. You can share your screen, and candidates can even take control of your computer. By observing candidates during the process, Artur says he gets a better idea of how they think and approach problems. He says it’s a great way to gauge whether they would be a good fit for your team.
For candidates, it is an opportunity to work on an actual piece of code that your team created and understand what it would be like if they were on your team and were tasked with trying to solve it.
14. Use social media to acquire the right kind of talent
With social media, organizations now have an opportunity to be visible to many potential candidates. You also need to consider that candidates are doing their research before they come to an interview.
They want to know what your current employees are saying about you.
With that in mind, you need to take control of your company’s image.
Brand your relevant pages with more employee-related perspectives and events. Become a people-focused employer and you will automatically attract top talent.
LinkedIn can be very beneficial for getting both inbound and outbound leads.
If you think about it, top candidates are probably already employed somewhere. This can make the outreach even harder because they may not necessarily have any desire to move and the onus is on you to make it worth their while. This is especially true if you’re reaching out to someone and asking them for an informational interview or something like that to get to know them.
For this approach to work, you have to have something behind you that draws them or catches their eye. Yu need to be vocal about your mission on social media, have some press articles, things that will get their attention. Then when you start speaking to them, you needn’t spend much time explaining what your company does.
Artur has used this approach a lot to establish that first connection. From there, he moves the conversation to a more formal interviewing process.
15. Consider hiring talent who are switching careers
Artur also says this fits the purpose of Career Karma, and they have helped many people in that regard.
Here is how you could hire top talent from among career switchers:
- Attitude is really everything.
- Look for drive and vision in your potential candidates.
- Prioritize those who’ve done their research.
- Hire as your business evolves.
- Find people who embrace change.
16. Use your intuition in hiring
Artur says that intuition is very important in the hiring process.
He likes to make potential candidates feel comfortable so they can have a frank, honest discussion about their career, their life, and where they want to be. It’s very important to have a process, but also make the candidate feel comfortable so they can open up to you and share:
- What they enjoy doing
- How they got to where they are
- Their intuition
- Some of the decisions they made in their life. etc.
And through that, you could learn a lot about whether they would make a great addition to your team.
It’s important to have a process, but it’s also important that the process is not too stringent, not too formal, where the questions you ask candidates make them feel tense rather than open with you. In that case, you won’t be able to assess the candidate completely—or fairly.
17. Be authentic
Don’t put on a show to snag a candidate. It’s critical for the candidate to know exactly what he or she is walking into and can make a smart decision about the future.
This is what Artur recommends we be conscious of in our efforts to be authentic.
18. Involve more than one person in interviews
Artur recommends that:
You have at least one other person involved in the candidate interview process. The person could be a coworker or a manager or tech lead that will work closely with you. That way you get a perspective from someone the new hire will be working with or reporting to.
Also, it ensures that the candidate is able to find some commonality with their manager or coworker.
For technical roles a tech lead can make sure that on a technical level, the candidate knows:
- What they’re talking about
- They are familiar with the technologies that will be used.
- They have experience solving the types of problems they’re likely to face.
There should be at least one person that does the technical evaluation, and then another person in the interview process that evaluates them on a cultural level and whether they would make a good contributor to the team.
19. Network even when you do not have an open position
For a startup, networking is one of the best ways to get your name out there. Networking even when you do not have an open position allows you to build a bench for potential candidates to sign up as and when a position does open up.
In fact, Artur says he used to do a lot of networking in the beginning and asked people to jump on a call with him just to get to know them even if they weren’t looking for a job. He would then follow up with them every month or so and see if things changed.
Nowadays, Artur says he prefers to get people referred from within his teams. He encourages his team to refer people if they hear from one of their friends that they’re looking for a job or if they know that someone might be interested. He also encourages his team to go out and network on the company’s behalf.
20. Measure results
The answer is it would depend for example on the engineering team it is probably a bit more straightforward, you could tell from a person’s activity levels and based on the complexity of the features how well he or she can deliver what you’re asking them to do.
In the first two or three weeks, a new hire is still getting to know the team.
But afterwards, there are definitely expectations that Artur has for team members. In bi-monthly one-on-one meetings, those expectations are covered.
If a person is not following the processes that are established on a team, he’ll provide feedback in a way that enables the person to know where the blind spots might be. It’s a monitoring process for new hires to make sure they’re fully integrated and they’re actually producing at their top capacity.
You can also confer with heads of teams to assess the state of the team. Depending on how quickly you deliver/ship things it may require some monitoring and mentoring to help get into a new rhythm.
For example, startups may have multiple deployments every week and move very fast. And so, for some people that come from bigger companies, this just isn’t the lifestyle they need and like.
Artur says at Career Karma –
Since we do have frequent one-on-ones, we’ll talk about things. Then, after a month or two if the two sides aren’t seeing eye to eye, then it becomes clear where people stand. Then, sometimes the employees will bring it up that they don’t feel that they can meet expectations. At other times, you will need to convey that you understand their expectations, but you need them to do x, y, and z. So, unfortunately, it does happen at times. You hire the person who looked good on paper, who seemed to be everything you were looking for. But then, their habits or the way they approached work didn’t fit with your culture or your mission.
In those cases, it’s important to recognize that early on and make sure that you provide clear feedback. But if that feedback isn’t being taken or doesn’t lead to a change, then, unfortunately, you have to make the tough decisions.
21. Persuade fewer people to apply
Artur advises keeping the barriers to entry high. That means fewer people will apply but they’re more likely to have the right mindset and the right skill set. If there is no filter and just anyone can apply on the website, that could reduce the perceived value of the position as opposed to attracting referrals and making outbound acquisitions.
He says the channels from which you source candidates matter a lot.
Some companies that are big enough to have a recruiter can delegate a lot of those responsibilities away from the CEO or founder. But if you’re a founder and you’re a small startup, you’ll need to oversee that process.
This should not be a quantity game. Ideally, you’re not screening through a hundred or two hundred applications. That would make it very hard to discern who would be a good fit.
Artur says he likes to take an outbound approach when he is looking for a specific type of candidate. He tries to identify them, and then he does some outreach to that type of candidate. He says he gets the conversation started, but then he uses a discovery process to learn where the bar is in terms of the person’s skills as well as their expectations about compensation.
This process is not about quantity. It’s, about quality.
- Make sure you’re separating channels.
- Segment candidates based on the channels you used.
- Evaluate effectiveness based on the channel. Don’t just focus on the number of applications being submitted online.
22. Validate your talent acquisition strategy
Another best practice for hiring top talent in tech is that your organization should ensure that its talent acquisition strategy is designed to attract the right talent.
A quick way to do that is to ask for input from current high performers about what attracted them to the organization, their role and why they have stayed as long as they have. Also, ask questions around your hiring process to ensure it is not a barrier to making quick decisions or else potential candidates could lose interest.
23. Build your team
Artur says building your team is one of the most critical things that you need to do as an executive.
When you look at companies like Square, Airbnb, and Dropbox, their hiring team is what makes the company so great at hiring talent.
If you already have established a brand in a specific market, you might be able to leverage that brand to get the best talent. However, if that is not true of your brand then you need to be open minded about the candidate pool and try to figure out what your strengths are and use that to your advantage.
For example, let’s say you’re a startup and you don’t have a well-established brand and have to compete against bigger players in the market. You might want to expand to a more national or international talent pool and build your company that way.
There are a number of ways to approach the issue of attracting the best talent.
Artur says he has seen a tremendous talent coming from nontraditional backgrounds—folks who are self-taught or go to bootcamps or use other nontraditional means. This is especially true given the increasing trend of people changing careers from what they may have learned in college or university.
Create your best practices for hiring top talent in tech
As we have seen, developing good hiring practices not only helps with hiring top talent in tech but it also fuels long-term growth and revenues. Keeping these critical practices in mind will help you develop your own good practices:
- Remember attitude is everything.
- Look for drive and vision.
- Your ads should inspire the right candidates to apply.
- Cultural fit is as important as talent fit.
- Prioritize candidates who have done their research.
- Establish baseline requirements and differentiators before the process begins, and try to measure the candidates consistently and fairly.
- Network even when you do not have an open position and build a “bench.”
- If more than one person is interviewing the same candidate, ensure that they are asking different questions.
- Evolve hiring as your business evolves.
- Embrace those who embrace change.
- Use your intuition.
- Consider how your social media footprint fuels the process of hiring top talent in tech.
- Take your time.
- Make the hiring process human.
What are best practices for hiring top talent in tech that have worked well for you? Let us know in the comments below.