Think about the tech talent you want. They’re the social media denizens, the majordomos of technical web forums, the smartphone addicts. They are fully immersed in different digital worlds — creating them, leading evolutions in the thinking around them, and honing their skills within them.
So, why are your recruiters still calling them?
You and your recruiters already know they never answer your calls. Voicemail is quickly going the way of CDs and fax machines – most will be deleted without even a quick listen.
Old school recruiting methods don’t land top tech talent.
To reach these skilled techies, your recruiters need to meet them where they are.
Tech talent doesn’t want your recruiters’ cold calls
Picture this: A young tech candidate is fervently coding away on their next freelance project. They’ve been looking for new opportunities and to expand their skills — they’ve even reached out on LinkedIn and responded to one of your job postings in the past.
But the candidate is not going to answer their phone – especially if it’s a call from an unknown number from an area code they don’t know anyone from. They’ll hit “send to voicemail” (which they’ll quickly delete) and keep rolling on their project.
The talent you’re looking for doesn’t want your recruiters’ call out of the blue. Some young tech stars find calls so intrusive that they hide their phones. For example, Kevin Castle, a 32-year-old COO at a California-based software company, says unplanned calls are such an annoyance that he usually unplugs his desk phone and stashes it in a cabinet. Castle says unscheduled calls downright rude.
Tech talent is online, but they don’t hang out on job boards.
From the “Help Wanted” sign in the window to a classified ad in the newspaper, job listings advance with technology. And as they do, the old methods get cast aside for newer, more efficient ways to fill positions. Online job boards are not the talent magnets they once were.
Tech talent is online but not where your recruiters are looking. Your recruiters need to leave their own world — of job boards and LinkedIn profiles — and find talent in tech-native environments
Top tech talent is “top” for a reason. They are constantly working towards differentiating themselves so they can survive in an increasingly competitive market. While talent might be open to exploring new opportunities, they are also busy trying to improve their craft. It might give recruiters the illusion they’re unattainable, but there are still plenty of ways to effectively reach them.
How to Reach Top Tech Talent
The whole gamut of tech-savvy folks are hanging out online: young people just dipping their toes into writing code, high schoolers working on programming project because they got grounded, college kids studying for computer science finals, recent grads feeling in over their heads at their first job, seasoned professionals, and literally everyone in between.
Here are a few good techniques to try instead of hanging out on job boards.
Join online communities and forums.
Tech-savvy folks, like everyone else, spend a lot of time online: young people just dipping their toes into writing code, high schoolers working on programming project because they got grounded, college kids studying for computer science finals, recent grads feeling in over their heads at their first job, seasoned professionals, and literally everyone in between.
Here are a few good resources for tracking down tech talent where they like to hang out online.
GitHub is a place for developers to store their code. All the code stored there is sorted by programming language, so if a recruiter is looking for someone versed in a certain language, GitHub is a great starting point.
When a developer types a specific question into Google, chances are high that a Stack Overflow solution will pop up somewhere on the first page. Stack Overflow is a Q&A platform where users work together to solve and discuss virtually any issue coders encounter. It’s a goldmine of top talent.
Another popular Q&A platform, Quora discussions are typically less technical, but there are plenty of threads about the tech industry in general. Conversations are sorted into topics, making it easy to browse by keywords found in positions recruiters are trying to fill.
Reddit hosts discussions about pretty much anything you could imagine. Looking for pictures of Jonn Cena — er, I mean, potato salad? Reddit is the place for you. You can also find heated discussions about programming, web design, development, IT careers, and well… you get the idea.
Users can “upvote” threads that are the most interesting or valuable to the rest of the community, making it easy to see what is most important to the talent recruiters are looking for.
Keeping an eye on online communities gives recruiters the opportunity to gather priceless intel. Forums offer a free space for folks to have their voices heard, so recruiters can learn about a potential candidate’s skill level, communication style, and even a little bit about their personality.
Meetup with candidates IRL.
Recruiting tech talent doesn’t all have to be done behind a computer screen! In fact, many developers and information technology professionals live for getting together and sharing skills; it’s a sure-fire way for them to grow their portfolio and improve their craft.
Techies that organize and attend meetups are passionate about the industry and hungry for a challenge. Those hard-to-fill positions recruiters struggle with might be just the ticket.
Recruiters don’t necessarily have to participate in a “Frontend Showdown” or a “Hackathon” to reach talent that will be there. It’s usually pretty easy to track down the organizers and attendees of meetups and events; recruiters can reach out in other ways once they know who they’re looking for. On the other hand, if recruiters come across tech-industry social events, it’s a great opportunity to go mingle with ideal candidates!
Embrace the power of texting.
Tech talent might loathe the sound of their own ringtone but will answer a text message in two seconds flat. Texting is quicker and lets them get right back to what they were doing.
Recruiters know that once they have a prospect’s number, they’re already one step closer to placing them in the perfect position. They should take advantage of tech talent’s willingness to communicate via text.
Texting can be used to ask and answer quick questions, reach out to chilly leads, schedule appointments, and request referrals. It’s an important line of communication, especially for the fast-paced technology industry. Tech candidates can zoom right past postings, even if it’s a well-suited position a recruiter has been struggling to fill for weeks. With a gentle nudge of a reminder text about those perfect assignments, things can progress in just minutes.
Looking for more on texting for candidates? This article has some more detailed ways recruiters should be using text messaging.
Leverage existing networks.
You know referrals are your bread and butter. Encourage your recruiters to get creative about tapping their networks, from friends and family to current candidates. For example, if a recruiter comes across a website that is both beautiful and functional and is looking to fill a web development position, they can track down who built the website. It could just be a freelancer looking for a more position.
Existing candidates will be great sources of referrals, too. If you’re looking for a more structured way for your recruiters to tap their natural networks, check out StaffingReferrals, the only referral software built for staffing and recruiting firms.
Get creative with your job applications.
Traditional application processes are extremely time-consuming and don’t have the power to show off technical talent like portfolios do, so it’s no secret tech talent prefers sharing their online portfolio rather than writing a tired cover letter. Tedious application processes might actually deter top tech talent, and on the flip side, doesn’t give recruiters the full picture of their technical capabilities. So how are recruiters supposed to know when candidates will make the cut for hard-to-source positions?
Companies like Google and Uber have managed to find a middle ground that infuses a little fun in the whole process. For example, Google uses a “secret” site, foo.bar as a job application platform. Invite-only candidates enter and complete a series of coding exercises ranging in difficulty to see if they could cut working at the tech company.
To weed out less experienced tech talent to get niche positions filled, a vetting process is an absolute must. Making it a little less agonizing for the candidates will capture talent in numbers and maybe even create buzz around your agency.
Want to create more buzz? Check out our social recruiting resources.
Or are you looking for some more creative ways to get in touch with talent? Check out this guide on Gonzo recruiting!
Caitlin Delohery is the Editor-in-Chief of StaffingHub.