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What I learned from speaking to 30+ recruiters and hiring managers in tech.

June 17, 2021 • Joy Zhang • Resources • 3 minutes

What I learned from speaking to 30+ recruiters and hiring managers in tech.

I recently interviewed 30+ people from the technology industry involved in recruiting software engineers and data scientists about their hiring challenges. This included recruiters, heads of talent, and hiring managers at startups to large corporates.

I asked questions like...

  • "What's the hardest thing about finding tech talent?"
  • "What's your typical hiring process look like?"
  • "What are you currently doing to try and build your talent pipeline?"

Here's a compilation of my key findings. If you're looking for a job as a software engineer or data scientist, this might provide you with an alternative perspective that you can use to your advantage.

Insight #1: Leverage your network.

~80% of our hires come from referrals.
Engineering Manager at Splunk

We've found the best way to find new talent is through referrals.
Recruiter at Atlassian and Safety Culture

The entire recruitment process can be pretty lengthy and expensive for a company. Even after a candidate is hired, there's still a chance they might not be the right fit.

In order to de-risk this, many companies set up referral programs to incentivize employees to refer people they can vouch for. It's seen as a great way to hire people that they're more likely to trust.

If you're searching for a new job, make sure to ask around your network and get a leg up on the competition!

Insight #2: Be a well-rounded candidate.

The most challenging thing is trying to find data scientists with the right mix of business and technical skills.
Hiring Manager at Toyota Finance

The interview and technical assessment process is broken and frustrating. These aren't relevant to people's true abilities. It's hard to tell whether they can design, are able to collaborate, communicate clearly.
Engineering manager (hiring manager) at Telstra Australia

As important as it is to find someone with the right technical skills, it's unlikely that you'll ever be working solo on a project. A common challenged shared by recruiters is finding candidates with the right mix of soft skills as well as technical. It's an extremely difficult thing to evaluate especially since interviews aren't the easiest situation to feel comfortable in.

So, make sure you take the behavioral part of an interview just as seriously as the technical portion.

Insight #3: Leverage your social media presence.

After I get the hiring brief, I go hunting! I search for candidates using many tools, such as LinkedIn, StackOverflow, and Github. I find I get much better response rates on places like Github and Stack Overflow compared to LinkedIn.
Talent acquisition, Uber and Atlassian

Recruiters are now taking a more proactive approach. This is particularly true for companies that don't have large budgets for employer marketing.

The typical process is as follows:

  1. Find out what technical stack they're hiring for
  2. Search Github for users with repos using that stack, or Stack Overflow for users actively answering questions related to that stack
  3. Cross reference their profile with tools used to find a person's contact details

LinkedIn is still the most common platform being used, but it's becoming less popular. Many recruiters I spoke to are finding it harder to get a response on there (and LinkedIn profiles also more likely to be out of date). A few recruiters I spoke to are also now starting to try Twitter - so don't discount that medium either.

Insight #4: Join tech meetups.

Apart from posting jobs on LinkedIn, Glassdoor and whatnot, we do a lot of in-person events. Sometimes we host or sponsor events like PHP and Java-focused events.
Head of Talent at Finder

Another proactive approach used by recruiters is to go to developer meetups related to the technology stack they're hiring for.

You might find meetups useful for growing your network or learning something new, regardless of whether or not you're job searching.

Insight #5: Look at smaller companies.

It's very difficult to compete - my approach has always been to grow the talent. So I used to go to universities and hire from graduates and have them grow into different pathways. So it worked really well, we were not trying to compete with the big ones.
CTO at various startups

It's likely that most jobs you'll see are ones posted by large companies with big recruiting budgets.

Smaller companies and startups will rarely have a dedicated budget like this they can spend on employer branding and marketing. But that doesn't mean they aren't great places to work and build your career.

Closing Remarks

Thanks for reading! The purpose of this blog was simply to summarise the learnings from my conversations with recruiters and hiring managers. Hopefully it gave you some insight into the recruitment process from the other side.

If you have any feedback or thoughts, let me know.

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