When it comes to finding/hiring the best tech talent out there, many recruitment assumptions and strategies need to be abandoned. For one thing, techies are different in many ways from so-called “typical job seekers.” In spite of a bad economy, for example, experienced, talented technical professionals are still in high demand.
These people are not as desperate as others to find a job; additionally, they are “different” personality-wise and job-expectations-wise. Christine Lagorio, for example, in her article 7 Unconventional Ways to Hire the Best Tech Talent suggests that companies not overlook candidates with autism/Asperger’s Syndrome symptoms. The funnel-like, intense attention necessary for software development makes such persons ideally suited for the job.
Looking at Resumes Doesn’t Cut it Anymore
For one thing, many of the most talented technical professionals are already employed. Those that are not will fall into one of these categories: educated but inexperienced; recently graduated and young (and, therefore, easily overlooked); freelancing; or not able to survive the traditional job applicant pre-screening protocols.
As one recruiting expert pointed out, talented techies are more likely to be working on their craft than on coming up with a perfect resume. Recruiters/employers, knowing this, should employ unconventional methods and, in essence, disregard the hire a hacker cheap. Paul Sawers, in fact, suggests that looking at a candidate’s “hobbies and interests” may be more useful than simply looking at listed skills/previous job responsibilities. He also suggests infiltrating online communities (e.g., GitHub, Dribbble, and StackOverflow) where you can informally assess potential job candidates.
If Not through Traditional Channels, Then How?
As Lary West (in the article “How Big Companies Recruit and Hire for IT Skills”) points out “There is no magic app for attracting top talent and ensuring employee satisfaction, yet a few leading technology companies have succeeded in creating a winning combination of salary, benefits, and work environment and company culture.” The idea is to study how some of these companies have done it and then, as closely as possible, imitate them.
Some of their recruitment best practices include:
- If possible, buy a smaller company (“acqui-hiring”), thereby acquiring an already trained staff (e.g. PayPal buying Critical Path, Inc.)
- Attract employees from competing firms.
- Implement hacker competitions; competitors are potential employees.
- Give rewards for useful referrals.
- Be willing/ready to train new personnel.
- Pair inexperienced developers with seasoned programmers.
- Use HireLite-in essence, a “speed-dating” applicant-interviewing service.
- Attend technology conferences/seminars; they are recruitment opportunities.
- View universities as on-going rich candidate resources.
- Utilize information code streamlining/analyses systems like HireVue to sift out best candidates from pools of applicants.
- Employ job applicant tracking software/services.