Orignally published on Forbes, February 08th, 2022
Tech talent is increasingly becoming like gold dust. Despite 35% of companies saying that they plan on hiring at least 50 developers in 2022, there's an estimated shortage of 40 million skilled workers worldwide. But rather than focus on finding the tech needles in the haystack, companies should be directing their efforts toward finding recruiters.
Tech recruiters are themselves in short supply, which only worsens the search to bring new tech talent on board. In fact, unemployment rates for tech workers are about 2.1%, less than half the national average. But recruiter quality is far more valuable than recruiter quantity, and working with the right recruiter can help companies swiftly scale and retain their tech teams.
The problem, however, is that tech employees have typically thought of recruiters "like used-car salesmen"—often pushy and disingenuous in their approach. It's more important than ever that companies invest in recruiters who are both emotionally intelligent and tech-savvy to appeal to talent flooded with job offers.
Here are three things you can do to find and hire the right people that will grow your tech team.
1. Target people who speak your (programming) language.
The best conversations occur when the people involved bond over a shared interest. So, for recruiters to establish a connection with potential candidates, they need to be tech aware. That's not to say they should be qualified engineers but that they have sound knowledge of tech tools, trends and processes.
Companies should be looking for recruiters that have taken technical courses such as an introduction to coding, product design, agile flows and UX or UI. They should also show an active interest in the tech industry, subscribing to newsletters and communities, attending events and listening to podcasts like Recruiting Future and Recruitment on the Go. It's also worthwhile if they're active on Stack Overflow and Quora, publicly asking questions to bridge gaps in their understanding.
This tech awareness is essential, but it shouldn't compromise recruiters' ability to be empathetic. Recruiters naturally have to create rapport, read unspoken cues and make candidates feel at ease from day one. Recruiters that have a background in sales are generally well versed in these areas because they know how to negotiate and pitch without being intrusive and to listen with intention. And, considering that recruitment is a social game, people from sales generally have big networks due to their charisma and can bring useful contacts with them for organizations to tap into.
2. Sell recruiters your company story, not stats.
How a business sells its company is ultimately an indicator of how it expects recruiters to sell the company. The challenge, though, is that recruiters are naturally going to have a critical eye when it comes to job descriptions—they'll see through fluff, overpromises and a business that doesn't know its target people. Organizations should hire a copywriter to compose a job post that honestly encapsulates what the recruitment role is, who the company is and who their ideal recruiter is. The description should have a distinct voice and not jump straight into the duties of the position but rather open with, "Here at X, we rely on Y principle" or "We appreciate X type of person because of Y."
It's also good to outline what the recruiter will do at different stages with the company, such as what they'll have achieved and what they'll be working on for each quarter of the first year. By mapping a path for recruiters, they know there's a growth trajectory and that they're not sought after to merely fill empty desks.
Don't feel limited to LinkedIn to source recruiters either. Ask current tech teams if they have had good experiences with recruiters in previous jobs and if they can make an introduction. These referrals can be filtered down based on the company culture and preferred hiring approach. For example, a business might be looking to see if a recruiter was conversational and enjoyed meeting in more informal settings with candidates. Businesses can then pitch their story and openings to potential recruiters in a way that they know already resonates with them.
3. Meet recruiter expectations in 2022.
Recruiters, along with engineers and other tech workers, have been able to make fresh demands in the highly competitive space. But, although financial compensation is key, it isn't the end stop for attracting recruiters.
Recruiters want autonomy in their role, to be trusted to be remote, to choose their hours and to have the option to work on a freelance basis. They also look for employers that provide reward and incentive programs in which individuals are recognized and motivated to do well—not just in terms of the number of people they hire but the value they deliver through networking, branding and community building. These programs boost morale and are a powerful way to retain recruiters in the long term.
Development pathways need to be in place too. Over time, recruiters will want to progress to more senior positions, manage others or concentrate on research like sourcing and matching candidates. Alternatively, they may want to hone in on specialized areas of recruitment such as HR functions, operations or data. Companies, therefore, have to show recruiters that they have the training and case studies (i.e., other recruiters that have transitioned) for them to upskill in their careers.
Having the right group of recruiters can be key to organizations that plan to expand their tech teams and offerings. By revisiting how they hire recruiters, companies can better pinpoint their unique proposition in the job market and work in tandem with recruiters to maximize that value across all tech roles.
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About the Author: Sergiu Matei is an Oxford Alumni, co-founder and CEO of Index. He is Alchemist Accelerator mentor, a board member of StartX., and an official member of the Forbes Technology Council.