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The Famous Five: A Guide to Building Tech Teams!

By definition, recruitment is all about people, it’s all about identifying those special sparks that set your organization apart from the rest. Any recruiter knows that being successful at this makes you somewhat of a miracle worker because as simplistic as its definition is, the process of recruitment is a gruelling one. Make no mistake, it is rewarding, but there are countless factors that you need to take into consideration if you want to build a team of superstars.

Whilst recruitment itself is a maze of challenges, hiring software engineers in the midst of a pandemic is a more complex labyrinth to navigate. According to Glassdoor, tech recruiters will on average, go through 120 engineering candidates before making a single successful hire. (Source).

In addition to the process being pretty tedious, recruiters in the information technology sphere are also often faced with the questions of “How do I find experts within this tech stack?”, “What do I need to look for in a profile?”, “Have I made the right call here?”

Let’s break down the process into something that’s easier to digest, and jump right into unveiling the bricks that make up a holistic recruitment process.

A Guide to Building Tech Teams!Optimize Your Sourcing Strategies

There’s an adage in our organization that we treat as gospel truth; “The best tech talent is not always on the job market.” Whilst marketing and employer branding are crucial elements of the recruitment process, you cannot hope to fill in all your positions through vacancy advertisements. Here are a few reasons why:

The volume of candidates received may not be up to parYou may encounter a number of junior or irrelevant candidatesThe ideal type of candidate may be quite comfortable in their current company and would therefore not apply in the first place

This is especially true within the information technology industry, due to the fact that pay scales are high across the board and there is a great deal of flexibility that comes with the job. In addition to this, many candidates also receive a number of benefits from their employers and therefore stick around for a number of years, and begin to mature in their own careers at one given company. Expecting these candidates to apply to your job postings is almost ludicrous.

With that being said, you will need to have multiple channels through which you can expect a decent CV flow. You will first need to identify what an ideal candidate would look like, and set this as your benchmark. Considering that you’re unlikely to be lucky enough to be able to hire them all through job postings, actively go out into the market and look for them. These candidates are passive, but it holds the most reward to get this calibre on to your team. Having a good personal database of tech experts within the industry will make your job a whole lot easier — so building connections is a good percentage of the task, and one that will develop decently over your time within the industry.

Optimize Your Sourcing Strategies

2. Including a Technical Element in Your Interview Process

You’ve got to account for the fact that a big chunk of your candidates is not going to make it past the initial screening. Before we jump straight to technical, we filter our candidates out based on dialect and culture fit, and according to Toptal, only 26.4% of candidates make it through this stage. (Source).

Including a Technical Element in Your Interview Process

So you’re looking at the top 26% of your candidate pool making it to the next stage; which may not sound particularly great at first glance. However, the key is making sure that this 26% that you’ve got in hand are at the top of the class.

So how would you be so sure of that?

The answer lies in the technical portion of your interview process. The actual structure of the technical evaluation needs to be in line with your company’s needs and the technologies that you are hiring for. For example, if you’re hiring mainly for Javascript positions, your technical tests should be tailored accordingly, and the software engineers evaluating these should be particularly strong in that area.

Ideally, you would have an engineering team to take care of this for you, and if not, you would need to create a de facto group of software engineers to create and evaluate technical assessments and carry out the ensuing interviews; to make sure you’ve got it right from a technical standpoint.

If you don’t have these resources on hand, then there are plenty of platforms that can do this for you, such as Codility or TestDome. It may come as a bit of a shock that only 3.6% of candidates make it past the technical interview, but on the flip side, you know that these guys are the ‘best of the best’ that you’re looking for. (Source)

3. Get Your Formula Right!

Once a position has been filled, it’s usually punctuated by a collective sigh of relief since a hurdle has been passed; but the process is not done and dusted just yet. In order for your recruitment function to be both scalable and future-proof, you need to be constantly learning from the data produced from your efforts.

This data can include:

The volume of candidates in the market for a particular skill set, and what percentage you have reached out toThe percentage of candidates that have successfully made it through your technical evaluationsThe popular technologies as per the market standardsThe number of candidates who can be considered to be future resources, but may not be right for the moment

From a team management perspective, your recruitment data may also look like this:

The number of CV’s received week on weekThe number of successful candidates brought in by each recruiterThe number of candidates in your database for each technology — for example, how many viable candidates do you have for Node.JS, and how many for PHP?The main sources from which you find the right candidates

Your sources may look something like this:

Get Your Formula Right

This overview is just the tip of the iceberg — there are countless other metrics that have to be considered. Whilst you may think this doesn’t directly impact the recruitment process, it does in the long run. Creating dashboards and monitoring KPIs will make your recruitment more effective, and will also help you identify lapses or areas where you can improve. Measuring data helps you to take corrective action fast, rather than wait for ineffective practices to fester.

4. Failing is OK But FAIL FAST!

With tech recruitment, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ model. There is always room for improvement and there are always going to be strategies that don’t work. You’re in the danger zone if you remain stagnant, and if you believe that your recruitment process is perfect and doesn’t need any alterations.

One big issue that is common with recruiting software engineers is the lead time to close a position. This can sometimes have a ripple effect on business processes and can further exacerbate bottlenecks. As a recruiter in the information technology industry, don’t shy away from innovation. Constantly stay on the ball in terms of how you can reduce lead time or how you can source for better talent. Implement what you think might work, measure the results, and if it doesn’t work, there’s no harm done. You can just as easily revert to your original process and jump right back to the drawing board for new ideas.

Failing is OK But FAIL FAST!

5. Your Brand is Your Bible

One aspect of your brand is the way that potential candidates will perceive you, and this is reflected by how streamlined your recruitment process is. If your recruitment process is shoddy and not transparent enough to candidates, they’re not going to have a great impression of your organization. Additionally, if you’re not communicating with them frequently, especially to candidates whom you have excluded from the process, you’re likely to lose professionalism, and these candidates are likely to spread negative reviews about you in the talent market. Not to mention, even candidates who may fail your technical assessments now, maybe brilliant assets in the future, and may even be able to refer their colleagues to you. So don’t write them off completely — be humane, yet strategic, and give them constructive feedback.

The other aspect of your brand image is the amount of effort you pour into employer branding and marketing. Now, this may seem completely unrelated to recruitment, but there’s more of an alignment than you may think. You need to ensure that the message that is going out to the market is one that is branding you as ‘An Employer of Choice’. Whilst your organization may focus on strategic B2B and B2C marketing and brand building, talent marketing is also extremely important.

(2018 Job Seeker Nation Study)

This is also true when it comes to reflecting your technical and engineering capabilities. Tech professionals want to know that they will be working on something stimulating and that the technologies you use are currently trending and not outdated. You need to make sure that you don’t overdo it with ‘hard selling’ your brand — it needs to be authentic, it needs to be a community-centric approach.

To summarise, recruiting software engineers in today’s day and age is so much more than mining your existing databases or spamming every engineer and developer on LinkedIn. At Gapstars, we adopt a methodical and structured approach, which is synced with marketing, data management and the enhancement of the candidate’s experience.

A recruiter’s bread and butter is their instinct, but a successful recruiter is one who blends instinct with insights, intelligence and innovation.

The Famous Five: A Guide to Building Tech Teams! was originally published in Gapstars on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.