Tactical Recruiting Advice for Engineering Leaders

Have you noticed that efforts from recruiters to “snipe” top tech people are often met with deafening silence?

You could be using the best recruiters in the world and get the same result because often, the best engineers simply don’t want to hear from recruiters—period. Getting engineering leaders involved can be much more effective, but you need to go about things the right way.

How should engineering leaders proceed with recruiting senior tech people? We have some tactical ideas:

Your Job Postings

Most companies will put up job advertisements through various avenues, even if they do end up hiring by reaching out to potential prospects directly. Your job posting is the first opportunity for you to shine or, alternatively, fall flat in the eyes of tech professionals. (This is worth remembering—others who may be suited to future roles might see your advertisement and make judgements).

[content_upgrade cu_id=”70″]How should you approach by email? Check out our tips:[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

408428562_4cd1e03887_z

Photo credit: brunkfordbraun via VisualHunt

Many of the job postings we see out there are ineffective. They simply do not communicate well and will not be attractive to the people you really want to apply for your vacancy. Here are some of the mistakes we see:

  • Not clearly defining the role. What in heck is a “wizard”, “guru”, “ninja”, or “rockstar?” Unless you want to be featured on Buzzfeed, be specific! Capture the essence of the job role without a gimmicky title.
  • Not being articulate about what your company vision is and what you do. If you check technology listings today, you can find any number of posts where companies are vague about this. Naturally, potential employees want to know!
  • Being unclear about where the position sits in the company. How much responsibility does it hold? Will they have direct reports? Who will they report to?
  • Being unclear about the responsibilities of the position. Many people who may be unsuitable will self-select out at this point. Use keywords that they are likely to search for.
  • Failure to highlight the benefits and opportunities the candidate will have if they work for you.
  • Posting on random (perhaps less-than-prestigious) job sites. A) you’ll end up with a whole lot of tire-kickers applying and b) it’s not the best look. Niche tech job sites tend to net a better result by targeting the right audience.

Tech people want to understand the details and to get them very quickly. If they can’t immediately understand what a role is about, they’re going to bypass it for the next one.

Your Outreach

We’ve established that there’s a high chance the senior tech talent you are looking for may not even see a job posting. Many haven’t considered that they might move on from their current role and aren’t actively looking for anything.

This is why you need to be involved with outreach to the right kind of people.

Good talent wants to hear from leading technical people. That’s what gets them excited, when the people running the show or building the thing go after them personally. We believe that, quite possibly, one or two emails sent by senior engineers each day can have a much deeper impact than a third party recruiter cold-calling.

The ripple effect of a CTO or engineering manager writing an email is this: Even if the person isn’t looking, they will often be so flattered that you personally wrote to them that they will 1) want to humble brag to their friends and tell them that you’re trying to recruit them, and 2) they will want to help you connect with or talk to their friends who have the same skills but may be available, since they aren’t right now.

You might have reservations about sending out recruiting emails as part of your already busy day, but what if doing so actually saved you a lot of time on extended periods of recruitment? An agency won’t usually be able to get the same response, and sometimes their messages may even reflect poorly on your company or employer brand.

Here’s a rough order of how I might approach a senior candidate:

  1. Tell someone why you’re emailing them specifically and demonstrate your email is not spam, it was genuinely written custom for them.
  2. Ask if they want to meet. Explain that you’re working on cool stuff, using similar tools/tech which they are too. “Let’s trade war stories.” “I want to hear more about what you’re doing.” “I want to tell you more about what I’m doing and the cool stuff some of my co-workers are doing.” Let’s be friends.
  3. Hey Friend, I know you and what you’re in to, let me make a genuine case for you to come work at company X.

Notice what Elliott is not leading with? That’s right, he’s not jumping straight in there with explanations about vacancies or links to job descriptions, which leads us nicely onto what you should avoid when you approach candidates…

4326574134_b9f2396c3b_z

Photo credit: DaveFayram via VisualHunt

Avoid these things…

You don’t want to come across as “slimy” or self-serving, so be sure to approach people with genuine intent and a view to see how you can help them. Senior tech people tend to be so used to being approached by people looking to poach them, that they become leery of talking to people. Show a genuine interest in them see how you can be of service.

Here’s what Elliott had to say:

“Most engineering leaders do a great job at sending an email, but they ruin it by posting a job description or link to a careers page in the first email, which turns a lot of people off and causes the manager to miss a lot of responses they’d otherwise get without including job info or links.

Including the info or links exposes ‘why’ you’re emailing that person. Send the personalized flattering email, but leave out the job stuff. Engineers get multiple emails every day with ‘job stuff’ and in many cases you’ll get bucketed with all the other recruiting spam when you include any reference to job vacancies.

By adding a job description, career page link, or bullet points about a job, that turns the message from a nice flattering note to a sales message being sent by you ONLY because you need to hire.

I understand that you have urgent needs and can’t be spending time ‘making friends’with everyone but in my experience, the ‘let’s be friends first and if it makes sense once we are friends, I’ll try and recruit you then’ approach works WAY better than the sales, ‘here’s what I’m selling, are you interested?’ approach.”

[content_upgrade cu_id=”70″]How should you approach talent by email? Get tips here:[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

Use Your Position for “Good”

You know that hearing from an experienced engineering manager rather than a recruiter is preferable, right? Wouldn’t this approach work better for yourself?

Use your position in the company “for good” by taking an active role in recruitment and looking to personally reach out to potential candidates. Get to know people, even as “friends” first and be genuine about building relationships.

Do away with ineffective, non-specific job advertisements. If you’re advertising for a “ninja”, “evangelist”, or “jedi” you will find that top people don’t have the time or patience to look further into what you actually mean.

If you want to attract better talent than everyone else, you need to stop recruiting like everyone else!

Have you noticed that efforts from recruiters to “snipe” top tech people are often met with deafening silence?

You could be using the best recruiters in the world and get the same result because often, the best engineers simply don’t want to hear from recruiters—period. Getting engineering leaders involved can be much more effective, but you need to go about things the right way.

How should engineering leaders proceed with recruiting senior tech people? We have some tactical ideas:

Your Job Postings

Most companies will put up job advertisements through various avenues, even if they do end up hiring by reaching out to potential prospects directly. Your job posting is the first opportunity for you to shine or, alternatively, fall flat in the eyes of tech professionals. (This is worth remembering—others who may be suited to future roles might see your advertisement and make judgements).

[content_upgrade cu_id=”70″]How should you approach by email? Check out our tips:[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

408428562_4cd1e03887_z

Photo credit: brunkfordbraun via VisualHunt

Many of the job postings we see out there are ineffective. They simply do not communicate well and will not be attractive to the people you really want to apply for your vacancy. Here are some of the mistakes we see:

  • Not clearly defining the role. What in heck is a “wizard”, “guru”, “ninja”, or “rockstar?” Unless you want to be featured on Buzzfeed, be specific! Capture the essence of the job role without a gimmicky title.
  • Not being articulate about what your company vision is and what you do. If you check technology listings today, you can find any number of posts where companies are vague about this. Naturally, potential employees want to know!
  • Being unclear about where the position sits in the company. How much responsibility does it hold? Will they have direct reports? Who will they report to?
  • Being unclear about the responsibilities of the position. Many people who may be unsuitable will self-select out at this point. Use keywords that they are likely to search for.
  • Failure to highlight the benefits and opportunities the candidate will have if they work for you.
  • Posting on random (perhaps less-than-prestigious) job sites. A) you’ll end up with a whole lot of tire-kickers applying and b) it’s not the best look. Niche tech job sites tend to net a better result by targeting the right audience.

Tech people want to understand the details and to get them very quickly. If they can’t immediately understand what a role is about, they’re going to bypass it for the next one.

Your Outreach

We’ve established that there’s a high chance the senior tech talent you are looking for may not even see a job posting. Many haven’t considered that they might move on from their current role and aren’t actively looking for anything.

This is why you need to be involved with outreach to the right kind of people.

Good talent wants to hear from leading technical people. That’s what gets them excited, when the people running the show or building the thing go after them personally. We believe that, quite possibly, one or two emails sent by senior engineers each day can have a much deeper impact than a third party recruiter cold-calling.

The ripple effect of a CTO or engineering manager writing an email is this: Even if the person isn’t looking, they will often be so flattered that you personally wrote to them that they will 1) want to humble brag to their friends and tell them that you’re trying to recruit them, and 2) they will want to help you connect with or talk to their friends who have the same skills but may be available, since they aren’t right now.

You might have reservations about sending out recruiting emails as part of your already busy day, but what if doing so actually saved you a lot of time on extended periods of recruitment? An agency won’t usually be able to get the same response, and sometimes their messages may even reflect poorly on your company or employer brand.

Here’s a rough order of how I might approach a senior candidate:

  1. Tell someone why you’re emailing them specifically and demonstrate your email is not spam, it was genuinely written custom for them.
  2. Ask if they want to meet. Explain that you’re working on cool stuff, using similar tools/tech which they are too. “Let’s trade war stories.” “I want to hear more about what you’re doing.” “I want to tell you more about what I’m doing and the cool stuff some of my co-workers are doing.” Let’s be friends.
  3. Hey Friend, I know you and what you’re in to, let me make a genuine case for you to come work at company X.

Notice what Elliott is not leading with? That’s right, he’s not jumping straight in there with explanations about vacancies or links to job descriptions, which leads us nicely onto what you should avoid when you approach candidates…

4326574134_b9f2396c3b_z

Photo credit: DaveFayram via VisualHunt

Avoid these things…

You don’t want to come across as “slimy” or self-serving, so be sure to approach people with genuine intent and a view to see how you can help them. Senior tech people tend to be so used to being approached by people looking to poach them, that they become leery of talking to people. Show a genuine interest in them see how you can be of service.

Here’s what Elliott had to say:

“Most engineering leaders do a great job at sending an email, but they ruin it by posting a job description or link to a careers page in the first email, which turns a lot of people off and causes the manager to miss a lot of responses they’d otherwise get without including job info or links.

Including the info or links exposes ‘why’ you’re emailing that person. Send the personalized flattering email, but leave out the job stuff. Engineers get multiple emails every day with ‘job stuff’ and in many cases you’ll get bucketed with all the other recruiting spam when you include any reference to job vacancies.

By adding a job description, career page link, or bullet points about a job, that turns the message from a nice flattering note to a sales message being sent by you ONLY because you need to hire.

I understand that you have urgent needs and can’t be spending time ‘making friends’with everyone but in my experience, the ‘let’s be friends first and if it makes sense once we are friends, I’ll try and recruit you then’ approach works WAY better than the sales, ‘here’s what I’m selling, are you interested?’ approach.”

[content_upgrade cu_id=”70″]How should you approach talent by email? Get tips here:[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

Use Your Position for “Good”

You know that hearing from an experienced engineering manager rather than a recruiter is preferable, right? Wouldn’t this approach work better for yourself?

Use your position in the company “for good” by taking an active role in recruitment and looking to personally reach out to potential candidates. Get to know people, even as “friends” first and be genuine about building relationships.

Do away with ineffective, non-specific job advertisements. If you’re advertising for a “ninja”, “evangelist”, or “jedi” you will find that top people don’t have the time or patience to look further into what you actually mean.

If you want to attract better talent than everyone else, you need to stop recruiting like everyone else!

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