Have you had trouble finding the “right” developer or engineer for your company? Yep, everyone else has too and there isn’t an easy solution.
The “talent war” has become more pronounced over the last couple of years and we’re all trying to convince the same people that our company is their next best work option.
One of the problems is that those highly talented individuals don’t necessarily want to be wooed by a new company. They’re quite happy where they are and aren’t even considering moving on at this point.
Besides that, do you know how many “cold” messages hot talent tends to receive? Every recruiter out there is trawling LinkedIn and firing off messages to those with the best qualifications. This makes top engineers naturally leery of recruiters and means you need to do something different to get the attention of your next top hire.
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How can you bridge the gap when talent is reluctant to talk to you? We’ve found some better strategies:
Personalize your Messaging
For a tech professional who receives multiple cold advances from companies, how do you think this sort of message on their LinkedIn account goes down?
Let’s break it down: “I am a recruiter” (not again! Delete. Or (at best) eye-roll).
“We currently have an opening for … (job description attached)” (You’re coming to me – I’m not going to waste time reading a job description).
“I found your profile on LinkedIn and I think your background might be a good fit for this exciting opportunity.” (Oh really? What specifically makes me a good fit?)
“Please contact me if you are interested in discussing this opportunity further or if you know of anyone who might be qualified…” (Well that seals it, I bet they say that to all the devs).
The main problem with this kind of approach is that it is so impersonal. It comes across as an almost spammy catch-all message that they’ve probably copied, pasted and sent out to many others. While this example response is more of a caricature of the typical person receiving the message, when you’re being bombarded with similar, run-of-the-mill messages this kind of response isn’t too far from the truth.
If you’re going to approach someone cold then you need a better way to get their attention and, at the very least, do some more research on them so that you can personalize your message. That means not only going to their LinkedIn profile, but Twitter, other social media accounts, portfolios, projects or publications, too.
Showing that you’ve made some kind of effort beyond an impersonal template is more likely to get attention and in a more favorable light. You’ll be able to comment about a past project they worked on or something they published and explain clearly how that relates to the work you have.
You need to personalize your messages, but any kind of pandering or sycophantic speak is likely to scream “BS” to your possible candidate. How do you avoid this? Personalize your messages but keep them matter-of-fact.
For example, “I was very interested to see you completed a project on X. We are starting a large project on X shortly and it looks like you’d bring excellent experience to that.”
Which Messages Resonate?
For any possible job candidate, choosing the right role is about much more than a paycheck or your on-site gym and meal provision. They want to know that they’ll get the right experiences and work in a place that satisfies their own interests and values.
Again, this is going to come down to something a bit more personal – something outside of the standard spiel on salary, benefits and “exciting opportunities.” You’re going to have to do a bit more research on the person than the stock-standard LinkedIn profile, but most people put far more clues as to their personal values and interests online.
Don’t make the mistake of focusing too much on tasks or projects; top talent cares about the culture of your organization and having a sense of purpose or “mission.” A better approach might be highlighting how they will work with some of the best (job role) in the business or how they will be able to make a tangible difference in the world by working with you.
Another consideration is whether you’re branding your company in the best light to attract diverse talent. As Darlene Gillard, partnership director of community and events at digitalundivided explained: “Tech has a marketing problem. When people think of tech, they think of a 25-year-old Mark Zuckerberg-type guy. That’s a very narrow point of view and could be a deterrent for anyone looking to work for a tech company. In order to stand out companies need to change the face of their brand.”
What’s in it for me?
Humans invariably want to know the answer to the question “what’s in it for me?” Remember this when you’re positioning your offer for your company. Salary and benefits are still important, but remember some things they can take with them going forward, such as training opportunities or working on the very latest tech. Again, your company culture can be a big drawcard, too.
Involve Engineering Leadership
One of the complaints tech talent has about being approached by recruiters or other managers from within a firm is the perception that they don’t know what they’re talking about. If a person is trying to talk them into coming on board and doesn’t understand the job or even the lingo properly, the engineer can get the impression that it will be one of those workplaces where they’re expected to know everything and no one really appreciates what is involved with their job.
For this reason, if you can involve engineering leadership with approaching tech prospects, your chances of getting through and at least having them listen to what you have to offer may be significantly improved. Quite simply, they appreciate managers who understand their world and contact with those people will carry more weight with them.
Besides wooing the candidate, having engineering leadership involved helps to ensure that you really are talking to the right people in the first place. Those with a rudimentary understanding of job requirements may be able to match off skills against a list, but they won’t necessarily be in the best position to make a final judgement about whether the candidate has the requisite experience or skill level.
Forward-thinking tech leaders will assess what is available in the market and figure out how those skills may be applied to what they need.
In short; involving engineering leadership can not only help promote the candidates trust in the integrity of the company and job offer, but saves wasting their time if they’re not quite what you’re looking for.
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Top tech talent are most likely not responding to job ads – they’re being approached with intriguing offers that entice them to new companies.
The key is to get their attention in the first place. The best engineers and developers out there are being bombarded with offers and become leery over too many “recruiter” messages. Avoiding templates, personalizing messages, emphasising culture and getting senior engineers involved with recruiting can help elicit their attention.
If you want the best talent, you can’t be just like everyone else. How is your “brand” better?