4 Reasons Why Engineers Are Hard to Recruit

September 24, 2014 at 6:00 AM by Kathleen de Lara

hiring tech talentIn the world of recruiting, we’re all about the purple squirrels, unicorns, movers, shakers, unknown, and undiscovered. Finding top tech talent and managing to somehow be the first recruiter to engage with them is unheard of.  

Engineers are already difficult to find, but muffled by the noise of dozens of competitors, your hiring struggles increase tenfold.

Having a hard time recruiting engineers? Here are four reasons your recruiting strategy may be turning away candidates. 

Companies won’t budge on their equity offering. 

By hiring top performers for the company and nurturing their career goals, recruiters and hiring managers can ensure they’re increasing the value of their long-term investment. Taking on an employee is a two-way win – for companies, it’s making an addition to grow and support the team and the product or service. For employees, it’s a stage in their career development. For startups and early stage companies with less resources, extending a low equity offering communicates to candidates that the organization isn’t willing to reward them for trusting in a high risk business and agreeing to less salary. 

It also tells candidates the company isn’t completely confident an employee will reciprocate their worth through their contribution to the company over time. “Granting equity should be easy to do. If someone performs and earns their grant over four years, they are likely to increase the value of the company far more than the 1% or whatever you give them. If you’ve made a hiring mistake, you ought to fire them well before they hit their cliff anyway,” Sam Altman writes

But it’s not all about the money.  

Recruiters place too much emphasis on salary. 

Your company may not be radically changing the world (at least not yet!), but leveraging how an opportunity can radically change a candidate’s wallet size isn’t going to make up for that. Sell the role and boost your employer brand by marketing the position as a chance for candidates to work with like-minded (read: smart) colleagues, build a great product, solve problems and shape their industry, and to evolve their career plan.

Overstressing how much money a candidate can make with an opportunity conveys to talent the company is more invested in solely making a profit than elevating its team to their goals beyond their current job in tandem with the company’s goals. Recruiters who apply how a role impacts the company’s official or implicit mission make it easier for candidates to become engaged with the opportunity. They’re able to envision themselves in the position and get excited about contributing to the company’s objectives.

Everyone’s fishing from the Valley.

With the masses of tech talent found within the Bay Area alone, its no surprise that most companies would immediately look to San Francisco and Silicon Valley to find their next great hires – engineers, developers, designers, data scientists – but that’s exactly the problem. The Bay Area’s wealth of top tech candidates isn’t a secret and the result? Talent pools saturated with the noise of zealous recruiters attempting to fill their open reqs, which in turn, distorts your outreach and makes it even more difficult to stand out and engage with candidates. Extend your reach beyond the Bay and the Valley, and look for candidates and recent college grads in other cities who may be willing to make the move to your company's locale. 

Smaller companies are using recruiters to establish rapport with candidates. 

Recruiting for a startup, small company, or an org that isn’t all that established yet? You may want to reconsider who’s reaching out to candidates. Before selling the role, recruiters and hiring managers should take an outsider’s perspective to find out if there needs to be a greater push on selling the company first. If you’re recruiting for a smaller organization and candidates aren’t responding to your messages, try looping in upper level management as part of the outreach strategy to build a solid relationship with candidates.

Think of the approach from their point of view: Receiving a message from a recruiter versus receiving a message from a hacker cofounder, VP of product, or CEO can be the difference between establishing the company’s credibility and a candidate passing on a role they may perceive as a dime-a-dozen job. Until a company is fairly established, candidates may not be willing to qualify how a role can benefit their professional goals based wholly on a recruiter’s efforts to engage. Help build the company’s reputation and authority, and employ a multi-touch messaging strategy that includes the recruiting and management teams. 

What are some of your biggest challenges recruiting tech talent? Share them with us in the comments and be sure to download our eBook, “The Modern Tech Recruiter’s Guide,” to learn more about attracting and engaging the best engineers, developers, and designers for your company! New Call-to-Action