Want to Hire Great Engineers? Take a Walk in Their Shoes.

January 13, 2014 at 2:55 AM by Jordan Taylor

cas_embedded1Recruiters—or should I say good recruiters—your job is hard. We know that your role is devalued because of actions taken by bad recruiters out there.

There are times when recruiting anyone, in any field, is challenging. But let’s be honest: engineers are a special breed. If your job is to recruit one, you need to walk in their shoes.

Startups and industry giants alike are in need of engineering muscle to accomplish their ambitious goals, and they’re turning to you for the task.

At Entelo, we’ve written extensively about this: “Top 4 Things Engineers Hate about Recruiters.” We also have a free guide on how to e-mail engineers. This post serves as an addendum to these resources by giving you one more level of insight: to be competitive, and land stellar engineers, you have to work closely with engineers during the recruitment process—familiarizing yourself with their domain(s) of expertise, and understanding their devotion to their work. Before we get to this, let’s recap some of the things that recruiters do wrong and why they’re unsuccessful.

Whether you think you’re good at it or not—here’s some reasons why recruiters struggle with engaging and onboarding software engineers:
  • You don’t do proper candidate research
  • You place too much emphasis on keywords
  • You work with unfitting job descriptions
  • You don’t understand engineer skill sets, interests, or expertise
  • You’re working for a company that lacks a magnetic culture or big brand
  • You call engineers rather than email them
  • You're writing poort emails to engineers (this means you can’t even begin the courting process)
  • You don’t leverage other engineers’ help with respect to your outreach process

So what’s the best strategy to implement?

If engineers received e-mails from CEOs, or other engineers, they’d be more compelled to respond—relating to their devotion and in-depth knowledge of the position. Clearly engineers don’t have the time or skill sets to be involved in the entire recruitment process, but they do have a better idea of which candidates are a great fit and what they’d like to hear.

A talented and proactive recruiter knows this and their best course of action is to work closely with engineers because the benefits are numerous:

  • You can gain a well-rounded view on the product
  • You’ll see why the projects are meaningful to each person on the team
  • You can watch company culture in action
  • You’ll get a better understanding of how engineers view the larger goals of the company
  • You can create better curated lists of prospective candidates
  • You can take your chiseled list and have engineers evaluate it—providing you with outreach tips

This tactic has been metaphorically referred to as engineer-to-engineer recruiting. Yet going beyond this metaphor is the actual practice of stepping into the imaginative and conceptual shoes of engineers—backed by a solid knowledge-base of their skills and how they perceive their own work. The more time a technical recruiter spends working with engineers to solve their outreach struggles the better the results.

Leveraging the invaluable insights of engineers helps recruiters to: craft compelling and personalized messages; see the connection between candidate skill sets and potential; and entice prospective candidates by demonstrating extensive knowledge of the position while showcasing how their work will contribute to the product and the company’s largest goals.

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