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Did you know that 90% of recruiters find it challenging to source and hire technical talent?

If you didn’t know that, you’re likely relieved to hear that you’re not the only one that finds technical hiring difficult. If you did, then you likely have first hand knowledge of what it’s like to compete for the best technical talent on the market. 

Technical hiring is a challenge. And it’s made even more difficult if you’re recruiting for the most in demand technical positions. In this article, we’ll share some tips to help make this process a little bit easier. 

But first, let’s look at how technical recruiting is different. 

What is technical hiring?

The technical hiring process requires recruiters to source and screen talent with very specific and specialized skill sets. 

Technical jobs are most often found within the industries such as IT, engineering, and manufacturing, but they’re not necessarily exclusive to these segments. Technical skill sets are required in a wide range of different organizations, especially in digital-first work environments. Examples of technical jobs might include systems engineers, software developers, machinists, or data scientists. 

Technical recruiters are, generally, responsible for:

  • Developing the technical recruitment strategy
  • Identifying new ways to reach and engage with technical talent
  • Creating specialized job descriptions and requirements 
  • Interviewing and performing technical hiring assessments 
  • Liaising with hiring managers to ensure thorough screening and fit

Hiring technical talent requires a unique set of recruitment skills. You need a deep knowledge of the industry you’re hiring for, and must be able to “speak the language” to effectively screen potential candidates. 

Here are some skills that the best technical recruiters will have: 

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Negotiation 
  • Technical aptitude 
  • Organization
  • Analytical mindsets 
  • Critical thinking
  • Ability to communicate about technical terms and requirements
  • Ability to act as a bridge between hiring managers and candidates 

Many of the skills listed above are true of most recruitment positions. What sets technical hiring apart is that all of this has to be done while juggling fierce competition and complicated, niche subject matter. 

Now that we’ve established some common problems with technical hiring, and what’s required of recruiters, let’s dig into some solutions. 

Tips for improving your technical hiring process

While it’s true that technical hiring is more challenging than ever, there are still opportunities to improve your odds of landing top talent. Technical talent is in demand, but they’re also more likely than other professions to move jobs and take on new challenges. 

In fact, 75% of software developers worldwide indicated in 2019 that they are open to new positions. So, even if it seems like the best technical talent is already locked up, there is always opportunity to find those top performers. You just need the right strategy.

Here are some tips to make it easier. 

1. Know the hiring manager’s needs

Before starting your search, or even creating a strategy, it’s critical that you work closely with the hiring manager to establish what type of candidate they’re looking for, and what skills they should have. 

The hiring manager is your best resource for creating a list of skills and requirements that will steer your job search in the right direction. Use them as a resource for the types of words and phrases you’ll need to use to communicate job requirements

Once you’re crystal clear on what the hiring manager is looking for, you can shift your focus to who might fit the bill. 

2. Create candidate personas

Based on the hiring manager’s skills requirements, you can start to develop a technical candidate persona that you will use to guide your outreach strategy. To do so, it’s important to understand the industry you’re recruiting for, and the types of people that typically gravitate toward these jobs. 

As an example, Stack Overflow compiled a great survey in 2019 that looks at a typical candidate persona for software developers. Usually, these professionals are: 

  • Male
  • Younger than 35 
  • Less than 5 years into their careers
  • Likely to jump frequently between jobs 

This is one example of how you might structure a candidate persona. Each of the details above will likely give you some ideas of how to source and interact with these candidates. Use your experience within the industry, conversations with existing technical teams, and research to develop candidate personas that will steer you in the right direction. 

3. Understand the required skills and competencies

Based on your early conversations with the hiring manager, and your persona development, you should have a complete picture of the skills and competencies that will be required to succeed on the job. 

Don’t forget, though, that technical skills are not the only thing that matters in a workplace. There are also soft skills that need to be assessed to establish potential performance and fit. 

In addition to technical skills, you might also want to perform technical hiring assessments for teamwork, documentation, systems management, presentation and communication. 

It’s not enough that the candidate can perform the task technically. They must also be able to document the results, work with the team toward a common goal, and present the outcomes to key stakeholders. 

4. Hire proactively

The best technical talent likely already has a job. And, if they are taking new offers, it’s likely that they have multiple companies interested in them at the same time. 

Because of this, it’s critical that you take a proactive approach to technical hiring. Don’t just post job openings and expect the best talent to come rolling in. Go out and find them, and convince them that your role and company is a great next step in their careers. 

To do so, you should identify a list of high quality talent to go after. Use tools like LinkedIn to identify the best candidates. Reach out to them directly with precise information about the role and the company. 

Clearly explain why they should make a jump, and what’s in it for them. Be sure to include an expected salary in this pitch, as that is a major factor in beating out the competition in technical industries. 

5. Know what to include in the job description

Technical talent will want to know what tools they’ll be working with, what their responsibilities will be, and what level of ownership they’ll have over projects. That’s in addition to the specific skills they’ll need to be successful. Work with the hiring manager to understand the position in detail, and the team dynamics for the role. 

You should also consult your candidate personas, and write a job description and recruitment ad that appeals to the exact type of applicant you’re looking for. 

6. Know how to test their skills properly

Technical talent loves to be challenged. Generally, these applicants will welcome a challenging screening test that will allow them to showcase their abilities. This is a balancing act, though, as you don’t want to overload your candidates with technical hiring assessments. 

If you’ve done your candidate sourcing and screening correctly, you should have a pretty good idea of the applicant’s abilities. Keep the testing short, relevant, and challenging enough for the candidate to show what they can do. Too much work, or tasks that aren’t relevant, could be a turnoff. 

Again, work with the hiring manager and team to understand the specific skills that should be tested. 

7. Use technical recruiting tools to make data-driven decisions

Lean on your recruitment tech stack to make the hiring process easier and more successful. The best technical recruiting tools, like an ATS, will allow you to quickly screen resumes for specific keywords and competencies, making the screening phases much more efficient. 

Likewise, video interviewing platforms can be used to screen remote candidates, and objectively assess their communication skills and body language. 

8. Be prepared to negotiate

The most in-demand jobs required the most in-demand salaries. That’s just a reality of technical hiring. As mentioned, the top technical talent will likely have a number of options, and will use them as leverage in salary negotiations. 

Be prepared to work with the candidate, the hiring manager, and the executive team at your company to come up with a compensation plan that works for all parties.

Technical hiring is a challenge. But, with the right strategy and approach, you’ll be able to beat out the competition and land the most in-demand talent. 

Sim Samra is Recruitee’s content marketer and is one of the Recruitee blog’s main curators. She’s usually hard at work unearthing headline-worthy recruitment trends and interviewing breakout names in the HR tech business.

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