How to hire a software developer in a candidate-driven market

August 7, 2019
6 mins

We recently concluded our successful webinar with Google’s Senior Technical Recruiter, Amy Miller, where we were introduced to the tips and tricks of successfully recruiting in-demand technical talent for your organization. 

Hiring is difficult in today’s candidate-driven market. It becomes even tougher when it comes to hiring for technical roles. Here are some of the major learnings from the webinar which will surely help you find and hire that developer you have always been looking for.

1. What is the developer talent market really like?

Can’t say about the stock market but the talent market, for sure, is growing exponentially across the globe. According to recent studies, the unemployment rate for software engineers in the US stands at an all-time low of 1.3%. Back in 2014, the American Entrepreneur, Marc Andreessen, boldly stated that software is eating the world, and now we see it actually is.

Fun Fact: On an average, every tech candidate in the US has 4 competing offers in hand to choose from. In July 2019, San Francisco (just the city) had over 10K roles that fit engineering criteria. On the contrary, the number of roles was around 1,400 for receptionists and 600 for non-technical jobs.

2. What’s a recruiter to do?

What recruiters actually do?

Law of Diminishing returns


The chart above is a representation of the Law of Diminishing returns. By definition, the law states that the decrease in the marginal output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is incrementally increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant.

To simplify this for recruiters, the more input (InMails/emails/cold calls or whatever your thing is) you use to get the attention of tech talent, the lower your output will be. According to a recent study, to get 1 person to accept an offer, a recruiter should ideally connect with 20 quality candidates rather than reaching out to 100.

As a recruiter, you should limit your outreach and send customized, personalized outgoing messages to only selective quality candidates rather than reaching out to every candidate.

3. Sourcing candidates the right way

The following are a few points that you can keep in mind while sourcing the right talent for your organization:

  • As a sourcer, be mindful of what you are selling. “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) is one of the most important questions that potential candidates would want to know. Make sure you let candidates know how the job is going to benefit them. Give them a reason to get on a call with you. 
  • Most engineers/developers dislike the standard, “Hi, I am a recruiter. Let’s talk” message. Present them the value upfront. Let them know what they will work on, what they will learn, and how they will make a future at the organization. 
  • Don’t be just another recruiter trying to stack their ATS. Get the right people to talk to the candidates. Always have a hiring manager/engineering manager alongside to answer all technical questions that the candidate might ask you. If you involve stakeholders, the chances are the response rate and credibility of your outreach to the candidate will increase. Involve mutuals working in your organization (who will act as advocates for you) in the sourcing process so that the candidate can get valuable and honest feedback from them. 
  • Hyper-personalize your outreach. Write 10 quality, well-thought-out emails rather than blasting out 100 emails to candidates. Less is more in this case. Usually, tech employees start exploring new career opportunities between years 2 and 3 of their employment at their present company. Make sure you appreciate what the candidate has achieved in their professional career and recognize things that are important for them. It’s important to make a human connection than an electronic one. 
  • Less than 100 words tend to get more response: LinkedIn data reveals that InMails and emails that contain less than 100 words tend to be met with higher response rates. Messages with over 200 words, on the other hand, get fewer responses, so keep it short and sweet. 
  • Offer help, not just a job. Ask candidates if they have any questions. Clarify any myths/false information that the candidate might have seen online or through other channels about your company. There’s tons of anecdotal data and conventional wisdom about the interview process and culture of any company out there. Offer the candidate the reality and resolve all their doubts. Don’t be hesitant in taking up questions from your candidates. 

4. You’ve got your candidate. Now keep them engaged!

Let the candidate talk about what motivates them. Ask them questions about what’s not on their resume that they would like to discuss. Why would they want to leave the job they are in right now? Make a connection with them, ask them what do they see in the role that is being offered to them. Where do they see themselves in the next few years at your organization? 

Always make sure you give honest feedback to the candidate and appreciate what they have achieved professionally as well as personally. 

5. The hiring process: Be an advocate

As a recruiter, it’s your job to be an advocate for your candidate. Make them believe in themselves and in your company. Make sure you make them feel comfortable and get them through the process. Help them with the timelines, what they should expect in the upcoming rounds, and pitfalls (if any). 

The process of tech hiring is lengthy. Timing is one of the biggest deal-breakers. Let the candidate know about the number of steps involved in the process of hiring. Take feedback about the process and discuss the same with your hiring managers. 

Assess the candidate based on the skills they have and not on any other factors. Try to make the process smooth and understand the candidate viewpoint as well. 

Emotional currency is very important. Every candidate who interviews at your organization has a pay off that they are looking for. Recognize them for their skills and achievements. Make them feel better. It could be money, location, or boredom at work that they are currently facing. Listen more than you talk and respect the emotional currency.

Compensation is another make-or-break factor for any candidate. Let them know what you expect from them in terms of the job role and responsibilities and in return ask them what they expect from the company as compensation as opposed to their present pay. This lets you filter out candidates who fall out of your company’s hiring budget and also help you set a benchmark.

6. The closing

Closing a job offer smoothly is one of the biggest problems that modern-day recruiters face. As stated above, candidates are interested in WIIFM and are going to do what’s in their best interest. Recruiters need to understand exactly what the candidate is looking for, what’s important to them, and advocate an influence that helps remove all misconceptions to create an opportunity and environment that they can say yes to.

It’s not always about the money. Not every offer is created equal. Even in a competing-offer scenario, how interesting the job is more important to the developer. When they show up on Monday, what are they gonna have their hands on? What are they going to be doing? How does the new job affect their work-life balance? What is the growth potential and what can they learn?

We understand that last-minute back-outs are tough to deal with and are bound to happen. What you can do as a recruiter is trying to introspect if you asked all the right questions to the candidate. 

Don’t take it personally and never hold anything against the candidate if they do not join your organization. Try to learn from the situation and uncover what made them choose a different offer (don’t overthink on it though). No one will ever decline a job because of who you are as a recruiter.

7. Last but not least: Everybody’s a recruiter

Hard lesson—Don’t try to be selfish while hiring. Involve your hiring managers actively in the hiring process to build the right team. Take references from them, ask them if they know someone who they would love to work with again. Every employee can act as an advocate for your company. 

Leverage networking events and social media to let the candidates know about your workplace and the culture. Not everyone is active on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Reach out to the candidates where they are. Meetups, conferences, and hackathons are events that are very attractive to developers. Be active in participating or hosting such events that might lead you to your next potential hire.

This brings us to the conclusion of this blog and we hope that it will help you become a better recruiter. 

Looking to hire the right developers for your organization? Take our 14-day free trial today. 

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About the Author

Arbaz Nadeem
Fun and adventure loving Manchester United fan with a passion for traveling | B2B SaaS Marketer professionally.

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