How to recruit tech talent effectively

September 20, 2013
3 mins

The global war for talent is back and it’s for real. The hiatus caused in recruiting due to the 2008 economic slowdown, faded away in late 2011. Linkedin’s report on Global recruiting trends for 2013 states that there has been a 5% increase in hiring volume worldwide up from 38% in 2012 to 43% in 2013. Today, recruiters have a tangible excitement about recruiting again – about sourcing better, building talent pipelines, leveraging concepts like social recruiting and so on.

With a hyper-competitive job market and disproportionate availability of niche skills, scoring top talent can be tough.

Here are 3 ways on how to recruit tech talent effectively

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Credits: Petr Kratochvil

1. Leverage Analytics and Big Data

Some of the most practical insights about recruiting can actually be mined through your own hiring data. Google is famously infamous for its strict gold standards in interviewing and for attracting some of the best talents worldwide. Having top-of-the-chart SAT scores and being able to solve most complex brain teasers used to be a pre-requisite for cracking the Google interview. Recently Laszlo Bock, Google Senior Vice president of people’s operation, shared his learning of Project Oxygen, where they collected and analyzed the tremendous amount of information from employees to gain insights on hiring and employee performance. 

“We found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”

This resulted in a major change in the way Google hires now. Instead of asking about brain teasers the focus is now on behavioral questions in interviews, rather than hypotheticals. Bock said it’s better to use questions like, “Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.”

Google could identify the deficiencies in their hiring process and improve on it by focusing its data-centric approach internally. 

2. Focus on Employer Branding

According to Linkedin’s world report, the second most important trend shaping recruiting is Employer Branding. Almost 83% of the companies believe employer brand has a significant impact on the ability to hire great talent. Your interview process forms a significant part of the employer branding.

Facebook’s strategy to use online programming puzzles is a great example of how to attract and evaluate new talent. Facebook has built a very strong hacker culture internally and this is very clearly reflected in their recruiting process. Using these online puzzles they are able to exactly reach out to those candidates who are wow’ed by their hacking culture.

Zappos has invested significantly in a flawless candidate experience with a commitment to provide everyone who sends in an application a completely unique experience regardless of whether they get hired or not.

It’s important to invest in a great candidate experience because you are not only recruiting employees but also sending out a message about your culture. With a fierce competition among companies, a higher pay package cannot be the only basis for attracting sharp talent. There is a reason why Facebook was able to poach some of the top talents from Google, so much so that Google had to offer exorbitant counter-offers as well as a 10 percent, company-wide salary increase. (Also read – 6 practical steps to success, HR can be a partner in crime)

3. Incorporate Assessments and capitalize on Niche Sourcing

Recruiters have long followed a notion “from quantity you get quality”. The more prospective candidates you could access, the larger the possibility of finding diamonds in the rough. Newer concepts like “Social Recruiting” seem to further strengthen this school of thought. However the problem with this approach is that might seem to work in the beginning but in reality, it produces so many possible candidates that recruiters can no longer cope with the volume.

The way to deal with overwhelming volumes is to ingrain assessments in your hiring process. Companies like Facebook, Twitter have done a great job of taking the assessment first approach to hiring. This is one of the easiest things that you can do to lower your cost of hire and decrease the year-by-year turnover rate.

With the emergence of social communities around specific areas of interests like Github, StackOverflow, TopCoder, going niche is far more beneficial than taking a broad-based approach. Sourcing from these communities not only gives you access to candidates with pre-assessed skills, but you can also find out if their area of expertise matches your requirement. These online peer-reviewed communities let you get a more comprehensive and objective view of the core competencies of the candidates even before their first interview. (Also read – 9 ways to hire developers)

These 3 simple things, if implemented well, can give you a distinctive advantage in this global war for talent. 

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About the Author

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I am the co-founder and CEO of HackerEarth, I mostly do Business development for HackerEarth but I started my career as a programmer. I also have a passion for writing.

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