How Engineering Managers Can Help Recruiters Improve Developer Hiring

Developer sourcing - HackerEarth blog

The engineering manager vs. recruiter saga is an age-old story. On paper, these two seem to be destined to be good friends. After all, they have the same common goal – to hire the best tech talent for their brand. Yet, they remain at loggerheads.

One of the main reasons this happens is because both recruiters and engineering managers approach the same problem from different perspectives. Engineering managers are developers themselves, so their understanding of a role is deeper than any recruiter’s will ever be. However, since they don’t always understand the nuances of technical hiring, and are usually under a time crunch to hire, they may fail to brief the recruiting team properly. Not only this, a lack of collaboration between engineering managers and recruiters can also fail to address the other flaws in the process, and hinder any real improvements.

Building a strong recruiting process starts with building a good relationship between recruiters and engineering managers. This alignment can foster a better understanding of differing perspectives, and enhance preparation and communication. It doesn’t happen overnight – but by taking the right steps, you can ensure a frictionless developer hiring process.


Turning enemies into allies


From our recent report on The State of Developer Recruiting 2020, we know that there are some universal pain points in the developer hiring world. As the data below shows, recruiters and engineering managers do not always see eye to eye on the skills needed for the job, communication and feedback are broken, timelines for ‘closing’ a role are often narrow, and benchmarks for evaluation are not clearly defined.

Pain points in tech hiring - HackerEarth Survey


Here are some expert tips to improve developer hiring from our resident Head TA, Jamini Pulyadath, on how engineering managers can help their recruiting team resolve their developer hiring issues (and more).

1. Hiring managers should take their time with the JD


The job description or JD is the blueprint that a recruiting team uses to source candidates. It is of utmost importance that managers spend time on creating this JD and making it relevant to the role and company.

An ideal job description should detail what the developer would be required to do on an everyday basis. Most importantly it should have a list of required skills for the job, divided into ‘must haves’ and ‘good to haves’. The purple unicorn with every ace up his sleeve is a myth. Instead, it is better to know which skills are necessary and which can be taught on the job.

Suggested Reading: How To Create Gender-Fluid Job Descriptions

This helps recruiters create a broader profile for the role, instead of having to work from a narrow pool of ‘experts’ who are proficient in every skill. With a wider funnel to source from, recruiters have a better chance of hiring better candidates.


2. They should help recruiters understand desired candidate persona


Jamini gives us a very handy example. In some places, a Data Scientist is expected to work on creating better models but not really to implement them. That task is undertaken by another function. So, the onus of making a model work does not lie with the data team. In other places, the scientist might be expected to own the entire process from building data models to implementing them and tracking business changes.

Now, it is up to the engineering manager to decide which of these two profiles fits better with their tech team’s needs. Once you have realized that, go on and communicate the same to your talent acquisition team as well. This will help them as real, and important questions to candidates when they communicate with them.

As a manager, are you looking for a ‘builder’ who can innovate and create more products, a ‘nurturer’ who can help you grow your existing product suite, and has proven domain knowledge? Co-create these personas with your recruiting team and drive your recruiting needs based on these employee-specific goals rather than on traditional, and unhelpful, concerns like whether a candidate possesses a Harvard degree.

Tech recruiting cartoon


3. LinkedIn, hackathons, or GitHub – It’s a manager’s call


I need no help with increasing my talent pipeline, said no recruiter ever. 

Even if you follow the above two steps, creating a wide talent pool can still be a problem. This is where engineering managers can come to a recruiter’s aid. Instead of asking recruiters to hunt for talent on the usual platforms like LinkedIn and AngelList, managers can help organize hackathons or hiring challenges.

A hackathon is usually an innovation challenge and is used more as a method of engaging with the developer community, to create a stronger brand presence, and a wider talent pool. A hiring challenge, as the name suggests, is organized as an open contest with the specific intent of hiring the winner for an open role.

A successful hackathon or a hiring challenge requires a lot of help from engineering managers. Problem statements need to be created, submission guidelines need to be approved, and an objective evaluation parameter needs to be set.

While your recruiting team can help you by connecting with expert hackathon management platforms, your role as an engineering manager will be paramount in ensuring that the event meets its desired goal.


4. Communicate and be generous with feedback


By feedback, we do not only mean the post-interview brief engineering managers create for recruiters as a standard process. It is of course important to be very timely with this, as it is important to keep communicating with your recruiting team throughout.

Even when there is no open requirement, managers and recruiters can keep the communication lines open and work on their hiring practices. Diversity hiring might be an important goal for recruiters, but for that to work, they might need an extended time-to-close.  Hiring managers then must be okay with not being able to fill a requirement within a stipulated time.

Also Read: How To Increase Your Diversity Hiring ROI

If you have enough candidates taking assessment tests but none of them meeting the benchmark, then you must also reconsider the fact that your assessments need rework. Or it could be that the phone screening process needs to become more robust. By continually reassessing and communicating, engineering managers and recruiters can arrive at a seamless and frictionless hiring process where they work more as allies and not as enemies.


The takeaways then…


All said and done, it is up to engineering managers and recruiters to lay the foundation for mutual trust. Communication is an easy way to achieve this, and so is understanding the other’s perspectives and goals. While speed of hiring is always imperative, it is vital to aim for a realistic pace which is data and value-driven, and also allows for other goals like diversity and inclusion.

When you think of tech recruiting as a two-way highway rather than a one-way street, it gets easier to see how both engineering managers and recruiters have a role to play in it. Constant feedback, value alignment, and understanding can help foster a healthier relationship between recruiters and managers. Honestly, it doesn’t need much!

Pssst! While sourcing is an important part of the hiring process, Interviews and Assessments are just as crucial. Check out our Enterprise Platform so your tech recruiting can be flawless and hassle-free!

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