What Tech Recruiters Wish CIOs Knew

Although technology managers don’t always like to admit it, a good recruiter can be their best friend, especially in today’s labor market. Whether they’re internal or contract, an experienced headhunter who knows their way around technology can separate the truly qualified candidates from the ones whose backgrounds might fit the bill on paper, but who won’t fill a role with exceptional technical, communications and people skills.

Recruiting succeeds when it’s approached as a partnership. Oftentimes, hiring managers struggle to properly explain their needs to recruiters who haven’t taken the time to learn about a role’s technical requirements or the team’s dynamics. In other instances, hiring managers assume that recruiters are as familiar with the relevant technology as their team members are. That kind of misunderstanding can make the recruiting and hiring process far more painful—and lengthy—than it needs to be.

Not long ago, we asked CIOs what they wanted recruiters to know as they looked for winning candidates. Now, we’ve turned the question around to give recruiters a chance to explain how tech hiring managers and CIOs can help them conduct a successful search.

Communicate Clearly

“When it comes to working with recruiters, the more detailed feedback you can provide about candidates, the better I can perform for you,” said Doug Schade, a partner in the software technology practice for WinterWyman search in Waltham, Mass. Like many of his colleagues, Schade believes “communications is key” in the relationship between recruiters and firms.

“Specifically, the more a technical hiring manager can provide detailed feedback on their likes and dislikes on résumés and interviews with candidates, the more adeptly recruiters can become at refining search parameters,” Schade said. That, in turn, often results in a search that lands you the best candidate in the most cost-effective way.

Don’t Underestimate Candidate Experience

One experienced tech recruiter, who asked not to be identified, said that if he could have one wish, it would be that hiring managers treat candidates “like a friend of the family, someone they’d offer basic courtesies to.”

Especially in today’s tight labor market, the candidate experience is key to a company’s ability to engage and hire the best talent—and ultimately achieve success. This recruiter, like many others, urges hiring managers to remember that “people talk, and a firsthand negative review is much more impactful than a bad [online] review.”

“Remember that your hiring process is your first deliverable to the candidate,” added Will Kelly, managing director of recruiting firm Veredus’s Dallas office. “If it takes you six rounds of interviews and several reschedules to hire a developer, you’ve already freaked them out.”

Kelly recalls a “great candidate” who removed herself from a potential job with a client with a hot product and “awesome” tech stack. “Their hiring process was like someone lit a rodeo on fire,” he said. “She was thinking, ‘If this is how they hire, I shudder to think how they manage to ship software.’”

Make Offers Like You Mean It

Kelly also believes the candidate experience extends into the offer stage. “In this market, companies need to say, ‘I value you’ right out of the gate,” he said. “It’s important to build immediate loyalty by making people offers they’re excited about. If you’re patting yourself on the back from a fiscal point of view about pushing out minimal offers, that’s going to bite you in the butt eventually.”

Take the Long View

As in any business, the best recruiters want to engage their clients for multiple assignments over the long term. “I would much rather build a whole dev team at 20 percent than just sling résumés at 30 percent,” said Kelly. “If contingency agencies truly believe you will be making placements with them, they’ll gladly charge less.”

Build the Relationship

Like Kelly, many recruiters believe that long-term relationships make for better business. But they’re also well aware that, for them, “better business” is defined by the results of their searches. To deliver the right candidates, they need to know how managers like to work and the type of culture they want to maintain.

So don’t hold recruiters at arm’s length, they say. Find a professional who you’re comfortable working with, who’ll put in the time to understand your business as well as the dynamics (and tech stack) of your organization. Investing time in building a relationship with your recruiting team will pay off in the long run, as you add more highly qualified tech pros.

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