Best Ways (Old and New) to Recruit Tech Talent

Though recruiting dates back to the days of ancient Rome, the intense hunt for tech talent is much more recent. In the U.S. alone, the market for tech jobs is expected to grow by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026—faster than the average for all other occupations. But at the same time, finding qualified candidates isn’t getting any easier. Many employers report their struggles with a seemingly never-ending skills gap, unable to find candidates with the experience needed to meet business goals. Compound this with the lowest unemployment rates since the 1960s, and recruiters are apt to get stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place.

Luckily, the last couple millennia have been a learning experience for the talent acquisition space, now equipped with a myriad of tools and tactics for seeking, sourcing and engaging even the most niche talent. And yet, as technologies evolve, some methods remain tried and true. Here’s a look at the best ways, old and new, to recruit tech talent.

The Telephone

While the phone may seem prehistoric to some, it continues to be the lifeline of recruiters. Gone are the days of switchboards and party lines. Those thick yellow phone books are now digitized. The desktop Rolodex has been recycled. Early phone practices have been replaced by wireless headsets, Skype and smartphones—creating a sleeker, streamlined approach to direct communication.

Today, the phone often extends to include text messaging, email and mobile apps, making it increasingly more dynamic and functional for busy recruiters. So much so that recruiters spend roughly 63 percent of their workweek using phones to contact candidates, conduct phone screens and advance the hiring process, which speaks volumes about the telephone’s practicality for staying in touch with in-demand talent.

The phone’s effectiveness does vary by stage of the recruiting process, though, so keep in mind some of the “best practices” outlined by the tech pros themselves. For new job alerts, early outreach and follow-ups, stick to email. Once you reach the interview scheduling and post-interview follow-up phase, don’t discredit the power of the phone call.

Placing Ads

At one point, not long ago, the easiest way to find a job opening was to look at the classified ads in the back of the newspaper. Pages upon pages of text advertised available positions in just a few words and abbreviations. This method coincided with the early days of tech, making it easy for employers to target their ideal candidate under the appropriate heading.

As the paper fell out of practice, employers turned to job boards to advertise for open reqs. Specialized boards became a new way to source and recruit tech talent, complemented by the rise of programmatic digital display ads. Designed to target candidates in the places they frequent online, programmatic job ads are another way for recruiters to focus on a specific talent pool. Despite the many ways in which job postings have evolved, they’ve proven to be a must-have for employers seeking exposure from both active and passive tech candidates.

In-Person & On-Campus

Likely inspired by military recruitment efforts, many savvy employers picked up on the power of brand and marketing around the Second World War. By the time the first programming languages were developed in the 1950s, the technology industry’s pioneers sought to hire the best and brightest from top universities. Early adopters of this tactic sent recruiters out to find candidates and entice them with the promise of a respectable wage, career development and job security to start.

Not much has changed for the campus recruiting programs of today, with recruiters attending career fairs, hosting coffee chats and even scheduling online events to find potential interns and fresh-faced talent looking to get a foot in the proverbial door.

Marketing 101

While employer brand and recruitment marketing only entered the talent acquisition lexicon in the past few years, both existed in practice long before. As most know, brand and marketing share the common goal of acquiring customers. Mirroring this ideology is recruiting, only replacing the idea of customers with that of candidates.

Years ago, brand and marketing were tied to reputation—something recruiters upheld and promoted heavily. Now, brand and marketing range from a general online presence to content development to career-specific social media networks. For some, targeting tech talent involves having dedicated recruiters run full-fledged campaigns, with multiple channels working toward a common goal. Data and analytics make it possible to show the effectiveness of recruitment marketing and to determine ROI down to the individual candidate.

Certain recruitment marketing methods might have some recruiters thinking: “There’s no way I have the bandwidth.” If that’s the case, you can still learn a thing or two from the marketer mindset. The easiest, cheapest and most ageless trick in the book? Become a master of timing.

Knowing What Works

Every recruiter knows that hiring tech talent is a perpetual challenge. With growing demand, fewer active candidates, and a clamor to retain existing employees, recruiters looking to stay competitive must get creative. Considering the lessons learned thus far (including those that go way back), some methods never go out of style. Leveraging what works, in tandem with new and emerging solutions, is a surefire way to reinforce your efforts and ensure that tech candidates receive multiple points of contact, continued support and a positive overall experience.

Noel Cocca is the founder and CEO of RecruitingDaily and its merry band of rabble-rousers. He aims to produce at the sweet spot between content and actual awareness by creating great work for living, breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. He works to ease problems, both large and small, from startups to enterprises.

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