5 Mistakes to Avoid When Recruiting Tech Talent 

With tech unemployment notably low (2% in December) and organizations still stabilizing from the move to remote work and overall forced digitization spurred by the pandemic, recruiting technologists right now feels like a knock-down-drag-out race for the best talent. With that sense of urgency, it can be tempting to rush, especially when you think you’ve found a great candidate. It’s a balance, as you don’t want to lose out, but also want to make sure you’re not moving too quickly and falling into these five recruiting mistakes. 

1. Conflating Interview Performance with Job Performance 

Predicting a candidate’s ability to perform in the role they are being interviewed for is an important piece of the hiring puzzle. Though HR professionals are well-versed in their ability to see past charisma and eliminate bias, we’re still human. No matter how well the interview is going, make it a point to ask questions that will help you gauge the candidate’s likelihood of high performance with questions like “tell us about a time in a previous job where you went above and beyond” and “what is a situation where you failed to deliver in a job and how did you handle it?” Asking about the candidate’s values is also important and can help recruiters evaluate a candidate’s willingness and ability to contribute as a team player. Beyond performance, you’ll want to make sure candidates are easy to work with and align with your organization’s values. 

Another tip for evaluating potential performance is following up with hiring managers to learn how key hires are performing (taking into account performance metrics, culture and values fit, leadership and as many other factors as possible) 3, 6 or 12 months into their new role. Recruiters can learn as much or more from employees and situations that didn’t work out as well as they expected to than from those who found success. 

2. Searching for the Perfect Employee 

A word of caution to not be so focused on evaluating expected employee performance that you end up looking for the perfect employee. Again, we’re all human and perfect employees do not exist. Everyone is a work in progress, and remembering that fact when asking questions that evaluate performance is important too. Does the candidate show signs of learning from their mistakes? Do they demonstrate experience with failing gracefully (i.e., accepting any appropriate responsibility)? 

Applying the adage “progress over perfection” in tech hiring will keep you grounded and looking for works in progress that are motivated to succeed – or you run the risk of losing traction on innovation and advancement by spending too much time looking for a candidate that likely does not exist. 

3. Following Outdated Hiring Practices and Expecting Different (Diverse) Results 

If your organization, or the organization your staffing agency represents has, like many others, renewed its focus on hiring a diverse workforce and cultivating an inclusive workplace, part of those initiatives have likely included an adjustment to recruiting and hiring practices. If not, it’s absurd to expect your talent tool to change. Make sure you’re revisiting, evaluating and adjusting your recruiting and hiring practices often to ensure candidates from all races, genders and education backgrounds (more on that next) are given equal opportunity to apply and interview for open positions. One good place for more information to inform your recruiting and hiring practices is Dice’s Equality in Tech Report, an annual survey on technologist perception of race and gender equality and discrimination. 

4. Letting Education Background Inflate Your Assessment 

In tech, there are schools and programs that are well regarded for the graduates they yield, however, weighing a candidate’s education too heavily can lead to bias and inflated evaluations. Though education is an important piece of the evaluation process, experience can vary widely even between candidates who attended the same institution or earned the same type of degree. Some technologists have even elected to gain knowledge and training through bootcamps and coding camps. Weighing education—traditional or not—too strongly can also lead to overlooking some excellent candidates from lesser-known institutions or non-traditional backgrounds simply because they do not measure up (in the recruiter’s mind) to the education background of other candidates. 

5. Focusing Mostly on Your End of the Deal 

Remembering the evaluation happening during the hiring process is a two-way street is vital in today’s competitive job market. With the skyrocketing demand showing little sign of slowing, many technologists today have their pick of opportunities. By keeping this in mind and sharing convincing reasons the candidate should consider your company throughout the recruiting and hiring process – you’ll stand a higher chance of having a committed job candidate when it comes time to extend an offer. 

In an era of authenticity, candidates are not only evaluating the job opportunity on the table, or even the compensation package, but also assessing a potential employer’s brand and workplace culture. Your employer brand, encompassing everything from what you offer employees to your organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has become an increasingly crucial differentiating factor in a technologist’s decision to join your organization. Not sure where to start? Check out Dice’s Guide to Employer Branding for strategies to develop and enhance your employer brand, identify key audiences and create content to help more effectively land top tech talent.