Basic Steps for Attracting ‘Rock Star’ Tech Talent

By John Vlastelica of Recruiting Toolbox

We’ve uncovered the technology recruiters’ golden ticket. Passive tech candidates have told us the best ways to find them when they’re not in the job market.

Dice surveyed more than 250 tech professionals to find out how companies can find them if they’re not actively looking for a job. The results:

  • 42% – Posting a job on Dice.
  • 29% – Through someone I know.
  • 15% – You can’t. I’m off the grid.
  • 10% – Being out in public and talking about technology, or publishing articles.
  • 4% – Googling “rock star tech wizard.”

Clearly, these insights tell us that to reach 71% of passive tech candidates, job boards and referrals remain important ways to recruit.

Let’s start with the basics: Fix your job postings

Savvy recruiters realize – whether their job posting is on their own company career site or a quality niche job board – that they must translate the HR-approved job description into a compelling, passive candidate attraction magnet! But how? Follow these guidelines:

For additional ideas, read “Top Eight Techniques to Improve your Job Postings.”

It’s who you know: Soliciting referrals

If your company is like most, you already have an employee referral program complete with posters in the company kitchen, new employee orientation announcements and $1,000+ bonuses. Great. But savvy recruiters don’t depend solely on bonuses and referral posters to draw in quality tech candidates. They’re hunters, who actively solicit referrals from their networks. This is often the only way to find those truly passive candidates. So how do you generate quality referrals?

1. Sit down – in person or virtually – with hiring managers to go through their networks. Get the hiring manager or lead technical people to log into their LinkedIn networks to review their first- and second-degree connections. Help them write and send targeted emails to people who look like they may be good candidates, or may know people who would be good candidates. Yes, this seems like hand-holding to some people, but it works.

2. Solicit referrals from targeted groups of new hires, and bribe them with pizza. Invite recently hired tech employees – who come from your target companies and target schools – to a group lunch meeting with a senior-level tech leader. The goal is two-fold:

  • Get the recent hires introduced to a tech leader who can explain the type of projects the team is tackling and the skills needed to succeed on the team.
  • Get each recent hire to share the names and contact information for people in their network (past coworkers, former classmates, professional networking contacts) that may be a good fit.

With this, you draw them in with pizza, get new referrals with promises of bonus cash if the referred candidates are hired, and give them the opportunity to help hand-pick their teammates.

3. Leverage social media to connect with passive candidates. You can find top-quality candidates by networking online, reading blogs, answering questions on technical sites and speaking at conferences that include your target audience. But don’t just send them an email blast with a link to your job postings. You must first connect with candidates by:

  • Inviting them to your network.
  • Offering to put them in touch with someone at your company who is doing similar work (thereby helping them get smarter and make more valuable connections).
  • Sending them links to articles that someone at your company has written that’s related to things they’re interested in.

As you build relationships, begin to ask them for referrals for critical, hard-to-fill jobs.

Tech Candidates Have Spoken

Tech candidates are happy to tell us how to attract and find them. Two keys are:

  • Making our job postings more compelling and easier to find when they search online.
  • Soliciting referrals from our existing employees and extended professional networks.
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