A Complete Software Hiring Process Checklist to Hit Your 2020 Hiring Goals

Written BY

December 19, 2019

The start of a new decade means it’s time for a big resolution: revamping our software hiring process. Candidates are more knowledgeable, industry demand is climbing, and our hiring process needs to evolve with the industry. In fact, in 2019, companies who followed the steps we outline in this post saw their application volume triple and time-to-hire cut by over 30%.

Our data on hiring software engineers shows that for a mid-level engineering role, we can expect to see about 86 candidates applying per role. This leads to between 5 and 15 on-site interviews, depending on applicant quality and hiring manager preference.

For high-production engineering teams, these numbers are unsustainable. The more time engineering teams spend on hiring, the less time spent hitting product goals. In this post we’ll layout a simple hiring process checklist that will ensure our software hiring process is prepared for the next 10 years.

1. Limit Your Job Description As Much as Possible

The biggest limiting factor for most software hiring processes is posting long, boring job descriptions that don’t hook candidates. After analyzing hundreds of job descriptions, we’ve found that the simpler, the better. Here’s a basic outline to follow:

  • Hook candidates with what makes our company unique or different first.
  • NOT beer, ping pong, or other cultural signals
  • Mission, tech stack, ambitious goals
  • List clear expectations of the role… How much autonomy can they expect? What are the challenges they’re likely to face?
  • NO MORE than three requirements… Ideally, listed in positive terms. Instead of saying “Requirements,” say “We’d love to find someone who…”
  • Put anything outside of the top three requirements in a “Nice-to-have” section
  • Then, get into benefits

Top software engineering candidates are likely either passively looking for a job or they’re inundated with opportunities. As hiring managers, we win when we sell the opportunity and keep it short. In addition to increasing overall application volume, this will also help us increase diversity in our applicant pool. Underrepresented groups are less likely to apply for a job if they don’t check every box.

2. Market the Role Effectively on Job Boards and Social Media

A lot of hiring managers de-prioritize job boards because they don’t think they can find quality applicants there. After analyzing thousands of software engineering job applications, we found the opposite to be true. In fact, 86% of top-performing software engineers hired via Woven in 2019 applied to their job via job boards.

If our software hiring process doesn’t heavily include job boards and social media, we’re likely missing out on highly-talented, passive job seekers. Top hiring managers are putting these channels at the top of their hiring process checklist in 2020, and we’ve seen evidence that this is a great idea.

Here are a few steps we can take to ensure that our jobs are properly represented on job boards and social media:

  • Optimize Free Job Boards: First, we need to ensure our job posting is being indexed by Google Jobs. Indeed.com isn’t crawled by those bots, so make sure that we repost our position on other sites such as Glassdoor, Linkedin, and CareerBuilder. After we’re indexed, we should post on Indeed as well.
  • Speak to Remote Workers: If our position is remote, we need to make sure we’re in front of the engineers that are looking for those positions! Sites like AngelList and weworkremotely.com cater specifically to the engineers going through the work from home hiring process.
  • “Bump” Posts, In Moderation: Reposting our listing will keep the position at the top of most feeds and in front of more engineers’ eyes. We also encourage companies to use this strategy to customize the size of results that they’re looking for. On week one, you could post a Senior Engineering role, but by week three you could remove that position and post a Mid-Level Engineering role if the scope has changed.

In 2019, here are the top job boards we saw for hiring high-quality developers, in order of average candidate score:

  • Stack Overflow
  • Glassdoor
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed

3. Turn Around Every Application in 24 Hours

In 2020 and beyond, speed is the core of hiring effectiveness.

There are a ton of high-quality candidates on the job market right now, but there are also a ton of hiring managers looking to bring them on board. According to our internal data, many top software engineers are on the job market for only 10 business days before they accept a job. That means our software hiring process has to be as lean as possible so we can attract great-fit candidates before they go somewhere else.

After looking at some of the best-in-class hiring processes, we should be moving quality candidates onto the next stage of hiring within 24 hours of their first application. After that, we should an interview with them within the first week, and be prepared to make an offer within that 10-day window.

4. Quit Hiring Based on Resumes

Finally, the single biggest barrier to hiring success for many hiring managers is the resume.

Not only have studies shown that resumes are terrible predictors of on-job success, but they artificially limit our applicant pool. In a competitive hiring market, we are more likely to hit our goals if we’re casting a wide net in regards to background and sorting based on proven ability to do the job, not whether or not a candidate has the right degree or years of experience.

As Charity Majors, the CTO of Honeycomb, said in an interview, “It’s about hiring for strengths, not for a lack of weaknesses.”

In fact, after analyzing software engineering hires across the country, we’ve found that candidates who complete a realistic work simulation as part of their interview process are ⅔ less likely to fail in their first 120 days than industry averages. If we’re looking to improve our hiring process in 2020, we should consider throwing out resumes altogether and replacing them with a signal that’s more predictive of success.

If you’re looking for more ways to overhaul your software hiring process and hit your 2020 engineer hiring goals, we’ve got some great new research that we think you’ll find useful.

You can also watch our free webinar on hitting your developer hiring goals in 2020.