A Few Loose Threads

Hiring and Recruiting Great Software Engineers: The Ultimate Guide


I was a professional job applicant -in between my first two jobs to my nth job, I witnessed the variations of recruiting processes between companies. Some companies hunt you online on Linkedin, college fairs, and networking sites. Some companies have a list of requirements a mile long before you even get a foot in the door. I heard of one who never interviewed one without a 5000-word cover letter.


No matter where I went, in tech companies, startups, brick-and-mortar companies, even the government, each one had unique processes for hiring and recruiting people in their team and in this case, hiring a software engineer. 

 

It’s not unusual, in fact, it’s expected that each company has its processes for recruiting and hiring candidates. Companies have a set of different expectations, with different needs at the time of their hiring. But some general tips and tricks can help tech companies find their ideal engineers and software developers.


We will cover those tips and tricks in this guide, how to incorporate diversity and inclusion into your candidate pool, and why it's important, and other elements that are key to recruiting and hiring. 


Recruiting and hiring, what’s the difference?

If anyone is still unclear about this, recruiting is all about getting in front of your potential candidates. They might not have heard of you but they decide to apply or even leave their old company behind and join your team. On the other hand, hiring is the entire process of posting your available jobs up to the point of signing up your new employee. Both of them include connecting and reaching out to the candidates to convince them to join your company.


Recruiting and Hiring Tips To Get Qualified Engineers

  • Branding your company  
  • Writing attractive and inclusive job descriptions
  • Placing your job openings
  • Preparing for your interviews
  • Measuring your recruiting and hiring success


These five tips are not a secret. They apply to every type of tech recruiting and hiring situation whether you’re a startup or an experienced company. But the magic happens when you begin to apply these tips and create an entirely new thing to meet your requirements and company culture.



1. Branding your company  

If you’re going out in the open to hire and recruit, you’ll need to develop a clear and recognizable brand for your company. This is how you market your company to potential employees and other job seekers who may or may not be interested right now. Your company’s image as an employer is an important aspect of your ability to attract the best tech talent in the field. 


Ask yourself, what makes you unique as an employer. How competitive are your salaries? What are the benefits of joining your company? What are the perks of working for your startup? Beyond the usual benefits, what’s the culture like? All employees, regardless of discipline, want to go where they are valued. For engineers, this consideration isn’t always monetary. Plenty of organizations are willing to pay them what they’re worth, but not every organization is willing to treat them like an integral part of their business. Show off your engineering culture front-and-center and promote the work that your team is doing.


Make this information readily available on your website, your job descriptions, and the websites where you posted your job openings. Polish your recruiting messages and make sure that they reflect your branding as a good company to work for.




2. Writing attractive and inclusive job descriptions

If you’ve ever been to a tech job board you’ll know how painful it is to read the job descriptions. It’ll take your whole focus and time just to be able to figure out what it is that companies are actually recruiting for. Whether too much information or a veritable wish list, some companies do go overboard with their tech job descriptions. For hiring or recruiting, make it a habit to write attractive and professional job descriptions that match your company brand. This should be attractive enough to make engineers and developers dream about being a part of your team.


Do not forget to make a conscious effort to make an inclusive job description that will help you get the eyes of a diverse group of people for your company. When Buffer realized that less than 2% of its candidates for developer positions were women, they wanted to know why. One of the surprising reasons is how they wrote their job descriptions. A diverse pool of candidates is important because statistics show that companies who place an importance on diversity when growing their teams are more likely to have higher financial returns than the average. Most applicants also say that they look for a company with a diverse pool of team members when applying for jobs.


When writing a job placement, don’t forget to introduce your company with your branding and company profile. These will include the how’s and whys of your company, your main products, and why you’re in this specific business. It may also include your company’s beliefs and culture if you want. 


Be clear. List your requirements and skills required for the job. Be specific enough but don’t list all your wants. While listing your requirements helps you vet your candidates’ technical skills, listing too much makes your pool small. Before listing your job, decide which are just nice to have and which are absolutely necessary. This is so you can get more applications and lessen the possibility of good developers or engineers not applying for your position because of a “nice to have” skill that you didn’t even need in the first place. 


Diverse language and inclusive company information make your job descriptions sing. Company benefits for parents, workplace diversity initiatives, a brief statement about your commitment to diversity and inclusion can make a lot of difference. There are tools like Gender Decoder and Textio which help you with your language in your job descriptions. 


Also, this is obvious but try and remove unnecessary corporate language and abbreviations. We all know what KPIs are, or do we? Terminologies can hurt your chances of getting the best developer, all because you can help yourself and mention PIPs, wait, what? 



3. Placing your job openings.

Whether you’re recruiting or hiring, you will go through a process of placing your job postings in the wild. Here are some common grounds on how you might go about it to better attract your tech candidates. They might be slightly different if you’re hiring or recruiting. 


Recruiting Examples

Campus recruiting. It’s common for tech companies to host or sponsor a networking event to get soon to be graduates interested in their companies. These days, boot camps are also producing great developers and you can join in the fun by offering mentorship. According to Career Karma, in 2019, 33,959 students attended one of the 105 coding boot camps studied in this market analysis, representing a 4.38% growth since 2018. In 2020, we expect the boot camp sector to grow. 

Employee referrals. Some companies use an employee referral system for engineers that is in their circle who could be a great fit for their company. 

Linkedin Outreach. Linkedin is a great resource for hiring for tech companies. You can reach out to candidates directly with your job positions. Be careful with spam though. According to G2, the average developer receives numerous unsolicited outreach messages and calls. Personalize your outreach so that it will fit the people who receive them. Before reaching out with an opportunity, you must check whether the skills listed in someone’s LinkedIn profile REALLY match the job description.



Hiring Examples

Job Boards

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


  • Stack Overflow
  • Glassdoor
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed



Advertise your opportunity on your company’s social media accounts. You can also add a link to your careers page and/or specific job description to your bio.


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

          


              Optimize Free Job Boards: First, you need to ensure your job posting is being indexed by Google Jobs. Indeed.com isn’t crawled by those bots, so make sure that you repost your position on other sites such as Glassdoor, Linkedin, and CareerBuilder. After you’re indexed, you should post on Indeed as well.

              Speak to Remote Workers: If your position is remote, you need to make sure you’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 the home hiring process.


             “Bump” Posts, In Moderation: Reposting your 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 the 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.


→ Click here to download our free Tech Recruiting Playbook for Remote Startups [Free Ebook].‍

4. Preparing for your interviews.

If you think that the job seekers are the only ones who need to prepare for interviews, think again. Employers do too. This is so you can make your interview process reflect your needs, do not feel rushed nor overly long, or gasp, look unprepared. You will need to prepare for the interview to make sure that all your applicants are given the time to shine and the opportunity to impress you. It will also be a chance for you to show off and make sure that your company is who you said you were on your branding. 


Technical interviews are different from regular interviews. Here is how you can prepare for your interviews: 


  • Determine who will conduct the interviews.
  • Which hiring managers and employees will be involved?
  • Decide how many rounds of interviews will be necessary.
  • Determine how the hiring manager(s) will use feedback from employee interviewers.
  • Be sure all interviewers ask the questions that matter to your company. 


At Woven, as we’ve been designing and refining our technical interview process, we’ve found that the best technical interview process should be something that the candidate might actually be asked to do on the job in the real world.


So for example, a lot of interview questions ask about things like reversing a link list or dynamic programming, or things like that. We’ve found that those aren’t things that software engineers have to do day to day; most software engineers, most of the time, are dealing more with problems of debuggability, handling edge cases, designing clean abstractions, and so on. So, try to design an interview process that more closely reflects those skills that really matter day to day, on the job.


Sometimes companies find that to hire employees in tech more efficiently, they need to partner with code quiz services like HackerRank, recruiting/headhunter services, or technical assessment platforms like Woven. For startups and companies without a tech department, this can be an overwhelming time. That said, invest heavily in remote engineering technical screening and communication tools to stay on the same page. In the world of tech hiring, getting an experienced partner like us who can test engineers for debugging, architecture and communication is like getting a hiring superpower. 




5. Measure your hiring success.

If you’re measuring your success on, say social media, or SEO, make it a point to measure your successes on your recruiting and hiring efforts as well. Analyze your results, check in with your new hire to ensure that they are set up for success. Check-in with the managers and coworkers of your new hire to ensure that person is meeting all expectations. Be consistent with your measurements as this will allow you to determine whether or not you’re making the right decisions for your company.


So, to make sure your recruiting and hiring procedures are successful, you’ll want to analyze the outcome of your efforts. This will allow you to determine whether or not you’re making the right decisions for your company, employees, and new hires consistently. Get your recruits to feedback on your hiring process and see if your technical hiring process can still be improved — whether that be adding more diversity, changing the interview process in some way, or updating the format of, or details in, your job descriptions.


These tips are, again, not a huge secret and likely implemented in some way or another in your workplace. A review of your processes will help you to know areas of improvement when recruiting and hiring for your technical requirements. To avoid hiring the wrong employees, you need to create a process that can be reviewed and repeatedly optimized, just like the marketing funnel.



Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Now let’s discuss some important elements about why you should promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We have briefly touched into this earlier but let’s dive in on this topic. It’s a very controversial one, not the least in the refusal to implement but more so in the difficulties in its implementation within the workplace.


Currently, about 57% of businesses today say they currently have diversity strategies for hiring and recruiting in place. It’s because according to data, diverse and inclusive workplaces have repetitively been proven to be more successful and bring in at least 19% more revenue. It’s definitely a critical consideration when recruiting and hiring. 


What, exactly is diversity and inclusion at work?

According to our interview with Jason Wong on diversity and inclusion, it’s a lot like being asked to the party, and inclusion as being asked to dance. Then, there's the third stage... which is belonging, which is like you're being asked to help plan the party. Really what you want to get to is further down the stage of inclusion, and making sure people can not only just be in the space of the workplace, but also survive [and] thrive, [and] be successful. It’s a work environment that accepts and understands people of different inherent and acquired backgrounds and sees the value of incorporating these factors every day.


Is it really a critical consideration?

Jason Wong points out that diverse teams ship, on average, two more products a year. They have far more likely to be valuable. 


“They are far more likely to be profitable. When I think about my career, you know I've been in tech about 20 years, I don't know if I've ever worked on a product or feature that has had the same impact that these studies are showing that [diversity] and [inclusion] can have for a business. So, if your business is one that relies on profitability and making money, this is actually a pretty savvy move to make early on.”


There are other sorts of reasons to do this as well, mainly being that it's the right thing to do. But it never hurts to add on all the extras.


How can you add Diversity and Inclusion in youth hiring and recruiting processes?

Here are some ways to do just that:


As mentioned earlier, write inclusive job descriptions and incorporate diverse language, Include a diversity and inclusion page on your website. Your candidates can check your efforts anytime. For each job opening, interview a wide range of candidates and avoid the pitfall of stereotyping when it comes to your candidates. Unconscious bias can be a big stumbling block in your efforts for inclusion and diversity.


Time to Hire

During these unprecedented times, one of the considerations to take into account is the ever-changing job market. Asked in an interview, Woven’s CEO, Wes Winham, tells the interviewer that there are two worlds right now. One is that there is a surplus of engineers and one where there is a lack of engineers. The first one is a company that is pon to remote hiring, and the other is not. Depending on which world you are in right now, the job market has the potential to impact your search for the right candidate — it might cause your search to be a long and difficult process or make your search quick and easy. 


Being prepared for changes in the job market is always a good idea so you’re ready for any scenario if and when a position at your company becomes available. Stay up to date with job listings in your industry and at companies similar to yours. Be active on job listing sites, update your job listings regularly, and ensure your company is active on LinkedIn and other job search and review sites.


It never hurts to be prepared for all outcomes and leaving the other qualified candidates in the mix until you have ensured your top candidate has officially accepted your offer, you’ll avoid having to start over again with an entirely new pool of candidates. For all roles at a tech company, the average hiring cycle is 23.9 days, meaning it will take 70% longer for the engineering team to make their next hire, compared to other departments.


Don't be afraid to hire remote but know what you're signing up for: According to Wes, who has run both a national and global remote team of engineers, "Remote work expands both your applicant pool and your workload."


How Fast Can You Hire?

Research from Glassdoor has shown that the length of your hiring process has a bigger impact on your time-to-hire great-fit candidates than your market size, company size, and industry combined. While some may blame Fortune 500 companies or lack of talent in their area for their hiring struggles, the truth is, your time-to-hire and speed is another critical factor for hiring software engineers in the current market. 


→ Click here to see if you can win the competition for great tech employees and engineers.  [Free Simulation].

Start Recruiting and Hiring

By fine-tuning your business’ recruiting and hiring processes, you’ll be able to find ideal candidates to fill the open positions at your company. So, follow the tips mentioned above and consider the benefits of diversity and inclusion when establishing the procedures you implement at your company. By doing this, you’ll expand your team and pool of talent, and propel your business towards success both financially and in terms of workplace culture. 


→ Click here to download our free Tech Recruiting Playbook for Remote Startups [Free Ebook].








Written BY

Kevin Huynh
October 27, 2020