7 Steps to Hiring Top Software Developers

December 8, 2015

In the recruiting world, tech talent has become like diamonds: They're hard to extract, everybody wants them, and even people who have a lot want even more.

In countless interviews with recruiting leaders across all industries, one after the other said the same thing: Tech talent is their number one recruiting priority, and also their biggest challenge.

So, how do you attract software developers, who are so highly sought after? Well, the truth is, there’s no one lever you can pull. Instead, you have to use a full funnel strategy to bring in that elusive tech talent to your organization.

Here’s that strategy outlined in seven steps:

1. First, you have to build out your employer brand

Software developers in Silicon Valley have reported getting contacted 10 to 15 times a week by recruiters regarding new jobs. That’s insane. To have any chance to stick out from the crowd, not only do people need to know who you are, but they need to start wanting to work for your company because of your strong employer brand.

How do you get them there? The best way is to master your own internal recruiting communications: optimizing your career page, writing great job descriptions and, most important of all, creating great content and sharing on social media so talent starts following you.

All of this will start bringing tech talent closer to your doorstep. One fact that illustrates the point – 70 percent of the people who follow a company on LinkedIn said they would consider working for that company.

2. Then, begin your search by knowing where to look

A big key in finding great software developers is knowing where to look. And that means using LinkedIn’s talent pool reports to find those places.

Say, for example, you are looking for Java developers in the United States. You can pull up the talent pool report for that industry and begin making a plan:

  • software developers location

As you can see from the report, Boston, New York and San Francisco are all going to be hard places to recruit Java developers, because the demand for them is so high. Conversely, Philadelphia, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver are all better places to look, because there isn’t as much demand.

From there, you can focus your employing branding (perhaps through targeted sponsored updates) and boots-on-the-ground recruiting in the low-demand areas that make most sense to you.

3. Once you have your targets, it’s time to write great personalized InMails

So you know you want to target developers in Denver and, through your employer branding efforts, have gained a few followers in the area. What’s the next step?

The InMail, which is one of the most common ways recruiters first reach out to prospects, particularly software developers.

The key here? Make it personalized and centered around the needs of the candidate, not yours. For specifics, here are four examples of great InMails (and eight examples of terrible ones).

4. Use the interview to determine great developers from good ones

Alright, so your InMails are successful and you’ve set up interviews with a few software developers. The interview is your chance to find out if these people are truly right for your company.

To do this best, science suggests a structured interview process that includes a work sample (perhaps a developing test). As far what to look for in that interview, here are 10 indications of a strong developer, and five things to be weary of.

Big factor to keep in mind here: Obviously, the technical skills of the developer matter a lot. But so do the soft skills, so don’t neglect that when assessing your candidates.

5. But remember, candidates are interviewing you as well

With highly sought after talent like software developers, chances are they’ll be talking with multiple companies when looking for a new job. And the interview, as our stats show, is one of the key ways they’ll determine if they want to work for your company or someone else.

  • interview importance

So how do you create a great interview process? When surveyed, professionals said the interview with the hiring manager has the biggest impact on their interview experience; so train your hiring managers to make candidates feel as comfortable as possible.

Additionally, 49 percent of professionals surveyed said the most important thing to them during the interview is getting all their business questions answered, so be sure to clearly explain to candidates the functions and goals of the advertised position.

6. Close your candidate by selling the future

Alright, so the interview goes great and you want to give the candidate an offer. Be prepared to pay here, as more than 70 percent of professionals receive more money when changing jobs.

That said, the number-one reason people take a new job isn’t money, but career opportunity. So, yes, you’ll probably have to pay the candidate more money to take your offer. But more than that, you should also lay out a plan for them on how they can move up within your organization in the position and continue to advance their career.

7. Once you close a candidate, ask them if they know anyone else

The best source of hire is referrals, as it is both the least expensive and has the highest quality-of-hire. So, as you start hiring developers, the best way to continue that growth is asking those people if they know anyone else in their network that would be good for your company.

A few things to keep in mind when building your referral program: For a referral bonus, experiences work better than straight cash; and the real key to a robust referral program is marketing it well internally. 

Tying it all together

Today, just about every company needs great developers. Retailers need them to build great websites their customers can shop on; manufacturers need them to build programs that make their factories more effective; healthcare companies need them to build tracking tools that save lives.

The problem is, with all that demand, the supply of software engineers isn’t keeping up. So, the pressure is going to fall onto recruiters to proactively bring in this great talent, who are going to have to master the seven steps listed above to beat out the competitors.

Chances are, you’ll be great at some and only so-so in others. By focusing on the areas where you’re weak, you can quickly improve your recruiting efforts and start bringing in that top tech talent your company needs.

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