How to recruit and hire engineers

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By The Fetcher Team

How to recruit and hire engineers

9 mins read

Tips for recruiting and hiring engineers
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Software engineers have been in high demand since the 1980s. Today, only 1 in 100 is unemployed.

Luckily for them, this means that engineers have the ability to be picky as employers compete to secure the strongest players for their open roles. If they want to be successful in recruiting engineers, talent teams need to have a solid plan when it comes to sourcing, interviewing, and hiring for engineering roles.

So how do you find, engage, and hire top engineering talent? Below we’ve outlined key guidelines to help you recruit and hire the best engineers.

Before You Start Engineer Recruitment

Need to hire an engineer? Prior to making a job post or scouring LinkedIn, there are a few things you need to take into consideration. First, make sure you know your company’s short and long-term goals, and how a developer will contribute to these larger initiatives. How will your company’s needs change in the coming years? What would this new hire’s career trajectory be at your company?

Knowing the answers to these questions is essential for hiring any position but, because engineering jobs often require a more niche skill set, it’s worth taking the time to fully grasp the answers to these questions from an engineering perspective specifically. Especially when hiring for more senior roles, make sure you're ready to discuss your company’s financials, growth, market position, expansion strategy and goals.

More than any other job type, engineers want to work at companies that are at the leading edge of tech. Make sure your tech stack is up to date, as top talent won’t want to use outdated programs. To entice engineering candidates, brand your company as a technical workplace.

Engineers are often motivated by inspiring and new technology, as well as seeing their work out in the real world. How can you showcase this? A great way to do this is through your company blog. Check out these examples.

Now that your company is a place engineers want to work, you can narrow your focus to the open position. In order to recruit successfully, you must have a strong understanding of what the position’s responsibilities are and take time to learn the hiring team’s technical lingo. A prospect will lose confidence in your ability if they feel they know more about the position than you do. It doesn't require a computer science degree, but it does mean adapting the mindset and skills of a technical recruiter.

Start by spending time with the hiring manager or spend a day shadowing the engineering team. Build your confidence in answering technical questions by conducting mock interviews with engineers at your organization.

Have a strong understanding of what the position’s responsibilities are and take time to learn the hiring team’s technical lingo.

How to Source Engineers Effectively

A surefire way to enhance the quality of your candidates is to expand your talent pool. Examine the open position’s job requirements and eliminate those baselines that are unnecessary or overly restrictive. Keep in mind, there are great engineers out there who may not have a typical 4-year degree. Many software engineers are self-taught and have been coding since a young age.

Alternatively, many strong developers may have attended one of the many coding boot camps available today. Requiring a 4-year degree would filter out these candidates who likely have the same skill sets as those who received a more traditional college experience. Bonus: non-degree holding individuals often make the best employees because they work harder than their degree-holding colleagues to prove their strength and place at a company.

Examine the open position’s job requirements and eliminate those baselines that are unnecessary or overly restrictive.

Geography can be another limiting requirement for engineers. Given the fact that many engineering positions can be done remotely (even before the pandemic), consider removing this limiting qualifier if your company is aligned. Don’t restrict your pool based on geography. Hiring candidates outside tech hubs like San Francisco and NYC is less expensive, and vastly opens up the already narrow pool of qualified candidates.

The stronger the candidate pipeline the better, so remember to always be sourcing! You never know when a game-changing engineer will pop up. Recruiting automation tools like Fetcher are particularly helpful with these harder-to-fill roles that take a lot of time to source.

Beyond sourcing, what else can you do to interest the best inbound candidates? In order to draw in motivated engineers, you first need to perfect your job post. The best engineers are looking for more than just good compensation. They want to know that they’ll be making an impact and want to be challenged by their work.

According to Fetcher’s former Director of Engineering, Javier Castiarena, recruiters should “explain the importance of the product to solve fundamental problems in the industry.” Additionally, like most candidates, engineers want to make sure their values align with your organization’s and that there is a good culture fit. Make sure your job post highlights all of these aspects.

"Explain the importance of the product to solve fundamental problems in the industry."

How to Interview Engineers Effectively

Once you’ve sourced enough viable candidates, it’s time to start interviewing. With engineering candidates, your interview process needs to be efficient. Many engineers only spend 2-3 weeks job-hunting, meaning you’ll need to expedite your standard timeline or risk losing candidates to competitors. Managers can shorten their usual time to hire by relying on recruiters for early candidate screenings. Recruiters need to spend time with hiring managers to build trust and a strong partnership. With trust and a mutual understanding of the ideal candidate, hiring managers can trust recruiters to handle the initial interviews.

Once a prospect makes it past the initial interview, use a coding assessment to ensure candidates know how to program. Here are some assessment guidelines to follow...

  • Make sure the assessment problems mirror problems they’ll be working on if they’re hired. Anything outside the scope of what their job requirements will be is a waste of their time and will give them a false sense of the position itself.
  • Give candidates a chance to collaborate with your engineering team. Look for team players who will work well with others. Do they communicate well? A candidate’s technical skills may be top-notch but if their communication skills are lacking, they can pull the whole team down.
  • Ask for real code and have your developers review it. This gives you the chance to see how they respond to criticism.
  • Seek diversity in skillsets. How will this new hire complement the already existing team?

When it comes to the interview and assessment process, Fetcher’s Co-Founder and Director of Engineering, Santiago Aimetta, suggests you, “ask for prior challenging projects that the candidate has solved in the past (solution, struggles, best practices used), I find that really valuable to understand the experiences and also useful to generate questions and code exercises.”

Most importantly, and as with any prospect, prioritize a positive candidate experience. Remember, engineering candidates can be as picky as they want. Don’t risk losing the ideal candidate because of a poor experience. Communicate what the interview and assessment will be like, give a timeline, and stick to it. To get the best talent, you need to be quick!

Prioritize a positive candidate experience.

Closing the Deal: Making offers to engineering candidates

So, your sights are set on a perfect potential candidate -- references have been checked and you’re ready to make an offer. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Pay is competitive. The average engineering salary in the U.S. is now more than $100K. If you can’t match this average, try to compensate with benefits, perks, and stock options. Most importantly, move quickly. Once there is an internal agreement on a hire, send a competitive offer as soon as possible. Any hesitation and your chance of making an epic hire will slip away.

Hiring the right engineers is paramount to the success of your organization -- they are literally building (or improving) the product or service that launched your company in the first place! Engineers make or break your ability to scale as a company, so invest in the right recruitment tools and processes for success. If you want to hire the best engineers, perfect your hiring process by implementing the right tools, budgeting for the necessary resources, and actively engaging with interested candidates quickly!

About Fetcher

Our mission is to help you engage talent that will transform your business aspirations into reality. Great talent is hard to find - that's why we offer a talent sourcing platform that not only gets your brand in front of the right candidates but also gives you a competitive edge in talent acquisition.

Begin building a relationship with your next great hire today and let Fetcher handle the rest. Learn more.

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