4 Steps to Better Technical Hires

Technical recruiting placements can be a blessing and a curse for companies of all sizes.

On one hand, companies have an ever-growing need for highly qualified developers, system architects, database engineers, network administrators, and other technical talent. Demand for application developers is particularly high, as verified by a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast that projects 31% growth by 2026. Accordingly, the global population of software developers is expected to increase from 23 million in 2018 to 27.7 million by 2023. Across the board, tech labor represents a huge revenue opportunity for staffing firms.

On the other hand, technical positions can be notoriously difficult to fill. Despite having databases full of resumes from seemingly accomplished programmers, recruiters consistently struggle to identify so-called “hidden gems” (i.e., qualified engineers who are not currently employed). As a result, your recruiters end up making recommendations based on educated guesses, leading to an abysmally low recommendation-to-interview ratio.

So, how can your firm capitalize on the growing demand for technical talent without placing unrealistic expectations on your recruitment team?

In this article, we’ll explore best practices for efficiently identifying “hidden gems” and, in turn, making better technical hires.

Step 1: Audit Your Existing Technical Recruiting Process

Let’s start by examining your firm’s technical talent management process. Like most companies, your technical recruiters probably spend a majority of their day on time-intensive tasks. Consider these questions as you audit your recruiting process:  

What is your process for sifting through resumes?

Your in-house database of engineers is extensive, to say the least. Although your resume database allows recruiters to perform basic keyword searches and filters, it’s not uncommon for a single query to return hundreds of resumes. Depending on the efficiency of your recruiters and the your team’s specific requirements, sorting through this many resumes could consume several hours of manual labor. Even after considerable administrative work to build a shortlist of resumes, recruiters still lack the tools necessary to objectively evaluate skills.

Do you factor in online information?

LinkedIn.com can be a recruiter’s best friend, especially when it comes to providing additional context to a shortlist of resumes. Peer recommendations, endorsements, and group memberships deliver an added layer of objectivity, which is why recruiters spend so much time searching for, connecting with, and engaging candidates through LinkedIn. That being said, a developer’s LinkedIn profile cannot measure true skill level or predict success in technical interviews. Therefore, you’ll need to take info from platforms that indicate a developer’s skill and activity (e.g., Github, Stackoverflow, etc.).

How are you engaging with technical candidates?

For any given job opening, it’s possible that your recruiters might talk to a dozen or more candidates. Some developers are more responsive than others. Some are only available during certain hours of the day. Even with the help of automated scheduling calendars and talent management systems, merely scheduling an initial conversation can require considerable effort and cause delays in the recruiting process.

How do you interview technical candidates?

Your recruiters are not coding experts. They do a great job of following the standard script for interviewing technical talent; unfortunately, interviews rarely provide the meaningful insights that are necessary to assess a developer’s skill level.

Pro baseball scouts don’t ask pitchers how fast they can throw a baseball. Instead, they use radar guns to evaluate the pitcher’s true abilities. The same can be said about technical talent. Skills are best assessed by having developers solve real-world coding challenges and complete objective assessments – not by asking subjective interview questions.

How do you assess technical talent?

Without a reliable way to assess technical talent, your recruiters are forced to make educated guesses about each candidate’s capabilities. Some recruiters rely on spreadsheets to weigh the pros and cons of each developer; others make recommendations based purely on a “gut feeling.” Either way, your clients deserve more than educated guesses. They deserve data-driven recommendations that factor in each developer’s core skills, coding language expertise, responsiveness, and overall technical ability.   

Step 2: Compare Your Technical Assessment Options

After auditing your hiring process, you may find the recommendation-to-interview ratio as your biggest bottleneck. Improving this metric can have a positive impact on all other metrics, including top-line revenue growth. Therefore, to improve recommendation-to-interview ratios and deliver more hidden gems to clients, some staffing firms incorporate a technical assessment component into the recruiting process. Technical assessments, when implemented properly, can help your firm efficiently identify engineers who will not only pass the hiring manager’s interview – but, more importantly, will have a high probability of succeeding on the job, too.

Here are two common approaches for administering technical assessments. (As you’ll see, the second option is usually the preferred path.)

Option 1: Non-standardized Testing

A quick web search returns countless free and open-source testing templates that claim to measure technical competency. These tests can certainly be alluring, especially if there’s no existing assessment mechanism. Unfortunately, many of these tests are overly simplistic, fail to test for anything other than basic data structures and algorithms, and are susceptible to plagiarism. In fact, they often create additional bottlenecks and are not scalable, as each test must be manually scored by someone on your staff with the right expertise. What’s worse, non-standardized testing creates inconsistencies in your recruiting process and makes it difficult to know which assessments are actually working (or not working).

Option 2: Technical Assessment Platforms

Unlike one-off templates, a dedicated technical assessment platform can provide a scalable option for your recruiters. Instead of scouring the web for free assessment templates that might (or might not) fit, your team can pick from an extensive library of vetted coding tasks and challenges. Some platforms, including CodeSignal, will automatically score the assessments for you, further streamlining your workflow.

Step 3: Select a Technical Assessment Platform

Given the shortcomings of non-standardized testing, an increasing number of staffing firms are implementing technical assessment platforms. As your firm begins to evaluate assessment providers, look for a solution that offers these key features:

Offers a Robust Task Library & Customizable Assessments:

An ideal system will offer thousands (not hundreds) of prebuilt coding tasks that can be calibrated to your specific interview process. In addition, recruiters should have the flexibility to build custom assessments in minutes (not hours) by picking and choosing the tasks that best align with the client’s needs.

For example, let’s assume your client is a ride sharing startup that needs an experienced front-end developer. By creating a customized assessment that asks developers to write code for the most efficient route, you increase your chances of making an effective recommendation to the client.

Eliminates Manual Scoring Headaches:

A technical assessment platform should standardize the scoring of developer assessments. Systems that offer automated scoring can help your firm reduce unintended biases, achieve instant insights, eliminate the potential for plagiarism, and cut down on unnecessary administrative work. For added efficiency, look for a system that allows recruiters to easily download and share assessment summary reports with clients.

Supports Diverse Coding Languages:

It’s also important to find a platform that supports a diverse set of coding languages. There are more than 250 known computer languages and approximately 40 of them are commonly used. By implementing an assessment tool that supports high-demand and lesser-known languages, you’ll give your staffing firm an upper hand against the competition without having to invest in in-house subject matter experts.

Leverages AI to Build Data-Driven Coder Profiles:

Individual assessment scores can be useful in the context of a specific job opening, but what about future placements? In a perfect world, your technical assessment platform would leverage artificial intelligence to continuously monitor each coder’s expertise from a variety of perspectives, such as implementation, speed, and problem solving. Intelligent systems use this data to build a 360-degree profile for each developer, thereby making it easier for recruiters to hone in on top talent and fill vacancies.

Step 4: Deliver More Hidden Gems without Guessing

Does your company need a more reliable way to identify technical talent? Deliver more hidden gems by using CodeSignal. With CodeSignal, your recruiters gain the visibility they need to make informed recommendations. CodeSignal’s library of 4,000+ tasks and intuitive interface empower recruiters to create, administer, and analyze assessments that predict on-the-job readiness. In addition, the CodeSignal Predictive Coding ScoreTM enables data-driven comparisons about technical talent, leading to better placements, happier clients, and more revenue for your firm.

Schedule a risk-free demo of CodeSignal today.

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