Recruiting Technical Developer Talent: Speed vs. Quality

Coding assessments are not the first thing that hiring managers or HR managers think of when it comes to technical screenings.

The conversation usually sounds more like this…

“We have an urgent need to fill several important software development roles – as quickly as possible.”

Sound familiar?

Hiring managers often want the best of both worlds, especially when it comes to technical developer talent. Unfortunately, HR teams, staffing firms, and recruiting firms frequently struggle to meet engineering expectations due to the apparent inverse relationship between speed and quality.

Without the right tools, assessing technical talent can be a time-intensive process that must incorporate countless data points, such as problem-solving skills, speed, style, and coding language expertise. As a result, some companies bypass coding assessments altogether, leading to a low recommendation-to-interview ratio.

In this article, we’ll explore how to deliver the best of both worlds: speed and quality.

Why Hiring Managers Have a Need for Speed (and Neglect Coding Assessments)

Before you can optimize your balance between speed and quality, it’s important to first understand why technical hiring managers are so crunched for time.

Technology is a Hot Industry

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the information sector, which includes software publishing, data processing, and other information services, is rapidly becoming one of the top contributors to GDP growth (Q1 2018 data). In fact, information-related economic activity added over $955 billion in nominal value and was second only to real estate as a contributor to Real GDP growth. Companies from all industries are cashing in on the global information economy, and they need top technical talent to do so.

Fierce Competition Necessitates Rapid Change

With an ever-increasing number of competitors developing innovative tech solutions, existing market players are forced to iterate faster just to remain viable. And, although intense competition usually results favorably for consumers, it typically has the opposite effect for your companies. In-house development resources are already working at full capacity, so the only option is to quickly ramp up talent sourcing. Each day that goes by without filling vacant positions makes clients more vulnerable to competitive threats.

Turnover is a Big Problem in Tech

Tech companies are dealing with a two-fold problem when it comes to competition. Not only must they outflank competitors from a product standpoint but they must also deal with an increasingly tight labor market. With so much development activity going on, top programmers know that they are in high demand. They’re right, of course, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting a 24% increase in employment for software developers by 2026. This 24% increase is significantly higher than the average for all other occupations (7%). When a developer leaves for a bigger paycheck or greater opportunity (which seems to happen more so than ever before), your clients must scramble to fill the gap.

Blocked Development Inhibits Revenue Growth

Even if increased competition wasn’t a factor, companies still have an aggressive product development pipeline that’s aimed at fully monetizing their user base. Just as manufacturing companies can’t scale with a single production line, tech companies can’t scale without continuously expanding their “production line” of programming talent. The longer it takes to get a production line up and running, the longer it takes to deploy features, capture market share, and improve top-line performance.

Recruiting Tech Talent Can Be Highly Specialized

Though there are over 750,000 app developers in the United States, there are also more than 256 different programming languages. Some languages are extremely complex to master, making it difficult to find a sizable quorum of talented developers who are proficient in a given language. Despite this reality, it doesn’t mean that clients have a less pressing need to fill highly specialized roles. Actually, it compounds the issue.  

The simple truth is that tech companies face tremendous pressure to fill vacancies, which is why some hiring managers turn to staffing and recruiting firms for support. Sadly, most of these firms don’t have the in-house knowledge to adequately evaluate and recommend technical talent. Instead, many resort to a failed “strength in numbers” strategy (i.e., sending a large quantity of resumes and hoping for the best).

What Hiring Managers Really Want (in Addition to Speed)

We’ve established why hiring managers have such an urgent need for technical talent. However, the need for speed does not diminish the need for quality talent.

Before your recruiters send over another batch of mediocre candidates, now might be a good time to implement a technical assessment platform that can expedite your placement of high-quality programmers by delivering:

Top-Tier Candidates with Verifiable Skills

In a perfect world, your candidate pipeline would be much more than a database of names and resumes. Ideally, each coder would have his or her own Coding ScoreTM that objectively measures true problem-solving abilities based on an in-depth history of completed coding challenges and tasks. Your recruiters could use this score as a benchmark to rapidly identify and recommend top-tier candidates who are likely to excel in interviews and make positive impressions.

Fewer Failed Coding Assessments

After reviewing a candidate’s work history and education, it’s not uncommon for hiring managers to put the candidate through a technical coding assessment of their own. Companies that utilize in-house technical assessment platforms increase the pass rate of their recommended candidates, resulting in fewer failed assessments and happier clients. Look for a system that empowers recruiters to set up, administer, and score real-world programming tests within minutes – not hours.

Data-Driven Insights into Candidate Expertise

Performing well in an interview and passing assessments is a good starting point, but it’s no guarantee of success for any company. Provide hiring managers with the data-driven insights they’re looking for by selecting a coding assessment platform that objectively measures a broad spectrum of performance indicators, such as coding language knowledge, domain expertise, responsiveness, problem solving, and other job-related criteria.

Fewer Resumes, More Solutions

At the end of the day, hiring managers are not impressed by how many resumes recruiters can throw at them. In reality, most hiring managers prefer fewer resumes in exchange for a vetted shortlist of candidates who can readily demonstrate their capabilities during an interactive coding assessment.

How to Find the Right Balance Between Speed & Quality

Does your hiring strategy need a better balance between speed and quality? Perhaps it’s time to try our CodeSignal technical coding assessment platform.

Our predictive Coding ScoreTM harnesses the power of machine learning to deliver data-driven insights about each candidate’s technical abilities, helping your team to make faster and more informed recommendations. In fact, companies that use CodeSignal experience higher onsite-to-offer rates (35%) versus the industry average (20%). In addition, our library of over 4,000 coding tasks and support for over 41 programming languages streamlines the entire technical coding assessment process, resulting in quicker hires, fewer empty positions and more revenue for your company.

Schedule a risk-free demo of CodeSignal today.

How to Diversify Your Engineering Team

Diversity and inclusion (or “D&I” for short) is an increasingly hot topic in the tech industry.

And, rightfully so.

After all, only 18.7% of software developers are women, according to the most recent Labor Force Survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The same report found that only 4.5% of employed web developers are Black or African American, despite representing 13.4% of the US population. Clearly, tech companies still have a long way to go to level the playing field.

In this post, we’ll outline steps for diversifying your engineering team.

Step 1: Understand Your Organization

It’s difficult to become more diverse without a firm understanding of your current organization. Before spending too much time on tactics aimed at bolstering inclusivity, start by looking for issues pertaining to:

Workforce Representation:

How does your overall workforce representation compare to that of your engineering team? Are certain genders or ethnicities underrepresented? What are the possible causes of such underrepresentation?  

Income Disparities:

The pay gap between men and women still persists in the United States, with women only earning 82% as much as their male counterparts. Though many factors contribute to this disparity, bias is certainly one of them. Is it possible that biases (whether intentional or unintentional) have influenced compensation policies at your organization?

Hiring Decisions:

Obviously, technical recruiting represents a huge opportunity for becoming more diverse and inclusive. It’s therefore wise to study your company’s existing hiring practices along with specific outcomes. Have recent hiring decisions made your organization more or less diverse? What seems to be the cause of such trends?

Geographic Distribution:

Geographic distribution could also be a relevant consideration, especially given the popularity of remote teams and distributed workforces. Does simply having a foreign engineering office mean that your company is truly “diverse”? What steps must be taken to ensure an inclusive work ecosystem that transcends national boundaries?

Step 2: Set Specific and Realistic Goals

After digging deeper and looking at your data, you may start to feel a bit overwhelmed. Remember, no organization is perfectly diverse or entirely inclusive (just ask Facebook), which means you’re bound to identify issues that require attention.

Since you can’t fix everything immediately, it’s probably best to focus on a handful of specific, yet realistic goals. For example, let’s imagine that your analysis indicates that only 10% of senior-level developers are female. Aspiring to increase this number to 50% by year’s end, while specific (and laudable), is probably not very realistic.

So, how can you find the right balance when setting diversity and inclusion goals? A simple solution involves studying what other tech companies are doing. For example, our friends at Gusto have done an excellent job in identifying clear and attainable D&I goals. Case in point, as outlined in the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Report, one goal is to “increase the percentage of Black and Hispanic Gusties to 10%,” which would represent a two-point increase from the former level of 8%.  

In short, don’t try to do too much all at once. Set goals that challenge the status quo but are also attainable.

Step 3: Be Transparent

In a perfect world, diversity and inclusion would extend well beyond executive-level discussions. To ensure success, D&I needs to be a grassroots initiative that is embraced by everyone in the company. Such initiatives are rarely successful, when key information is restricted to senior staff.

To encourage maximum transparency, some tech companies have resorted to publishing extensive diversity reports online. Here are a few examples that we’re particularly fond of:

Regardless of whether or not your company publishes a public-facing diversity report, one thing remains true: your internal stakeholders, at a minimum, need a clear understanding of your D&I vision, challenges, and priorities.  

Providing baseline metrics about current workforce demographics can be a great starting point, thereby establishing new channels of communication and collaboration.

Step 4: Implement Technology that Decreases Hiring Biases

As diversity and inclusion become ingrained into the company culture, your team will begin to identify opportunities for improvement. Innovative technology, in particular, will likely be a major topic of such conversations.

For example, technical assessment platforms, such as CodeSignal, can supplement your diversity and inclusion program by eliminating biases from the hiring process. Unlike traditional hiring methodologies that overemphasize educational pedigree and work history, technical assessment platforms provide insight into each developer’s true abilities by allowing your company to:

Harness Data-Driven Analytics:

Identify top programmers with less effort and minimize unintended biases during the hiring process with Predictive Coding ScoresTM. Such scores are based on a variety of factors that reflect true competency, such as domain expertise, problem solving abilities, responsiveness, and many other real-world factors.

Encourage Inclusivity During Assessments & Interviews:

Flawed assessments and interviews can be another roadblock to achieving a diverse workforce. Eliminate barriers by implementing a virtual interviewing interface that is both welcoming and collaborative. Look for a solution that is not only easy for candidates to use but also helps your organization effectively measure technical talent. The ideal system should provide a robust task library, support dozens of programming languages, and empower staff to create real-world programming tests without technical assistance.

Anonymize Candidate Demographics:

For the most unbiased approach, some companies take the additional step of anonymizing candidate demographic information. As our friends at Greenhouse have pointed out, “By building in anonymization into your hiring process, organizations can more easily change behavior, reduce bias, and select the most qualified candidates.” Check to see if your talent management system offers an out-of-the-box anonymizing solution and if that solution integrates with a technical assessment platform.

Supplement Your D&I Program with CodeSignal

Need a technical assessment platform that aligns with your diversity and inclusion program? Perhaps it’s time to learn more about our CodeSignal Recruiter platform. With CodeSignal, your hiring managers gain instant access to the tools they need to mitigate unintended biases. Our Predictive Coding ScoreTM incorporates machine learning to help your team make data-driven decisions about technical talent. In addition, our library of 4,000+ coding tasks paired with an advanced IDE ensures your interviews are both fair and welcoming.

Schedule a risk-free demo of CodeSignal today.


CodeSignal Speaks at Tech Inclusion SF About Removing Hiring Biases with Technology

Will we see you at Tech Inclusion (#TechInclusion) this year?

October 15th, 2018, marks the kickoff of Tech Inclusion San Francisco 2018. Most of the recent diversity and inclusion initiatives in tech has been to consciously and actively select for people of more diverse backgrounds, which has made a significant impact. But what if we can completely remove conscious and unconscious bias all together? To achieve this, we must start from the first step: hiring. The key to removing biases is to make our assessments and processes as objective as possible and build it into our HR workflow. Today, we’ll talk about the impact of technologies that have been used to anonymize candidate information even before we start evaluating them.

The CodeSignal team is particularly excited about this year’s event because our CEO, Tigran Sloyan, is joining a panel on day two with Mehul Patel, CEO of, and Lauren Ryan, VP of New Products at They’ll be chatting about “how technology can completely remove biases from hiring”.

Here are just a few reasons why you should join us.

What is Tech Inclusion San Francisco?

2018 will be the fourth annual occurrence of Tech Inclusion San Francisco, an event dedicated to furthering the causes of diversity and inclusion. This year’s theme is “Voices of Innovation,” which spotlights diverse and underrepresented voices who are shaping innovative technology of the future.

The conference spans a three-day period (October 15th – 17th) and is packed full of educational and networking events for tech leaders, bootstrapping entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations. In addition, students and technical talent are invited to attend.

For an hour-by-hour listing of all scheduled happenings, check out the detailed agenda. Here’s a quick preview of what is planned for each day:

Day 1 (Monday, October 15):

Doors open at 8 am. Attendees can choose from a variety of workshops, breakout sessions, and presentations that run through early afternoon.

Day 2 (Tuesday, October 16):

Doors open at 8 am. Keynote presentations and panels begin mid-morning and run through late afternoon. Happy hour begins at 5 pm and ends at 7 pm.

Day 3 (Wednesday, October 17):

The third and final day is primarily focused on the career fair, which begins at 11 am and concludes at 3 pm. After networking with fellow tech companies, developers, and educational institutions, be sure to stop by the Mezzanine Level for a free headshot. Several workshops are also scheduled for Wednesday.

Who Should Attend Tech Inclusion San Francisco?

Tech Inclusion San Francisco is an excellent opportunity for anyone who works (or aspires to work) in the technology industry.

Founders & Tech Leaders:

Learn best practices for building a more inclusive company culture by interacting with top CEOs, including Greg Clark of Symantec, Mehul Patel of Hired, Melinda Briana Epler of Change Catalyst, Danielle DeRuiter-Williams of The Justice Collective, and our very own Tigran Sloyan of CodeSignal.

Hiring Managers:

Engage in thought-provoking sessions that will challenge the status quo within your hiring organization. Be sure to attend the keynote facilitated by our CEO, Tigran Sloyan, titled “How Technology Can Remove Biases from Hiring.” By attending this panel, you’ll get an action-oriented game plan for removing conscious and unconscious biases from your hiring workflow. You’ll also learn how to leverage technology to create assessments and processes, resulting in a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Technical Talent:

Tech Inclusion San Francisco isn’t just for management-level staff. Developers and programmers are also encouraged to participate in the conversation. Choose from workshops on a variety of topics, such as creating more “inclusive” products, collaborating for true change, cyber security and culture, protecting human rights in the age of AI, and much more.


The career fair on Wednesday, October 17th, is a great chance for students to establish connections with tech employers. Well-respected technological schools will also be represented at the career fair.

Connect with CodeSignal at Tech Inclusion 2018

Be sure to give us a shout if you plan to attend #TechInclusion.

We’d love to meet you and show how our CodeSignal platform makes hiring more inclusive by standardizing technical assessments, streamlining interviews, and overcoming unintended biases. Learn more about CodeSignal today.

Developer Success Story: Marcus Currie at Evernote

“Anything is possible, given the right amount of time and motivation.” – Marcus Currie, Software Engineer at Evernote

Watch the full video here or learn more below.

For Marcus Currie, time and motivation have never been an issue. The real challenge was getting recruiters to take him seriously despite his lack of real-world programming experience.

In this case study, you’ll learn how Marcus transitioned from coding hobbyist to a full-time developer at Evernote.

Card Game Sparks Interest in Computer Science

Shortly after graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering, Marcus joined the Department of Defense to work as a physical design engineer. During this time, Marcus’ college friends began to move away and start their own careers in other parts of the country. Although the group of friends remained closely connected, it became impossible to play their favorite card game, Dominion.

“As people started to move away, I had the idea to build a web app that would allow us to continue playing the game,” Currie said. “I didn’t know anything about web development, HTML, CSS, or Javascript, so I had to learn those skills.”

Driven to achieve his goal, Marcus began studying the basics of computer programming. And, within an impressive two-week period, he was able to complete the app. Once again, his friends could get back to playing the game they loved – regardless of where they were physically located.

CodeSignal Opens the Door to Evernote

By building the card game app, Marcus came to realize his passion for web development. Although a computer programming career seemed appealing, Marcus lacked the real-world experience that most employers look for.

“I started applying to different companies, but I wasn’t getting the responses that I had hoped for – and it was pretty obvious why,” Currie said. “I was a hardware guy applying for web development roles with no professional or industry experience.” Marcus had the raw talent to become a top-tier developer, but he needed a way to refine his skills and demonstrate his abilities to potential employers.

That’s where CodeSignal came into the picture.

“I went through CodeSignal’s interview practice mode, learned a bit more about computer science, and then applied those concepts by working on practice interview problems,” Currie said. “After that, I took their skills test and did really well on it.”

Marcus’ strong assessment resulted in an exceptional Coding ScoreTM, which helped him attract attention from recruiters at several well-known tech companies – including Evernote. Evernote soon came through with an offer, and Marcus moved westward to embark on an exciting career in Silicon Valley.

New Friendships, Common Interests

It didn’t take long for Marcus to feel right at home at Evernote. In fact, many of his closest friends are coworkers who also play the Dominion card game.

“During my interviews, most of my interviewers mentioned that they had visited my site and played,” Currie said. “They were really impressed with the project.”

No doubt, Marcus’ story has come full circle.

Anything is Possible

Interested in a computer science career but not sure what to do next? Perhaps it’s time to follow Marcus Currie’s lead by signing up for your free CodeSignal account. Practice your skills, participate in coding challenges, and get your Coding ScoreTM today.

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? 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.

Developer Success Story: Cory Watson at Liftoff

“It’s not enough to just get a paycheck. I had to find a place where I could always have something else to learn – something else to grow into.” – Cory Watson, Software Engineer

With the help of CodeSignal, Cory Watson has found exactly that and much more.

Watch this video or read about his impressive story below.

Challenging the Status Quo

After graduating from college with a degree in Computer Science, Cory started looking for jobs in his home state of Indiana. He landed his first programming job, made the move to Indianapolis, and began his career.

“The work was interesting, but, after a while, it felt like all the problems were solved,” Watson said.

Feeling increasingly burnt out, Cory knew a change was imminent. As a result, he made the difficult decision to move back home and reevaluate his career options.

“That’s when I found CodeSignal, and it was exactly the type of thing I was looking for.”

Participating in CodeSignal programming challenges gave Cory the additional confidence to take his game to a whole new level. With thousands of tasks, company challenges, and practice interviews, Cory refined his programming skills in CodeSignal’s highly engaging and interactive ecosystem.

Better yet, Cory realized that his score was on par with – if not better than – other developers who took the same tests.

“There were some people who I thought might just be better than me,” Watson said. “Going head first into that kind of challenge was the best confidence booster I could have asked for.”

Top Coding Score Leads to Silicon Valley Job Offer

Soon after establishing his top-tier Coding ScoreTM through CodeSignal, Cory received an interview invitation from Liftoff, a well-known mobile app marketing and retargeting company based in Palo Alto, California. Liftoff needed developers who were efficient with code but could also dive deeper into a variety of areas, such as front end, machine learning, and distributed systems. Cory’s Coding ScoreTM and CodeSignal profile made it easier for Liftoff to gain a 360-degree understanding of his skills and expertise even before meeting in person.

“Cory had a really high coding score, and we were impressed with that,” said Yordanos Asmare, Recruiting Lead at Liftoff.

Seeing Cory’s true potential, Liftoff came through with an enticing offer. Cory accepted the offer, packed up, and moved west to embark on an exciting new career in Silicon Valley.

Since joining Liftoff, Cory has enjoyed a more fulfilling work life.

“Liftoff is the perfect place for me to keep moving forward and advance my knowledge of computer science,” Watson said.

Liftoff has also benefited from the relationship.

“From the beginning, Cory hit exactly the bar we were looking for – able to get things done with code quickly and also ramp up rapidly on some tough problems,” said Harry Robertson, CTO & Co-Founder at Liftoff.

Challenge Yourself to Achieve Greater Things

Frustrated with your current career path? If so, perhaps it’s time to follow Cory Watson’s lead by challenging yourself through the CodeSignal platform. As Cory so aptly pointed out:

“We need to challenge ourselves….to try new things and get excitement out of what we’re doing.”

If you’re ready to take control of your career and challenge yourself, sign up for your free CodeSignal account and get your Coding ScoreTM today.

Increasing Your Recommendation-to-Interview Ratio with Hiring Managers

Demand for technical talent is at an all-time high, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. In this article, we’ll explore why an optimized recommendation-to-interview ratio can lead to a competitive advantage for your staffing firm.

In fact, according to a report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.” Employers across all industries need highly qualified engineers who can develop innovative software applications, harness big data, design scalable systems, and maintain security in an increasingly connected business landscape.

To keep up with growing client demand for technical talent, many staffing firms are focused on expanding their portfolio of developers. Having a solid pool of technical talent is no doubt important, but it’s not always the best place to start. Rather, making incremental improvements to existing processes could yield immediate value and set the table for future growth.

What is the Recommendation-to-Interview Ratio?

Before we discuss best practices for streamlining your recommendation-to-interview ratio, it might be helpful to provide a basic definition for this metric:

Recommendation-to-Interview Ratio: The percentage of candidate recommendations made by your staffing firm that result in an interview with the client.

Real World Example: Let’s say that one of your clients is a small or medium sized software company. Last month, the company’s hiring manager requested your firm’s assistance in filling an open position for a full stack developer. Over the course of the engagement, your recruiters have recommended fifteen coders, but the hiring manager has only interviewed five candidates (and rejected the other ten). In this situation, your recommendation-to-interview ratio equals 33%. Obviously, your rejection rate is 66%, but we’ll discuss that topic in a future article.

Hiring managers appreciate an efficient recommendation-to-interview ratio, as it allows them to engage technical talent faster with less administrative effort and, ultimately, make smarter staffing decisions.

Better recommendations lead to more placements for your staffing firm. Placements lead to increased revenue, improved customer loyalty, and a healthier reputation in the industry.

Why Technical Placements Have Low Recommendation-to-Interview Ratios

In a perfect world, your recruiters would deliver a handful of prequalified, hire-ready engineers for each job vacancy. Instead, recruiters end up sending dozens of unqualified candidates because they lack the proper tools to assess technical ability. Each rejected candidate negatively impacts your company’s recommendation-to-interview ratio, thereby causing unnecessary friction in the relationship.

Why can’t your recruiters be more efficient when it comes to filling technical jobs? What are the reasons for such a low recommendation-to-interview ratio?

Here are a few possibilities:

Shortage of Technical Talent:

Most experts agree that we’re in the midst of a tight labor market. As pointed out in a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, there is approximately one unemployed person per job opening in the United States (as of June 2018), down significantly from the July 2009 ratio of 6.6 unemployed persons per job opening. In other words, the pool of available candidates is shrinking, and technical talent is no exception to the rule.

Vague Requirements from the Client:

Hiring managers aren’t always the most technically-minded people. Prior to submitting requirements into their vendor management system (VMS), many hiring managers consult with in-house technical resources to gain a better understanding of needs. When in-house engineers are too busy to chat (which is common), a hiring manager may have no other choice but to commence and rely on partial information. This makes life especially difficult for your recruiters.

Lack of In-House Technical Knowledge:

With more than 250 known programming languages to potentially recruit for, how can your team be expected to consistently make informed recommendations? Without the right tools, they can’t. And, when clients ask for engineers with specialized skill sets, such as Ruby on Rails expertise, merely developing a quorum of viable candidates can feel like an impossible task. Tapping into adjacent talent pools would be nice, but your current database of candidates doesn’t offer such flexibility.

No Data to Support Your Recommendations:

Most notably, your current process lacks a data-driven approach to recruiting technical talent. Just because a developer says he’s a JavaScript expert doesn’t make him one. In reality, your staffing firm needs a reliable way to validate developer expertise prior to making client recommendations.

How to Improve Your Recommendation-to-Interview Ratio

Remember, hiring managers aren’t impressed by the number of engineers you can throw at them. They want high-caliber technical talent, and they expect data-driven reports to back up your recruiters’ recommendations.

To give hiring managers what they really want, your staffing firm needs a technical assessment platform. Such systems improve your recommendation-to-interview ratio by helping you:

Get Better Pre-Screened Candidates

Resumes and LinkedIn profiles provide minimal insight into a developer’s true skill level. By implementing a flexible testing platform, your recruitment team will feel empowered to create, customize, send, and evaluate technical assessments that simulate an on-the-job environment. Rather than basing their recommendations purely on a “gut feeling,” your team will have an objective, scalable method for evaluating a developer’s technical competencies and potential job fit (before an introduction is ever made to the client).

Utilize Predictive Scoring

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing how staffing firms predict on-the-job success for developers. Unlike simple answer matching formulas, machine learning algorithms reduce recruiting bottlenecks by analyzing code based on multiple variables, including accuracy, simplicity, and speed of completion. Some platforms go one step further, delivering a comprehensive coding score for an unbiased indication of each developer’s technical expertise.

Improve Candidate Turn-Around Time

Instead of clicking through hundreds of resumes, your recruiters gain instant access a segmented list of developers who fit the client’s needs. Recruiters can reallocate this time savings to value-added activities, such as conducting real-world programming assessments and engaging engineers in real time.

Build a Skills-Based Candidate Profile

Deliver clients an enhanced level of service by sharing candidate profiles, assessment scores, and other analytics captured during the pre-screening process. Give clients the full transparency they need to make informed staffing decisions.

Search for Adjacent Skills

For those hard-to-fill roles, some platforms make it easier to identify candidates with adjacent skills. Look for a system that supports domain scoring and in-depth programming language assessments, which provide a new layer of context for your recruiting team.

In short, by implementing a technical assessment system, your staffing firm can deliver additional value to clients by making data-driven staffing recommendations. Doing so is bound to result in an improved recommendation-to-interview ratio, which should make a noticeable impact on client satisfaction.

Scale Your Staffing Firm

With demand for technical talent on the rise, your company needs a more scalable solution for identifying, evaluating, and recommending candidates. After all, clients are far too busy to sort through countless resumes, only to settle for subpar results.

Schedule a demo of CodeSignal and learn why our Predictive Coding ScoreTM is rapidly becoming the new standard for successfully evaluating and placing technical talent. The CodeSignal Predictive Coding ScoreTM improves your recommendation-to-interview ratio by identifying developers who are likely to perform well in technical interviews (based on a candidate’s problem-solving abilities, skills, speed and accuracy and other important factors).

CodeSignal also makes it easy to conduct real-world programming assessments, identify talent, and share assessment results with clients. Learn more about improving your recommendation-to-interview ratio with CodeSignal.

Candidate Experience: The Key to Hiring Top Developers

Candidate Experience: How to Hire Skilled Engineers

What is candidate experience?

The phrase candidate experience gets thrown around a lot in the recruiting and talent acquisition world. But what does it actually mean? Basically, candidate experience describes the entirety of a candidate’s interactions with your company. Candidate experience captures how candidates feel about your company before, during, and after the recruiting and hiring process. This concept includes every interaction they have with a company, starting with their first message from a recruiter to the offer package (if everything goes well) or how the rejection is handled (if it doesn’t).

These are usually either good or bad experiences. Candidates rarely feel neutral about a company at the conclusion of their interaction with your recruiting process. A candidate’s experience can make or break your ability to hire top talent. Unfortunately, too many companies treat candidate experience as a secondary consideration. According to WorkPlace Trends, almost 60% of applicants have had a negative candidate experience with a company.

Bad candidate experience is a big problem

The recruiting process is a two-way street. Make no mistake: Candidates are evaluating your company during the recruitment process just as much as you’re evaluating them. You might feel great about a candidate and want to extend an offer. But if their outlook on the experience isn’t as rosy, your offer will fall flat. Job seekers consider the candidate experience you provide to be a strong indicator of how you treat employees.

By extension, this directly influences whether they want to work for your company or not. According to a study conducted by LinkedIn, 83% of candidates said that a negative experience was enough to change their minds about a role or company that they had been interested in. On the other hand, in that same study 87% of candidates said that a good experience would give them a more positive outlook on a role or company that they had doubts about.

Candidates expect to be treated like the valuable resources that they are. And when their experience with a company is less than stellar, they’re obviously going to think twice about moving forward with that company now or in the future. In effect, your company’s potential candidate pool has just gotten smaller. And candidate experience matters even for candidates who you don’t end up extending an offer to!  

A bad experience doesn’t just sour an individual candidate’s opinion of your company. The likelihood that a candidate will keep that poor experience to themselves is pretty slim! A Workplace Trends survey indicates that around 72% of applicants have shared their interview experience with a candidate on a review site like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Vault. The story will spread and other candidates will start to be wary of your company. As we all know, pissed off people are more likely to write reviews in general. The dudgeon of a job seeker who’s had a bad candidate experience is not to be ignored!

Six easy steps for a better candidate experience

So what can you do to ensure that your candidates have the best possible experience with your company? We’ve got six things that you can do to increase the odds that you’re providing people with a great candidate experience.

Let them evaluate you:

While you and the hiring team are evaluating a candidate, the candidate is evaluating your company. They’re making decisions about your company and the role throughout the entire process. So you need to make sure that they have the data they need and the access they want. Make sure they know who their primary point of contact is on the recruiting side and on the engineering side. They’re likely to have questions for both.

Engage your team:

Everybody in your company that the candidate is in contact with, from the recruiter to the interviewers to the people they eat lunch with, are critical pieces of the candidate’s overall impression of your company. Make sure they’re good impressions!

Don’t drag your feet:

A competitive candidate market means that the talent you want to hire is in high demand. Sought-after candidates expect the entire recruiting process, from initial reachout to interview to offer, to be quick and painless. And 47% of candidates who decline a job offer do so because they’ve already accepted a different offer, according to MRINetwork. To have a better chance with a top candidate, you want to get there first! Don’t rush decisions, of course, but don’t hesitate with your top choices either.

Close the loop with candidates:

If you’re not moving forward with a candidate, letting them know what’s going in a timely manner on shows them that you respect their time. If you ghost them, or keep them on the hook for a long time, that’s a bad candidate experience. And who knows who they’ll tell about their poor experience? The story will spread. Not only will you have lost any future opportunities with that candidate, you’ll probably lose other potential candidates as well.

Offer constructive feedback:

According to LinkedIn, 94% of applicants appreciate feedback if you don’t move forward with them. Letting them know why is instructive and enhances their experience, and giving feedback shows that you value them. Again, even if they’re not the right fit for you now, they might be in the future. And no matter what, you can assume they’re going to share their experiences with other job seekers.

Ask for the candidate’s thoughts:

No matter what the outcome of the process with a candidate is, and no matter which stage of the funnel they reached, it’s enormously instructive to ask for feedback. And don’t just file their feedback away once you’ve gotten it! Your company should iterate its process continually based on candidate feedback and outcomes.

The future of candidate experience

At CodeSignal, we’re working towards a future in which we can dispense with time-consuming activities like phone screens and tech challenges. Instead, companies will be able to rely on a trusted assessment process that measures and quantifies candidate skills. This will save your engineering team a ton of time, of course.

But it will also create a better candidate experience! The top talent that you’re trying to recruit is often already busy with a full-time job and/or are juggling multiple application processes. So if you can offer them a faster, more efficient process candidates will respond positively. Once we’ve reached a stage where companies trust an assessment process and platform like CodeSignal Recruiter, significant points of friction will disappear from the candidate experience. Relying on automated skill assessments will allow you to move candidates through your recruiting process much more smoothly.

Until we reach that point, make sure you’re implementing the six steps outlined above. Even if you can’t eliminate phone screens or take-home challenges quite yet, you’ll be creating a much better experience for all of your candidates!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel. Interested in seeing what CodeSignal can do for your company’s recruiting process? Sign up here for a free demo!

Stop Focusing on Degrees – Recruit for Skills Instead

Recruit for skills, not for credentials or pedigree

The tech industry’s talent shortage is no secret, but let’s go over the numbers again just for the heck of it.

According to data collected by, there are over 500,000 unfilled technology-related jobs right now. But only about 49,000 people graduated into the workforce from computer science programs in 2017. The numbers are clear: There just aren’t enough computer science students graduating each year to fill all the available roles.

And it doesn’t look like things will change anytime soon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that in 2020, there will be 1.4 million open technology jobs, but only 400,000 people will graduate from computer science programs.

So how can companies find enough qualified people to fill their open engineering roles if there aren’t enough students graduating from computer science programs to go around?

By looking at candidates who don’t have a traditional computer science background.

It can be nerve-wracking for recruiters to reach out to candidates who don’t have a computer science degree from a 4 year program. But it’s absolutely worth it! The past 10 years have seen a revolution in the way that people learn technical skills. Whether they’re learning computer science fundamentals or mastering in-depth topics, there are a plethora of new ways for people to get the skills they need. And this new educational model is democratizing computer science.

The new educational landscape

In the last decade, online educational resources have grown exponentially, both in quantity and quality. Platforms like Udacity, Coursera, and edX offer free online courses from big-name schools like MIT. These services also offer students the option to get a professional certification when they finish one of these online courses. Khan Academy, FreeCodeCamp, and Treehouse abandon the online classroom format in favor of more interactive learning experiences. And YouTube has a massive amount of free content. (Including educational videos from CodeSignal!) For the self-motivated learner, ways to learn online for free or for fairly nominal fees abound. And online and onsite coding bootcamps offer a more hands-on approach, for a fraction of the cost of a four-year computer science degree.

No matter what platform they choose, these learners have a wealth of information at their fingertips. But what they don’t have are the traditional learning credentials. These degrees or school names are what recruiters often look for when they’re sourcing prospects or looking at applicant resumes.

The case for non-traditional candidates

Programmers with non-traditional backgrounds don’t have the educational qualifications that recruiters usually look for. Their resumes and their LinkedIn profiles will reflect this, often placing much more emphasis on personal or open-source projects than on educational or work experiences. But these candidates can be just as skilled as ones who have the “right” markers! This means they can be the solution to the tech talent shortage facing the industry today.

If companies only consider candidates with traditional pedigree markers to fill their open roles, then their pool of available prospects will be fairly small. And the competition for these pedigreed candidates is fierce. Of course, none of this is to say that people who do have these credentials aren’t great candidates! But when companies limit themselves to just these people, they miss out on amazing “hidden gem” candidates.

Recruiters need to be able to reframe how they think about finding prospects and what to look for when when they’re considering candidates. The best way to do this? Focus on skills, not on credentials.

People can (and do) list any old skill on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles, so you can’t rely on them to tell you the full story. It’s crucial to be able to verify these skills before moving forward with a prospect. Phone screens, take-home projects, or interview tasks can all help verify skills. But the best, and most efficient, way of verifying skills is at the very top of the funnel, even before a phone screening. A coding test that is emailed to prospects and delivers automatic results back to the company, like those sent from CodeSignal Recruiter Test, can streamline the recruiting process because recruiters are able to verify skills right away.

Education has changed, and recruiting has to change as well. It’s time to stop prioritizing educational credentials. Start measuring people by what they can do in a data-driven, skills-based way. You’ll uncover a treasure trove of amazing candidates!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel.

If you’re ready to discover how candidates with non-traditional educational backgrounds can contribute to your company, CodeSignal Recruiter can help. Sign up for a free demo and find out how!

It’s Time to Kill The Resume

It's time to kill the resume: how skills-based recruiting will change how you assess candidates

We’re going to make a sweeping statement here that may shock you:

Resumes are a waste of time.

Or maybe it doesn’t shock you. Most recruiters dislike having to wade through stacks of resumes, so we’re probably preaching to the choir here. So much time gets spent on resumes! Job seekers spend hours crafting the perfect bullet points. Recruiters spend hours looking these resumes over, trying to find the perfect leads to pursue. When we say that resumes are a waste of time, we’re talking about a lot of wasted time – for both applicants and recruiters.

Resumes are a waste of time because they don’t tell you the whole story about a candidate. In fact, they actually don’t tell you very much at all! Read on for the top 5 reasons that it’s time to kill the resume:

  1. They’re a time sink. Realistically, no recruiter has very much time to spend poring over an individual applicant’s resume. So you scan instead, trying to spend as little time as possible on one resume while seeking a handful of keywords. But even just scanning for the usual name + titles + companies + start/end dates + education takes time, and that time starts adding up the more resumes you have to look through.
  2. They rely on self-reported data. In other words, you’re trusting the applicant to tell you the entire, accurate truth about the skills and experiences they have. We’re not saying that prospects are outright lying on their resumes, though that certainly happens. But there is a lot of exaggeration, padding, and carefully phrased misdirection. When you add in the fact that people are notoriously bad at judging their own skill levels, you get a document that tells you next to nothing about a candidate’s actual skills.
  3. They’re not targeted to your roles. Savvy job-seekers will take a little extra time to tailor their resume to the role they’re applying for. But the fact that resumes, by their very nature, cover a person’s entire work-related history means that they contain TOO. MUCH. INFORMATION. And it’s hard to pick out any details that are relevant to your open reqs without spending more time than you really have. So again, you’re stuck scanning, hoping to find meaningful information in a page full of mostly unrelated text.
  4. They are full of fluff. If you had a dollar for every resume you read that described its writer as “dynamic”, “innovative”, or a “team player”, you’d be a rich ex-recruiter lounging on the beach in the Bahamas. None of these phrases mean much of anything, and they definitely don’t tell you whether a candidate is right for a role. It’s just more filler text for you to scan past.
  5. They’re making you miss good prospects. Since you have a limited amount of time to spend per resume, you prioritize certain things that can indicate a quality lead. Which school they went to and where they’ve worked might be a good indicator of whether they’d be a good fit for the role. But if you’re only looking for these, you might automatically dismiss someone who doesn’t have these credentials. And that means you’re missing out on “hidden gem” candidates who have the skills you need – but don’t have the right keywords on their resume.

[bctt tweet=”Resumes are: a) A time sink; b) Unreliable; c) Not targeted to your roles; d) Full of fluff; e) Limiting; or f) All of the above? (Hint: @CodeSignal thinks the answer is f!) ” username=”CodeSignal”]

Okay, you’re convinced. Resumes suck! But they’re a necessary evil for recruiters trying to fill open reqs – right?

Not necessarily.

Skills-based recruiting to the rescue!

Skills-based recruiting offers a solution to the resume trap. Verify an applicant’s skills right away, before you even peek at their resume. So instead of relying on self-reported skills listed in documents full of fluff, you’re seeing a candidate’s actual skills! This saves time for both recruiters and engineering teams and makes it easy to make decisions based on data.

At CodeSignal, we recently opened up a new engineering role… and received 631 applications in response. Instead of having our talent team sort through them one by one to find likely candidates, we sent out an online coding test to every applicant using the CodeSignal Recruiter Test application. Completing a coding test requires effort, so people who only applied because it was a job, any job!, weeded themselves out at the outset by not taking the test. We got immediate result reports for each person who did complete the test. That meant we were able to instantly identify the people who were worth pursuing – based on verified skills alone.

If we estimate a conservative 1 minute per resume, our talent team saved around 10.5 hours by not having to read through resumes from each of those 631 applicants. The team used the skill assessment results to narrow down that original pool of applicants. We ended up with 20 qualified candidates at the phone screen stage. That means our engineers saved time too. They didn’t have to waste any time interviewing people who didn’t have the skills we needed!  

So we’re firm believers in ditching the resume. The key is adding a skill-verification step at the very top of the recruiting funnel. (Read more about how adding early skill verification makes it easier to find engineers that your hiring team will love.) To really save time and energy, we recommend using an automated assessment application like CodeSignal Recruiter Test. Test makes it easy to send out coding tests at scale, either from the CodeSignal Recruiter platform or from an integrated applicant tracking system. Then you receive comprehensive candidate results that help you cull out unqualified applicants immediately. Get on board – it’s time to kill the resume.

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel.

Want to break free from the resume time sink? Sign up for a free demo of CodeSignal Recruiter today and see how much time you can save!