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3 key ways you can rethink University Recruiting for engineering roles

The field of tech recruiting has undergone significant changes over the past few years. Rather than relying on the traditional method of focusing on a set of core schools and competing for a small section of the talent pool, recruiting teams can make use of new tools to find great talent from a wide range of backgrounds.

To explore the way companies like CodeSignal are changing tech recruitment and opening the door for candidates, Frank Mu, Assessment Research Manager at CodeSignal, joined Kate Beckman, Executive Manager for Community & Insights at RippleMatch, and Kelly Anne Cheung, Head of Emerging Talent Recruiting – Americas at eBay, for a discussion about trends, opportunities, and best practices for recruiting early-career talent.

Here we’ve put together the three top takeaways, and you can watch the full conversation to hear all their insights.

1. Talent is everywhere

Though certain schools may loom large in the minds of engineering teams and recruiters, there’s great talent at a wide range of schools. 

To lend evidence to this point, Frank shared that CodeSignal has actually run an analysis of which schools tend to produce candidates with high performance on technical evaluations.  Over 50 percent of graduating Computer Science majors in the US end up taking one of CodeSignal’s evaluations, leaving the research team with plenty of data to see how schools measure up. Frank pointed out that 30 percent of the schools in CodeSignal’s top ten best-performing list were not part of the US News & World Report’s top 30 engineering schools. In fact, CodeSignal’s best-performing school, the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, didn’t make the top 30 list.

This points to the value of expanding the set of backgrounds you’re willing to consider. As Frank explained, “If you only target the top schools, you’re not only competing with a lot of companies, but narrowing your own candidate pool.” Looking at other schools and using objective metrics to measure technical skill will give you access to a large number of candidates that you would have never seen previously, and in fact, you may even find better talent.

2. Leverage technology

One of the biggest constraints for recruiting teams is team bandwidth. Whether you’re reviewing applicants, managing candidates, or visiting and building relationships at schools, your team only has so much time available. Unfortunately, that lack of bandwidth can make it hard to spend time diversifying the sources you look at for talent. Make use of technology to save your time for where it’s most valuable.

Automated sourcing or applicant review tools like RippleMatch can make it easier to manage the inflow of candidates. CodeSignal’s technical evaluations can free up time for your interviewers by giving you an immediate sense of a candidate’s skills. 

Kate also recommended hosting school-agnostic virtual events. She explained, “A school agnostic approach is a great way to connect with talent that you have not had on your radar.” These will allow you to engage with a wider pool of candidates without needing to travel to a huge number of universities. Some possibilities Kate suggests include “hosting virtual events to help candidates prep for a coding interview or learn more about software engineering internships at your company. ​​That’s a great way to know the candidates are interested and engage with them in a way that’s more meaningful.”

3. Engage with candidates at the right time

With university recruiting, many candidates start looking early in the school year and will have offers in hand quickly, and this is true of many candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, as well. Kelly Anne pointed out that 60 percent of women in software engineering have secured an offer before the holidays. As she explains, “a lot of students want to go home for the holidays with an offer in hand and then just focus on just school the rest of the year.” In order to have access to a larger pool of technical talent, make sure you act before they’re off the market. 

CodeSignal data on evaluation volume reflects this trend of early recruiting, with large spikes during the September/October period. There’s then a smaller second wave of recruiting in February/March.

Volume of completed CodeSignal General Coding Framework assessments, 2019 – 2022

Kelly Anne also recommends partnering with nonprofits to provide education and meet students where they are as a more organic way of engaging with talent: “We’ve actually provided a couple of courses in partnership with CodeSignal, like helping candidates get familiar with the CodeSignal platform and sharing advice on how to perform their best in the skill assessment.”

Another advantage of engaging with talent in these organic ways, as Kelly Anne pointed out, is that it allows you to demonstrate your company’s values. As she explained, “Early in my career, we would do presentations about our company and list all the reasons why it’d be great to come work with us, but that was just telling them instead of showing them. Now, we’re able to show them our values through events like our skill-building courses and through partnerships with organizations that provide mentorship.” For Gen Z candidates, alignment with the company and an understanding of how their career goals fit into what you offer are strong motivators that could boost their interest in joining. 

In the end, with a bit of creativity, some clever use of available tools, and a commitment to seeking out great talent wherever it comes from, your team can adapt to this changing world and optimize your university recruiting efforts. And if you’re interested in saving your team time by using CodeSignal evaluations to objectively measure candidates’ skills, request a discovery call today!