Diamonds not Dirt

Diamonds not Dirt

Your product team just informed you that they need to hire five Full Stack developers – all by month’s end.

As the request sinks in, you begin to think through the monumental effort that will be required to pull this off. Hiring a single Full Stack developer is hard enough. But five all at once? Seriously?

Most recruiters in your shoes would commence the arduous process of posting ads and combing countless Linkedin developer groups and profiles. Part of you is tempted to do exactly that, but past experience tells you that there’s got to be a more efficient way to recruit talent.

So, what should you do?

Let’s weigh your options.

Does Quantity Ensure Quality? Probably Not.

You’ve probably heard it said at least a dozen times: “Recruiting is a numbers game.” And, if you’re relying on the traditional recruiting model, there’s probably some truth to that statement. After all, if you reach out to 100 developers on, you might receive a reply from two or three. Out of those who reply, only a handful will be interested in a career move. In other words, to build a viable pool of candidates, you’ll need to engage with hundreds of people.

This approach to developer recruitment presents a number of issues. Specifically:

Upfront Bottlenecks: Recruiting developers isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. For starters, there are literally hundreds of programming languages, each of which has its own nuances and complexities. Before your recruiting team can effectively promote any job opportunity, you must become somewhat conversant with the subject matter. This may involve several conversations with in-house experts and existing development staff, who can be notoriously difficult to track down. All of this must happen before any job postings or outreach campaigns can go live.

Cost of Outreach: Once the details have been ironed out internally, your focus typically shifts to an aggressive outreach program. If there’s a budget for it, this may include the use of LinkedIn Jobs ads. With budgets as tight as they are, your team is usually forced to rely on manual tactics. However, filtering candidates, copying, pasting, and sending outreach messages, and updating an ATS (or spreadsheet) comes with a tangible cost. There’s also an opportunity cost worth considering. In a perfect world, your team would be engaging candidates – not spamming them.

Friction with Qualified Engineers: Speaking of spam, let’s be honest: Quality candidates are tired of being spammed by recruiters. As a result, your well-crafted message is probably never even being read, much less responded to. Hence the low response rates.

Few Diamonds, Lots of Dirt: Perhaps the biggest flaw of a “quantity over quality” approach is that it presupposes more dirt than diamonds. Going into it, you know that you’ll need to reach out to hundreds of developers just to get a few responses. Instead of yielding a bucket of dirt to sift through later, wouldn’t a better process deliver a shovelful of 1-carat gemstones? Yes, yes it would.

Focusing on Quality, Not Quantity

It’s clear that quantity does not guarantee quality recruits. But, what other option do you realistically have?

Due to the inefficiencies and challenges of manual, resume-based recruitment, an increasing number of technical recruiters are turning to skills-based recruiting. What is skills-based recruiting? In short, skills-based recruiting prioritizes the engineer’s skills over his/her resume, or LinkedIn profile. As you know all too well, resume-based recruiting is driven by “quantity over quality” because you can’t measure the skills on a resume. So, as a recruiter, you need to have a high number of candidates at the top of the recruiting funnel just to get a few interviews. By contrast, skills-based recruiting moves testing and assessment to the top of the recruiting funnel, providing an accurate measurement of the candidate’s skill level before you even reach out. It’s certainly an outside-the-box style of recruiting, but it’s one that is gaining popularity because of the results that it delivers.


Our CodeSignal Recruiter platform is the perfect example of skills-based recruiting in action. We start with more than a million pre-screened software developers. Many of them are actively looking for new positions, and we use our matching algorithm (along with a human touch) to match these engineers to open roles. This means you’re able to source higher caliber talent in a shorter time.

Not surprisingly, companies that have moved to a skills-based recruitment model are experiencing better response rates. Thanks to our proven matching technology, the response rate from candidates is 5 times greater than traditional recruiting channels used to target passive candidates. When the initial response rate is from candidates is higher, all your funnel metrics improve.

Replace Quality for Quantity

Many companies still fall into the trap of making recruitment into a numbers game — just because that’s the recruiting model they’ve used for years — but it doesn’t have to be that way. As you prepare to hire your programmers, give skills-based recruiting a try.

If you’re still feeling skeptical, here’s some additional good news: You don’t have to replace your traditional resume-based recruiting efforts on day one. Try augmenting your traditional process with skills-based recruiting and compare the results.  Check out CodeSignal Recruiter.

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