How to Swim with the Big Fish (When You’re Not One)

How to swim with the big fish when you're not one

You work for a tech startup that has both an innovative product and an impressive story.

Since the company’s founding a couple years ago, the sales team has significantly grown the user base. Revenue is up, and customers are requesting new features. So much so, in fact, that you’ve had to quickly ramp up hiring for software engineers.

Despite the many positive trends, one thing remains true: Your company is still a small fish in a gigantic pond. And, to complicate matters, the big fish that you’re swimming with have equally large appetites, particularly when it comes to recruiting technical talent.

Does this mean your company must settle for second-rate talent that’s been rejected by bigger fish?

Absolutely not.

It does mean, however, that you must continuously refine your outreach program and expand your search beyond the traditional talent pools.

In this post, we’ll share a few tips for swimming with the big fish – when you’re not one.

Stop Dwelling on Your Company’s Weaknesses

When comparing yourself to larger tech firms, it’s easy to identify potentially insurmountable shortcomings. As a recruiter for a tech startup, you’ve probably wrestled with how to best address one or more of the following:

  • Completely (or partially) distributed workforce
  • Lack of a true “headquarters” or central office
  • Dozens of employees, rather than hundreds or thousands
  • Lack of a formalized “company culture”
  • Informal or semi-informal corporate hierarchy
  • Underdeveloped feature stack, as compared to competitor offerings
  • Minimal number of years in business

Without the right context, these challenges can seem difficult (if not impossible) to overcome. After all, most applicants want to be assured that they’ll be working for a well-established, solvent company. This concern causes many recruiters in your shoes to overcompensate, thereby attempting to position their companies as larger — and, as a result, more rigid — than they truly are. Development engineers are smart people, which is why they can see past such veiled attempts to gloss over the truth. (It’s also why so few of them reply to unsolicited outreach campaigns from technical recruiters!)

Your Weaknesses Might Actually be Strengths

Although you can’t change reality, you may be able to convert your weaknesses into an advantage. Remember, not every developer wants to work in a “normal” office setting and live in Silicon Valley. Not every developer wants employment with a multi-billion dollar mega corporation, either.  

As you reconsider your developer outreach process, consider how your company might differentiate itself by simply emphasizing the following possibilities:

Remote Work: Don’t underestimate the appeal of being able to work remotely. Developers love the flexibility of working from home or from co-working spaces.

Flexible Work Arrangements: Some developers might not be ready for a full-time commitment. Others might prefer working late hours. Flexible work arrangements can be a big draw, especially in the development world.

Less Red Tape: Your company doesn’t have a ton of mid-level managers overseeing every minute coding decision. That’s actually a perk for the result-oriented software engineer.

Making an Impact: The developers you’re recruiting won’t be lost in a ridiculously complex organizational chart. They won’t be doing menial work, either. You’re looking for high-caliber technical talent that can make an impact on day one. Use this to your advantage!

Career Advancement: Given your relatively flat organizational structure, the possibility of career advancement is feasible. Developers who join your team now could be getting in at the ground floor of something big.

Spend time crafting outreach messages that maintain a personal tone and incorporate your company’s key differentiators. In an age when developers are routinely spammed with canned messaging, taking a more organic, straightforward approach might give you the upper hand. What makes you different makes you unique, so just be yourself.

Expand the Search to New Waters

There’s no question that the big fish are attracting talent from all the obvious places. Job boards, developer groups, and are teeming with technical recruiters. Though you can’t overlook such sources of talent, you can try expanding your search to new waters.

One such “talent pool” is the CodeSignal Recruiter platform. Unlike traditional sources, CodeSignal starts with over 1 million tested and vetted engineers. At its core, CodeSignal is a community of developers seeking to better themselves through participation in interview practice and real world company challenges. As participants compete and engage through the platform, CodeSignal evaluates the participant’s efficiency of code, the time it takes to complete challenges, and the accuracy of the solution.

As a recruiter, you dive into this innovative talent pool by utilizing the CodeSignal Recruiter. CodeSignal Recruiter harnesses the power of machine learning to inform its proprietary candidate matching algorithm, and then adds a human touch to verify the algorithm recommendations to match the engineer’s preferences with your company’s requirements.  For example, if the candidate only wants to work at an enterprise company, then CodeSignal won’t submit that candidate to you even though the algorithm may identify that candidate as a technical match for your position. Unlike traditional passive recruiting, which relies heavily on the manual outreach process, CodeSignal brings the candidates to you that have signaled they are looking for a new position so the candidates are far more responsive.

In fact, recruiters who use the CodeSignal system enjoy a much higher candidate response rate than those who don’t — 5x the typical response rate of passive candidates, to be precise. Instead of making your pitch to hundreds of developers, you can focus on actually engaging a select list of coding experts.

Let the big fish swim in deep oceans. You’ve got CodeSignal now.

Get Swimmin’

Ready to jump in and give CodeSignal Recruiter a try?

Learn more about how CodeSignal can help your company recruit, assess, and interview technical talent. Get to know our affordable pricing plans and enjoy unlimited seat licenses and no caps on usage.

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