At CodeSignal, our engineering team is growing quickly! When we need to make a hire, we don’t have a ton of time to spend sourcing prospects, screening the high-potential ones, or interviewing candidates. And we know our clients don’t either. But with an industry-wide time to fill average of 59 days (according to data from Workable), how do we beat the odds and make great engineering hires fast?
We got the CodeSignal talent team to share their top 10 tips for hiring engineers using skills-based technical recruiting best practices.
Our Talent Team’s Top 10 Tips
1. Source for skills, not for credentials.
To us, having verified skills and raw talent mean a lot more than having the right bullet points on a resume. It’s expensive to pursue the relatively small group of people who graduated from a top school or worked at a Silicon Valley giant. Especially since every other recruiter is pursuing them too! Instead, we focus on finding “hidden gems” by looking beyond pedigree and focusing on skills. We’ve found amazingly talented people who we would have overlooked if we only thought about whether their resumes looked “right”. It’s the “verified skills” part of this equation that takes extra work, but it’s crucial. If we didn’t have that, then we’d still be relying on self-reported data and the old (and limiting) habit of recruiting based on pedigree.
2. Cultivate a strong candidate pool.
Having a robust pool of candidates means that you’ll never have to start a search from scratch, which saves a ton of time and energy. At CodeSignal, our candidate pool is CodeSignal itself! That means that we don’t have to guess whether a candidate has the skills we need – they’ve proven they do. And we don’t have to wonder about whether they’re interested in finding a new job – they’ve explicitly indicated that they are! If you’re a CodeSignal Recruiter customer using the Source application, you have access to that same candidate pool. If you don’t use CodeSignal Recruiter Source, this step takes more legwork, but it’s still very doable. Focus on continually building relationships, connecting with potential candidates even if you don’t have a role for them at the moment, and you’ll never find yourself without leads when you need them.
3. Add a personal touch.
Nobody wants to feel like they’re just another cog in the interview machine. Just because you need to contact a lot of prospects doesn’t mean your reachout emails need to feel mass-produced! We’ve found that if we take the extra time to look over a prospect’s profile and add relevant details to our initial reachout, this extra level of personalization dramatically increases the chances that the prospect will respond. To save time, we use templates in CodeSignal Recruiter that can be easily modified on the fly.
4. Explain why you’re different.
High-potential prospects get a lot of messages from recruiters. Some engineers tell us they get more than 15 per day! That’s a lot of competition, and some of it is from big-name companies. How’s a smaller or less-known company (like, say, CodeSignal) supposed to compete? We find that we stand out if we focus on our mission. We like to lead with how we’re revolutionizing tech recruiting, which is a topic that really resonates with most candidates. By focusing on what makes your company special, you pique candidate interest and make it a lot more likely that they’ll follow up with you.
5. Verify skills right away.
It’s always a bummer to spend a lot of time on a candidate, maybe even get a little attached, only to have them fail miserably later in the funnel. That’s why we like to send out assessments to verify skills before we spend much time on a prospect. This eliminates the need for our engineering team to spend time on phone screens with candidates who end up being unqualified. We use CodeSignal Recruiter Test in order to send out company-branded tests to multiple candidates at once, then quickly evaluate their results. Since the result reports are easy to read, we’re quickly able to weed out anybody who didn’t pass our technical bar – before anybody from our engineering team ever starts talking to candidates.
6. Don’t “ghost” your candidates.
Every interaction a candidate has with us informs their opinion about our company. Even if they aren’t a good fit for us, we want them to come away with a good feeling about CodeSignal. We look at every candidate interaction as a way to build a relationship that might be useful later – and to build our brand at the same time. Don’t disappear on a candidate even if it becomes clear that it’s not going to work out. You never know who they might tell about their bad experience. And they might become a better prospect in the future!
7. Stay in touch.
We get busy, and it’s hard to try to check in with candidates regularly. But candidates don’t like feeling like they’re in the dark, and who can blame them? We’ve found that the candidates that we keep checking in on at regular intervals are far less likely to drop out of the process. Setting their expectations about how much we’ll communicate with them, and how, at each step is crucial so that they know what to expect. And then we have to follow through, of course! Checking in via email once a week is usually enough to keep a candidate interested.
8. Stop prioritizing culture fit.
There’s a lot of talk in the industry about culture fit. But what culture fit really comes down to most of the time is: “Is this person like us?” And that, friends, is a good way to get a very homogenous engineering team. Instead of making culture fit a part of our decision, we think about whether a candidate will work well with our engineering team, and whether they have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the role.
9. Don’t go in without a plan!
We’ll admit it: we used to treat recruiting a little bit casually. Everybody on the talent team followed their own patterns for reaching out to candidates, and everybody in the engineering team had very different ways of screening and interviewing. We identified lack of planning as our problem, so we sat down and agreed on a comprehensive recruitment plan. The plan covered everything from the initial sequence of touches to what kind of questions to ask at each stage of the interview process. This turned things around for us! Since we now had a system that we could evaluate and iterate on, our recruiting become a lot more efficient. Having a standardized process will make your life, your hiring manager’s life, and your candidates’ lives much, much easier.
10. Learn from your recruiting process.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” as the old saying goes. And if you’re not learning from every recruiting step you take, then you’re wasting valuable opportunities to optimize your recruiting flow. Being data-driven ensures that your talent team is spending time on the right things, your engineering team is interviewing candidates with the right questions for each role, and that everyone is aligned on best practices. CodeSignal Recruiter uses machine learning to analyze every candidate interaction, then gives us actionable advice on how to optimize the process.
We quadrupled the size of our engineering team in 2017 using these skills-based recruiting best practices. And we’ll be growing even more in 2018!
Using skills-based recruiting and our own CodeSignal Recruiter platform makes things much easier for our talent team. And it enables us to scale our engineering team quickly. If your company needs to hire engineers this year too, add some – or all! – of our talent team’s top 10 recruiting tips into your recruiting workflow. You’ll be amazed by how much more efficient and easy the process becomes!
CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams. 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. By supporting skills-based recruiting best practices, CodeSignal Recruiter will give your hiring team the tools you need to find the right developers for all your company’s open roles. Interested in seeing how CodeSignal Recruiter can help your company grow its engineering team too? Sign up for a free demo!