The sizzling hot software engineering labor market is projected to rise by 22% between 2020 to 2030 — but there are far too few software development graduates to keep up. At the same time, the amount of people who specialize in technical recruiting has reached a bottleneck.
That means technical recruiters will continue to be busier and more in demand than ever as tech companies turn to them to find the strong, diverse engineering talent that they need.
What is tech recruiting?
Tech recruiting is the sourcing, screening and selection of candidates for IT or technical roles. Technical recruiters work with hiring teams at tech companies and startups to find talent who are a mutual fit and persuade them to accept job offers.
What is the difference between a recruiter and a technical recruiter?
A recruiter is someone who manages the hiring process for any type of open job role. They can be independent or part of a company’s Talent Acquisition department.
A technical recruiter is a recruiter who works on specialized, technical roles such as Software Developer, Product Manager or Data Scientist.
They need to be very strong in:
#1 Matching candidates to the specific needs of a tech company
Recruiters need to understand what software a company is using to build their products and the space in the tech industry landscape they occupy.
For example, a fintech company might need a Data Scientist with experience in credit risk modeling. On the other hand, a healthtech startup might be looking for a Data Scientist with a research background and Genomics experience.
Though both candidates might share the same title, their skill set and domain experience would be substantially different.
#2 Tech skills
Tech recruiters need at least a high-level understanding of coding to match potential candidates to jobs and evaluate their experience.
Which programming languages are up to date, and which are obsolete? What tech stack does a company use, and when can a skill like React be substituted for a skill like Angular?
Other hard skills like Boolean search (for finding potential candidates) and data analysis (for understanding candidate pipeline metrics) are also very useful in this role.
#3 Understanding and connecting with tech professionals.
The unemployment rate of 1-2% for Computer Science professions is a formidable challenge. Tech recruiters need to be able to connect with developers on a personal level, understanding what motivates them, and how they would fit into a company’s culture and team.
They can use this valuable information to sell opportunities from the very first outreach email to the final handshake on an offer (and sometimes longer).
What does a technical recruiter do?
A technical recruiter helps tech companies hire talent to fill roles. They collaborate with hiring managers; create JDs; source, screen and engage candidates; extend offers to candidates, and help develop a company’s overall recruiting strategy and hiring process.
#1: Collaborate with hiring managers
Hiring managers are typically subject matter experts with an ideal candidate profile in mind.
It’s the job of the technical recruiter to understand these preferences and requirements, but it’s also a two way street.
Recruiters also offer their perspective on the talent realistically available on the market and work with hiring managers to arrive at a set of requirements likely to produce successful hires.
#2: Create Job Descriptions
If you’re thinking of a Job Description as … well… a description of your job, a technical recruiter might beg to differ.
At least, it isn’t only a description of your job, but an advertisement highlighting company pitch points, exciting new opportunities and responsibilities, perks and benefits, as well as employer brand — crucial for attracting in-demand tech talent.
#3: Source candidates
With so few Software Developers unemployed and actively looking, proactively finding technical talent for your open roles is vital. Passive talent also has a lot of advantages — they’re pre-vetted by their current employer and you can proactively target talent who closely match the Job Description.
Tech recruiters can regularly spend 30 hours — over half their workweek — on sourcing potential candidates.
#4: Reach out to talent
Have you ever received an email that said, “Hi Name, I’m a recruiter and I’m looking for an Assistant Program Manager of Yoga Mat Manufacturing (Contract).
I saw your profile and thought you might be qualified for this position. Could you please reply with a resume, cover letter and three references by tomorrow at midnight?”
Yeah, we didn’t answer that email either.
Good technical recruiters are responsible for writing outreach emails technical talent will actually reply to.
#5: Screen candidates
Hiring teams and leaders will make the ultimate decision on whom to hire.
However, technical recruiters evaluate and assess candidates (particularly at the beginning of the process) to ensure they meet the basic requirements of the role.
#6: Close candidates
Technical recruiters are involved at the offer stage, extending offers to candidates and negotiating between hiring managers and talent to maximize the chances an offer is accepted. In fact, salary is typically partially based on the number of candidates they close.
#7: Develop recruiting strategies
Which Applicant Tracking System or sourcing tools should you use? How do you structure your interview process to showcase employer brand? What is your cost-per-hire and how do you improve it?
Great recruiters are thoughtful about their processes and data-driven, and their decisions have a huge impact on the overall success of your hiring process.
What skills do you need to become a technical recruiter? (Not all are technical!)
To become a technical recruiter, you need both the hard technical skills to match technical talent to positions and the soft skills to make a personal connection and sell candidates to hiring managers and vice versa. Let’s break down these categories.
#1: Technical knowledge
- Roles and the range of skills and duties typically associated with them. Titles vary widely from company to company; a solutions engineer might be called a partner engineer at one company or an integration engineer at another. Conversely, engineers with the same title might have very different skills and experiences.
- Skills software engineers use. This is a prerequisite to understand jargon-filled resumes, including candidates’ proficiency in programming languages or particular software.
- Projects on a developer’s CV or resume. Technical recruiters need to be able to know how to gauge the extent and significance of developers’ work and contributions.
#2: Commitment to candidate experience
In the wake of the Great Resignation and ever-persistent tech talent shortage, software developers are definitely going to consider whether you treat them well during the recruitment process. And, 91% of HR professionals agree that candidate experience improves quality of hire as well.
Effective recruiters make it a priority to:
- Create touch-points by communicating clear hiring timelines, feedback, and next steps so that candidates stay engaged in the process.
- Move quickly and keep up momentum and excitement to convert candidates to hires
- Write a timely and polite email to notify rejected candidates. Recruiters can also consider offering feedback, as rejected candidates are 4 times more likely to consider interviewing again if they do.
#3: Sales skills
Part of “selling” a company and opportunities to tech talent relies on identifying effective pitch points to use in JDs, outreach emails, and interviews. Recruiters can explain why a company is uniquely appealing by highlighting:
- Rapid growth and funding by top VCs
- The use of innovative technologies such as cutting-edge AI or ML
- A focus on making positive societal change, such as by helping small businesses or the environment
- Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
- The backgrounds of leadership, such as having founded successful startups before
- Creative perks such as free yoga, gourmet snacks, student loan payments, WFH technology reimbursement, and company swag
The ability to craft a compelling narrative is also crucial to catch a candidate’s attention in a competitive labor market.
#4: Technical recruiter soft skills
Naturally, all the soft skills which make recruiters great are equally important to technical recruiting.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills
- Marketing and employer branding awareness (social media, job fairs, etc.)
- Familiarity with metrics and the use of data to track inefficiencies and improve the process
- Creativity in crafting appealing job descriptions and messages
- Organization, multitasking, and time management
- The ability to network and build relationships
- Adaptability, resilience, and persistence
Do you need a degree to be a technical recruiter?
Though a STEM background or engineering degree is an asset for a technical recruiter, it’s certainly not a requirement. 81% of technical recruiters have a bachelor’s degree, which means almost 1 in 5 tech recruiters has no degree at all.
So how do you do it?
How to get into technical recruiting with no experience: Five Tips for Recruiting Tech Talent
To get into technical recruiting with no experience, you just need to do a little research into the tools of the trade. That includes mastering the lingo, knowing where great talent can be found, and learning how to get their attention.
#1: Learning Tech Terminology
The first step is to gain familiarity with the landscape of technical roles software engineers can perform and the skills they require to be successful in each. Then you’ll be able to interpret a technical candidate’s resume or online profile and determine the jobs that fit them best.
You might also consider earning a quick certification from LinkedIn or Devskiller in technical recruiting.
#2: Creative talent pools
While traditional methods like advertising on job boards and perusing career sites might work for less competitive nontechnical roles, you can gain an edge as a technical recruiter by spending time where developers do.
For example, you can find many software developers hanging out at GitHub, the most popular place to store code.
And don’t forget about Stack Overflow, a Q&A board with 14+ million registered users, for technical information and theoretical discussions about coding.
#3: Hyperpersonalized Messaging
It’s not easy to persuade great candidates to reply to your cold recruiting email, particularly if they are already happy at their current position.
However, we’ve actually seen startups beat out larger, wealthier companies for top talent.
Tell candidates a personalized story about why they should work with you.
Woo them with your values. Explain how you fit into their career trajectory. Establish commonalities between them and members of your team.
We’ve found that this approach can result in a 30%+ response rate for tech talent, far higher than the recruiting industry average. For more tips and templates, check out our blog.
#4: AI Sourcing automation
Long gone are the days when recruiters had to individually read hundreds of resumes for a role or keep track of candidates in spreadsheets.
Automated solutions can help with job posting management, resume screening, candidate outreach, and more, eliminating manual, repetitive work.
And for tough, time-consuming tech roles that require specialized skill sets, you might consider a service like Celential.ai. Thanks to cutting-edge AI and ML, we deliver warm, engaged tech talent in just three days — freeing your team to focus on the meaningful, rewarding work of engaging and closing tech talent.
#5: Avoid Burnout
Busy recruiters can be particularly susceptible to burnout, as there’s always another candidate to find or email in the inbox to reply to.
Recruiters need to have open and honest conversation with managers about realistic delivery times and where to focus efforts.
Bandwidth is not unlimited. Which roles are truly important to the success of your company? Which roles are fillable quickly? If a hard-to-fill job is taking up all of a recruiter’s time, all of their other placements will suffer.
Technical recruiting FAQ
Is tech recruiting a good career?
Yes, tech recruiting is in fact a great career. You get to meet startup entrepreneurs and cutting-edge engineers and learn about the latest, most exciting technologies. As recruitment is commission-based, you can scale your efforts up and down depending on your priorities and work-life balance.
Another huge perk of being a tech recruiter is sharpening skills — like communication, sales, negotiation, marketing and data literacy — that will set you up for success in a host of other careers later.
Is technical recruitment hard?
It’s true that technical recruitment can be hard, and it may not be for everyone. Here are some of the main reasons why:
- Frequent failure. For every candidate that receives an offer, dozens more are rejected — and it’s often your job to convey the bad news.
- Competing interests. Recruiters don’t just have to convince a hiring manager to say yes — they also have to convince the candidate.
- Specialized roles. Technical recruiters often work on competitive roles with a specialized skillset. It’s not always easy to find a top-quality Senior Go Developer with cloud infrastructure experience willing to work in-person in Atlanta…let alone fifty of them.
Do tech recruiters make a lot of money?
According to Glassdoor, the average Technical Recruiter makes $83,960 in total compensation — but the numbers can vary significantly due to commission-based pay.
With 10-14 years of experience, a Senior Technical Recruiter earns $135,942 on average in the United States.
Are technical recruiters in demand?
Yes, tech recruiters are currently in demand. Despite economic turbulence due to the pandemic, global upheaval, supply chain woes and interest rate hikes, the tech talent market hasn’t cooled much — if at all.
As a result, companies continue to need tech recruiters to help them navigate the large and ever-growing tech talent shortage.
With tech recruiter job postings growing 3X since the start of the pandemic, it’s safe to say tech recruiters are in high demand.
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