How do you find top quality engineering candidates?

Top candidates that keep up with evolving technologies are getting quickly snagged up by companies before you can even put together a job description. How do you compete in highly competitive market that is controlled by candidates?

Recruiting candidates isn't easy, and finding the right people to build out your team is one of the most important business decisions hiring managers face. 

The very first thing to note is that this takes some thought. If you write a sub-par job description, well, you can expect sub-par candidates. Take the time up front to do this right. 

Here's a list questions to ask before you start writing a job description.

  • What business goals are we trying to accomplish in the next 3-6 months?
  • How will this person contribute to those goals?
  • How do we define their success?
  • What is the first project that they'd work on during their first week? How about 3 months? 
  • What are methodologies we believe in that are "must have's" in order to be a good fit?
  • What are the biggest challenges your team is encountering? How will this person help?

Now, assuming that you're looking for engineering candidates, these questions are a great starting point to writing a job description that clearly describes the role responsibilities. However, there is more to it.

Candidate recruiting is a marketing challenge. Companies hiring in tech sometimes get caught up in their technology rather than their employer brand (although you should definitely be specific about the technologies your team uses.) Your stack isn't what sells. It's your stack, plus a few more things...

Ask yourself...

What makes your company stand out? Why would these top candidates want to work for you over any other company with similar openings? 

Here's a good starting point to crafting your company pitch, which should be included in your job description. 

  • Ask your employees what they like about working there. These are things that should be included in the job description and your company pitch. 
  • What is your company vision? Why is your product the future of X industry? What are you "Uberizing"? Why should someone get behind that vision?
  • Start with a quick web audit. Is your website or careers page doing a proper job of showing off your company culture, or aligning with what your employees say about working there? Also, what's going on with your social media? Is there consistency in your brand/messaging, and do you show off your culture? 
  • Don't forget perks and benefits. Companies tend to think about what THEY need. It's not about you. It's about how to position yourself to the candidate. What's in it for them?
  • How do you show company stability? This is important, especially for startups. How much funding have you raised? If your company could be perceived as unstable, how will you show candidates that this career move is worth the risk?

This may all seem overwhelming, but attracting the best candidates for your roles takes an investment of resources, whether that be time or money, or both.

candidate recruiting

After you've written a killer company pitch and job description, it's time to promote it. (Here's an example of a solid pitch and job description.) Are you using all of the tools available to you to get the word out? Think about who you're looking for and where you're most likely to find them.  

Start with your own careers page and social media. Reach out to your network and see what referrals you can find. This is the slow(er) method, but it's best to start with your own network first, then move onto more serious efforts, like trying to directly recruit candidates on LinkedIn, or using sourcing software to do so. That's another topic for another day.

Once you start getting applicants, it's important to have a plan in place. Set aside an hour or so a day to give yourself time to review candidates, make adjustments to the job description based on the types of candidates that are applying, and schedule and perform interviews. This process takes time.

If they're highly qualified engineers and they've indicated interest, it's important you don't leave them hanging. This is all part of the candidate experience. If you take too long to make a decision, someone else will beat you to the punch. 

software engineer salaries

Finally, when it comes to salary, do your due diligence. Consult with someone who has filled a similar role. If you're paying less than market rate, be ready to pitch candidates on what is exciting and innovative about working at your company. Candidates are not always after money, but it certainly helps to balance below-average salary with a reasonable equity offering. After all, you shouldn't expect to hire a unicorn if you're only willing to pay for a horse.

Now you know the basics of attracting candidates to your company. Some of these key points come down to your business strategy, mission, vision and goals. These aren't easy things to figure out, but once you start asking these questions, you'll get closer to answers, which gets you closer to finding like-minded candidates who will be the best fit for your team, setting you up for higher employee retention and company growth.