3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Tech Recruiting

Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

Finding and hiring top-notch developers is like trying to catch a unicorn with a lasso — it’s a wild and crazy ride! As a newcomer to tech recruiting, you may find yourself on a steep learning curve as you try to break away from your old habits. But don’t worry, even the most seasoned recruiters find it a challenge to keep up with the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of tech recruiting.

But here’s a little secret: all those intimidating hurdles you thought you’d have to face? Most of them will turn out to be just a figment of your imagination. As a seasoned tech recruiter, I’ve been there, done that, and I’m here to share my wisdom with you. So, buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life — because with these 3 tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a tech recruiting pro in no time!

1. Do Your Research, But Don’t Feel the Need to Learn Everything

Your knowledge of basic technology terms will go a long way when you need to hire developers. You don’t (and won’t) know it all.

However, most developers understand that your job is to recruit talent. You are not a developer. Unless they’re being really harsh, a programmer won’t ask, “How much do you know about Java?” in the middle of an interview.

Instead, do your best to understand what candidates actually work on every day; whenever you’re in doubt while interviewing developers, feel free to own your shortcomings and ask developers a lot of questions about what they do on a day-to-day basis.

There is no shame in saying “I don’t know.” The best thing to do is to admit that you don’t actually know much, but are excited to learn more. Express that to the developer you’re working with or want to work with. When a developer is really excited about a project they’ve worked on, they’ll be more than happy to tell you all about it.

Again, It’s okay if you’re not familiar with all the technical terms in the world of tech. What’s important is that you have a genuine interest in understanding your candidates and their daily work. When in doubt during a developer interview, don’t hesitate to ask questions and show that you’re eager to learn.

Remember, it’s okay to admit when you don’t have all the answers. In fact, being open and transparent about your lack of technical knowledge can actually help build trust and rapport with the candidate. They’ll appreciate your willingness to learn and may even get excited about sharing their projects and experiences with you. So, don’t be afraid to embrace your limitations and embrace the opportunity to learn and grow.

2. Think About It When Developers and Engineers Don’t Respond, but Don’t Overthink It

When I started recruiting developers 10 years ago, I realize that developers “live” in lots of places across the web. You have a large battery of traditional online recruitment platforms like Indeed (which seriously…) and LinkedIn. With all these ways to connect, it must be really easy to reach out and get a developers attention.




I found that I was getting a few responses at all, which I had a hard time understanding. That is until I realized that developers weren’t just ignoring me — they simply weren’t spending a lot of time on those platforms. Bingo!

They are on Slack, Github, StackOverflow, and each developer’s personal website.

Which reinforces that you need to be a bit inventive when searching for tech talent. The reality is that developers just don’t find sites like LinkedIn useful. However, there are so many online communities where developers spend time not only during the work day, but also in their free time.

Viola! — you need to get to Github, StackOverflow, Quora, Reddit, and YouTube, and once you get there, you need to get involved, be willing to learn something, and start getting to know developers in these communities. And about those communities, don’t forego meeting people in real life. Attending a few local tech events and conferences can give you the chance to meet potential candidates and network with the tech community. Use these instances to showcase your company culture and provide a glimpse into what it’s like to work at your organization.

I’d also miss an opportunity to share a little extra insight if I didn’t say this: be patient. Be patient and understand that not every InMail or email or DM will receive a response. The key is to focus on quality over quantity and keep trying new strategies to improve your response rates.

3. Embrace the Ambiguity of Control

With certain roles, qualifications are a bit easier for a recruiter to confirm on his or her own. When I was 100% focused on sales recruiting, I could typically make the case for candidates who are a culture fit and have a track record of hitting goals. However, when it comes to hiring developers, there’s a great deal of technical knowledge most recruiters simply don’t have, and it can be difficult for new tech recruiters to adjust to relying on hiring managers so heavily to evaluate code.

There are times when you’ll say to yourself, “I really like this person and would be disappointed if we didn’t hire them,” but when they’re not up to par from a technical standpoint, it can be difficult to wrap your head around the idea of not making that candidate an offer.

And that’s why I think you have to realize the ambiguity of controlling the hiring process. It’s up to newer tech recruiters to let go of some of the control they’re used to having throughout the developer interview process. While this might seem unnatural at first, leaning on the expertise that the tech team has will pay huge dividends when you’re adjusting to the unique challenge of hiring developers.

Hiring developers is a wild ride, especially when you’re used to the simplicity of sales recruiting. No more “culture fit” and “hitting goals” as the only qualifications, now we’re talking serious technical knowledge and code evaluations!

It’s like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with only half the pieces. You might love a candidate’s personality, but if they don’t have the right technical skills, it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

So buckle up, tech recruiters! It’s time to let go of the control we’re used to and trust in the tech team’s expertise. Sure, it might feel strange at first, but relying on them will lead to a smooth hiring process in the end. And that’s a payoff worth its weight in code!

What’s the TL;DR here?

When hiring developers, it is important to do your research, but not feel the need to know everything. Admitting your lack of technical knowledge and being open to learning can build trust with candidates. Developers can be found in online communities like Github, StackOverflow, Reddit, and YouTube. Attending local tech events can also help network with the tech community. Embrace the ambiguity of control in the hiring process and rely on the tech team’s expertise for evaluating technical skills and code. Spend your time on these 3 things and you are sure to ramp up quickly.



Executive Recruiter. ✈ #ATL ↔ #SF ✈ Building companies is my favorite. Opinions are my own. Responsibility is freedom. 🖖

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Brian Fink

Executive Recruiter. ✈ #ATL ↔ #SF ✈ Building companies is my favorite. Opinions are my own. Responsibility is freedom. 🖖