Why A Tech Recruiter Is Your Most Valuable Tool


October 24, 2022


180 Engineering

The tech landscape has shifted considerably over the past few years. Technology, which was steadily becoming more prevalent in our daily lives, witnessed a significant surge during the pandemic. Those isolated at home turned to technology as a way to stay connected with their social circles, continue to work, do business, and seek enjoyment – and counted on technology to help them stay safe while doing those things. Businesses across all industries began hiring more tech roles to meet shifting consumer demand.

But as 2022 unfurled, many tech and tech-heavy businesses, including Twitter, Netflix, Shopify, Tesla, and Robinhood realized that they had overhired in the depths of the pandemic. Coupled with a worldwide economic slowdown, including rising inflation and a crashing crypto market, many of these companies started to scale back, instituting hiring freezes and layoffs. As 2022 winds down, news headlines continue to sound dire and ominous, with estimates exceeding 30,000 laid off tech workers this year.

The news reports are not wrong. However, unemployment in the tech field has historically been low. Even with tens of thousands of tech workers laid off, hiring for tech roles remains competitive. As reported by a piece in Forbes in September 2022, it’s expected that the shortages of tech workers will continue.

As companies struggle to find workers to fill empty roles, effective tools to identify top talent are essential. And, without a doubt, one of the most effective tools is a highly qualified technical recruiter.

What Is A Technical Recruiter?

A technical recruiter is, of course, a recruitment professional who specializes in placing tech talent.

Recruiting for tech roles (both information technology and engineering) is most effective when the recruiter has a tech background and specializes in hiring for the tech sector. In the past, many companies relied on non-specialized recruiters and agencies to fill their tech roles. But in order to find the best fit for the role, recruiters need to have a solid understanding of technology, recruitment, and the professional candidates that they are attempting to place. They need to be able to understand the requirements of the job and assess which applicants truly have the skills and knowledge to be successful.

Why Do You Need A Technical Recruiter?

The cost of a bad hire is hard to quantify but most agree that it can be staggering and includes more than lost salary. As outlined in a piece at business.com, intangible costs can include, “clients or customers lost due to [the bad hire’s] mistakes, the impact on the mental health and stress levels of their co-workers, and the extra time spent by other team members to redo … poor work and salvage disrupted projects.”

But, just getting a tech role filled and onboarded – regardless of ultimate fit – is challenging for a number of reasons, including:

  • The competitiveness of the tech job market;
  • The knowledge required to understand the requirements of the role and to competently assess a tech candidate’s qualifications;
  • The difficulty in effectively engaging passive candidates; and
  • The complicated and drawn-out hiring process that is often implemented for tech roles.

A good technical recruiter can help you resolve these issues – and get your roles filled – quickly and painlessly.

Challenge #1: The Competitive Job Market

Many companies attempt to lure top talent by implementing on-going salary adjustments and by offering lucrative benefits packages and attractive perks like the ability to work remotely. And, there’s no doubt that these are all important considerations for a candidate. But many of the best candidates won’t even be aware of your job posting, much less the salary, benefits, and perks attached to the job, if not for an effective tech recruiter.

An established tech recruiter should have an existing talent pool and they should know the candidates in that pool well enough to easily decide if they would be a good fit for the role with your company. If none (or few) of their candidates are a good fit, they should have an effective way to reach out to passive candidates and compel those candidates to apply.

As well, because recruitment agencies typically get paid once a candidate is successfully placed, it’s in their best interest to usher their candidates through the hiring process and see them through a successful onboarding, without being tempted by competing offers.

Challenge #2: Tech Knowledge Required

Few companies are fully tech-centric, with hiring managers, interview teams, HR departments, and C-suite executives who are fluent in tech jargon and knowledgeable about the technology the company uses. It can be difficult for those people to understand how to best fill tech roles within the company. For that reason, a good tech recruiter acts as a bridge between professional candidates and those from the company who are involved in the hiring process.

While an effective tech recruiter doesn’t necessarily have to have technical degrees or certificates, they should have knowledge of programming languages and a solid understanding of the jargon used by coders, developers, and engineers. They should also stay up-to-date on trends and innovations in the technical sector. Not only will this help them more fully understand the needs of the company and the role that needs to be filled but it will give them an edge with passive candidates, who will likely be more responsive to a recruiter who can speak with them on their level.

Challenge #3: Engaging Passive Candidates

Tech professionals are in high demand. It’s well known that, as passive candidates, they often receive cold calls from recruiters who are hoping to lure them to an open role. It’s likely that they’ll be more receptive to a recruiter who meets them on their own level, is able to speak knowledgeably about their work, and who takes the time to build a relationship with them.

Jeff Longo, a programmer who, at the time of writing his blog piece, had been writing code for four months, details how he receives 10-15 emails a day from recruiters with irrelevant jobs that are beyond Longo’s skill set or outside of his language and with references to his extensive and impressive skill set. Longo explains that he doesn’t even have time to sift through the emails, much less respond to all of them.

Longo’s frustration is understandable. While most people would be open to applying for their “dream job,” it’s important for a recruiter to understand just what a candidate’s dream job might be, instead of wasting the candidate’s time pitching roles that aren’t a good fit. For tech roles, it’s a tech recruiter who will have the best understanding of what a passive candidate is capable of and interested in.

Challenge #4: The Complicated Hiring Process

Hiring for tech roles is complicated because you need to ensure that candidates have the required hard skills. Technical assessments are a common way to identify those skills. They are actual tests that might be posed as coding challenges or written multiple choice tests.

As discussed in a past blog, tech assessments give employers, “an overview of each individual applicant’s skill level and provide a way for employers to objectively weigh the aptitudes of the candidate pool.” After all, it can be difficult to fairly assess skill level between candidates when some possess a bachelor’s degree while others have a certificate from a 12-week coding boot camp.

The problem with tech assessments is that they are best designed and evaluated by someone with a tech background. While some online tech assessment platforms have libraries of generic questions, it’s important to choose assessments that are relevant. Candidates can get frustrated when they are given a test that doesn’t correspond to the skills required by the job. And frustration may lead to a candidate dropping out of the interview process, which can delay hiring.

Someone with a technical background should be consulted about the technical assessments, to make sure they are relevant. While an in-house developer would be an ideal consultant, a technical recruiter can also help with this stage of the hiring process.

If you don’t have an in-house tech recruiter, seek out the assistance of a reputable and highly-regarded technical recruitment agency. The cost may appear to be significant, but it will be well worth it in terms of time saved during the hiring process and finding the best possible fit for your role and company culture.