How To Hire a Developer
For years people have been talking and writing about one of the most difficult challenges for companies: hiring a developer. Companies are facing a radical digital transformation and are urging on tech skills like it was the case during the gold rush.
Why is it so difficult?
Being a developer in 2020 means being assaulted by hundreds of emails each month, from people they didn’t know existed. To be clear: these are not nice, interesting emails. It’s mass mails full of GIFs and old-fashioned nerd vocabulary with automatic followup mails if the dev did not answer fast enough.
As a result, developers hate recruiters and their industry.
Social networks do not really solve this problem. Linkedin’s Inmails have a response rate of 7% when sent to developers. Facebook is too intrusive to be efficient (need to valide a message if not a friend) and Twitter could virtually get you killed by a swarm of developers when spamming them with Direct Messages.
But the internet is full of developers, why does no one answer?
A simple search on Google, Linkedin or Facebook lets you believe you have an infinite database of developers to be addressed. The reality is quite different.
The highly fashionable trend of being everywhere on the web in the late 2010s has created a huge public database of profiles, of which many are @yahoo.com @hotmail.com or others that are not actively used anymore today. And for those who used their professional email, Mister "Mailer-Daemon" gives you its most famous answer in 80% of the cases.
The problem is that it’s almost impossible today to get a return on investment in a direct candidate sales strategy. A lot of bounced mails, some insults, and a huge not read/no answer ratio.
Remember that more than 65% of developers are open to new opportunities.
And here we have the paradox: while many candidates are open to new opportunities, they still can’t be contacted easily.
How does this make sense? What’s the underlying problem here?
In sociology and social psychology, an in-group is a social group with which a person psychologically identifies as being a member. By contrast, an out-group is a social group with which an individual does not identify.
Sociological theories like Group Position Theory explain that “the larger the size of an out-group, the more the corresponding in-group perceives it to threaten its own interests, resulting in the in-group members having more negative attitudes toward the out-group.”
In our context, developers belong to the in-group, while recruiters belong to the out-group.
Through a common language, GitHub and StackOverFlow succeed to gather millions of developers. The common language is the desire to learn new skills, be more efficient and also a collective assessment of their work.
How do we link that to hiring ?
Hiring someone means giving a person a specific message with the right value at the right moment during a certain stage of his/her life. These stages can be long term like parenting, getting a credit,… or short term like learning a new technology. These stages are mixed with today’s events of job and company and they are not predictable. People need to be scanned, supported, and encouraged during these stages, in order to be there at the right time.
The solution is to engage a talent pool of tech talent on a middle to long terme range. This is called “nurturing talents”. Supporting and encouraging them during the period of uncertainty up to the moment when they make a choice. Hiring managers need to be at the right place at the right moment with the right person. That’s easier said than done. A start would be to understand the stacks your company is working with, so you are able to engage an in-group or community of developers around this subject.
Many big companies are nurturing tech talents through specific communication. During the past 2 years, some middle sized companies used talent attraction professionals to establish Tech Community Ambassadors, Tech Community managers, Tech Lovers and other Brand Builder roles.
Their main role is to organise events (like hackathon with geek goodies) with/for internal & external technical communities in order to add a tech friendly connotation to the company brand.
This approach would be beneficial to an increasing number of small companies, startups, or not visible SMBs, but unfortunately they do not have the time nor the money to invest in such resource consuming efforts.
If it were only possible to meet developers online, in a spam free, in-group zone, where developers respond to messages …
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