11 Recruitment strategies for hiring tech talent
May 13, 2024
min read

11 Recruitment strategies for hiring tech talent

Eli McGarvie
Eli McGarvie

Let's be honest, the "skills gap" everyone keeps talking about isn't about a lack of people in tech. There are plenty of aspiring devs out there. The real pain point?

 Finding those experienced pros, the ones who can hit the ground running and make a serious impact. You know those standard recruiting playbooks? They just don't cut it with this crowd. Experienced devs have options, and you need a smarter approach to stand out. That's where this post comes in.

Let's ditch the generic tactics and talk about strategies that actually resonate with the seasoned tech professionals you're trying to attract.

1. Look in New Places

The standard, generic job boards are crowded and often filled with the same pool of candidates. To find those hidden gems, you need to broaden your horizons. It's time to think outside the LinkedIn box!

Here are a few places to explore:

  • Niche Communities: Online forums, Slack groups, or social media pages focused on specific tech stacks or specialisations.
  • Underrepresented Talent Pools: Organisations dedicated to promoting diversity in tech can connect you with often overlooked, high-potential candidates.
  • Bootcamps & Upskilling Programs: These attract motivated individuals, potentially with skills perfectly aligned to your needs, even if their resume experience is limited.

Let's say you need a Python expert specialising in data visualisation. Seek out Python communities, look for contributors to data-focused open-source projects, and consider contacting reputable boot camp programs.

Important Note: This isn't about lowering your standards. It's about recognizing that talent comes in many forms, and sometimes, you need to be proactive in finding it.

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2. Adjust Job Descriptions to Focus on Skills, Not Just Experience

An HR recruiter working on updating and optimising the job description

Ever feel like you're looking for a unicorn with those laundry list job descriptions? 

Time to rethink the focus. Listing every single tech buzzword and demanding a specific number of "years of experience" can actually narrow your candidate pool and exclude amazing talent.

Here's how to shift your perspective:

  • Skills > Fancy Titles: Ditch the irrelevant requirements and focus on the 3-5 must-have skills for the role. Did someone gain those skills through freelance work or a side project? That still counts!
  • Assessments as Your Friend: Consider short coding challenges or problem-solving tasks as part of your screening. These give insight into actual ability, not just past job titles.
  • The Potential Factor: Look for candidates who are eager to learn and grow. Sometimes, raw talent and the right attitude are more valuable than a perfectly matching resume.

Instead of "5+ years as a React Developer," try "Proven ability building scalable, complex front-end applications (React expertise essential)."

Bonus Tip: Partner with the hiring manager to get crystal clear on the truly essential skills needed for success in the role.

3. Embrace the Power of Referrals

Your employees are a goldmine of potential leads, especially in the tight-knit tech world. A recommendation from a trusted colleague goes a long way in attracting top talent.

Here's how to tap into that network:

  • Make it Easy: Have a simple system for employees to submit referrals: a form, an email address, or anything frictionless.
  • Incentivize the Effort: Don't be stingy! Offer bonuses for successful referrals – it motivates people to think beyond their immediate circle.
  • Beyond Current Employees: Reach out to alumni networks, former interns... anyone who experienced your company culture firsthand.

Some companies have "referral leaderboards," adding a bit of friendly competition. Others offer even more generous bonuses for underrepresented talent referrals.

Important Note: This isn't just about filling open roles. It's about building a culture where people are excited to recommend your company as a great workplace.

4. Highlight Flexibility and Culture

Several happy employees shaking hands with a positive culture workplace

Today's tech talent wants more than just a paycheck. They're looking for a workplace that aligns with their values and supports their overall well-being. Don't be afraid to let your company's unique personality shine through!

Focus on these aspects:

  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Can you offer remote flexibility, flexible hours, or other work-life balance perks? Shout it from the rooftops!
  • Unique Culture Quirks: Fun team events? Pet-friendly office? Highlight what makes your workplace stand out.
  • Growth Mindset: Show a commitment to learning and development opportunities. This matters to ambitious tech professionals.

Instead of a generic "about us" page, feature employee testimonials, videos of your team in action, or even a blog post about your company's core values.

Bonus Tip: If your company is active in the community (sponsoring events, open-source contributions, etc.), promote that! It shows you're invested in more than just the bottom line.

5. Invest in Candidate and Recruiter Experience

Hiring is a two-way street. Even if a candidate ultimately isn't the perfect fit, a positive experience makes them more likely to recommend your company or perhaps apply again in the future. This is especially crucial in tech, where word-of-mouth matters.

Here's where to focus your efforts:

  • Communication is Queen: Keep candidates informed at every step of the process. Automated emails are fine for updates, but nothing beats a personalised touch for rejections or offers.
  • Respect Their Time: Endless interviews or long, unpaid take-home projects are a major turn-off. Streamline your process where possible.
  • Tech-Savvy Recruiters: Recruiters who can speak the language of tech build instant trust with candidates. Invest in training if needed!

Some companies offer "office hours" where devs can chat with a technical recruiter to learn about the company before formally applying. This builds rapport and saves everyone time.

Important Note: Don't just focus on candidates. Make sure your recruiters have the tools and support they need to succeed. Burnout leads to sloppy processes, which hurts your overall reputation.

6. Speak Their Language

An employee having a meeting with HR in an office.

Think of trying to explain your latest project to a non-tech friend. Eyes glaze over, right? Same thing happens when generic job posts hit an experienced dev's inbox. To attract top talent, you need to demonstrate that you actually understand what they do.

This means ditching those buzzword-filled descriptions that could apply to any tech role. Get specific about the tech stack, the kinds of problems they'll solve, and the impact they'll have. 

A seasoned dev isn't just looking for a job; they want a challenge that aligns with their skills and interests.

For example, instead of "Seeking passionate Java developer," try "Build scalable microservices for our high-traffic platform (Spring Boot, Kafka, AWS)." The second one immediately shows you their world.

Bonus Tip: If you're not tech-savvy yourself, partner with someone on the team who is! Have them help craft job posts that truly resonate with experienced devs.

7. Target Passive Candidates

The best tech pros are often happily employed and not scouring LinkedIn job ads. To reach them, you've got to go beyond the usual channels. Think of it like headhunting but with a more strategic and respectful approach.

Here's where to focus your efforts:

  • Networking (Beyond the Obvious): Yes, tech meetups are good, but think niche. Seek out online communities dedicated to specific tech stacks or specialisations.
  • Referrals Rule: Your current employees can be your best source of talent leads. Tap into their networks and incentivize them to recommend their skilled friends.
  • GitHub & Co.: Platforms where devs showcase actual work can be a goldmine. Look for contributors to interesting projects, those with clean, well-commented code.

Let's say you need a React expert. Instead of just posting a job, search for devs actively contributing to relevant open-source projects. A personalised outreach mentioning their work is far more likely to get a response.

Important Note: This is about building relationships, not spamming random people with job offers. Be genuine and value what they bring to the table!

8. Emphasise Impact & Growth

Sure, salary is important, but seasoned devs aren't just chasing the highest offer. They're driven by opportunities to make a tangible impact and continue progressing in their careers. Your pitch needs to go beyond just the daily tasks of the job.

Here's what to highlight:

  • The "Why": What problem is your company solving? How will they contribute to the larger mission?
  • Challenge Factor: Seasoned pros want to tackle complex problems, not just maintain existing code.
  • Learning Culture: Offer opportunities for mentorship, conferences, and continuing education – show that you invest in your people.

For example, instead of "Join our growing team," try something like this: "Take ownership of critical features on our product roadmap and help shape our tech strategy."

Bonus Tip: If possible, showcase the work of your current team. Blog posts, conference talks, etc., demonstrate the calibre of people they'll be working alongside.

9. Build Your Brand in Tech Communities

A group of office people shaking hands after a good day

Think long-term with this one. To attract top talent, you need to establish your company as a place where great devs want to be. This means being an active part of the tech scene, not just swooping in when you need to hire.

Here's how to make it happen:

  • Events, Events, Events: Sponsor relevant meetups and conferences, have your team attend, or even better, have them speak. This positions you as thought leaders and builds positive awareness.
  • Give Back: Can your devs offer mentorship sessions? Open-source some tools? Find ways to contribute value to the wider community.
  • Online Presence: Don't just post jobs on social media. Share insights, celebrate your team's wins, engage in the conversation.

A company that truly gets this right is Buffer. They're famous for their transparency around salaries, remote work culture, etc. This makes them a magnet for talent aligned with those values.

Important Note: Authenticity is key. Don't fake enthusiasm for a tech stack just because it's trendy. Focus on showcasing what makes your company genuinely unique.

10. Offer Uncommon Perks

Okay, free snacks and ping pong tables are nice... but experienced devs have seen it all before. To really stand out, think about perks that align with what this demographic truly values.

Here's where to get creative:

  • Dedicated Professional Development Budget: Offer money they can use for conferences, online courses, certifications, etc. This shows you're serious about their growth.
  • Flexible Schedules (Truly): Not just "casual Fridays," but actual flexibility around core hours, remote possibilities, etc. Seasoned professionals often prioritise work-life balance.
  • "Recharge" Benefits: Think sabbatical programs, extra vacation time, or even things like on-site childcare support. Show that you understand the need to prevent burnout.

Some companies offer "hackathon days" where devs can work on passion projects, even if unrelated to their main role. This signals a culture of innovation and creative freedom.

Bonus Tip: Don't just list perks; explain why they matter. Tie them back to your company culture and values.

11. Craft a Stellar Candidate Experience

Three women have a meeting during an optimised hiring process

Even if someone isn't the right fit for this role, a positive candidate experience makes them much more likely to recommend your company (or warn people away!). This matters to seasoned devs who have those valuable connections.

Think about:

  • Clear Communication: Keep candidates updated on timelines, next steps, etc. No ghosting!
  • Respect Their Time: Endless interview rounds or vague take-home assignments are a turn-off. Make the process efficient and considerate.
  • Feedback (Even on Rejections): Brief, constructive feedback shows you value their effort, even if it wasn't a match.

Using The Power of Tech Communities

We've talked about building a presence in wider tech circles, but let's not forget the value of niche, specialised platforms. This is where experienced tech talent congregates, making your recruiting efforts far more efficient.

Platforms like WeAreDevelopers cater specifically to developers, not just anyone with "tech" on their resume. You'll find a pre-vetted, engaged talent pool, saving you valuable time in the search process.

Beyond just job postings, WeAreDevelopers offers features that resonate with experienced devs: upskilling resources, opportunities to showcase their expertise, and a community where they can connect with peers on a deeper level.

This makes WAD truly stand out for those looking for more than just their next paycheck.

Conclusion: Time for a Mindset Shift

Attracting top-tier tech talent isn't passive. It requires a strategic, thoughtful approach. If you're still relying on generic job postings and hoping the right people magically appear, it's time for a rethink.

Invest effort in understanding what experienced devs value, craft messaging that resonates, and explore channels where they're actively engaged. This is how you'll build a pipeline of exceptional talent eager to contribute to your team.

Ready to dive in?

Don't miss the incredible tech community on WeAreDevelopers. It's the perfect place to target skilled, passionate developers and showcase your company as a truly unique place to work. Discover the difference a specialised platform can make in your recruiting efforts.


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