Why is there such a large divide between recruiters and developers? You know what I’m talking about, we all experience this on a daily basis. The HR department and the IT department are like fire and ice – at least in most companies. Who came up with the idea of giving generalists the task of hiring specialists? 
This is the situation in most of the companies that we’re talking to. The IT department needs to hire developers in order to do their job, satisfy their customers, complete their projects on time (LOL), reach their goals and get their bonuses. What typically happens when IT needs additional resources is, the CIO (aka “Head of IT” or CTO) writes up a specification of the required developers and hands it over to HR to do the job.
HR is usually staffed with generalists who are tasked with hiring various target groups. When it comes to hiring developers, recruiters typically lack the skills and knowledge in order to understand this target group. They depend on specialists who understand the target group. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned: specialists want to talk with specialists. Developers want to talk with developers, with a counterpart who speaks their language and has a common ground with them.
This is the dilemma: generalists are tasked with hiring specialists. We have observed two scenarios:
Scenario 1: CIO Delegates to HR
In this scenario, the CIO hands over the job descriptions and number of developers required to HR and lets them do the job. HR throws the job descriptions on various job boards and platforms and prays for a miracle to happen. We all know how well job boards work in the developer segment ;-). HR is usually the first point of contact for the developer (ouch!) and depends on the IT department to support them in the process. This means, a member of the hiring team in the IT department joins HR for the first phone interview, assists HR in interpreting and understanding the CVs of the candidates.
If HR is lucky, the IT department will provide them with assessments that the developers can carry out prior to an on-site job interview. You see where I’m getting at. In this scenario HR is dependent on the IT department to provide them with the resources and support needed in order to attract developers. 

  • There are no pros in this scenario!


  • This scenario is the fast-track to a lose-lose situation. If IT doesn’t provide HR with significant support, HR will not be able to a) evaluate the job candidates and b) establish a common ground with them. The candidates will not develop an emotional bond with the employer and the open jobs will not be staffed. IT will not achieve their goals and blame it on HR. HR will blame it on the lack of support from IT – and the vicious cycle will continue.

Scenario 2: CIO Takes Full Responsibility For the Recruiting Process
The scenario where the CIO takes full responsibility for recruiting developers is usually preceded by the CIO’s painful experience with scenario 1. Here, the CIO knows that generalists who do not understand their target group cannot successfully recruit developers – period. I have met a bunch of CIOs who see HR as a mere support unit who carry out administrative recruiting tasks. What does this mean?

  • The IT department defines the recruiting workflow that defines all touchpoints that the employer has with the target group. This means that IT is in full control and takes direct responsibility for any flaws in the process. No finger-pointing at HR.
  • The IT department’s hiring team directly handles all communications with the developers. They have direct access to the candidate tracking system and are the first and last point of contact with every job applicant. Whether this is the selection of recruiting platforms (such as the WeAreDevelopers Recruiting Platform), the first phone call, the presence at developer conferences such as WeAreDevelopers World Congress, or the job interview on site. HR simply carries out the background administration, the paperwork, legal stuff, administration of the recruiting tools.
  • Once IT has decided to hire a developer, HR does the admin and prepares all measures that need to be taken from a legal and operational perspective. They act as a support function, assisting IT in the last mile before the developer onboard the company. However, the communication is steered and lead by IT.


  • The recruiting strategy is designed by specialists who understand their target group. Developers are recruiting developers. They understand the needs, wants and motivations of their counterparts and are more authentic, credible and trustworthy. The success rate will be higher – if IT really commits to this strategy.
  • IT is responsible for its own success and takes ownership for the recruiting results. No finger-pointing, no conflict between HR and IT – it all makes sense.
  • Job candidates connect with like-minded specialists. They feel understood, more welcome and can relate to the company.
  • The employer brand will benefit from the fact that those who are building the brand, those who define and implement the branding activities, understand their target group. Developers will click and develop a more emotional relationship to the employer.
  • HR does not have to fulfill a task they are not qualified for.


  • If IT does not commit fully and equip itself with the required resources, this scenario will fail. That’s why it’s essential that IT ensures that the specialists tasked with recruiting are given the time and resources in order to take control of, and implement, the recruiting activities.

(Part 2 of this article will be published shortly)

If you are interested in learning more about best practices in recruiting & employer branding for developers, join us in Vienna on October 6th at our event: Developer Recruiting: Best Practices.

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