Stop Recruiting, Start Connecting

Software engineers want to talk with their fellow professionals about job opportunities, not run the HR gauntlet.

unless they absolutely have to? These engineers stick to their own networks for future jobs, just as you plumb your networks for future hires.

You must expand your network through your employees. When your employees post job openings on their social networks, their message shouldn't be: "Come work for my boss." It should be: "Come work with me." Serious professionals (and that's who you have working for you, right?) care deeply about who they work with. A referral bonus is a mis-incentive. The best engineers seek out future colleagues who they respect and can learn from.

Out: passive candidates. In: stealth candidates
The term "passive candidates" conjures mannequins waiting for you to press their "on" buttons. Who you're really looking for are "stealth candidates." These are employed engineers (all the good ones are employed) who consider switching jobs occasionally but don't feel like sticking their head out. Why not? Because they know that applying for a job puts them in a worse negotiating position. Since they aren't desperate for a new job, they're not about to update a resume and fight their way through HR firewalls.

These stealth candidates aren't about to cold-contact you. (They're not salespeople. They hate cold contact.) You can't just tell them, "Send in your resume." You need to make it easy and unthreatening for them to ping you with a click, to signal "Let's chat." Using their LinkedIn or other online profiles to help in vetting them, you have enough to carry the conversation from there.

Out: recruiter. In: matchmaker
A good recruiter doesn't pester candidates. There isn't a reason for her even to talk with candidates. The members of the development team should do most of the talking. They're the ones who are hiring.

Recruiters -- let's call them matchmakers -- do have a role to play. They help stealth candidates come out of the woodwork. They help the candidates lay out their real requirements, not the ones they think potential employers want to hear. Then they put the two parties in touch and get out of the way. For more on the matchmaker concept, see our article Rise of the Anti-Recruiters.

Out: acquisition. In: anything! Just not that!
Does "talent acquisition" mean that we're buying our technical staff? They're not for sale! They're paid (very well) to do their jobs. In the elite sectors of the software industry they're business partners, paid as much as some executives and rewarded with ample equity.

New world, new approach
New software worlds are opening up, as older industries shrink and disappear and software takes over. Demand for software engineers will continue to soar. Employers that keep trying to fill reqs like they're 20th century assembly line jobs will fall behind companies adept at peer-to-peer communication.

When two software engineers who understand each other talk, they build a professional connection that benefits both of them for the rest of their careers. If all goes well, that brings the best of the best on board your company, even the top stealth candidates who never talk with recruiters.

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