How to hire top engineering talent


How to hire top engineering talent

6016 4016 Mita Mandawker

Over the years, as industries try to become more software-driven, the demand for engineers and developers has increased dramatically. Finding the right engineering talent is crucial for the growth of your company and its products. Even in 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis, engineering has seen the best recovery in terms of jobs in the market though comparatively lower than last year. This field is showing great promise of recovery.

The key to business recovery from the pandemic is going to be innovation. Technology lies at the center of innovation. As Marissa Mayer, Co-Founder of Lumi Labs and former CEO of Yahoo, said, “In technology, it’s about the people. Getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment, and helping to find a way to innovate.”

The demand for engineers remains at an all-time high and expected to increase in months to come, with rapid digital transformation, brought on by COVID-19. Attracting the right talent can be a real challenge for companies, especially smaller companies. Engineers have a lot of options to choose from, and best engineers have the luxury of picking the projects and companies they will work for.

So how do companies appeal to top engineering candidates and stand out as a potential employer?

Based on our own experiences in hiring tech talent for our clients, we are sharing what the companies can do to attract best engineering talent, what engineers are looking for from a potential employer, and more.

Getting started

Every hiring process starts out with building a pipeline of candidates. To create a talent pipeline, it is essential to take stock of one’s branding and see that it positions you as a great place to work for the engineers.

For the tech giants of the world (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.) this is easy, their employer brand is already a big draw for the candidates but for smaller organizations it is important to focus on this aspect and build it actively. We have some great tips for building out your employer brand here, check them out and start today.

Show them the problem they will be solving for

The key to attracting the best engineering talent is to show them what opportunities they will have, at your company, to solve significant technological problems alongside other exceptional engineers on your team.

Engineers are problem solvers by nature, and not merely experts defined by their fields (technologies they work with, etc.). If you give them a glimpse into the kind of problems they will be solving for, they can build a better understanding of your challenges and understand precisely how they will be making a difference for.

Focus on communicating your organisation’s story, history and challenges you tackle.

Go beyond competitive salaries

Paychecks matter, but engineers place a lot of stock in, ‘What problems will I be solving along with this company?’, What new will I get to learn here, what technology will I work with, who will be my mentor, etc.

So if you have to compete with huge tech giants of the world for the engineering talent, it would be useful to have clarity on what engaging problems engineers are expected to solve and what will they learn and from whom.

Have your CTO write about interesting problems you solve at your organisation, share what the team does, your work culture, etc. It will go a long way in showcasing your values, problem-solving style, etc. and give you an edge when competing with more prominent companies.

Assess with your real-world challenges

As recruiters, we see an increasing preference among both companies and engineers, that job application processes have assessments which simulate the actual real-world problems the engineers will be working on.

This approach is useful for both employers and applicants. It gives candidates a glimpse of what problems they will be solving for (if they are to work for that organization), gives employers a thorough way to assess the candidates’ abilities, skills and approach towards problem-solving, especially in the company’s context.

Overall, this approach is a win-win for everyone.

Don’t remain stuck on 100% fit, go for other great candidates

Most employers are looking for the ideal candidate who ticks of all the boxes in their list of requirements. It ends up restricting the candidate pool they can interview and hire.

Instead, be flexible and go for candidates who have, e.g. 80% of the skills required to do the job, you can train them to learn the 20% which they don’t know presently, and be the ideal candidate with 100% skills that you were looking for.

You end up saving time, that you would otherwise, end up spending searching for that elusive purple squirrel (candidate with 100% of skills that you are looking for).

Stay in touch during the whole process process

We can’t stress enough about the importance of continuous communication during the entire interview and hiring process.

The number of drop-offs in tech hiring is pretty high compared to other fields. So every update that you share with the candidate matters, especially if it is going to increase your interview time (say the hiring manager is out on leave and can’t do interviews sooner). The continuous stream of communication keeps your candidates engaged, your talent pipeline warm and reduces the drop-off rate.

Close the hire asap

Once you have found your perfect engineering candidate, move fast and close the hire speedily. Don’t draw out salary negotiations, be clear and upfront on this count from the beginning.
Be responsive and keep continuous communication with the candidate, remind the candidate of your company’s story, and why they should be excited to be a part of it.

Invest in employer branding to show your presence and build a community

Remember what we said about building a talent pipeline, it is crucial to cultivate and engage with one, even when you are not actively hiring.

Focus on building a long term relationship with the engineering community, which helps you stay relevant, and positions you as ‘an organization as a place where new ideas and solutions are created and fostered’, even though they are not actively interviewing with you.

  • Here are some tips for investing in employer branding:
    Get your engineering or tech team to blog on technical topics.
  • Showcase your engineering team prominently on your company platforms, encourage them to share their experiences of working at your company.
  • Organize or sponsor hackathons with engineering colleges or other technical institutions. It will help you identify great entry-level talent producing best ideas and also bolster your reputation as a leader in new technology invested in innovation and creativity.

The key to hiring world-class engineers is to share your story and help them see where they fit in it. You’re not just offering them a job; you’re selling them on the next chapter of their life.

Check out this video from our CTO and GMI two-time winner Sudheer Bandaru on hiring and scaling your tech team.


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