This post was written by Jerome Young, a contributor to Forbes.com.
There is an ongoing debate as to whether there is a shortage of talented software engineers (SEs) in the San Francisco Bay Area but it’s a fact that it’s extremely challenging to recruit top SEs. SEs are the driving force behind the growth of the world’s most successful companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Social Media giants like Facebook and Twitter. SEs turn ideas to reality and transform services that would be “nice to have” to applications we can’t live without. With the size and cachet of working at the industry leaders mentioned above, it’s an incredible feat for mid-sized and smaller companies to recruit top SEs. So how is it done?
I cannot speak for all recruiters but as a technical recruiter that focuses on bringing top talent to small and mid-sized companies, the following steps help me and my colleagues at Attract Jobs NOW deliver:
Precise Search & Communication – SEs are constantly contacted by recruiters about “opportunities” that are outside of their area of expertise or not aligned with their career goals. One SE told me that he can receive over 10 emails in a week about different positions. No wonder there is a very low rate of response to cold-calls or emails to SEs. They can see a mass email or an unprepared recruiter a mile away. The start of your communication (1st sentence of a voicemail, subject of an email) must be precisely focused on the SEs area of interest and the only way to do this is to ensure your search is precise and targeted at SEs who are not only qualified to excel in the role but interested based on their current and past positions.
Relationship Building – I keep in contact with my network of SEs on a quarterly basis. I offer them assistance with their resume, their LinkedIn profile and provide them with an update on the state of the job market in their area of expertise. This may seem like a lot of extra work because it is and it’s worth it! In return, top SEs provide me with a quarterly update on their current position, their likelihood of making a career move in the next quarter and their potential companies of interest. Additionally, they often provide me with referrals to colleagues who are looking for a career change. When they decide it’s time to make a move, they know I understand the current state of the market, have a keen understanding of their interest and qualifications and that I’ve offered to assist them in the past. It’s natural that I am the 1st person they call.
Selling the Opportunity Based on Their Values – The best Software Engineers don’t look at opportunities like top performers in other professions. While compensation is typically a key factor in recruiting top talent, it’s almost a minor detail with top SEs. The best are far more concerned with the potential impact software will have on the industry and the world and the details of their contribution to the team. To recruit them, you need to have a solid grasp of the value proposition of the software they will be working on and the company. You should be able to explain what differentiates the software and the company from their competitors, the target market and the company’s long term goals.
The bottom line is, it’s intensely competitive to recruit top SEs in the Bay Area and to be successful we have to do more.