How to find tech talent

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Finding new technical talent for your team is a challenging priority. Since there’s such a big demand for talent industry-wide, putting together a high-functioning tech team is no easy feat. But think of it like this: It’s a buyer’s market and you’ve got houses to sell. So how do you make your career real estate more attractive than most?

When there are fewer house-hunters out there and a myriad of properties for sale, a little classified listing for an open house may not bring crowds rushing to your door—the same goes for job postings. A poorly written or misplaced job description probably won’t bring the masses. Additionally, if you want to bring in top talent, you’ll most likely have to go after them—here’s how:

Hang out where they hang out

Like all other job recruiters, you’re looking on,LinkedIn, and while that’s a good start,it’s so popular that the competition to find talent is fierce. It’s also a wide expanse that covers any and all industries, which means tech talent is just one piece of an overwhelmingly large pie.

The simple answer would be to seek out tech-specific sites, but that’s easier said than done. Whereas some fields have a singular online gathering place—like Etsy for crafters, for example—there are many for tech talent and they’re often changing.

So before you plunge into the depths of GitHub or Gerrit, talk to your current tech team and see where they are hanging out, online and offline. What email lists are they subscribing to? What networking events do they frequent? Take their suggestions to heart and then find a way to get involved, whether it’s sponsoring an e-newsletter or attending an event. Don’t just consider yourself a “vendor” or a “lurker” who is there just to recruit—become a part of the conversation and make genuine connections. It will pay off in the long run. 

Change the way you’re looking

Basic searches are only getting you so far. Did you know that a few keystrokes can upgrade a lackluster search to an advanced one that could help you sleuth out contact information for candidates? For example, searching for results with a certain file extension (.xls or .ppt) might land you a hard-to-reach candidate’s email address in an Excel doc or PowerPoint presentation from a past conference or workshop that happens to be posted online. Or, you can try out your X-ray vision on LinkedIn.

Leverage your current team

It sounds obvious, but it shouldn’t be overlooked: Your best tool for finding great talent might be right under your nose. Talented people often know other talent, so give them an incentive to bring in their friends.

In order for this to work, though, two things have to happen. One, they have to truly understand what’s needed for the job, so take the time to elaborate on job descriptions with your staff and dive deeper. Two, they have to truly love their own job, or they’re not going to recommend it to a friend. Involving your staff in the interview process helps this process along naturally, too. While interviewing a potential candidate, they might think to themselves: Hey, I know someone who would be even better for this gig.

Write the right job description

Let’s go back to the buyer’s market analogy. How is your open house ad standing out from all the others? The same old title and description may be causing your job post to blend into the background. If your company is a progressive, disruptive game-changer, then your job titles and descriptions should reflect that. Give some kind of indication of your company culture to help those open positions jump off the page, even if the technical requirements are similar to your competitors.

At the end of the day, don’t underestimate the value of transparency. When job postings hide the company name or salary information, it can be a turn-off for job searchers and give the impression that you’re trying to be overly evasive. Accuracy is also key: If you say you want 10 years of experience in a programming language that has only been around three years, that’s a big red flag that no one wants to be caught waving.

In today’s “buyer’s market” of tech hires, you’ll need to learn the best tactics to increase your team’s real estate. Discover even more ways to find the top technical talent you’re looking for.

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Contributor

Jason Alba

is founder and creator of JibberJobber.com. He is a Pluralsight author of multiple courses on job search, career management and personal branding. You can find all his courses on his Pluralsight author page.