How to build your reputation as tech recruiter


tech recruitment

Would you like top engineers reach out to you? Do you want to get higher response rates when sourcing?

Recruitment in 2024 comes with one more challenge: tech candidates are becoming more selective about the recruiters they work with. And this is after a weak market with a very mild recovery.

In 2025 it will get worse. It’s an industry problem, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.

Here’s how you can work on your reputation, whether you’re a freelance recruiter or work at a recruitment agency, and get engineers not only to be happy to work with, but to refer their colleagues as well.

If you run your own tech recruitment agency, you can use these best practices to build your agency’s brand by training your recruiters.

Get to the point

Software engineers are pragmatic people. When it’s busy, you’ll be the 10th recruiter reaching out to them in a week.

Be concise and to the point. They can see you’re a recruiter: it’s in your headline. They can see what company your work for on your profile too.

They don’t care about yet another exciting fast-growing company desperate for engineers. Every recruiter uses that line.

Tell them how this job can make their life better. Is it remote? Does it pay well? Do they have good engineering practices? They do work with technologies they are interested in? Does the manager have a technical background?

Bonus: read their profile

It goes without saying, but if you offer a role that doesn’t match their expertise, you won’t get a reply.

It’s more complicated than not sending a junior role to a senior. Try to understand what they can do, how passionate they are and what salary they can expect in the current market.

Stop using InMails

Many recruiters use InMails to send whole novels. And more often than not, when they answer the recruiter doesn’t answer back!

Send them a connection request, without a message. They can see you’re a recruiter, they know you’re reaching out because you have jobs!

Here’s where LinkedIn makes it harder. If you send it with a message, they’ll get the message (and a notification) again in their inbox. Not the best user experience.

If they’re not replying it’s because they’re not interested. There’s nothing you can say to convince them otherwise - engineers are stubborn!

Know what you’re talking about

Software engineers, especially the good ones, are proud of their expertise. They know common people can’t grasp what they can do for them, but as tech recruiter you should know.

You’ll no longer be another dumb tech recruiter and you’ll gain their respect. I’m sure you’ve heard the Java vs JavaScript jokes.

Set some time aside to learn about the technologies you recruit for, how they are used and what are their downsides. Read about major frameworks and libraries and their communities.

Bonus: source for adjacent technologies

I’m sure you know today there is a plethora of technologies. Here’s the plot twist: they’ve never been more similar.

10 years ago technologies had a huge gap. A Python engineer would need considerable time to adjust to PHP. But today that gap is much smaller. There’s more standardisation, there are more learning resources and deploying to production has been streamlined.

As a side note, don’t go contacting Python engineers for PHP jobs. It’s an hate-love relationship!

Vue, React and Angular are the same. They’re different on a shallow level, one may have a few things the other doesn’t have, but at the end of day it’s the same workflow.

If you learn which technologies are adjacent, you’ll be able to expand your search and find all the hidden gems.

Think like them

Now that you speak their language and know their tools, you can take the next step: think like them.

Software engineering is a rigorous technical descipline. It’s 0s and 1s, and only 0s and 1s. Years of that change how someone thinks, especially when a tiny typo costs hours of stress to fix.

Be precise. Don’t contradict yourself. Say you don’t know if you don’t know.

Bonus: learn to code

You don’t have to become the next Sanfilippo (author of Redis). Go for a small script or exercise and feel like a programmer for a day.

Engineers do that all day, with hundreds of thousands of lines of code spread on multiple servers…most of which no one knows what they really do.

You’ll understand why they like to be so pragmatic!

Give feedback

It’s the biggest criticism you’ll get from candidates. As recruiters, we know that sometimes it’s not our fault. There’s no feedback from the hiring manager, maybe they even ghosted you.

You can still let them know where they could improve. Could their resume be clearer? Should they adjust their expectations in the current market?

Do you think they went through a fair hiring process, or can you reassure them they company was a bad apple?

Don’t put them through unfair processes

This is the part that stings. If you want to have a stellar reputation, you’ll need to represent their interests as well.

That means listening to the candidate consideration and not push them in things they don’t like. If they think the salary is low, you should tell them based on your market knowledge.

If they don’t want an online pair programming session, make their case in front of the hiring manager. Actually here they may have a good point: they may find pair programming interviews stressfull, and employers must provide equal opportunities.

You’ll lose some money, but you’ll keep your integrity.

Stop shaming candidates

Somehow, many recruiters believe that complaing about candidates will make them look more professional.

Candidates are reading those complaints too, and it doesn’t do any good to get their trust. However poorly the candidate behaved, it’s easier to relate with them than the recruiter.

Working against the stream

One of the hardest parts of building your reputation as recruiter is undoing the damage done by bad recruiters.

No-shows, awful response rates and candidates accepting another offer at the last moment are part of the job. These things happen because candidates don’t trust recruiters, and even if you’re following best practices, it’s an industry wide issue. I’ll make an example.

Some recruiters put forward only candidates that are in a single hiring process. It goes against the candidate own self-interest to comply with this policy, there’s no way for the recruiter to know and if caught there would be nothing the recruiter could do.

Stay up to date

The job market changes really fast. The 2023 job market is not the 2024 job market, and you should know why.

Understanding the current market means you can assess whether an opening has a chance of being filled and advise clients. It means you can reach to candidates with a meaningful offer.

A lot of recruitment practices are rooted in one false belief: that companies always have the upper hand.

The shortage of tech talent however means tech workers have the upper hand even in a downturn. It’s become much more common for a candidate to be the only candidate in a tech recruitment process, and sometimes the only candidate at all.

Treating the candidate as if you had a whole crowd to pick from, when likely they have other hiring processes it’s not a viable strategy.

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