How to Attract Candidates Without Even Trying

It is true there has been quite a lot of efforts in the recruitment industry around candidate attraction in tech markets. I see podcasts and video conference channels solely dedicated for this topic and people daily dissecting different methods and techniques on how to attract talent. From marketing automation to methods of copywriting and promoting job adverts. I wouldn’t want to make assumptions on how the results have been, but from my experience as a candidate and from the research I have done speaking to fellow developers in various disciplines, I could say a few things.

Historically, or maybe just recently it seems to me the craft of recruitment has been closely aligned with sales, it’s looked at as a numbers game where a “consultant” is a glorified sales rep who’s target is to dial as many numbers on their phone and send as many retargeting emails as they could to be able to reach as many candidates as humanly possible telling them about this “urgent role” their client has got, and the rationale is, “If i send 500 emails, and make 20 calls every day this week, I should surely be able to harvest about 10 good CVs (or at least ones I think are good) and send out 5 of those to my client which will eventually get 2 or 3 people into interviews”. This is more or less the strategy which 80% of recruitment businesses follow and I don’t mean to bash or insult anyone, Only highlighting the impact of the rising demand on particular skills which has pushed recruiters to frantically hop on any new or niche tech market they come across, or any requirements that come in from their clients and try to cast their net as wide as they can thinking that’s the way for them to be most profitable in a time where demand on skilled talent is as high as it gets.

But there’s a small problem with this strategy, It doesn’t work anymore. No one has ever stopped to think, why is this high demand on talent though, it is clear it’s because of shortage of skills, and what does that mean? limited number of candidates and what does a small number of candidates mean? it’s not a numbers game anymore. Because when you rotate once and twice and trice on the same candidate pool with your seemingly attractive sales pitch for the role, chances are you’ve pretty much put yourself in front of the whole candidate pool in the window of days. And what happens if your way of presenting this role is poor because you have minimal knowledge of the client or tech? you’ve pretty much ruined the whole candidate pool for yourself (and your colleagues too!). You might be asking how.

I’ve actually seen this happen first hand being part of a very niche technology market with quite a small candidate pool, where the developers in this technology pretty much have a dedicated Slack channel to call out recruiters on how bad they’re approach is to selling these candidates certain roles, and what do you think will happen when some 3000 developers all see your name and laugh at how bad you are at selling this role? You’ve lost yourself the chance to make any placements in this small yet very profitable niche tech market.

Now that we’ve established it’s not a numbers game anymore (limited quantity) let’s try and focus on the quality. When working with such small candidate pools you are expected to be up to the standard in terms of your knowledge of your client requirements, the market, and have a minimal understanding of the technology involved. No one ever stopped to think to ask candidates what they care about, or what they aspire to, or at least what draws their attention. Most recruiters are out there brainstorming theories and making plans and starting full blown startups which are all based on their personal experience in recruitment and minimal research on the market or candidates side which is the side they claim they are the advocate of in their so called innovative endeavor.

So enough foreplay, tell me why i’m reading this, tell me WHAT DO CANDIDATES WANT?

It’s simple, but not really, let me explain. the recruitment industry has gotten so distorted that candidates in small pools and niche technologies dispise recruiters and want to cut them out of the whole job hunt process once and for all, the good news is they really can’t because there’s always going to be a need for experts in finding talent and activating those passive candidates along with a lot of other headwork recruiters can help with and I don’t really need to go into why recruitment is here to stay, that’s a different conversation. But if we drill a bit further with candidates and look beyond this emotionally impulsive grudge they have against recruiters, we can see that all they want (as a start) is to work with someone who knows what they’re talking about, and that’s where it gets simple.

We have gone and complicated things by trying to think hard and come out with ideas in our own head on how to make things good for the candidates without speaking to candidates, how do we attract them? how do I make this job advert sexy enough? etc.. but really all candidates want to know is am I, as a recruiter, being transparent with them? do I know my client and their work environment or I just skimmed some information off of their website and I’m still to have my first chat with the hiring manager after I get interest from this candidate? Do I really know the role and the tech involved or did I just google some stuff and circled the buzzwords used in this industry or just fished some information from a few candidates who will not pick up my calls now? These tricks might have worked with those candidates fresh out of uni and looking to get their first commercial job, or those who are just desperate and need an immediate placement. But for the remaining 90% of candidates in this niche, they can now look through this, matter of fact it’s gotten so bad they don’t even want any recruiters getting through to them.

How do we solve this? Educate yourself, be informed about the tech field, the client, their requirements, and the candidates. Take the time to focus on particular needs your client has and don’t try to be a glorified body for hire to lift any dirty work they might have. Be a little selective in terms of the markets you want to work in, this will allow you to learn more on the technologies, the different client needs, and most importantly what makes candidates tick in these particular markets. Once you do this you’ll be able to build a reputation that beats any AI or marketing automation tooling out there that’s made for attracting candidate. You will be able to naturally make job adverts, or send out emails which directly appeal to your candidate pool and get them to respond and want to work with you and listen to what you have to offer.

I will expand further on these points in a future article where I will highlight the importance of being specialist rather than being generalist in tech recruitment.

If you’re interested in boosting your ability to attract the best talent and differentiate yourself in Tech recruitment markets, book a Free Strategy Session with me today.