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HR.main() London: Tech Hiring in a Candidate’s Market

Written By Dana Frederick | May 30, 2019

HackerRank CEO Vivek Ravisankar at HR.main() London

The HR.main() series is truly one of a kind. It distills need-to-know strategies for hiring tech talent in a jam-packed 3-hour format, unveiling actionable tactics from talent leaders across the world.

HR.main() London was the 10th iteration of this global event series, where talent leaders came together in person and via livestream to discuss the biggest challenges facing tech hiring teams today. We gathered at CodeNode London to discuss best practices for attracting and engaging developers in a candidate’s market.

Here’s what we covered:

What 71,000+ developers taught us about tech hiring

Every year, we survey our community of over 5 million developers to better understand their priorities: what skills they’re learning, what they’re looking for in a job, and more.

This year, 71,000 developers from our community shared their insights. These were just a few of the key takeaways we found for hiring teams:

Candidate experience is a major pain point

According to our research, unclear roles are the #1 way to lose developer candidates. Lack of clarity around the role’s responsibilities, or unclear placements are just a few aspects that can contribute to candidate confusion. “They’re looking for that clarity,” Gaurav says. “What is my role on the team? Which team am I working for? And what’s the impact going to be?” Answering these questions up front is key to maintaining engagement.

Ultimately, it boils down to creating a candidate-first hiring process. To optimize for this, our SVP of Customer Success, Gaurav Verma, suggests conducting a win-loss analysis with any candidate that’s completed your interview process.

HackerRank SVP of Customer Success Gaurav Verma at HR.main() London

Regardless of whether they join your company, they should have valuable feedback to offer your team. If they took your offer, for example, ask why they chose your organization over the other options available to them—it can help you identify effective attractors that you might otherwise miss.

On the flip side, if they dropped out during the hiring process, or took another offer, they might have suggestions on how to improve your process. Were they turned off by one of their interviews? Did they feel more excited about another organization’s tech talent brand? Any answer is a valuable piece of qualitative data as you hone your process.

Gen Z is taking center stage

One of the biggest emerging topics in tech hiring is the arrival of Gen Z. Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is entering the workforce en masse for the first time this year. Research shows that they think about work differently than previous generations did—so to recruit them effectively, teams will need to adjust accordingly.

Take, for example, their attitude towards diversity in the workplace. While roughly 4% of Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers consider diversity a top priority in their job search, Gen Z is significantly more interested in putting diversity first. In fact, Gen Z values diversity almost twice as much as the generations before them:

And they have a unique take on career priorities, too. In fact, even when compared to the generation before them (Millennials), research showed some notable differences. More specifically, it showed that Gen Z puts a heavier emphasis on professional growth, flexibility, and challenging work than Millennials do.

Though the early talent landscape has been historically focused on Millennials, the messaging that worked with that cohort might not work as well with this new one. Ultimately, teams need to focus their talent brand around those priorities to stay relevant with this new generation of developers.

On attracting developers & aligning stakeholders

Hung Lee, CEO of and Curator of Recruiting Brainfood kicked off the panel sessions with Lyndsey Dean, Technical Recruiter at Optiver and Bradley Forde, Senior Program Specialist at Expedia. In their chat, they discussed the biggest challenges they face hiring tech talent in the UK.

The biggest challenge, they agree, is one all hiring teams face: developers are in astronomically high demand. “The world is their oyster,” Lyndsey remarked.

But you don’t have to be a tech giant to stand out to developers. Expedia, for example, is best known as a travel company—so instead of searching for any qualified developer, they focus specifically on developers interested in travel. “We’re trying to match our products and our environment to what the developer would want,” Bradley said. Targeting these developers ensures that you’re spending your time on candidates with genuine interest in your org.

Recruiting panel discussion at HR.main() London

That said, getting buy in from leadership for talent branding isn’t always easy. To solve for that, Bradley says that recruiters should lean into what they do best: networking. More specifically, Bradley suggests leveraging past hires to create program advocates.

Once you’ve identified a past hire in a leadership position, explain how supporting your project would help them. “Say ‘hey, we’re working on this solution to make your team better—we’re trying to improve your processes.’” Your existing relationship, paired with the value you’re adding, is the perfect foundation to build a partnership on.

One other option? Lean into your critics. “Whoever’s got the largest number of complaints—that should be the stakeholder you partner with.” Bradley says. And Lyndsey agrees: “I think it’s a good entry point.” Critics will have plenty of ideas for process improvements, and will be happy to have their perspective heard out in earnest. It’s a win-win.

The engineering approach to tech hiring

For our final panel of the day, SVP of Customer Success, Garuav Verma, sat down with Sara Milne, Engineering Culture & Capability Lead at Lloyds Banking Group and Paul Hill, Senior Director, Software Engineering at Bazaarvoice. As leaders within their respective engineering orgs, they shared perspectives on how technical stakeholders think about hiring a tech team.

One major concern they share with recruiting? Building a tech talent brand. And like Lyndsey and Bradley, Sara agrees that you don’t need to be a tech giant to attract high quality candidates. As one of the oldest banks in the UK, Lloyds Banking Group doesn’t have a historically technical brand. But Sara is working to change that—without losing sight of their roots.

HR.main() London engineering panel discussion

“First and foremost, we have to remain authentic.” Sara said. “We can’t pretend to be Netflix or Amazon. We are a bank.” Instead of trying to mimic existing tech brands, Lloyds focuses on the assets they already have: their unique technical challenges. “For us, it’s about attracting technologists who want to do something at scale.” Sara said. “A third of the UK’s economy passes through the bank every day,” she commented. It means they can offer a technical challenge to developers that few other orgs can.

And Paul agrees. Though Bazaarvoice is still growing their technical brand in the UK, talking about their their work gets the most traction with developers. “That’s all I have to do to sell it—to talk about the technical challenges, the scale that we have to work with,” Paul said. Ultimately, the work speaks for itself.

Next: 3 rules for creating a candidate-first hiring process

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