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The Biggest Challenges When Hiring Engineers—and What to Do About Them

By Triplebyte on Dec 2, 2019

The Biggest Challenges When Hiring Engineers—and What to Do About Them

If you're in Silicon Valley or any of the other tech hubs throughout the US, then you're likely all too familiar with the competitive nature of recruiting technical talent. The truth is, with a national unemployment rate of 3.6%—the lowest it's been since the '60s—hiring for any position proves to be challenging. Still, it is particularly painful to recruit for technical positions. A survey executed by Indeed found that 86% of hiring managers and recruiters believe that it is challenging to find and hire software engineers.

Top Challenges When Hiring Engineers

It can be extremely disappointing when an engineering candidate declines your offer after putting time and energy into interviewing them. Unfortunately, this is often the case in today's competitive market—and that's if you're lucky enough to identify a quality candidate to interview in the first place.

At Triplebyte, we understand how challenging the interview process to hire top technical talent can be, and companies all over the country are struggling with the task. To better serve our clients, we wanted to deepen our understanding of why these market challenges exist. In early 2019, we conducted in-depth customer research and found that some common themes emerged. High competition, the investment required for technical interviews, and a lack of information about candidates during the sourcing phase were all challenges hiring managers and recruiters faced. Additionally, due to a saturated market and homogenous pool of candidates, companies often struggled to find new hires with the specialized skills required for engineering positions.

High Competition: In today's candidate market, employers are competing with tech giants and other large organizations, but they're also competing with smaller companies and boutique-style engineering or tech firms. There is not enough talent for the positions available, and candidates are regularly receiving multiple offers. Techniques that were once used to reach candidates no longer work because there are too many recruiters attempting to access the same small pool of candidates. Furthermore, in a candidates' job market, salary requests can be hefty for smaller organizations in particular. Currently, the average salary for a software engineer is $150K.

Investment Required for Technical Interview: Technical onsite interviews are a massive investment in time and engineering resources, adding to the challenges of the hiring process. The technical interview process is often complex and spans a few weeks. The risk for employers with such an involved interview process is that, with such a competitive market, their ideal or top candidates for a position are recruited by another company before they can even schedule a follow-up interview. By this time, engineers have already lost time on other projects to focus on this phase of the hiring process.

Lack of In-Depth Candidate Information: Through our research, we have found that employers have a difficult time getting the detailed information they need about a candidate during the sourcing stage. The fact is, online screening tools can misrepresent a candidate's skills. Hiring managers and recruiters often have to go with their gut to bring a candidate in for an interview based on the limited information commonly available on a candidate's resume—and they can only hope their gut is right. If they're wrong, then they have wasted precious time and resources they could have spent on locating, interviewing, and hiring a better technical candidate for the position. It's also possible that online screening tools can weed out great engineers because they have a non-traditional background, creating a missed opportunity for employers.

A Homogenous Pool of Candidates: Engineers no longer need a computer science degree from a big-league school to be qualified for an engineering position. In addition to on-the-job training and experience, software engineers can gain certifications, go to boot camps, and identify opportunities for short-term training to learn the skills required for many open positions. Unfortunately, many recruiters (and sometimes even Applicant Tracking Systems) can quickly screen out candidates with nontraditional or unconventional backgrounds. Often, qualified candidates are screened-out before they even have a chance to communicate with the hiring team. This leads to a homogenous group of more traditional candidates, and it can often lead to challenges in hiring engineers on a diverse team.

Solving Common Hiring Challenges

After reviewing our in-depth market research, the team at Triplebyte set out to determine how to best help tech companies overcome the challenges of hiring tech engineers. Based on our results, below are some hiring tips to overcome hiring challenges.

Take Time to Assess All That You Have to Offer

With competition being so fierce when hiring engineers, you must take the time to consider what your organization has to offer that other organizations do not—especially if you are unable to compete on salary or if you have low brand recognition.

Some things to consider are:

  • Are there opportunities for growth for your engineers?

  • Do you offer a flexible work schedule?

  • What is your work/life balance like?

  • Do you offer bonuses or an annual incentive program?

  • What type of benefits do you offer?

  • Do you offer onsite perks like a meditation room or a private space for nursing mothers?

  • Is there transparency within the organization?

  • Do you provide an effective training program that leads to industry certifications?

The list of questions could go on, but what is important to know is that you must highlight what sets you apart from the competition in your job post, as well as during the interview, to help you capture the attention of top talent.

Learn What Is Important to Engineering Candidates

As an employer, if you understand what motivates engineers, then you can choose to tailor your open positions and benefits packages to meet those desires. Doing so can lead to an increase in job acceptances and a higher retention rate once engineers are in the door.

We conducted a Triplebyte motivator study of every candidate that's passed Triplebyte's screening process, and the number one motivator for engineers regardless of their career level was an opportunity for professional growth.

  • At 54%, the opportunity for professional growth was 12 percentage points higher than the second-ranked motivator, which was salary (42%).

  • The next two motivators were work/life balance (32%) and working with impressive team members (25%).

We segmented that data to compare junior and senior engineers, identify motivators for women engineers, and to learn about what motivates the best engineers. You can download the full eBook here.

Stay on Top of Candidate Communications

Due to the time it can take to go through the screening and technical interview process with an engineering candidate, coupled with the demanding jobs of hiring managers and recruiters, companies often aren't quick enough to respond to or follow-up with candidates. In many cases, days or even weeks can go by after an interview before candidates receive a response.

If you interview a candidate that you're considering for the position, you must let them know that there is interest. It's also important to continue to take good care of the candidate throughout the interview and recruitment process. If candidates don't hear from you promptly, they might assume you aren't interested in them and will likely move on to other employers or accept another job.

Develop a Passive Candidate Recruitment Strategy

It is important to have a passive candidate strategy, since passive candidates are typically less competitive compare to active job seekers. 70% of the world's workforce is made up of passive candidates, while only 30% is made up of active candidates. Couple that with a limited candidate pool, it's a great idea for recruiters to have a passive candidate recruitment strategy. Passive candidates who already have jobs aren't necessarily in a hurry to leave their current position, so you will have time to communicate with them and determine what it would take to get them to move to your company. The fact that you are going out of your way to connect with them and get to know them can work in your favor as well.

Partner with Triplebyte to Pre-Screen Candidates for You

At Triplebyte, we enable companies to source highly-skilled technical talent from a variety of backgrounds, allowing for a streamlined hiring process to ultimately reduce time-to-hire. We offer a marketplace of pre-screened engineers that have been evaluated through a background-blind process. Based on the results of the pre-screening, we match engineers to companies based on their specific hiring requirements. The result is an increase in better-qualified candidates for companies to evaluate, review, and progress through the interview process while saving valuable time on pre-screening. Employers can trust that the Triplebyte candidates they review have the technical abilities required for the job, so instead, they can focus on culture add and the soft skills needed to succeed in the position. Companies make offers to 40% of the Triplebyte candidates they interview, which is approximately twice the industry standard.

Hire Tech Talent Faster

In August 2019, we launched Triplebyte Premium, which provides Passive Candidate Sourcing and Candidate Feedback Insights and Benchmarks. The goal of Triplebyte Premium is to enable companies to hire the best technical talent more quickly. With Passive Candidate Sourcing, you have access to candidates actively looking to switch jobs, as well as thousands more who are open to or excited about new opportunities but aren't necessarily actively looking just yet (passive). The Candidate Feedback and Insights component of Triplebyte Premium allows for unbiased candidate feedback after a company interview. This provides valuable and unbiased insights into how employers might be able to improve their recruitment process to secure top talent.

If you're ready to grow your company and connect with top technical talent, Triplebyte is here to help. Request a demo to learn more about how our product can support you throughout the interview process.

Stop wasting time on bad candidates. Start hiring great engineers.

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