Is Your Recruiting Strategy Sexy? – Hacking Your Dev Hiring.

16. Januar 2019

So, you’ve got the profile. You need a senior level developer that’s a ninja, superhero, whatever term you use, they need to fix it. They need to be an A+ player, and they need to constantly be at 110% to bring your company to the next level.
So the question is, how are you recruiting them? Are you sending them emails? Asking them to take interviews and/or tests to prove themselves to you? Inviting them to lunch? To dinner? Maybe a vacation? Is this “sexy” to top tech talent?


What I’d like to propose is a shift of thinking. I come from the influencer marketing world, which is a different type of recruiting. Through my research into the recruiting world and background in influencer marketing, I’ve realized how much they overlap.

That perfect dev you’re looking for isn’t only a talented person for hire. Start thinking of them as Talent -Influencer-type talent. Like a top-tier influencer, they already have the world at their feet. The offers are rolling in, the wooing is nonstop, and identifying ways to stand out is your only chance.

I want you to picture yourself as this dev. You’re at the top of your game. You’re in your prime. You’ve got the experience, the network, the skills. Imagine you’re the best at your company, the best at your role. What is it that you want now? (hint, it’s not usually compensation)

My point here: you don’t hire top tech talent by offering the same thing everyone else is. They don’t need your offer or wooing. They need something that will keep them at the top. And what keeps an engineer at the top of their game? Learning, applying and using new skills and technologies.

What keeps a Twitch streamer at number one? Learning new skills, showing them to the world, and staying on top of the newest trends. It’s the same with top talent.


So how do you offer that in a job offer? Do you email them and tell them they get to work with Machine Learning, AI, Cryptocurrency? You can! I’m sure it will lead to some results.

A better option is to host an event where you challenge them and give them new skills. Remember the saying “intelligence is sexy” ? It’s especially true here.

„There’s no way you can solely depend on an ATS system or any ad to recruit good engineers. You have to create an event that’s interesting for engineers and get to know them that way.“ – Christopher Cobo , Talent Advocate and Life Coach at Honor.


A hackathon is a great choice to challenge, entertain, and teach. The reality is: You need to do something that actually piques their curiosity.

Stop seducing engineers with perks, and start luring them in with the opportunity to better their skills and remain at the top of their game.

Once on Alberts List, a Facebook group for recruiters and job seekers someone asked:

„Just got another email with instructions to test for a job. I’m so burnt out on tests that don’t even get feedback. Do these ever go anywhere?“

His question is valid, and raises another: When testing your candidates, are you wasting time – both theirs and yours?


The reality is, testing is needed. You have to be able to see if technical talents have the capabilities they claim to possess, to accomplish what you need. My question for you is this: how are you currently testing?

On the topic of processes, Joshua Williams May raised a valid point in regards to placing talent during our recent conversation.

„The more steps you put into your process, the more risk you have in losing your candidates.“

Are your processes simple enough? How do you simplify your process while still ensuring that you hire top qualified candidates?


There are a few key points of your process to keep in mind before beginning the simplifying process:

  1. Follow-up: Make sure you take the time to follow-up with everyone. If you’re not following up, you’re risking your company reputation. Every person you ghost in the interview process has friends, and they will tell those friends about your ghosting ways. Do you want to be known as the company that ghosts their previously hopeful and excited candidates? Didn’t think so.
  2. Testing: Yes, you have to test. But you do not have to test EVERY candidate that comes your way. Every test that is done must have time factored in for appropriate follow-up after the candidate takes the time to fulfil your testing desires. My advice, only test the candidates you’re serious about, that you’d have the intention to follow-up with, anyways. Your candidates will thank you – or, at least, not talk smack to their other engineering friends.
  3. Efficiency: Streamlining your process leads to the best results and experience for both you and the candidates. Have you ever gone to sign up for something, found 25 required text boxes to fill, and just clicked out because it was too much work? Use that as a reference when you’re creating your process. You don’t ever want to lose an in-demand candidate because of the amount of time and effort it takes to get your position.
  4. Final point: Recruiting isn’t just about you. Recruiting a new team member should involve the team, and this is especially true for the testing portion. You’re adding another player to the team, so involving the actual team will ensure you’re selecting the best fit in both skill and culture.


„It is very important for {testing} to not be just a recruiting tool, but for it to be a team-building tool.“ – Valerie Warnock

These things should define your process. So how do you test candidates efficiently, and allow time for a follow-up? I have a few options.


1) Use a hackathon for your process, and test candidates live over 1-2 days.

You’ll have time to pick and choose who is doing the type of work you’re looking for and evaluate their coding skills, and involving your team in the mentorship process will also allow you to efficiently spot best culture fits. Your team members will feel valuable from your trust in their involvement in the selection process, boosting team morale. Plus, if you do a hackathon through a hackathon agency, the team will handle the sourcing and follow-up of candidates for you, improving your efficiency. This will also heighten your brand image and awareness to your target set of candidates, showing that you value your engineering department and strive to make their work innovative and fun.

  • Follow-Up: check
  • Testing: Check
  • Efficiency: Check
  • Team Building: check
  • POSITIVE buzz, with no ghosting rumours: check.


2) Invite 2-3 candidates at a time for a half day trial at your company.

Much like a hackathon, this allows you to test more than one person at once, and you get a feel for their coding skills while seeing how they do in your culture. This also means that you’ll have fewer candidates your testing, and therefore, less time needed for follow up.

  • Follow-Up: check
  • Testing: Check
  • Efficiency: Check
  • Team Building: check

Remember: a good developer is always hungry to learn more. A good developer will always pursue knowledge. If your role doesn’t give them the opportunity to become better, how can you change that?

Every company has something sexy to offer, now you have to figure out what it is!


The Author: Ashley Crawford has pushed for diversity in every workplace she’s been a part of. She’s helped those companies hire more diverse engineers. She now helps recruiters with finding the candidates they seek through unique events.

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