In 2024, technical hiring is about more than just finding someone who can code. The tech industry is constantly evolving, and as a result, so are the skills required to excel in it.
MIT Technology Review Insights conducted a survey in 2023 that revealed 64% of respondents believe candidates for their IT and tech jobs lack the necessary skills or experience. Another 56% cite an overall shortage of candidates as a concern. Even more shocking — Korn Ferry predicts that by 2030, more than 85 million jobs might go unfilled because there aren’t enough skilled people to take them.
The solution? Stop sifting through piles of resumes or relying on experience over skills to source top talent for your tech recruiting efforts. In this rapidly evolving landscape, it’s more important than ever to leverage cutting-edge tools and strategies to find the best technical candidates.
That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of technical recruitment. Whether you’re looking for full-stack developers, data scientists, or cybersecurity experts, we’ve got the tips and tricks to help you find the perfect fit for your team.
TL;DR — Key Takeaways
Hiring tech talent is difficult because it’s expensive, the skills needed to succeed on the job are constantly changing, the hiring landscape is competitive, the hiring processes are long, and technical recruiters are prone to hiring bias.
Working with technical recruiters can help by reducing your time to hire, building great talent pipelines, improving your employer brand, and connecting you with top talent.
Technical recruiters (and the technical candidates they source for companies) need a good mix of hard and soft skills to be able to find the right technical talent quickly and at a low cost.
Relying on skills-based assessments at the beginning of the hiring process can help weed out candidates lacking the necessary technical skills to succeed on the job, ultimately saving time, money, and business resources.
Hiring for top technical skills in 2024
According to Techopedia, the most sought-after technical skills of 2024 include blockchain development, AI and machine learning, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and data science.
While candidates with a technical background rooted in these skills can earn a pretty penny, the demand for such skills has made them rare, resulting in a highly competitive job market. Top tech talent with these sought-after skills will be hard to come by, making the hiring process extremely difficult for even the most experienced hiring manager.
Another Techopedia report revealed that having an agile mindset will be crucial for employers and employees looking to stay ahead in today’s AI-driven tech market. Martha Angle, VP of Talent Management and Inclusion at OneStream Software said, “Relying solely on an MIS degree to demonstrate technical proficiency is no longer sufficient.”
Identifying the specific technical skills required for the role you’re hiring for is crucial, but it’s also important to keep an open mind. Look for candidates with an agile mindset and curious nature — the ones with experience (or at least an interest in) tech stacks beyond Java and Python.
Tech professionals have an advantage [in the face of AI]. Their skill sets are highly marketable to the tremendous opportunities for tech roles in other industries. They also have the background and ability to simplify upskilling for the new AI-based roles.”Cliff Jurkiewicz, Vice Predsident of Global Strategy at Phenom
Top 5 challenges of hiring technical talent
What makes it so hard to find candidates in today’s tech marketing? The ongoing skills shortage isn’t isolated to the tech industry after all (66% of employees in the US agree that they need to acquire new skills to be successful in their jobs).
However, the rapid advancement of technology has put a particularly heavy strain on the tech hiring market. Here are some of the things keeping your hiring team or technical recruiter up at night.
1. Top tech talent is expensive
The average salary of a developer in the United States is anywhere from $95-133k per year, and a senior cloud engineer makes up to $198k on average. No matter which technical role you’re hiring for, it’s going to cost a huge chunk of money to fill it. Factor in the hiring costs, and you’ll quickly realize that making the wrong hire can blow a giant hole in your budget.
Since the high demand for technical positions doesn’t seem to be dying down any time soon (remember, there’s a shortage of qualified candidates on the market right now), one of the main difficulties of sourcing candidates is finding great candidates that fit within your hiring budget.
If you don’t have the money to waste on a bad hire, explore strategies such as:
Hiring contractors or part-time employees
Hiring off-shore or near-shore in areas with a lower cost of living
Trying alternative hiring channels instead of expensive job boards
Outsourcing the work to a recruitment agency specializing in sourcing candidates for tech roles
Offering better benefits, such as great PTO policies, equity, remote work, and other non-monetary incentives
Now, don’t take this to mean you should short-change the best candidates. It’s still important to offer a highly competitive compensation package to attract suitable candidates. Even if you can offer a competitive salary, you should still include non-monetary incentives to sweeten the deal.
2. Technical skills are constantly changing
Unless you’re a software developer yourself (and honestly, even if you are), staying up to date with the latest technology is very difficult.
Programming languages and frameworks change on a monthly basis, and for a tech recruiter, that means staying out of the loop and asking for the wrong skills in the job description won’t just make them look silly — it also means fewer applicants.
As a tech recruiter, you need to not only be familiar with the changes in the technology industry but also know how to identify and assess relevant skills related to those changes. There are two main things that can help here:
☝️ Hire candidates who are capable of continuous learning and have an adaptable mindset. Technology will only continue to advance even more rapidly, and you want someone able to keep up with (and perhaps even relish) those changes.
✌️ Always collect relevant information before putting up a job ad. Know what skills are currently needed for a candidate to make a real impact on the job, whether that’s data analysis, cloud computing, or machine learning skills.
Learn from competitors, online job boards, as well as hiring tools such as Toggl Hire that have question banks for specific technical roles.
3. Competitive hiring landscape
You’re not the only one looking to hire developers, QAs, or data analysts. Even companies outside the traditional tech sphere are in a rush to grab great tech talent to stay competitive. To stand out among other companies looking for a good hire, you’ll need to offer more than just a great salary.
To become a more attractive employer:
Invest in employer branding activities
Never stop building a great talent pool
Stay in touch with previous and potential applicants
Showcase your company culture on your website, blog, and social media
Attend job fairs and industry events
Last and perhaps most important, aim to build strong relationships with the candidates who apply for your roles. You can maintain a great candidate experience by making the application process easy and being transparent about how you hire, among other things.
4. Eliminating hiring bias
Hiring bias is common in all areas of hiring, including tech recruitment. It happens when we favor a certain candidate (or a group) and discriminate against other applicants.
As a result, the technical recruitment process is not only unfair and produces bad hires, but it’s also illegal, violating relevant labor laws. Instead of finding the perfect candidate with the right skills, you end up with an army of lookalikes that may seem coherent but are far from the best choice for the job.
To combat unconscious bias in tech recruiting, try the following:
Use blind screening with tools such as Toggl Hire
Rely on assessment techniques that focus on skills rather than experience or personality
Invest in more structured ways to properly conduct technical interviews
Use tools such as Textio to check your job ads for unconscious bias before the ad goes live
There are many advantages to having a more diverse workforce. Without trying to cover them all, just consider this: diverse companies have a 2.5x higher cash flow per employee. Simply put, removing bias in the technical recruitment process benefits everyone involved.
5. Long hiring processes
The average hiring process in the US takes 44 days. If your time to hire falls within that average, it means that, from the moment someone applies until they sign their contract, they’ll have 44 days full of scheduling interviews and potentially receiving offers for other technology-based positions.
Basically — a long interview process full of complex screening steps and assessments could be the difference between hiring the right candidates and losing out on top performers. If you’re taking too long to make a decision, your top candidates might just opt for a more decisive employer who is ready to pull the trigger.
To streamline the hiring process, try the following:
Remove resumes and cover letters from the equation and use skills tests instead
Refine your screening process to remove the most unqualified candidates quickly
Focus on the best applicants rather than wasting time with just about everyone — set a threshold for your skills test and only talk to candidates that go above it
By expediting your hiring process, you’ll see vast improvements in your tech recruiting efforts. You’ll notice a shorter time to hire, a faster time to fill, and an improved candidate experience. Last but not least, your cost of hiring drops with each day saved, too.
The cost per hire recruiting metric is directly connected with time-to-hire. The longer it takes to fill an open vacancy, the higher your internal recruiting costs will be. To keep both numbers in check, look for opportunities to optimize your recruitment process — introduce extra HR technology or experiment with new sourcing strategies.
The case for hiring technical recruiters
If you’re struggling to fill technical roles, you might just need an extra set of hands. Hiring a tech recruiter as a contractor or a full-time addition to your team can be just what your company needs. Here’s why.
⏳ Reduce time to hire
A good technical recruiter can help streamline your hiring process, reduce time to fill, and find someone great who fits into your budget. With their previous experience in this field, they know the technical jargon and have the network and knowledge to identify great candidates quickly.
🧑💻 Source top tech talent
If your business wants to source tech talent, you’ll need to start from scratch, and specialized tech recruiters have a major advantage — an existing network of skilled professionals they communicate with daily. They also know which candidates are passively looking for roles.
📌 Build a strong talent pipeline
Technical recruiting professionals help you build and maintain a talent pipeline of solid tech candidates instead of starting from scratch every time you start looking for a good hire. They build long-lasting connections and engage with candidates to sell more than the compensation.
🖤 Improve employer brand
Tech recruiters know exactly what makes tech employees’ hearts melt and can improve the candidate experience by highlighting the best aspects of your business, such as the team they’ll be working with, the technologies you focus on, future career growth prospects, and more.
Technical recruiter responsibilities
To be successful in their jobs, technical recruiters need a certain set of skills that extend beyond knowing how to properly interview tech candidates. Whether you hire them in-house or outsource the work to an agency, these are the technical recruiter skills to look out for.
Technical knowledge: While they don’t need to come from a tech background, a specialized recruiter should understand frameworks, programming languages, and the most recent tech trends
Up-to-date on tech trends: Recruiters need to be aware of which technologies are trending (and critical) and which ones belong in the 1990s
Screening and assessment: They should be able to quickly assess candidates at a glance, whether using specialized hiring tools or candidate assessment tools
Hiring tools: Whether relying on coding assessments, interview tools, applicant tracking systems, or other tools, a great tech recruiter knows how to navigate today’s top tools
Exceptional communication skills: Being able to connect with developers and spark their interest in the role without being overly salesy is a top soft skill for most technical recruiters
Cultural fit assessment: They should know how to assess your company culture, mission, vision, and values to determine if the candidate is a good fit for your organization
How to hire a technical recruiter
If you want to make a dent in the tech industry and plan for the future, hiring a technical recruiter is a great idea. Here’s how to find and hire your own technical recruiting expert.
While tech recruiters rely heavily on skills assessment to source candidates for technical jobs, you can also use skills tests to find a technical recruiter to complement your current hiring team. Just use our technical recruiter skills test. 👇
Understand your company’s needs
Consider how many technical positions you need to fill, what kind of skills gap you have, and what your hiring timeline is. While you’re at it, find out what your biggest challenges are when it comes to tech recruitment. Whether it’s building a talent pipeline, attracting high-quality candidates, or something else — figure it out early on so you can find a recruiter to help you solve those issues.
Create a technical recruiter profile
Create an ideal candidate profile for your new tech recruiter. Ask hiring managers or others what the must-haves and nice-to-haves are for the new addition to your team. Some requirements might include knowledge of technical terms, experience with specific hiring tools, unique sourcing strategies, etc.
Test for technical hiring skills
To find out if a candidate has the right tech recruitment skills, use a skills test from Toggl Hire. Dig into our library of 250+ pre-built hiring tests, including those for (technical) recruiters. Use a pre-built assessment or create your own questions. For example, you can create a question asking potential candidates how they would find an Angular developer in a short time frame with a limited hiring budget.
Consider hiring a contract recruiter
Consider hiring a contract technical recruiter if your hiring needs are short-term or project-based. Contract recruiters bring a wealth of experience and connections, and you don’t have to commit to hiring them full-time (which can further reduce your hiring costs).
How do you hire the best tech talent?
Now that you know how to find technical recruiters, let’s take things one step further. Here are some ways you can hire the best tech talent in the market (that have been tried and tested by our own internal technical team!).
1. Define your ideal candidate
The same tip from above applies here: determine the necessary qualifications for the new hire, but remember that ideal doesn’t always mean you’re going to find your exact match. However, having all the requirements and “nice-to-haves” in one place helps later when writing a job description.
Outline the experience, qualifications, soft skills, and culture fit the candidate needs to have to work successfully on your team. Focus on the specific programming languages, experience in similar roles, problem-solving abilities, and more. Really, the more specific, the better.
2. Write enticing job descriptions
Don’t copy and paste job descriptions from online resources or other employers. Highlight the uniqueness of your position to stand out among a sea of competitors hiring for similar technical roles.
For example, if you’re hiring software developers, mention they’ll be able to collaborate with coworkers with experience on tech teams such as Google, Microsoft, or Slack (only if that’s true, of course!). Mention there are ample opportunities for growth and how your team works with emerging technologies, and provide examples of exactly what that looks like.
3. Gamify the technical recruiting process
The best software development experts get bombarded with job offers daily. Be different. Go beyond the typical application process and gamify your hiring.
Hackathons and coding challenges are great ways to attract top tech talent, but skills tests are also an easy way to spice things up. Regardless of how you implement this recruiting tactic, it’s likely to improve the entire process. 78% of applicants state that having gamification in the hiring process would make an employer more desirable.
4. Use skills assessments
When used as the first step of the tech recruitment process, skills assessments greatly improve the candidate experience (we have an 80% candidate satisfaction rate and are nearly constantly hiring tech talent). Instead of uploading their resumes or writing lengthy cover letters, candidates can take a short, fun 15-minute test to find out if they’re a good fit.
Even better — skills assessments serve as a fantastic way to automatically filter unqualified candidates and focus only on those worth your time. Even those who don’t meet your minimum threshold score will benefit from automatic, actionable feedback so they can improve their skills for future applications.
Employers have traditionally relied on criteria such as education or years of experience to indicate whether a candidate can perform a job. Skills-based hiring aims to look beyond those traditional markers and screen for specific competencies, focusing on the skills that are applicable to the role.Sam Dooley, IrishJobs
5. Offer flexible or remote work options
83% of employees with flexibility in the workplace have a positive outlook on the organization’s culture. Out of all the non-monetary incentives, this is probably the easiest one to implement, especially in tech-related roles.
If you offer remote or flexible work options, highlight that in the job description and explain exactly what you mean by “remote” or “flexible.” Mention where the candidates can work from, what time zones they need to be in, and whether they need to come into the office at any point in time.
6. Offer timely feedback
Tell the candidates quickly if they’re advancing to the next stage. If they’re not, explain why. This is important for two reasons…
First of all, it’s just the right thing to do. Apart from the ethical factor, offering feedback to candidates helps boost your employer brand and ensures you can attract the best talent in the future, too (because you can bet they’ll be reading those interview reviews on Glassdoor).
Offering feedback is also a great way to avoid getting ghosted by tech candidates, too. According to a Greenhouse survey, over a third of US-based candidates have ghosted employers during the hiring process because the company “didn’t meet expectations or they had a poor interview experience.”
We understand that offering feedback is an exhausting part of tech recruitment, but much of it can be automated. For example, you can set up auto-reject emails for candidates who don’t pass the initial screening. The closer someone is to the final stage, the more personalized and detailed the feedback should be.
7. Create professional development programs
While not tech-specific, 86% of professionals say that they would change jobs if a new company offered them more opportunities for professional development. This is likely even higher for top tech talent with an interest in constantly upskilling or reskilling to stay ahead of their competitors.
By advertising your commitment to continuous learning and skill-building, you can appeal to the ambitious and forward-thinking individuals that will drive your company’s success. Plus, providing resources for growth and development can lead to increased job satisfaction, reduced turnover rates, and a more skilled and innovative workforce.
Hire technical talent with skills tests
Whether you’re looking to hire an amazing technical recruiter or you’re looking for technical talent in-house, these tips should help you get on the right track. Remember: simplify the application process, improve the candidate experience, and highlight why your company is a great choice for the candidate.
If that sounds like too much to take on right now, let us handle a huge part of that workload for you. Toggl Hire’s test library is full of ready-made skills assessment tests for technical roles, including Java Backend Developer and Engineering Manager.
Save time and find the best talent by exploring our skills test library to find the ideal test for filling your next tech role!
Mile is a B2B content marketer specializing in HR, martech and data analytics. Ask him about thoughts on reducing hiring bias, the role of AI in modern recruitment, or how to immediately spot red flags in a job ad.