How to attract and recruit top tech talent in 2022 and beyond

While recruiting for technical roles isn’t easy, with the right focus, dedication, and commitment, it is possible to build out your team the way you need to in this climate.

“Report shows the tech job market is blazing hot!”

“Tech job market still smoking hot!”

“Most heated tech job market in history!”

“Tech jobs are booming!”

When I googled “tech job market” this morning, those were the first four results that popped up on my screen – articles from Forbes, Information Week, and more, all dated within the past few months. 

Of course, if you’re one of the companies in search of tech talent in this “hot, hot, hot!” job market landscape, those headlines likely don’t surprise you. 

In fact, recent data shows that while Fortune 500 companies may have scaled back their tech hiring efforts in 2021, public, startup, unicorn, and other types of companies increased their tech hiring during that same period by between 28% and 49%. 

However, you’re likely also feeling the technical recruiting crunch. You have tech talent seats to fill–product managers, engineers, developers, and so on – to support your short-term objectives and your long-term mission. And even with those positive headlines, finding top talent isn’t easy. 

At WhoCo, we specialize in empowering companies like yours to build teams that move the world forward. So, in this article, we’re going to talk about:

  • Why attracting and recruiting tech talent is so challenging 
  • The basics of positioning your company to be attractive to tech all-stars
  • What technical hires are really looking for in their next roles
  • The importance of purpose in the post-pandemic hiring era
  • And finally, what you need to avoid, so you don’t accidentally turn off tech talent

In short, while recruiting for technical roles isn’t easy, with the right focus, dedication, and commitment, it is possible to build out your team the way you need to in this climate. And we’re going to help you do it.

👉 Related: Ultimate technical recruiting guide for companies and candidates

Why hiring great tech talent is so hard

Before we dig into how you address the challenge of today’s tech job market, you first need to understand why it’s so difficult. 

Although it might be easy to shrug and blame the pandemic for our hiring woes in full, the reality is that hiring for great talent has always been challenging. Before the past few years, it wasn’t uncommon to hear of companies struggling to attract tech talent; branding, positioning, benefits, and recruiting strategies that flawlessly delivered in filling other roles were very rarely effective in attracting tech candidates. 

Of course, then COVID-19 happened, and the impacts on the job market overall (not just in tech) are still manifesting. 

The Great Resignation has brought record levels of attrition; as a result, we’ve found ourselves bombarded with headlines that there are tons of great candidates out there looking to make a change in their careers. 

But if you look at the tech job market specifically, that’s not entirely true. 

More companies than ever before are looking for technical talent to fill out their ranks. But in 2021, although the number of tech jobs posted drastically increased by 81%, the number of applications submitted by candidates for those jobs decreased by 25%.

That means if your company is currently hiring for technical roles, the landscape is more competitive than it’s been in quite some time. 

But it’s not impossible.

Have great foundational talent practices in place first

Before we discuss how to optimize your positioning and your hiring strategies for tech talent, there are a few basics that you need to lock down. More specifically, you need to have a solid strategic recruitment foundation before you go digging into the nuances of technical hiring. 

Having clear answers to some questions is essential to your recruitment success.

  • What do you do differently from other companies?
  • Why is your company a great place to work?
  • What makes working on your team unique?
  • What can they gain in experience by working at your company?
  • What does leadership at your company care about?

To effectively hire, you need to have answers authentic to your organization and attractive to your candidates. 

And because candidates for technical roles often evaluate prospective companies with a higher degree of scrutiny, this is doubly important. If you’re leading with benefits and perks but don’t know how to tell the story of who you are, what you stand for, and what your company culture is like, you’ll fail to attract the talent you need.

👉 Related: How to interview and evaluate candidates for startup jobs

Technical candidates want to solve real problems and have an impact

Beyond those foundational elements, the next piece of the puzzle is understanding that tech job candidates, for the most part, are laser-focused on getting answers to the following two questions as they evaluate a potential role:

  • “What problems will I be helping to solve directly through my work?”
  • “Will there be a measurable impact from the work I would be doing?”

For engineering candidates, in particular, these questions are critical. They want to know if the problems they get to solve through their work are exciting or unique in ways that are different from other engineering jobs out there. Moreover, they want to know if they will make a real difference as a result of solving those problems. 

👉 Related: How to find a technical recruiter on LinkedIn (+ best practices)

The takeaway here is that top tech candidates don’t want to be a cog in the machine. They want to solve fulfilling problems that have a real impact. 

And when we say “impact,” we don’t just mean at a process or product level… 

The importance of emphasizing purpose in technical recruiting 

As we touched upon briefly already, the pandemic has sparked a movement of people across all industries and roles reevaluating how work figures into their lives. In response to this shift, let’s look at how the cleantech sector has increased focus on the idea of purpose in their hiring strategies:

“In 2019, an Olivet Nazarene University study of 2,024 people found 90% of millennial respondents said it was important that their work had a positive impact on the world … 

As a model for purpose-driven work, sustainability-focused companies may provide a guide for employers. Pittsburgh-based recycling company RoadRunner Recycling is determined to shake up the practices of a stagnant industry.

By focusing directly on candidates with a passion for sustainability and related topics, the company also may present something to talent that much larger firms can't.”

Take note of this strategy. When you think about how you respond to questions from technical role candidates about the problems they will be solving or the impact they will have, yes, speak at the company level and about your business objectives. 

But don’t forget to also address those two areas at the macro level of greater purpose in an authentic and meaningful way. That’s how you can really stand out from other companies that may be offering similar opportunities. 

How to avoid accidentally turning off technical talent candidates

In addition to doing all of the “right” things to recruit amazing technical talent, you also need to be aware of what makes tech talent sour on a potential job opportunity. 

For example, all-star engineers and related tech professionals typically don’t flock to organizations using outdated technology, like coding languages and platforms. 

Generally speaking, top-tier technical talent wants to work with new technology, on the edge of where the market is right now. So, the last thing most of these candidates want to do is move to a company where they will be stuck in the past. If you’re a bit behind the eight ball from a technology perspective, you may want to consider that as an area of investment and focus; otherwise, you run the risk of attracting potentially lower-quality candidates. 

👉 Related: Why you should involve your internal team in hiring (+ how to do it)

Aside from technology, the other pitfall you need to sidestep in recruiting technical talent is not clarifying what’s unique about the challenges and potential impacts they would have in the role you’re offering. We covered that in detail in the previous sections, but it’s worth underscoring. 

Because the pool of applicants for technical roles has contracted significantly in the past two years, the candidates you’re looking for are being solicited more than ever by recruiters. To leapfrog the competition, you can’t afford not to be locked in on those talking points.

With the right focus, recruiting the tech talent you need is possible

Depending on your goals, hiring top technical talent may require you to make big changes in-house. 

For instance, if you know that technical recruiting will likely be a part of your long-term growth strategy as a company, you might think about bringing on strong technical leadership, such as an experienced engineering manager or a CTO. 

Such a move would signal your commitment to being a technology-focused company, and great talent attracts great talent. Moreover, internal technical leaders can help you improve your hiring processes and overall recruitment posture for your technical roles because they know first-hand what does and does not work.

Yes, today’s market for tech talent is brutal. And ultimately, you are the one who decides what of the advice I’ve shared here today makes sense to follow. But no matter who you are, if you commit to doing everything you can to give yourself an edge to find the right people, you can hit your technical hiring goals.