Being an attractive company for tech talent is ever more important in a remote world where candidates can work for any tech company from anywhere in the world. Peter Ferreira, Head of Recruitment at Dariel, has found that focusing on authenticity is the key to attracting great talent in our new online world. He shares some of the ways he has been doing this, and why it’s proved more effective than just scrubbing job boards.
Whether or not you are hiring remotely, other companies are — and that means you’re competing for tech talent on a global scale. Peter has been in tech recruitment for a long time, but the global shift to more remote-friendly workplaces has meant that he’s had to redefine the way he sees his role.
In this new remote world, where candidates can work for almost any company in the world, Peter says that simply headhunting tech talent can’t guarantee you that those engineers will want to join your team.
In a remote world, most people will experience your company through your recruitment process. For Peter, this means thinking about how his hiring process is geared towards talent attraction, and not just acquisition.
He explains: “The [recruitment] role has changed to more of a candidate advocate and talent attraction expert, I believe, than a talent acquisition expert.”
Peter defines the difference between these two things as follows:
- Talent acquisition: Mass reach-out and job-board scrubbing, pushy messaging, quantity of engagement
- Talent attraction: Reaching out to a specific person/persona, empathetic messaging and giving people the option to engage, quality of engagement
“While it’s good to engage in both”, Peter explains, “I think the key difference is: Talent acquisition is acquiring someone’s details to put them into your process, and talent attraction is attracting someone to your business because of the messages you’re putting out there.”
In his experience, winning at talent attraction comes down to how you engage with candidates in your hiring process so that they don’t feel like they’re one of a hundred people:
“Now, my business can compete with Twitter — and Twitter with my business — for the same talent anywhere in the world. I think the only way to be successful in tech recruitment nowadays is to legitimately make the candidate feel like they are getting a personalised experience — and not use smoke and mirrors to give that appearance.”
That means that recruiters need to know what sets their companies apart and make that part of their hyper-personalised approach to recruitment. “There is a lot of noise” he says, talking about how many recruiters are out there trying to attract engineers’ attention, “and you need to cut through the noise to get someone to engage with you.”
Three strategies that Peter follows to champion talent attraction in his remote hiring approach include:
- Presenting yourself authentically when you show up online
- Making candidates laugh in the first two minutes of a screening call
- Using your video to help candidates lower their guard
Presenting yourself authentically when you show up online
In Peter’s experience, developers can tell when you’re trying too hard to impress them: “If the type of stuff you’re putting out is empty and inauthentic — just posting memes or billionaire’s quotes — people can smell that when they talk to you. No one wants to deal with someone that is inauthentic.”
With recruitment in particular, Peter says this comes up in the way a recruiter writes a job spec. In his experience, many recruiters just list the tech stacks and the skills someone needs for a specific role. However, instead of telling someone what a job means, his advice is to tell candidates what makes your job spec and your company different to the other ones that they’re looking at:
“Everyone knows that if you’re hiring a stock controller, they’re going to control stock. You don’t need to tell them again. Make it about what’s different about you, or what’s different about the place you work. If you don’t believe in the job you’re selling to these people at that level, then you’re dead in the water.”
Part of being authentic means being able to follow through with what you promise in a job spec. Even if you have the most amazing job spec out there, that puts your company in a great light and attracts hundreds of applicants, you will only really win if you can follow through with those promises: “You need to interrogate that as a recruiter and ask, ‘Am I actually telling people the truth?’ — because your word is your bond. If you lie to someone, they’ll remember you forever.”
A tip from Peter to set yourself up well to deliver on promises is to focus more on the candidate than the business: “The first thing is to make sure that your job ad has what’s in it for them. It should be a lot of what’s in it for them and not so much what’s in it for the business. When someone’s interested in you as an individual like that, people can feel that.”
Make candidates laugh in the first two minutes of a screening call
In Peter’s opinion, part of being authentic is being vulnerable. In recruitment, this is crucial for letting candidates know that you’re not being pushy, and you’re treating them like people.
Peter’s approach for creating this kind of vulnerable space is to get candidates to lower their guard, and one of his favourite hacks to do that effectively is to make someone laugh within the first two minutes of their first screening call. This lets them know it’s a safe space, and helps them open up more during their interview:
“For example, I messaged a candidate and said, ‘Hey, are we able to chat earlier?’, and she made this typo in her reply, ‘I’m Fred when you are". When we spoke, I said, ‘Hello, it’s Fred speaking’ — and she was immediately ‘disarmed’ from the first sentence. It felt more like a chat between friends after that.”
Use your video to help candidates lower their guard
Many recruiters find that videos don’t let them pick up on a candidate’s body language as effectively as an in-person meeting, but Peter has found that seeing someone in their home environment is actually a better way to make space for vulnerability.
Seeing into someone’s space helps Peter to focus his process on the candidate more so than on him — for example, getting candidates to tell him about a picture in the background of their video, rather than showing off his office facilities.
“I’ve found that people are also, in general, more at ease on Zoom”, Peter says. “I think devs in particular are more used to engaging via video conference or text, so I personally found that people are less guarded on video calls than when they come into a physical interview.”
Showing interest in what he sees in someone’s video also helps him show up authentically. He’d much rather spend the first 10 minutes hearing about this candidate’s home setup, than tell them about the job requirements.
That said, Peter acknowledges that this hyper-personalised and talent attraction focused approach can be a little more time and effort-intensive for recruiters: “It requires a lot of work, I’m not gonna lie — but I do think that you can use strategies to make candidates feel at ease and see them as a real person, which will give them a better experience over-all.” At the end of the day, showing that you care about who is joining your team will reflect better on your company as a whole.