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Tech Hiring 101: Preparing to Reach Out to a Candidate

1 April 2019 , by Robyn Luyt

Reaching out to developers you want to hire for your team is hard because it takes a lot of time and effort. At the same time, there's no guarantee that your opportunity sticks out to high-in-demand candidates. That's why you need to reach out to a lot of potential candidates without compromising on quality. Here are some of the things you should consider before you start.


The reality of hiring in the tech industry is that the demand for quality tech talent far outstrips supply, and, as a result, developers have the luxury of picking the job opportunity that suits them best. This means you have to build your hiring approach around this reality if you're serious about hiring the best people for your team.

We've helped over 2000 companies on OfferZen hire quality tech talent over the last three years, which means we've witnessed the tactics that set successful companies apart from the rest. That's why we've put together a list of the basics you need to consider before this first interaction.

Choose the right person to reach out

Before you do anything else, it's important to choose the person who will be responsible for reaching out to the candidates of your specific role. You don't want your team to accidentally reach out to the same candidate more than once, because this would seem unprofessional and disorganised.

Choose the person closest to the role you are hiring for. They're more likely to be able to answer follow-up questions. On top of this, this person is also most likely to know which attributes and skills to look out for in a potential candidate. So, if you're hiring for a developer, it would be best to have the head of the product or tech team reach out and send the first message.

Tip: Make sure that the person reaching out has the capacity to do this. Hiring takes a lot of time and should be made a priority if you're serious about getting the right people for your team.

Choose the most appropriate channel

Once you know who is going to reach out to the candidates of your specific role, you need to decide how and where you're going to do it.

Having a clear plan of action minimises the overhead involved in jumping between different channels because you know exactly where to expect responses from candidates. It will also help your chosen hiring manager, and any other important stakeholders, keep track of all the candidates you have lined up.

Choose one to two appropriate channels, like email or LinkedIn, for reaching out to candidates and stick to these channels. For example, even if the hiring manager meets a potential candidate at a tech meetup, they would still reach out to the candidate over the agreed upon channel as soon as possible.

Tip: As far as possible, avoid having too many channels because this will only increase the time and effort it takes to manage your pipeline.

Prepare your first message

You want to make sure that your first message to a candidate is convincing and engaging because it might be the only info a candidate uses to decide whether or not your opportunity is something they're interested in. On top of this, developers are one of the most sought after positions so are likely to have tons of job opportunities shared with them on a regular basis, which means you want to make sure that yours really stands out.

Actually writing this first message involves crafting your employer value proposition, personalising the message, offering additional relevant information and prompting for a response. We've written an entire article explaining how you can go about writing a great first message to a candidate, but you can also take a look at the example of a message that could be sent over a channel, like Slack, below:

Hi [name],

I'm the product team lead at OfferZen and I'm currently looking for a full-stack developer to join our team. You really stood out as someone with a diverse mix of coding experience since you've worked with Ruby on Rails and RedShift. I love that you created your own mobile app!

Our mission at OfferZen is to help people unlock their potential by building awesome software. We've grown to 60+ team members over the last three years, but we still have lunch together every day. And because we're big on being part of the tech community, we also make sure that our teams attend awesome conferences like DevConf ZA. I see that you're excited about machine learning, so I think you'd love working here!

Our product team consists of developers and data scientists who work in small, autonomous squads. We host on Heroku, use Rails for our back-end, React/Redux for our front-end, and have a couple of Python microservices. You can check out our full tech stack on our public company profile.

Do you think this sounds like something you'd be interested in? If you'd like a bit more info, you can find out more about the role here or read about working at OfferZen here.

If you're interested, you can reply to this message and we can set up a time to chat. Otherwise, feel free to reach out to me over email at XXXX@offerzen.com.

Looking forward to hearing from you!



Tip: Even though you're trying to optimise for reaching out to as many candidates as possible, you should still take the time to personalise each message because this shows that you've made the effort to make sure that the person is a good fit for the role.

Optimise for speed

Now that you're all prepared to reach out, you want to optimise your process so that you can start targeting the candidates who meet your hiring needs as quickly as possible. Because developers have no shortage of options, even one day could be the difference between securing the right person for your team or missing out on the chance altogether.

By now, you've prepped the first message, so the process should be much easier and quicker to carry out. But, saving this message as a draft in a place where you can easily access it will give you the extra edge.

In reality, optimising for speed could mean sending that first message at 8PM at night or even over the weekend. Looking for the right people for your team shouldn't just be reserved for the typical nine-to-five day, and you want to make sure that the person tasked with this reponsibility understands this.

Tip: Consider writing a few versions of your first message so that you can easily pick the one that is the most appropriate for the context and channel.

Be ready to be extremely responsive

The work doesn't stop once you've sent the first message. Some candidates might have follow-up questions and you want to make sure that you have enough time to respond to these as soon as possible.

If you're slow to respond, you are actually blocking your own hiring process. On top of that, a quick and useful response is a great way to show candidates that you, your team and your company make hiring the right people a priority.

It's important to make sure that the person responsible for reaching out to candidates has enough capacity to not only send the first message, but manage the pipeline and respond to follow-up questions. You also want to make sure that this person understands the role and business well enough so that they can answer follow-up questions effectively.

It's a good idea to regularly check pipeline health to ensure that all follow-up questions and messages have been answered within a decent time frame, like 24 hours. You could even make sure that slots are scheduled in each day to respond to follow-up questions.

Tip: Consider preparing a list of follow-up questions that you think candidates might have about the role or your company, and draft responses to each of these so that you can respond quickly and easily.

Useful resources


Have you found this article useful? Let us know in the comments below which other hiring tips you'd like to see!

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