Talent Acquisition

Engineering is eating Recruiting

Elliott Garms
August 23, 2021

We're at the end of an era. The era of spam and abusing email is ending. The era of non technical people in charge of building highly technical teams is ending.  "Engineering eating Recruiting" means the "Engineering first" or "Tech First" mindset will be dominant in how tech recruiting teams operate in the future. Coronavirus will accelerate this.

Engineering is generally not happy with the results. Engineering is realizing that relying on non-technical people to build highly technical teams doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Engineering is asking about the budget HR / Recruiting gets. Engineering has ideas on how to improve what HR / Recruiting is doing.

Engineering has critical hiring needs and engineering orgs seem to be collectively realizing they’re better off filling those needs themselves than they are outsourcing it (internally or externally). Engineering gets what they want…

Richard Rosenow who works in People Analytics at Uber recently wrote about this trend from a different angle, the savvy HR Tech/ People Analytics teams within tech co’s are made up more and more of technical people, not traditional inside sales/telemarketer recruiters:

“The trend that has caught my attention is the recent increase in product roles appearing in the HR and People Analytics functions. By product roles I mean the collection of roles required to create software products (e.g. product managers, data engineers, software engineers, and machine learning engineers)."

Richard’s observation shows that this is a hard trend for all HR / People Analytics -- but for engineering orgs specifically, the techies already have the talent on the team.. And they have the needs (which they’re feeling the pain of those needs not getting filled). Because of that, I think you'll see a lot more engineering orgs building a version of the platform/team Richard describes in his people analytics post, first for their engineering org exclusively before serving other departments. 

Richards' post goes on to quote Ian O’Keefe who works in People Analytics at Amazon. When Ian was asked about what he looks for when hiring on his team at Amazon his answer was this:

"Engineering culture is real. As engineering creeps into more and more "traditionally non-technical departments" (salesops, marketing, tech, HR, etc.), engineering culture is becoming more and more prominent. Engineers want honesty and transparency. "

There's a disconnect between honesty/transparency and how tech recruiting at most tech companies are working towards their technical hiring goals (spamming). 

According to Ian's description above, it seems engineering culture is most definitely expanding into HR / People Analytics, etc. And for good reason! It blows my mind that brainlessly calling/emailing people about an abstract craft you know nothing about has been the leading mode of operation for so long...

Let's face it, spamming/writing template emails is lying at its core. Engineers see spam as an invasion of their email inbox and a disrespectful slap in the face from the recruiters who assume they can trick the engineers with these tactics. Engineering culture is just asking recruiters to be honest and intentional. And I agree! Engineering focused orgs/companies with engineering in their dna should not be outsourcing their recruiting efforts (internally or externally) to people who don't understand engineering culture.


1) Spam / Email Abuse a.k.a. LYING! dies for the greater tech industry, specifically as the core tactic/activity for growing/building an engineering org. (check out the Basecamp crew's new email product: hey.com)

2) Recruiting becomes way more data driven. I see great similarities between “data driven recruiting” and how high frequency trading evolved the trading industry. In that lens “Data driven recruiting” could also be thought of as “high frequency recruiting” i.e. getting more data faster than your competition so you can make more informed decisions faster.

Use data to understand what the market of the talent a company is interested in looks like. Similar to how startups have a good understanding of their "total addressable market" and what their "go-to-market strategy" is, engineering recruiting teams will have good data supporting what they believe the addressable market of candidates to be. They will also have good data supporting why they're go-to-market strategy to engage that talent will work.

>How many people know Go in the USA?

>How many in Chicago specifically? Or at least +/- 3 hours of CST time zone?

>How many that also know Elasticsearch? 

>“80% of the candidate pool we’re interested in is actually active in “the Midwest Gopher meetup” -- maybe we should sponsor Midwest Gopher for the next 3-6 months instead of spamming those candidates individually?”

>Use data to measure what resonates and what doesn't with their ideal profile tech candidates (do you have product market fit?)

>Use data to find a much smaller list of candidates, then actually write those candidates because you are genuinely excited about the potential for them joining you for truly real and intentional reasons.

>Stop measuring the wrong metrics that support spamming and bad practices: how many InMail's did you send today?

3) Quality content / advertising will replace email spamming candidates.

Companies will adopt a blended approach of highly targeted, highly personalized outreach to the most scarce and critical talent pools and the other part brand building similar to what you see in the consumer space with companies like Coca-Cola, Jeep, Patagonia, etc. Rather than spamming developers and tarnishing their brand, tech co's will start to invest in high quality content/commercials/influencer marketing/brand partnerships/etc. Companies will promote this high quality content across all digital mediums as well as TV, print, digital, etc. 

The organizations that are using this approach will outmaneuver and outperform those who aren't in the next wave of hiring the top people. Coke and Jeep's brands are all about how you feel when using their products and so is personalized outreach that is connected to engineering culture.

A consumer's options at the local grocery store soft drink section are very similar to a techies options in this job market. Companies will soon realize that spamming the daylights out of people is not how you get them to drink your drink...

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