The following sections describe some of the more successful ways that top software development organizations recruit their best talent. Techniques discussed include internal referrals, campus recruiting, agencies, newspaper, and other print media ads, job fairs, Internet ads, and perhaps one of the least considered , acquisitions. No matter if you use one of these techniques or all of them, what you should do is establish metrics. If you were to invest $10,000 in any of these techniques, how many successful new hires could you expect to gain from each one? Good metrics will not only help you spend your recruitment dollars wisely, but can also help you justify the recruitment expense in the first place.
Successful software development organizations usually find a large number of their new hires from internal referrals. Good developers typically know other developers and are perhaps the best judge of how suitable a candidate is to join their team. Furthermore, few developers would want to work with a poor performer, even if he or she were a close friend. Many software development organizations further encourage internal referrals through some sort of employee referral program. Among high-tech companies it is not uncommon to find referral bonuses of $1,000 to $5,000 or more for referring new software developers. As such programs have become quite commonplace, leading companies try to provide further incentives such as entering each employee whose referral is hired into a drawing for further cash or other incentive prizes ranging from stock options to weekend getaways and exotic vacations . The total cash outlay is still less than what would be charged by most technical recruitment agencies.
Campus recruitment is another place many development organizations look to find new talent. While the top universities may offer the best chance of finding great developers, the competition there will also be most fierce. There are several ways to increase your chance at college recruiting. First, you should select what schools you are going try and recruit from. When targeting a school for recruitment, try to find out as much as you can about the school to determine if you want to expend your resources recruiting there. Some schools have great technical reputations that are based on their electrical engineering or physics departments and may not concentrate at all on software development. The school's web page is always a good place to start if you are not familiar with a particular school. If there are alumni of the school in your organization, they are another good source of information. Finally, don't forget to contact the school's career center and discuss what skills you are looking for. The more information you have the better.
Besides a school's reputation, there are other items to consider when choosing a school to recruit from. You should consider not only the school's reputation for producing software development talent, but also consider the school's location. If the school is not local to your work location, relocation of the new hire will be another consideration. Of course many students are willing to relocate for a great job but it is likely to be an issue with at least some candidates. Finally, try to get current employees who are alumni of the school involved in your recruiting efforts. There is no one better than alumni to return to campus and help recruit new graduates. If alumni are not available for the actual recruiting trip, you might at least try to get them to speak via telephone with any finalists that are selected.
As with recruiting in general, don't consider campus recruiting a one-shot a year opportunity. While a majority of students graduate in the spring, good candidates are likely to be graduating at the end of each quarter or semester. There is likely to be less competition for these candidates as many companies will only interview on campus once a year. You should also look for ways to keep alumni and other interested employees involved with targeted campuses. Many schools have some sort of professional organization or affiliation program your company might get involved in. These provide extra opportunities for you to get your name in front of students and prospective employees. Also, you may want to consider internship or co-op programs. There is no better way to find great employees than to have them work part time for you while they are still in school.
An excellent example of a school- affiliated program is the UCLA Anderson School of Management's IS Associates program. For over twenty years , the IS Associates have brought together CIOs and other IS executives with students from the school's MBA program. Besides the obvious recruitment opportunities, the IS Associates events provide much-needed occasions for CIOs to network with their peers. In return, the IS executives and their companies provide financial support for the Anderson School, occasionally do duty as guest lecturers, and participate in quarterly events and seminars . The IS Associates also co-sponsor UCLA's week-long Managing the Information Resource (MIR) program. Many top CIOs and their direct reports from Los Angeles and across the world have attended this course, the second longest running such program in the country.
The reputation of technical recruitment agencies is often placed just above or below used car salesmen . Used correctly, however, a good technical recruiter can be an excellent source of software development talent for your organization. Like any group , there are good and bad recruitment agencies. The organizations that use agencies most successfully typically establish a relationship with a small number of technical recruiters who they learn to trust. You should take the time to meet with the agency and describe the types of individuals you are looking for. Having a personal relationship with the recruiter will greatly increase your chances of getting qualified leads. Be sure to take the time to provide feedback to the recruiters when you do get resumes, as this will also help them understand the type of person you are looking for.
Open the Sunday paper in any major metropolitan area and you are likely to find hundreds of advertisements for software developers, ranging from tiny two-line ads to multi-page spreads . While an expensive newspaper ad may provide you with a large number of references, you had better be prepared to screen them closely. Most software development organizations find that newspaper ads tend to generate the highest percentage of unqualified responses. What this means is you must be willing to invest the resources necessary to properly screen the resumes that you get back from newspaper ads.
One of the problems with newspaper ads is your best software developers are likely to be content in their current job and probably aren't spending their time reading the classified ads of the Sunday paper. You should consider more targeted advertisement such as in IEEE or ACM publications and journals. A one-page add in IEEE Software is at least pretty much guaranteed to be read by a software development professional, although not necessarily one looking for a job.
Job fairs can be a lot like newspaper ads in that there is no way to pre-screen the people who attend . If you are going to use job fairs for recruitment, be sure you are targeting the correct one. A general engineering job fair will have lots of attendees who have never written a line of code in their life. For the best results, try to target a job fair that is very specific to software development.
Like newspaper ads, there is no way to pre-screen who will be reading your Internet job ads. With a little extra work, however, there is a way to generally monitor who is reading your Internet ad. You should use this to your best advantage. One networking company noticed a large number of "hits" on their web site from a competitor. They modified their job listing page to automatically recognize when someone from that competitor was accessing an on-line job listing and provided them with a special banner greeting. Another company recognized that their Internet job listings were being accessed most often during working hours, when someone's boss was likely to walk around the corner. They thus added a "quick escape" button at the bottom of each job listing page that jumps you to a product catalog page. Much better, they figured, to be researching a competitor's product catalog than to be researching their job listings.
There is no end to what features you might add to an Internet job listing. The most important, however, is how easily the candidate can apply for the job if it is of interest to them. The best job listings will identify multiple ways to respond, including traditional mail, fax, e-mail resume submission, and on-line forms to request more information.
There are many reasons companies are acquired . Recruitment of software development personnel doesn't always make the top ten, but should be considered as a source of new development talent.