How to Successfully Recruit Product Managers and Technical Roles

July 16, 2014 5:05 pm Published by Will Thomson

How to Recruit Product Managers & Technical Roles

Recruiting is evolving right in front of us. The way we recruit today is much different than it was 10 years ago, and I would even go as far as saying that in the past 2-3 years a revolution has occurred that has inherently broken recruiting as we know it. Technical recruiting is one of the areas where we have seen the most change. Three years ago the buzz was all about LinkedIn. Back then we were taught that it was the best social platform for finding candidates, but I don’t believe that’s the case anymore. 

The economic pendulum has swung and hiring has picked up again. With the demand for technically proficient people and product managers growing at an astonishing rate, it seems like every organization is struggling to find the right talent to fit into their “puzzle.” These companies are looking for the “wicked” smart people who aren’t only technically capable, but have excellent communication skills across the board. However, there’s simply not enough of these individuals to go around and recruiters are all pulling from the same group of potential candidates.

So, what’s the answer? Why are some of us more successful in recruiting product managers and technical people  than others are? I wish I could give you an easy answer, but I can’t. Instead, I am going to give you a very broad answer. Maybe one day in the near future it won’t be as difficult, but as it stands today these are the obstacles recruiters have to overcome.

Think like your candidates

If you’re looking for technical people, you need to think like they do. You need to be bright and analytical to understand their concerns, and go to the sites they like to hang out on. In other words, you have to be like an undercover private investigator and LIVE the life of an engineer. Once you have their interest, you’ll need to move FAST because at the end of the day we have to attract the right people quickly. It will boil down to your sales skills. The companies with the best salary, stock options and sign-on bonuses will succeed, unless your story alone is compelling enough to pique their interest.

Yes, most technical candidates have a LinkedIn profile and you can probably find them there. But don’t expect their profile to be completely up-to-date. They probably won’t have all of their skills listed because they don’t want to be bombarded by recruiters. You could spam them and get a low return rate on your InMails. While you could find hires that way, though I wouldn’t certainly wouldn’t rely on it.  

You need to go deeper than that. Technical people like coding — they like hanging out in user groups, being on GitHub and blogging about the latest and greatest tech developments. The secret is to be creative in finding them and once you do, you need to talk their language. What excites them? What gets them out of bed every morning? Is it Ruby, Node, Java or iOS development? Is it managing people or seeing a product to completion? Do the like the thrill of a startup or stability?

It’s important to focus on one specific area. You can really dive into a skill set by focusing on two or three cities. Socially, there are groups where people talk about what their passion is. You can find them on a Facebook group. If you are going to find them on Facebook, you better offer something of interest. They may have a secret group and if you are trusted, they will let you in. You can also do candidate or company-targeted searches via Facebook’s Graph Search.

You can try tweeting. Remember, it isn’t about who you follow, but following the right people. So if you are going to tweet, start following and engaging with the people that you are targeting. Try not to focus on who follows you. 

Big data is becoming increasingly important and people who adopt into the big data model will have head start on those who don’t. Why spam individuals when your response rate can be close to 100% by knowing exactly WHO to target?

Boolean searches are still alive and well and using Google is still a key part in finding the hard-to-find candidate.  The ones who are better at it will be able to identify talent easier.

Most importantly, referrals are still a big piece when attracting and recruiting product managers and technical roles. The chances of them knowing someone is very high so utilize your employee referral program.

So, while this was a long drawn out answer to a simple question, the fact remains that there is a limited pool of individuals that have the specific skill sets that you may be looking for to recruit product managers or technical positions. 

Just wait though, before you figure it out it will change again.

I wish you the best of luck!

This post was written by Will Thomson