Tech Hiring Tips from CTO’s and CEO’s

January 27, 2023

I’ve been a tech recruiter since 2008 and witnessed tremendous growth in this sector over the past decade. Last year alone, the recruitment market saw over USD 500 billion in revenues and more than 30% attributed to tech-related hirings. The technology recruitment sector has shown no signs of slowing down.

With obvious opportunities ahead for tech recruiters, we see the competition heightened, as a result. Therefore, we saw the need to host a roundtable for our tech recruiter community with the aim to provide useful insights, hiring tips, and best practices. We invited the CTO of Neat, an Asia-based FinTech company, and the CEO of Toasty, a budding EvenTech startup, along with our CTO to share their thoughts on recruitment.

We had the honor to gather with Caleb Ho, Eric Tsang, and Ted Kuo; each of them is the tech mastermind for their organizations:

Speakers

Caleb (CTO @ Neat) started his software engineering career in Microsoft in the States and spent the recent 10 years as a tech leader in startups in both the States and Hong Kong. He is currently heading the engineering team in Neat, a FinTech company beloved amongst startups and SME’s.

Eric (CEO @ Toasty) started his career as a software engineer in Canada and relocated to Hong Kong 11 years ago. Not only has he been leading engineering teams, but he’s also currently the CEO of Toasty, a growing EvenTech startup.

Ted (CTO & Co-founder @ Find Recruiter), Find Recruiter’s Co-founder & CTO, had scaled and led tech teams in renowned organizations such as Zalora and Grana.

With this all-star lineup of tech hiring managers, we knew we were in for a treat as we picked their brains on their recruitment stories. I’ve consolidated a few points below on the 4 topics we discussed:

Q1
Tips on candidate initial engagement: How do we get their attention?

Do’s:

  • Communicate the value upfront, e.g, be specific about the tech stacks and other values the upcoming opportunity can bring
  • Do as much research as possible on their current positions and compare that of the company/role you represent. Getting into their mind is important, what’s really important to engineers, apart from salary, is learning opportunities (e.g, domain, tech stack). And engineers love benefits, such as nice offices, free food and drinks can play a good influence. Team culture is critical to them too, e.g, team dynamic, having fun together. At last, career move opportunity is particularly important for someone who stayed their position for a long time, an opportunity to gain more responsibility and higher title may be interesting to them.
  • Be responsive about candidates’ inquiries and keep good engagement and build trust
  • Match the specific roles that are particularly attractive to them

Don’ts

  • Do not assume what’s attractive to the candidate and get pushy on them
  • Don’t take shortcuts by sending your candidate to all of the jobs you have, instead of matching a few that are really suitable.
  • Wrong industry info is a big red flag
  • Overly generic solicitation without useful information will end up in spam quickly

Q2
How to effectively screen a software developer’s CV and prioritize the right candidates from early on.

Do’s:

  • Check their hobby projects, it reflects a lot of their learning attitude and passion
  • Check their Github and LinkedIn and see if any additional information you find about this person
  • Pay attention to details, information such as “read me” page on GitHub on each project reflects the candidate’s communication skills
  • Gather necessary information to prove to the hiring manager that the candidate is trustworthy to take on the role, from both competency and integrity perspectives. Competency checklist: skills, tech stack, training, projects, accomplishment. Integrity checklist: if jumping too much or not, if the candidate is jumpy, is there relevance between jobs. E.g, if he has been progressing his skills by moving to another role
  • Pay attention to red flags
  • Encourage the candidate to share their proud repository on GitHub or somewhere public and share the link to hiring managers

Don’ts:

  • Don’t put in front of a hiring manager with a CV that has obvious mistakes, such as typo and wrong info
  • Don’t overlook the candidates’ CV as hiring managers are typically very detailed

Q3
Phone screening with software developer candidates

Do’s:

  • Before speaking with the candidates, understand what the hiring manager wants, and what hiring organisation can offer
  • Build rapport and trust
  • Understand their current position including tech stacks and team culture, what they like and what they dislike about the current role. Assess whether your current position would be matching to what they want
  • Pay attention to how the candidate explains things, e.g. an open question about how internet browser work, the answer only reflect the candidates communication skill but also technical strength. And a thought recruiter can do research about the answer before asking the question, at certain level to assess technical skills of the candidates you are ready to present
  • If you plan to do more a more technical assessment, get the hiring manager’s help on what questions they want you to ask
  • Try to get hiring managers feedback about the rejection reasons, it helps you better to match the next ones

Don’ts:

  • Hiring manager don’t expect recruiter to be technical assessor so don’t take technical interview with candidates if you’re not prepared
  • Don’t push candidates to move forward with an application without knowing why and how your opportunity suits him
  • Don’t fabricate wrong info for the candidate just to gain their interest

Q4
Factors that lead to a good candidate experience

Do’s:

  • Know well about the interview process and be upfront with the candidates from the beginning
  • Promptly prepare the candidate about what to expect before they go for an interview and gather feedback after the interview
  • Stand alongside the candidate throughout the application journey
  • Be as quick as possible on the interview process, especially when candidates has multiple offers on hand

Don’ts:

  • Don’t oversell the opportunity to the candidates or oversell the candidate to the hiring manager for the sake of closing the deal. Overselling is off-putting to both parties.

Our guest speakers ended the discussion on this note, which I found relevant:

“Hong Kong is not Silicon Valley, in fact, it’s unique to anywhere else. We need to adapt to this market because hiring is important. How Netflix or Google recruits is of less relevance to us… 4 full-day interviews or automated first screening tests are not applicable when it’s difficult to even get the first profile.”

With the increased competition, both companies and recruiters see a fierce war on talents. A quick survey I’ve done in the last 2 weeks shows the challenges and opportunities are particularly high in Hong Kong. However, great candidates are still out there having challenges in finding the right opportunities. All of us see the glaring gap in current systems, mediums, and methods – is it time to rethink our recruitment strategies?

Having been a tech recruiter for the past decade, I found this roundtable very insightful and useful. I hope we can continue to benefit our growing community of recruiters.

PUBLISHED BY
Vivian Xiang

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