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Realistic Expectations: How your competitors are successfully hiring today

#Shouldabeenacoder. My favorite hashtag du jour quickly sums up the market for software engineers today. The tech talent shortage, as it is being called, is a pretty big deal. Not only is it all over cool kid media but it even has the US Government debating changes to legislation. Heck, there is so much talk about it that some in academia even claim the whole thing is a big myth. It seems everyone has an opinion these days. But in today’s labor market, it is commonly accepted that the demand for skilled software engineers exceeds the supply. I agree.

To test the market last month, I partnered with a talented .Net Developer in Dallas, Texas. Dude is seriously in demand. I’m talking MVC 4, Jquery & HTML5 experience – a true dreamboat as some of our recruiters would say. He agreed to post his resume on Dice and Monster and share the corresponding voicemails and emails. The results were staggering. Within the first week he received over 50 voicemails and 70 emails recruiting him for more than 40 unique jobs. Talk about an ego stroke.

Despite all the competition and craziness in this job market, a few companies are excelling at hiring the engineering talent they need. So what is their story? How are some thriving at hiring engineers while most continue to struggle? Realistic Expectations.

In analyzing our client data on software engineering positions, we found a unique corollary between time-to-fill rate (the average number of days to fill an open position) and realistic expectations. In general, our clients with the lowest time-to-fill rates also have the most realistic expectations (do what it takes attitude) in their hiring approach. Not surprisingly, across a variety of industries, most of them are growing revenue and capturing market share as well. These are the companies winning the war for talent.

So what do Realistic Expectations look like in hiring engineers today? Here are a few themes common to companies currently achieving success:

  • Clear hiring profile - These companies know who they are targeting. They plan the projects & apps a new hire will work on Day 1 and understand the skills and level of talent required to be successful. Today, too many companies are trying to hire a rock star for a position that is budgeted for an average coder or involves maintaining crusty code. Companies hiring successfully are not. Also, these companies look for potential and think outside the box on who can actually do the job effectively. Cisco is doing a solid job of this within their UX team.
  • Compensation - These companies pay market rate for talent. They understand current market values and make appropriate offers. You would think this one is a no-brainer, but often we see companies who think their brand or culture or technology or work from home program enables them to pay less than market rate. Unfortunately, some of their competitors offer all that and pay the cash.
  • Speed - Interviews are a top priority for managers. Internal schedules are adjusted in order to shorten the interview cycle. When they find the right candidate, they move fast.  SOW’s do not get dusty. Executive leadership is brought in and provides needed approvals quickly when required. These companies do not lose good coders to red tape.
  • Partnerships - Corporate recruiters are communicating with existing engineers consistently and the engineers know the hiring strategy. Current employees are compensated and celebrated for their referrals. Also, a small number of local, trusted recruiting firms are engaged to help locate talent. The recruiting firms are viewed as trusted advisors and both sides operate with transparency.

In many cities across our country, the demand for engineers simply exceeds the supply. In order to win at hiring today, companies must be willing to adapt and change their processes. If you understand who you are trying to hire, pay market rate, streamline the hiring process, and partner with the right people, you are positioned to successfully hire engineers in 2013.

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