How Can You Target Programmers Using Your Employer Brand?

As a world-renowned speaker and leader of Apple, Steve Jobs offered some specific advice on presenting to a large audience. “Start every presentation with, ’I want to tell you a story.’” He knew that capturing people with a dream or concept was far more important than touting facts or products. Jobs also knew that there was no persuasion without connection.

The same applies for recruiting hard-to-fill roles — although beginning an email with “I want to tell you a story” might be a bit of a stretch considering this highly technical, frequently contacted audience. They’ve been there, done that and have likely seen every template that recruiters can find in a webinar or after a quick Boolean search.

Of course, that’s a lesson most junior recruiters, or those new to the tech recruiting field, learn through a lot of trial and error, likely sending hundreds of emails with no response. So what’s a recruiter to do? Who can they turn to for help writing more compelling stories?

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An employer branding team can provide key advice on style, tone and strategy for tapping into this hard-to-reach audience. As expert storytellers, strategic detail sourcers and data geeks all wrapped into one, your employer branding team can help you to identify the messages that matter most to attract and engage this niche talent.

Know your persona: Take the time to outline a persona, or a custom story about the interests, hobbies and key topics the ideal candidate may be interested in. In its most simple form, it’s identifying the type of person that you’ll be speaking to, so you can develop a strategy for reaching that person. For example, should you be high energy and talk mainly about the company, or plan to geek out about a specific program or project? The more you know about the candidate story, the better.

Ask good questions: When it comes to tech talent, more often than not — even if the candidate hates the company they work for — they love to code. They will likely get excited about projects they’ve worked on, so start asking specific questions when you sense that excitement. Don’t lead your conversation with the boring stuff. When you pick up on their energy rising, take a note from Steve Jobs: ask for more of their story.

Offer realistic job previews: While the programming language might be the same, the work a technical lead does varies drastically from company to company. Involve the team who’s hiring in a video series where you can offer a sneak peek into current projects, how the team functions and the perks of working together. Keep the videos under a minute and a half and give potential tech talent something to connect with emotionally.

Let your dev team do the recruiting: If there’s an event where a ton of talented developers are going to gather, bring your lead developer as backup. You  may not be able to lead a conversation about code languages, road maps or AI, but your team leaders can. Make sure they’re just as invested in finding talent by asking them to tag along on these events. Plus, it can be a lot easier to get a candidate to open up in a one-on-one setting than it is to get them to open an email with your slick subject line.

MORE: Employer Brand: Address Skills Shortages by Looking Beyond Your Industry

James Foley

James Foley
James Foley is global SVP, employer brand, for Randstad Sourceright Talent Innovation Center.

James Foley

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