The HR.main() meetup series is the first of its kind. Sitting at the intersection of tech and recruiting, main() brings together professionals from both sides of the house–technical recruiters and engineering managers–to discuss hot topics and share best practices around hiring the right technical talent.
Our San Francisco event brought together some of the biggest names in tech recruiting: Angela Miller, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Pure Storage, Jennifer Shappley, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn, Michael Glukhovsky, Developer Relations at Stripe, and our very own VP of People, Maria Chung.
It was a packed house, full of great conversations among panelists. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here are some highlights:
The day kicked off with a word of welcome from our Co-founder and CEO Vivek Ravisankar. He wasted no time diving into one of the big concepts we’ve seen sweeping the business industry: the shift to becoming a tech company.
“What we believe to be tech companies only occupy less than 5% of the total number of companies in America,” Vivek said. The other 95%? Those represent the companies traditionally considered “non-tech” companies. But ultimately, even companies outside the traditional definition of “tech” need developers. “Every company is becoming a tech company.”
Take Goldman Sachs, for example: Even though they’re considered a FinServ company, over 25% of their workforce is in engineering and IT.
In order to power this tech revolution, companies need to find the right developers, with the right skills––and quickly. But the tactics to win this talent war have to adapt as the technical workforce does.
Ultimately, the technical workforce is changing. Amazon has designed a program to teach 10 million children to code per year, and code.org estimates it will serve over 1 billion students in the next 20 years. To meet the demand for technical skills, it’s on tech recruiting teams to learn to adapt their processes to better evaluate “non-traditional” candidates. And that means putting skills first.
Next, we brought our panel of experts front and center to share insight on the talent shortage, measuring recruiting performance, and the state of tech hiring today. These are the highlights:
Angela began her tenure at Pure Storage over 4 years ago as a Technical Recruiting Lead, and now leads the talent organization as the Director of Global Talent Acquisition.
Headquartered in Mountain View, Pure Storage is constantly competing with tech giants for developer talent. While some might frame this competitive market as a talent shortage, Pure Storage sees no such thing.
They navigate the so-called “talent shortage” by putting high priority on diversity. And their emphasis on diversity goes well beyond including underrepresented minorities; Pure Storage also highly values diversity of thought. Reaching out to talent at less-known universities and piloting programs to help stay-at-home-moms transition back into the workforce are just a few ways they keep diversity top of mind.
Of course, a strong talent brand also plays a big role in attracting candidates in a competitive market. Angela reinforces their talent brand by turning their employees into advocates: at Pure Storage, everyone is a recruiter. They actively encourage referrals and support from employees outside of recruiting.
“[We] make sure that every single person–whether they’re in marketing, engineering, or even facilities–understands that we are growing,” Angela said. It’s this emphasis on employee referrals that helps Pure Storage scale efficiently: “We don’t want to be ‘the best kept secret’ in the Valley. Everybody plays a part in recruiting.”
Prior to joining LinkedIn, Jennifer managed talent acquisition at Express Scripts. During her 7 years there, she helped scale the company from 10,000 to 30,000 employees. And now, she helps grow LinkedIn’s team as their Senior Director of Talent Acquisition.
Jennifer credits strong alignment to her ability to quickly grow tech teams.
“If everyone doesn’t understand what you’re trying to do, everyone is going to be doing their own thing.”
This starts with a solid foundation. “One person doesn’t scale a team at that size. You have to make sure you’ve got the right leaders and the right infrastructure in place on your recruiting team”
For scaling companies, it’s important to communicate the goal of the hiring organization constantly, she said. It helps ensure everyone is moving in the same direction. From the beginning, hiring teams need to ask themselves: Do you have a solid understanding of the exact skills needed? Are you giving candidates a clear picture of the problems they’ll be solving when they come work for you? Do you understand the complexity of the skills they need to have?
And once you’ve got the right talent, how do you measure success? Jennifer takes a holistic approach, looking at the overall health of the funnel. Metrics like phone interview to onsite ratio, and onsite to offer ratio are a good place to start. Keeping a constant pulse on the process is vital to this approach: it’s how teams can correct funnel issues before potential hires are lost.
Maria joined HackerRank just one month ago. As the VP of People, she oversees the people operations functions–this includes building the hiring infrastructure, and facilitating programs that support company growth.
In the competitive tech hiring space, Maria has seen organizations shift their hiring strategy from a one-sided evaluation process to a two-way exchange. Developer hiring processes are no longer centered around qualifications and past experience; now, recruiters have to be prepared to sell the role and tech talent brand in order to land top candidates. Understanding this shift was a big driver behind her success in growing tech teams in her previous role at Verb Surgical.
In a candidate’s market, recruiting has to be a two-way conversation. With the excess of developer job opportunities available, recruiting teams can’t be focused solely on evaluating developer skills––to win candidates, they also have compete for developer love.
To better understand how to cultivate developer love, Vivek sat down with Michael Glukhovsky, Developer Relations expert at one of the most widely loved developer brands: Stripe. Here’s what they explored:
As a developer-first brand, Stripe’s quest for developer love is a part of their day-to-day. “We spend a lot of time thinking about the developer mindset, and a lot of time thinking about what developers need,” Michael said.
And that mindset carries directly into the way they hire developers, cultivating an empathetic approach to evaluation. Instead of looking for hyper specific language and framework skills, he’s interested in better understanding their more holistic programming skills.
When assessing candidates, he focuses on understanding a candidate’s approach to the process, not just the tools that they utilize.
“It shouldn’t matter what [programming] language they come in the door with. Can they do the work well? And are they a good person to work with?”
At Stripe, the key to creating a developer-friendly recruiting process means designing a technical hiring process that’s equal parts evaluative and empathetic––a process that unveils candidate skills without undue stress and friction.
“One big mistake teams make is treating the interview process like a confrontational puzzle to solve,” Michael admitted. But ultimately, that type of process isn’t reflective of how the candidate would work on the team––and that makes it counterproductive.
Instead, Stripe aims to help developers ace their technical evaluations. Make them as comfortable as possible. Moving away from a stoic, cold setting into a relaxed atmosphere can help candidates showcase their skills.
“A recruiter should be an advocate for the candidate,” Michael said.
“We try to give candidates the absolute best chance for success.” They arm candidates with preparation guides to help them put their best foot forward.
Their emphasis on developers has yielded perhaps the biggest compliment a recruiting team can get: referrals from rejected candidates. “An extraordinary number of people who we turn away refer their friends to come interview with Stripe.”
You can’t improve what you can’t measure. As a special announcement, HackerRank’s VP of Engineering Jawahar Malhotra offered a preview of a new product to measure the effectiveness of an organization’s recruiting efforts. Taking into account factors like candidate feedback, email outreach open rates, and test attempt rates, the team created HackerRank’s solution to a data-driven hiring approach: Tech Talent Matrix (TTM).
Our Senior VP of Engineering Jawahar Malhotra took to the stage to share how TTM is helping companies improve their hiring process. Watch how TTM works below:
With the hyper-competitive nature of tech recruiting, companies need to continuously iterate to stay ahead. At the end of the day, teams need 5 essential elements to drive successful tech recruiting: a data-driven approach, alignment at all levels, high-quality calibrated tests, thoughtful candidate engagement, and a respected tech talent brand. TTM assesses and quantifies all these elements to help companies stay ahead of their peers.
Interested in attending one of our HR.main() events? Check out our HR.main() homepage.