Tech leaders juggle a lot of responsibilities. Depending on their company’s focus, a single day may entail overseeing the day-to-day operations and workflow of their team, engaging with current and potential clients, participating in leadership roundtables, maintaining and troubleshooting in-house tech, and ensuring the critical products their team develops are up to the company’s—and the end-users’—standards.
With so many tasks on their to-do list, tech leaders often don’t have much time left to source and recruit top talent for open positions on the team. That’s why we asked the members of Forbes Technology Council how they manage to balance their talent search with their heavy workloads. Try these 14 innovative strategies to build out your dream tech team.
1. Seek to engage and evaluate first.
The mindset should be engaging with top talent—not hiring. Instead of focusing on hiring a candidate, tech leaders should think of ways to engage with top talent on low-risk projects and evaluate them. First, take an innovative project and make an 80- to 160-hour work plan, then bid it out to freelancers. Get three people to showcase the work and hire them. Second, keep a pool of experts for each category. – Buyan Thyagarajan, Eigen X
2. Be open to hiring the right person within their preferred timeframe.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to hiring. But in my experience, you have to be open to hiring not within your timeframe but the candidate’s. It might be hard, but it is worth it for the right person. Even if your plan specified a later hire, do everything you can to get great people when they pop up, because they will always add value and help accelerate your company’s goals. – Bill Mann, Styra, Inc.
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3. Search for candidates on social media.
Social media is the play today. Facebook is surprisingly cheap and effective for building a following of tech-savvy young talent and creating brand ambassadors to be employed by your company. Additionally, use Twitter for awareness and LinkedIn for targeted engagement. – John Walsh III, Red Summit Global
4. Tap into your network.
Leveraging your network is an effective way to source top tech talent. It is often said that “who” you know is extremely important. Throughout years of experience, one will meet countless brilliant individuals who are widely connected in the industry. Utilizing these relationships to discover prime talent is a great way to build a productive team. – Ashwini Choudhary, Recogni
5. Look for new graduates and university partnerships.
New graduates and universities are often overlooked. For example, consider working with university professors on projects or curriculums to foster future talent and bring the real world into the classroom. Also, when hired, new grads can add a fresh perspective, enabling leaders to move up senior team members and creating new opportunities in a team. Their desire to learn is ideal for fast-paced tech teams. – Michael Xie, Fortinet
6. Consider team member referrals.
As a company at the intersection of health and tech, we rely on our internal team’s referrals to hire a unique mix of qualified and diverse candidates. Our employees are our most valuable resource, and we take their endorsements seriously to streamline the process. We also use social platforms such as LinkedIn to promote job openings and culture and engage with candidates. – Jeff Hawkins, Truvian Sciences
7. Focus on inbound strategies.
I have consistently hired great team members through inbound strategies. A key approach that I deploy is to be a thought leader by putting out content in online communities such as LinkedIn. This results in other great leaders and candidates reaching out to connect and chat. Most of the time, the connections are fun and mutually beneficial, and they allow me the opportunity to build a strong pipeline. – Tanvir Bhangoo, Freshii Inc.
8. Consider ‘gig economy’ candidates.
Some of the brightest people I have worked with were introduced to me via the gig economy. It may sound like a cliché, but some folks just need to be given a chance. There are plenty of people who have engineering, growth hacking and business development skills who work as TaskRabbits and Uber/Lyft drivers. Additionally, I have found capable people by browsing Fiverr and Upwork. – Abishek Surana Rajendra, Course Hero
9. Hire recruiters with tech backgrounds.
One of the best ways to make sure that you expand your team with the best tech talent is to have recruiters with tech backgrounds. If your HR representatives have at least a basic understanding of how your tech team runs and the exact skills needed from the new talent, it will be easier for them to find the perfect candidate for the job. – Daria Leshchenko, SupportYourApp Inc.
10. Look outside the traditional career path.
The best tech candidates are empathetic and collaborative, and they’re not always on a traditional career path. We’ve found some of our best candidates by building connections with nonprofits, mentoring organizations and open-source communities. Tech candidates with a natural focus on volunteering, mentoring and building community are generally great team players. – Shiv Sundar, Esper
11. Be open to candidates from other industries.
The biggest item I try to emphasize to others who are in a similar position is to understand what your company needs and where the gaps are. I also find there’s a lot of value in being open to candidates from other industries—you’ll find that their skills could be a great addition to your team, and it adds fresh eyes to the business. – Brandon Mintz, Bitcoin Depot
12. Consider talent from developing regions.
Look at developing countries and regions with a large talent pool and track record for tech talent (e.g., Central Eastern Europe). Also, keep an eye out on GitHub, Reddit and LinkedIn. All these sources provide good insights into tech talent. In essence, we need to get the best talent, not just any talent—and that requires ongoing monitoring. – Didem Un Ates, Accenture
13. Pay close attention to hackathons.
Familiarity with technology and programming languages and creative problem-solving are critical today. So I’ve started paying closer attention to hackathons and similar events to find new tech talent. The freedom and creativity these types of events breed are impressive and can be a great demonstration of the type of thinking, experience, knowledge and enthusiasm you’ll get from today’s tech pros. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
14. Hire a CPO.
In tech, top talent is a necessity to thrive. But recruiting is arduous and time-intensive. To streamline it, we brought in a chief people officer who has vast experience with enterprise organizations and is trained in diversity and inclusion. This hands-on experience has proven invaluable in refining how we source talent—it ensures we find and retain the best and brightest candidates out there. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC