When marketing a product, making an impression on your ideal customer hinges on differentiating your product from competitors and demonstrating how this product is the answer to your customer’s problems.
When you’re trying to fill a software engineer position, your open job is the product that you’re promoting and your ideal customer is a software engineer who is qualified for the job and a good match for your company. When recruiting for this position, your task is differentiating your software engineer role from others like it and showing your ideal candidates why your job is right for them.
The way in which a software engineer is exposed to your job opportunity will always influence their impression of the job and your company. However, as long as this first impression is positive and reflects the realities of working at your company, there really is no wrong way to market your company or your job opportunity.
This being the case, using some creative or “off the wall” job promotion and recruiting tactics will help you to make a positive, unique impression on ideal software engineering candidates. There’s a lot of competition out there for tech talent, and standing out in a fun way can help to influence a star candidate to join your company.
Use Coding Challenges
Coding challenges are word, math and programming problems that tech workers use to hone their skills and explore computer languages that they are trying to learn. Coding challenge sites are well respected by the coders and engineers who use them, and being active in these communities can be a great way to reach tech talent.
While some coding challenge sites are focused solely on contests and puzzles, others are capitalizing on their popularity with tech talent. Coding challenge sites like CodeEval track user performance and progress in a dynamic profile that makes it easy to see proficiency and skill density. Many code challenge sites, like HackerEarth, have built-in features for connecting employers with tech talent. Contacting candidates through a platform that they love will endear them to your company and the position you’re offering.
Sponsor a Hackathon or Another Contest
Hackathons are coding/design/problem-solving contests hosted by real companies and focused on solving real-world problems. Contestants typically spend 24-72 hours working furiously on producing a program that solves said problem and wins the hackathon.
Hosting one of these events gives you access to a great number of rising stars, and also lets you see how potential candidates work with others. No matter how talented someone is, you don’t want to hire someone who screams at their teammates, and seeing how a potential candidate completes their program is just as valuable as seeing the final product itself. Holding a hackathon will show potential candidates that your company is on the cutting edge and is supporting innovation culture.
A great way to reach engaged software engineer candidates is to sponsor content for publications, websites, talks or conferences. From magazines like Wired to the incredibly popular TedTalks series, the most engaged software engineer candidates will love keeping up with the latest ideas and trends in technology.
If a candidate enjoys a piece of content, learns from it or otherwise gains value from it, they are likely to look for who was responsible for bringing them this information. When they discover that your company provided the data for this content or otherwise contributed to its existence, they will gain respect for your company and brand. As they look for more content sponsored by your company, they may come across your job description or take it upon themselves to see if you are hiring. Sponsoring content is a great way to build brand credibility with software engineer candidates and tech talent of all stripes.
Guerilla Tech Recruiting
As long as it’s a positive experience, there’s no wrong way to introduce talented software engineers to your company and the idea of working there. If you operate in or near a tech hub, planning public pop-up promotional events can be a great way to put your company on the map and make a positive impression on tech talent.
Hiring a food truck, beer truck and/or ice cream truck to give out free, delicious treats in a tech-heavy downtown block (or outside of a competitor’s building) is a great way to promote your company and win over the hearts (and stomachs) of tech talent. If their first impression of your company is a delicious meal or a free concert in the park, they are sure to think of your company in a positive, unique way.
Take Candidates Out After the Interview
Half of the battle in recruiting is reaching your ideal candidate, but you still need to close with the right person for the job. No matter how creative your marketing is or how engaging your interview process is, there will still be great candidates who pass on your opportunity.
Everyone has their reasons for taking (or not taking) a job, but one of the most common reasons is that the candidate cannot envision what their daily life will be like. Even if everything about the job is right, misgivings or nerves about the environment they’ll be entering can turn-off an interested candidate.
Acclimate your top candidates to your company and the team they’ll be joining by taking everyone out to lunch after the final interview. You should pick a place that your team actually likes and should explain to candidates that you want to treat them for sticking through the interview process. This way, candidates are able to meet potential colleagues in a fun, low-pressure environment and enjoy one of the lunch options near your office. It’s a great way to stand out as a friendly employer for engineer candidates and a great way to see how they interact with their future teammates as well.
VP of Marketing at Digital Astronauts
Ronny Cheng is one of the Co-Founder's of Digital Astronauts and has helped drive lead generation in the software industry for organizations of all sizes -- from start-ups to Fortune 500's. He helped build one of the first online software review websites, specializing in CRM, ERP, and HR software. He's a nationally published author with extensive experience working with the HR/Recruiting industries largest brands. In his spare time, you can catch him on Instagram doing his best food blogger impersonation.