Recruiting Insights


What does a technical recruiter do?

Gordie Hanrahan image

Gordie Hanrahan

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A technical recruiter is the quarterback of the tech talent acquisition process. The best tech recruiters have a close relationship with their software engineering partners. Many face inconsistent processes that make their jobs more difficult. Sometimes, this is due to a lack of clear expectations for the scope of the role.

In this guide, we’re reviewing the complexity of a technical recruiter’s job, what daily life in this role can look like, and what you need to consider when working with a tech recruitment professional.

Additional technical hiring resources

So what is a technical recruiter?

A technical recruiter is in charge of sourcing, screening, scheduling interviews, and extending offers to candidates that are suited for tech roles — software engineering, data analysis, technical writers, etc.

Compared to other recruiters, technical recruiters generally have at least two years of experience in the tech industry. Formal education or training is also a bonus that helps them identify the right candidates.

Within small and medium companies, technical recruiters can also be in charge of onboarding, employee relations, compensation, learning and development, and other HR duties. The responsibilities of a technical recruiter differ greatly depending on several factors. These include the size of an organization, the specialization of the open roles, and the resources available for managing the process and technically assessing the candidate.

Technical recruiter skills: An analysis of current job descriptions

Before we jump into the details of day-to-day activities, we looked at over 100 technical recruiter job descriptions for active role openings (source: Glassdoor and LinkedIn).

Here are the most common skills great technical recruiters have:

  • Strong interpersonal, networking, and communication skills
  • Negotiation capabilities
  • Critical thinking and flexibility when faced with changing priorities
  • Technical knowledge for the given role opening
  • Proven work experience with the tools and technologies that will be assessed
  • Experience with multiple sourcing techniques (e.g. social media, internal recruiting, referrals, etc.)
  • Ability to stay up to date on the latest tech industry standards, issues, and risks
  • Understanding of relevant labor laws and HR best practices
  • Ability to maintain a database and pipeline of candidates
  • Project management skills (for HR/recruitment leadership positions)
  • Proven experience with recruiting and applicant tracking tools as well as HR databases
  • Knowledge of assessment techniques specific for each role
  • Stakeholder management, recruiter coaching, and interview loop development (for senior positions)
  • Ability to create a seamless candidate experience through all stages
  • Active engagement and promotion of diversity and inclusion hiring strategies
  • Willingness to become an ambassador for the brand and represent the company upon a candidate’s first interactions with the organization

At Karat, we help organizations hire the right technical talent and save software engineering time. Expert Interview Engineers conduct technical interviews on behalf of busy companies and teams who don’t have enough time or the right expertise to hire the software engineers they need.

To complement our clients’ technical recruiters who identify candidates, we’ve set the following requirements for our community of Interview Engineers who technically assess them:

  • They should have at least three years of experience in the technical field. More than 50% of them have over 10 years of development experience.
  • All candidates for this interviewing role go through onboarding so they master the interview delivery guidelines needed to conduct advanced interviews.

We pay particular attention to coaching Interview Engineers on how to offer feedback and even developing their own soft skills. After all, every candidate will create their impressions of a company from their first interaction — the job interview.

Technical recruiter responsibilities for every stage of the recruiting and hiring process

There are six stages that a technical recruiter needs to go through to improve the hiring process as a whole. For each one of them, we went over common daily duties and challenges.

  1. Recruiting: Connect with software engineers and encourage them to apply for a relevant role
  2. Assessment: Invite the candidate to a live technical assessment
  3. Recommendation: Use an objective recommendation to advance or reject the candidate
  4. On-site: Coordinate the final technical interview loop
  5. Decision: Confirm the hiring team’s decision
  6. Offer: Make an offer to the candidate or provide feedback

1. Recruiting: The technical recruitment expert connects with software engineers and encourages them to apply for a relevant role

The approach technical recruiters use to connect with software engineering candidates differs by the size of the company and resources available.

  • Enterprise technical recruiting teams often work with sourcing agencies to find candidates for technical recruiters to screen. They may also benefit from a large number of direct applicants and referrals.
  • Small to mid-sized startups tend to source candidates more proactively using their internal teams and networks. Technical recruiters will connect with candidates via LinkedIn or other social networks.

Sourcing is the first opportunity your team will have to fill the talent pipeline with underrepresented and non-male software engineering candidates. Many companies are taking the intentional approach of proactively sourcing diverse candidates from organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Grace Hopper, and Rewriting the Code.

2. Assessment: The tech recruiter invites a candidate to a live technical assessment

After sourcing candidates, the next step is to invite them to a technical assessment. Unfortunately, many candidates abandon the hiring process early on. This occurs because:

  • The technical assessment is too long
  • The technical assessment can only be done during business hours
  • The technical assessment is a code test that may feel impersonal or at risk of producing an inaccurate assessment of their skills

Technical recruiters can speed up the process, keep more candidates in the hiring funnel, and level the playing field by:

  • Limiting the duration of the technical assessment to 60 minutes
  • Providing a live technical assessment with a developer who is an experienced interviewer
  • Offering live technical assessments 24/7

At the end of the assessment, the technical recruiter has to provide a recommendation to the hiring team.

3. Recommendation: The recruiter makes an objective recommendation to advance or decline the candidate

The outcome of a technical assessment is all too often a “pass” or “fail” recommendation. A simple binary outcome may seem simple and straightforward, but often has some opportunities for failure that can make life more difficult for a technical recruiter, including:

  • The technical assessment is calibrated to the wrong role or the wrong skill level
  • The technical assessment is inconsistent and open to bias
  • The technical assessment did not allow the candidate to receive guidance

Issues like the above can inadvertently filter out up to one-third of developer candidates. The impact is especially severe for non-male and underrepresented candidates.

To alleviate these issues, technical recruiters should consider these approaches:

  • Use a structured interview rubric to identify the relevant competencies to the role and what success looks like in the technical assessment
  • Select interviewers who want to conduct live technical assessments and develop a training process to establish interviewing best practices
  • Use three or four categories of recommendations driven by the scoring rubric. This will show where candidates are close to meeting your hiring bar and could likely come up to speed

Bonus tip: Record the technical assessments so the hiring team can review and validate the fact that consistent questions and approaches were used by the interviewer.

4. On-site: The technical recruiter coordinates the final interview loop

Technical recruitment professionals will take the lead in coordinating the final interview loop with the software engineering team and the hiring manager.

Typically the team will conduct a series of technical and behavioral interviews to ensure the candidate will meet the hiring bar and be a positive addition to the team dynamic. Of course, not everything goes to plan.

Watch out for these warning signs:

  • Interviewers aren’t interested in interviewing candidates
  • Interviewers aren’t sure what their role in the process is
  • Interviewers aren’t equipped with relevant interview questions or the tools to conduct the interview

A tech recruiter can address these challenges in three ways:

  • Identifying software engineers who are interested in interviewing in advance
  • Clarifying everyone’s role in the process and which competencies they are looking for
  • Building behavioral and technical interview questions in advance

5. Decision: The technical recruiter confirms the hiring team’s decision

Recruiters may be leading the candidate through the process, but ultimately the hiring decision falls to the software engineering team. These two teams are working on the same critical task, but often lack a shared language, key performance indicators (KPIs), and an understanding of how a decision will be made.

When these components are missing:

  • Technical recruiters are unable to identify the “right” candidates early on
  • Tech talent acquisition leaders are unable to monitor hiring process performance (and see if underrepresented candidates are slipping through the cracks)
  • Hiring teams disagree and are unable to come to a clear hiring decision

Consider the following three tools and approaches to align these two teams and hire the right software engineering candidates more quickly.

  • Develop an interview rubric. Yes, here it is again. A structured scoring rubric is key to establishing a shared language and understanding of skills the right candidate must demonstrate in the technical assessment and final loop
  • Establish KPIs including technical assessment pass-through rate, on-site-to-offer ratio, and offer to hire ratio. Benchmark and then optimize
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities in the hiring team. A strong technical recruiter will ensure all team members know what they are looking for in the candidate and come to the final feedback loop able to state how the candidate demonstrated that competency (or did not)

At this point, the technical recruiter will also check references by getting in touch with previous employers and colleagues or looking over past achievements in detail.

6. Offer: The technical recruiter makes an offer to the candidate or provides feedback

Technical recruiters get the lucky (or not) job of sharing the final decision with the candidates. When recruiters extend an offer to a candidate on behalf of a hiring team, they won’t always get a “yes” from the candidate. Offer-to-hire rates in major tech hubs like Seattle, San Francisco, and New York hover around 50%.

When a technical recruiter tells a candidate that they’ve been rejected, candidates often want to understand why. Yet, it is rare for developers to get feedback on their performance during the hiring process.

If a team chooses to provide feedback to the candidate, be sure that it is clear, unbiased, and constructive. This will help set the candidate up for success in the future — the best possible outcome when the hiring process doesn’t end in an offer. Giving this type of information keeps companies on good terms with candidates who are more likely to reapply for a position in the future.

Working with a tech recruiter for the first time?

Almost half of technology leaders (47%) agree that a strong software engineer is worth at least 3x their total compensation, making bad hires a very costly mistake. To reduce this risk, you’ll also need to work with the right recruiters. So where do you start?

Here’s a checklist to help you choose the right tech recruiter and set them up for success:

  • Create a general profile of what your ideal technical recruiter is like. Do you want them to be familiar with specific technologies? Should they have exceptional people skills? Both?
  • Ask them about their experience working with engineering teams. Are there tools or best practices they use to align with software engineering leaders on what makes a good hire?
  • Never skip or shorten the onboarding period just because you want to start hiring for new roles faster. Properly onboarding recruiters can influence their future performance and ultimately your company culture.
  • Working with Karat ensures you’ve got access to a pool of technical interviewing experts that are prepared to match interviews to your technical bar so you can hire the best talent possible.

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