Engineers Should Help With Recruiting (Interviewing Is No Longer Enough)

Recruiters have long used their engineering colleagues for candidate interviewing, but these days recruiters should be enlisting engineers for a lot more than that. The technical hiring landscape is blisteringly competitive, with tech behemoths snatching up scores of the strongest candidates. Partnering with engineers can be a recruiter’s secret weapon. Here are some ways to use your company’s technical talent to help you compete with the big guys:

  1. Take engineers on the road (but not to career fairs). If you’re hiring college candidates, take engineers to campus with you — just not to career fairs, unless they’re really special ones, because generally career fairs are a waste of engineers’ precious time. However, their time is very well spent attending and — better yet — judging technical competitions and hackathons, meeting strong candidates for 1:1 coffee chats, hosting and speaking at tech talks, and even guest lecturing in technical classes. These activities use the engineers’ time well and elevate your company’s presence on campus. If you’re seeking out experienced technical candidates, send your engineers to technical conferences, meetups, and special interest groups not only to brush up on their own technical skills but also to network with potential candidates.
  1. Turn engineers into sourcers. Some technical talent is obvious: if a candidate has an impressive academic record or work record, recruiters will recognize that right away. Engineers, however, can source for the talented but less obvious candidates. They will recognize hidden gems in a candidate’s profile that no recruiter could. By including engineers in online screening, you’ll find strong candidates you otherwise wouldn’t have found, and as an added bonus, those candidates will be less obvious to other recruiters as well.
  1. Tap engineers for referral sources. Tap into your engineering colleagues’ networks. Ask them to reach out beyond their obvious networks of former classmates and work colleagues to loose contacts as well, like former advisors, lab directors, professors, teaching assistants, and teammates from technical clubs and competitions who may not be looking for jobs themselves but may be in touch with people who are.
  1. Use engineers as door openers. Bright engineers want to work with other bright engineers. Enlist engineers to send out initial recruiting messages to particularly strong candidates who may be flooded with recruiting requests and may ignore most outreach directed their way. Engineers are more likely to respond to blind requests from a fellow engineer than they are from a recruiter, especially if the engineer has a particularly impressive background or shares experiences, like an alma mater or a hobby, with the prospect.

Obviously, engineers in your firm are busy, and getting buy-in to use them in the recruiting process is something that needs to happen at the senior leadership levels of your firm. But if you’re trying to hire the best, getting engineers to prioritize recruiting isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s a necessity.


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Jessica Gilmartin is chief operating officer of social learning and recruiting platform Piazza, which connects over 100 of the world's hottest technical employers with over a million of the world's top college students hailing from all major academic institutions, including all 50 of the top 50 science, technology, engineering, and math programs in the U.S. Learn more at 

Gilmartin is a former investment banker for Lehman Brothers in London and New York and an accomplished entrepreneur. She created and sold Fraiche Yogurt, a chain of gourmet yogurt stores that are now a Bay Area institution, before going on to lead product marketing at Wildfire, a social media marketing startup acquired by Google for $350 million. She holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.