A very good article by Cheryl Winokur Monk in the WSJ suggested that companies requiring candidates (more on that term in a moment) to perform technical tests unrelated to the job was a reason they were finding it hard to recruit good techies. This is undoubtedly true. However, it is only part of the issue. As we found when conducting our problem surveys prior to launching Haystack, there are many areas in which businesses are not helping themselves. I thought now would be a good time to discuss some of the others and offer some solutions.

Techies hold all the cards

It starts with an acknowledgement. Techies, devs, in particular, hold all the cards. Their time and skills are gold dust. Anyone who runs a tech business, like me, will tell you this. Stop referring to them as candidates. This isn’t The Apprentice. Cristiano Ronaldo has never been a candidate. The companies are the candidates in the new world.

So what did the techies tell us about what they thought about the recruitment processes run by companies?

They don’t like the way they are approached

Because their skills are in demand they are bombarded with messages on LinkedIn or via email from internal talent managers (not ideal) or recruitment agencies (bad) and have checked out. If it feels like you are sending job opportunities to devs into the blue it’s because you are. Nobody is on the other side. And if they are, they are ignoring them. There is so much noise. Much of it is irrelevant to them anyway.

The Consumerisation of Tech Talent Attraction

The candidate decision-making process now closely resembles the consumer decision-making cycle.

decision-making cycle

Techies we spoke to wanted a safe space where they could survey their personal landscape (whether by technology, location or sector) and see what was out there - without making a commitment. Companies are too quick to move to the ‘apply’ stage without investing enough in the discover - explore - evaluate phase.

Consider any major purchase (decision) you take. Before you buy, the amount of time spent on the voyage of discovery - exploration - evaluation is huge. The reason that market places such as Compare The Market and Your Move are so popular is that people can browse, in their own time, without someone harassing them saying “wanna buy that?”.

For “wanna buy that?” read “wanna job?”

Techies fed back the same to us. We are tired of the noise. We’d love somewhere we could go and just browse anonymously and if we see something we like we’ll express an interest. We would like to make the first move.

So, what’s to be done?

In the new world…

There will be winners and those who face ‘an unacceptably negative future’...


  • Easy to discover
  • Broadcast the cool stuff they’re working on
  • Embrace modern sourcing methods
  • Build relationships and engage with prospective employees on an ongoing basis
  • Put candidate experience at the heart of a streamlined process
  • Open to flexible and remote working


  • Hiding in the shadows
  • Expect candidates to seek them out and research them
  • Rely on outdated methods
  • Only show any interest in prospective employees when they have a live vacancy to fill
  • Employ a clunky and time-consuming process on their terms
  • Insist on everyone working from an office

But it’s difficult…

It’s difficult to cut through the noise and get your message across directly to techies. Only 12.7% are actively looking for a new role at any time (Stack Overflow). The curious and passive community simply do not have the time to do the research themselves and do not welcome being asked to apply (especially for irrelevant jobs). Recruiters only get in the way, making it difficult to start the journey of discover, explore, evaluate.

Techies expect a great experience

Seven things that came up repeatedly:

  • Relationship building - take the time to understand and be understood
  • Accurate matches and recommendations - do your research and don’t waste their time
  • Personalised, direct communication - no spam, no cold calls, no agents
  • Transparency - openness on job, salary and company culture from the start
  • Insights and data - to allow them to make informed decisions
  • Flexibility - options on working from home or remote work
  • Mutual Evaluation - a two-way street to ensure an enduring relationship

We built Haystack to solve all of these problems - for the techie and for the company.

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