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17 ways to win the war for talent in tech


Your biggest challenge as a tech recruiter is coming up with a strategy to win the war for talent.

Recruiters are even poised to battle over top tech job applicants.

Okay, so the “battle” might only be for talent, but the competition is fierce because the “spoils” are worth a lot.

Top developers can make a huge difference to your organization. You just need to beat your competition and hire them first.

Are you doing enough to put yourself ahead of the competition in your pursuit of the best tech talent? Do you have the right strategy to avoid losing your best applicants to other companies?

If your response was a hesitant “maybe,” this article is just what you need.

Here’s how you can win the war for talent and hire top developers for your organization.

What does a “war for talent” mean for your organization?

Since the best tech talent is not easy to find, a “war for talent” directly affects companies like yours that want to fill more tech roles and reduce hiring time. Here’s why.

The tech talent market is as tight and competitive as ever.

Not only is your organization competing with other companies to hire the right talent, but it also needs to present itself in the right way to passive, qualified, knowledgeable candidates.

A third of HR professionals are in agreement that finding qualified candidates is their biggest challenge, while 25% said their greatest challenge is standing out from other companies.

What’s more, your organization now has to compete against companies across the entire world, thanks to the colossal rise in remote working. Small and medium businesses find the talent squeeze especially difficult in this context.1

3 statistics to be aware of when hiring tech talent

To add more context to these challenges and help you understand what your organization is up against, here are three statistics to help you plan accordingly.

1. The US could miss out on $162 billion each year without the right tech talent

Every year, despite the hiring difficulties that organizations already experience due to the tech war for talent, the US could lose $162 billion because of an anticipated shortage of suitable candidates.2 Your organization may be one of those affected by the lack of exceptional tech talent, so hiring well is critical.

2. Remote posts have increased 357%

With the astounding 357% rise in remote openings in recent years, remote work has never been more popular.3 Hiring remote workers increases your chances of finding the right talent for your organization. However, since you will still compete with other organizations hiring remotely, you must be aware of the essential steps to facilitate the process.

3. Forty-two percent of organizations want to upskill current employees

Forty-two percent of organizations are looking for ways to upskill current employees, indicating that internal recruitment methods such as promoting or hiring from within are popular.4 This option is one alternative to competing against other organizations for talent, so it is worth exploring.

9 reasons why you’re not winning the tech war for talent so far

You’re up against a few tough challenges when trying to beat your competitors to hire exceptional tech candidates.

Here are nine reasons why you’re not yet winning the tech war for talent.

9 reasons why you’re not winning the tech war for talent so far

1. Your brand and culture doesn’t stand out

Let’s face it — the likelihood is that thousands of organizations are facing the same task of hiring top developers.

What’s one of the most critical differences between an organization that attracts the best talent and a company that fails to do so?

It’s the company’s brand and culture.

Of those surveyed by Glassdoor, 56% say company culture is more important than salary. More than three-quarters of respondents note a company’s culture before applying for a job.

DZone mentions that a strong “developer culture” is crucial for employees. A developer culture refers to a shared understanding of why software craftsmanship matters. Is this something your organization offers?

In terms of the brand, a positive employer brand is crucial for an effective recruitment process. Brands matter to job seekers.

Eighty four percent of applicants say a company’s reputation is important and influences their decision to accept a role. At the same time, half of the candidates would avoid working for an organization with a bad reputation.5

2. You have a lengthy hiring process

A lengthy hiring process is one of the most alienating features of your talent acquisition process from candidates’ perspectives. With a long time to hire, you may risk exceptional candidates choosing to pull out of the running for a position at your organization and pursue other opportunities.6

Most organizations can expect to schedule two to six weeks to hire a developer. According to Rootstrap, several factors affect the length of the hiring process, including company policies, the location of your organization, the size of your company, and its talent needs.7

Remember: Two to six weeks is the approximate time it takes to hire a developer, according to Rootstrap. Is your organization hiring candidates within this time frame?

3. You’re not offering many perks or benefits

Organizations that offer perks and benefits, and highlight these benefits in the job description, will stand out.

But it’s not enough to mirror the perks and benefits offered by other similar organizations. Make your organization more appealing by describing those that only your organization can offer. 

There’s no question that if an applicant is considering multiple similar jobs, offering them unique perks may be more appealing to your potential employees.

Some examples of unique perks that you might offer your employees include:

  • Flexible and remote working opportunities

  • Healthy canteen and snacks

  • Perks and allowances for commuters

  • A pet-friendly office environment

  • Vacation time with family and friends

  • On-site gym

  • “Chill out” zone

4. You’ve received negative reviews from candidates

Negative reviews can be enough to break your organization’s reputation and may deter serious candidates who investigate your reputation from applying for an open position. They might then look for opportunities elsewhere.

You can’t prevent ex-employees from expressing their opinions, and you can’t remove negative reviews already published. Still, you can begin to bolster your reputation by turning your attention to the candidate experience.

5. You have a lackluster, unengaging hiring process

A lackluster hiring process can mean anything between failing to help candidates feel why your culture is so amazing and ghosting your applicants. It can also mean forgetting to maintain contact with star candidates at intervals or delivering rejections impersonally.

For instance, if a star candidate reaches the final interview stages but receives the silver medal, and you fail to provide adequate feedback explaining why they were unsuccessful, this can reduce the quality of candidate experience and the level of engagement.

Each of these may damage your organization’s reputation and cause applicants to feel disengaged. In a worst-case scenario, you risk losing the front runners simply because you didn’t help them learn why your culture is more inviting and engaging than your competitors.

6. You don’t promote career progression opportunities

Since professionals want to further their careers and seek career growth opportunities, failing to explain that your company offers these chances is a big mistake.

From the job description to the company career page to your employee testimonials to the marketing and blog content you use to promote your organization, make sure you describe the career growth opportunities appealingly and showcase those employees who have grown in your company.

For example, if a junior software engineer joined your company as an intern and developed skills in frameworks and algorithms they’ve never used before, use this testimonial on your career page. Or, if you recently promoted a senior engineer to an engineering manager position, describe the highlights of their achievements.

7. You’re not using inbound hiring strategies

If you fail to use inbound hiring strategies, you might miss a critical opportunity to win the war for talent and hire top developers effortlessly. Similarly to inbound marketing approaches, inbound hiring strategies will make your organization so appealing that tech talent will be drawn to it.

Inbound recruitment is so effective because it creates a phenomenal experience for prospective team members via your brand. It can help you to:

  • Significantly widen your tech talent pool

  • Promote awareness of your organization

  • Continuously attract talent to your company

  • Spend less time searching for candidates for each new opening

8. You haven’t used skills testing platforms to assist you

Since you must keep your hiring process short, and resume screening can lengthen the talent acquisition process, the alternative you need is skills testing.

According to 6Q, resume screening approaches are useless.8 Most information on a typical resume can trigger biases, which can lead to incorrect hiring decisions. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why you should ditch resume screening and use a reliable, objective alternative to evaluate candidates.

Pre-employment skills testing is the logical choice when compared with resume screening. It can be integrated seamlessly into the recruitment process and help you make the right hiring choices.

What’s more, skills-based hiring can reduce bias and increase diversity – important considering tech is one of the least diverse industries out there. Continue reading to find out its many advantages for hiring software developers.

9. You haven’t upskilled your existing candidates if recruiting internally

In some cases, the talent you’re searching for is right in front of you — they’re already working for your organization and might just need to be recruited from inside the company. Your goal, if you want to pursue the option of hiring internally and completely avoid competing with other organizations, is to upskill your existing employees.

Upskilling can provide the required training opportunities for existing talent ready to move into a senior developer position. You’ll need a method for figuring out which skills you need to target, and skills testing can also help with this.

There are plenty of advantages to upskilling employees, including:

  • Increased employee retention

  • Recruitment budget savings

  • Increased employee morale

How to hire tech talent faster and win the war for talent

With the factors that may be preventing you from winning the war for talent in mind, here are the 17 ways to tackle these factors and successfully hire top developers for your organization.

17 ways to hire tech talent faster and win the war for talent

1. Communicate openly and be transparent

Since candidate engagement is crucial in the hiring process, and mix-ups and miscommunication can give your candidates the wrong impression of your organization, communication and transparency are essential.

Open communication

Open communication means providing updates on the status of your candidates’ applications, offering feedback to unsuccessful candidates, and providing your applicants with prompt replies to clarify their queries. It also means checking in with superstar candidates if you mentioned that you’ll “keep their resume on file.”


Transparency means informing candidates about the stages of the hiring process and letting them know what to expect along the way. This might include informing them of the expected duration of interviews or explaining how many rounds of interviews your hiring process has to ensure there are no surprise interviews or coding tests.

How does using a CRM tool help with communication and transparency?

Integrating a candidate relationship management (CRM) tool into your applicant tracking system is one way to keep candidates informed about the interview process. Candidate relationship management tools help you manage all areas of your hiring process and stay in contact with your talent pool, including runners-up.

This can transform how your candidates perceive your organization, boosting your company’s reputation and helping you win the war for talent.

2. Learn about visas and visa sponsorship

If your organization is hesitant about engaging with candidates who need a visa to work in the US, it’s time to think of the advantages. Your best option might require you to expand the geographical scope of your search and enhance your knowledge of work visas. This might be all it takes to find an A player.

Because opening up your application process to developers who currently reside in other countries can help you broaden your applicant pool, it’s an option you should consider as you can literally search the world for exceptional tech talent.

What’s more, with a larger talent pool, you’ll have a considerable number of candidates who are eager to impress and get started. Broadening your search range can potentially decrease your time to hire and enhance your retention rates at the same time.

3. Avoid repetitive rounds of interviews

Although interviews are a crucial part of the recruitment process, they can disengage candidates and lengthen your hiring process if you ask candidates to attend too many rounds of interviews that ask the same questions.

Repeatedly asking generic questions can give the impression that recruiters haven’t prepared for the interview or that they have poor listening skills.

Aim to create unique interview questions for each round, with all candidates receiving the same standardized set of questions. This can help you keep candidates engaged.

For instance, the technical interview must have a unique set of questions compared with the behavioral interview. You might ask candidates to explain what debugging is for the technical interview. In contrast, you might ask how important empathy and teamwork are in the behavioral interview. But always ask every candidate the same questions.

4. Promote your organization’s innovative technology

Innovative technology can be a unique selling point for your organization since an innovative workplace is stimulating for employees.

Does your organization offer any innovative technology, and are you doing enough to mention this to your candidates the right way? 

For instance, describing the unique types of technology you have as an organization in the job description is crucial. Later, if your candidates are curious to learn about the tech you use, mention it in the interview process. But go a step further; show that your company strives to innovate as part of its culture and explain how it uses leading tech for unique software projects.

5. Work on your career page and mention the company culture

The ideal way to describe your company’s culture is to use language that reflects your brand and its core values.

Use your core values and sum them up with words unique to your organization. For example, your organization might be diverse or inspired; alternatively, it might be motivated, results-driven, or transparent and inclusive.

6. Build a blog

A blog is just what you need to increase traffic to your company’s website and attract potential top developers to your organization.

Frequently updated company blogs that feature authoritative articles can attract traffic, including from jobseekers, giving you the edge over other companies.

There are particular best practices you must use if you want your blog to be successful. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Create a schedule for posting articles

  • Present articles in a reader-friendly way with various subheadings

  • Ensure that your headings contain keywords

  • Use clickable blog titles such as “How to…” or “X ways to….”

  • Feature compelling images throughout (which might be original or labeled free to use)

  • Use numbered bullet points

  • Feature compelling videos that showcase your organization or highlight the blog topic

  • Share company articles and request that others share them too

  • Aim to receive backlinks and to link to authoritative websites

7. Post testimonials from your employees that showcase significant milestones

Since strong applicants will research your organization and look for reviews from your existing employees, use testimonials to develop your career page.

Applicants might also be looking for company reviews from external sources — but as we’ve already mentioned, you cannot change a review posted by ex-employees.

With current testimonials in writing and video format**,** you’ll convey what makes your organization unique and show why it’s an exceptional place to work. This will put you ahead of other organizations when you hire top developers for your team.

Other formats you can use to showcase your organization with testimonials include:

  • Interviews in written form

  • Blog posts about the company

  • Posts on social media channels

  • Photos that show the best of your company

8. Use tact when rejecting candidates

Tact is essential when you’ve decided not to hire a candidate.

Despite being an uncomfortable and challenging situation for recruiters, remember that the candidate experience is still critical even at this stage.

Understanding how to reject a tech candidate diplomatically is crucial because your reputation can otherwise be damaged.

Since you might also leave the door open for candidates to apply to your organization in the future, tactful rejections can encourage them to do so.

Follow these steps to reject a candidate politely and diplomatically.

  • Either send a personalized email or use a telephone call to thank them for their application.

  • Immediately and diplomatically, make it clear that you’ve offered the position to another candidate.

  • Offer positive feedback about their application. For example, you might have been impressed by their soft skills.

  • Explain that the successful candidate had certain qualities that, on this occasion, impressed them more.

  • Mention that you’d welcome a future application from them. You might even say you want to add them to your social channels or networks if they thoroughly impressed you.

Remember to be concise and tactful. 

Further reading: Keep candidates informed with these candidate rejection email templates

9. Be active on social media to attract tech candidates

Robust social media campaigns can help fill your candidate pipeline. And since, according to American Express, social media strategies can help you stay ahead of the competition, use the following methods to stay active on social media and attract tech candidates:

  • Choose and monitor the social media channels that work best for your organization.

    As expending effort on social media channels bearing fruitless results is a waste of your time and can waste unsuitable candidates’ time, monitoring which platforms are attracting the right tech talent for your company is crucial.

  • Use social media channels to share content related to your company culture.

    As top candidates are scouring social media content to learn about companies, share blog posts and updates about career opportunities to give them the correct information about your company and the opportunities it provides.

  • Ask for your existing employees to help with your social media recruiting efforts.

    For example, they might explain what they love about your company and provide examples of the perks that they receive.

continuation of how to hire tech talent faster and win the war for talent

10. Use video interviewing to speed up the process

You may wish to explore remote hiring options for your developer position and keep time to hire low to ensure candidates stay engaged with your hiring process, which is where video interviewing can help. It’s the best way to achieve these two objectives simultaneously.

With video interviewing, you invite candidates to an interview without requiring their physical presence at the office or company headquarters. There are two popular ways to do this: pre-recorded video interviews only feature the candidate, while two-way video interviews are carried out live.

They significantly speed up the interview process and give remote candidates access to your interview process as well.

11. Ask the right questions

Are you asking your tech candidates the right interview questions to determine if they’re the right fit for your organization?

As well as asking technical interview questions, it’s crucial that you also ask behavioral questions related to soft skills, which can ensure you hire top developers for your team.  

6 technical interview questions for software developers

Here are six examples of technical questions you can ask software developers during the interview.

a. Which, in your opinion, is the best programming language?

Responses to this interview question will vary, but candidates should indicate knowledge of high-level languages such as C++, JavaScript, and Python.

b. What are the flaws in your favorite programming language?

Can your candidates highlight the flaws in the high-level programming languages they cited previously? For instance, if your candidates prefer using Python, they may mention that it is not as fast as C and causes issues due to its basic database access layer.

c. Which, in your opinion, is the worst programming language?

Again, responses to this technical interview question will vary, but answers should demonstrate that candidates know the drawbacks of the programming languages they mention.

d. What are the best features of your least favorite programming language?

Despite having a negative opinion of particular programming languages, can your candidates highlight the benefits of using them for specific projects? Could they adapt to using them if needed?

e. What is debugging in software development?

This question relates to testing, an area of software development with which your candidates should be familiar. Do your developers recognize that debugging is critical for eradicating errors before releasing a program?

f. Can you explain your process for debugging code?

Your developers should be able to describe particular strategies that they’d use to debug code. Do they know how critical debugging features are or how to use specific methods such as backtracking, binary search, or bug classification?

3 behavioral interview questions for social developers

Since soft skills are essential for your organization, here are 3 behavioral interview questions you can ask to hire top developers.

a. Describe a situation where two team members wanted to approach a project using different ideas. How did you decide on the way to proceed?

Look for effective communication as an essential soft skill in your candidates’ answers in response to this question. The best solutions demonstrate that your candidates have active listening skills.

b. You receive feedback on your code that states that it needs to be changed. How do you respond?

Since acting on feedback is a crucial skill, and candidates should act on feedback with the right attitude, responses should indicate that they’ll work with the client to correct their mistakes. Can they remain humble and use empathy to fix errors?

c. How do you commit to a high standard of work while meeting deadlines?

This interview question focuses on your candidates’ attention to detail. Can they routinely run tests and check for bugs to check for errors and avoid significant release setbacks for a project?

12. Note down the questions your candidates ask you

Part of winning the war for talent is knowing when you have an exceptional candidate in front of you. One factor that indicates excellence, curiosity, and enthusiasm in a candidate is the quality of questions they ask you.

Make sure to invert the interview process to allow candidates to ask about the organization and take note of their questions.

They might ask about the team members they’d be working with, the team structure, the tech stack your organization uses, or the project prioritization process. And since the answers you provide will help candidates recognize if the role is a good fit for them, make sure to provide in-depth answers to clarify their doubts.

13. Personalize the interview process

According to DDI development, personalizing the interview process by encouraging deep conversations and building meaningful connections with candidates should be your main priority during the interview stage.

It can be a delicate balance to get right, but it will help you engage candidates, so here are some of the dos and don’ts of interview personalization.

  • Do mention projects that your organization is working on. This will give your candidates a flavor of the tasks they’d be responsible for and will pique your candidates’ curiosity. But remember, only mention tasks that aren’t protected by a non-disclosure agreement.

  • Don’t go off-topic or exchange irrelevant pleasantries. Don’t go into detail about your candidates’ favorite hobbies or pastimes. Making small talk is not required during an interview and can seem irrelevant or meaningless.

  • Do mention the challenges that your organization currently faces. Ask your candidates for an opinion on the problems your company is currently up against. Although they might not provide the exact answer you’re looking for, you can gauge their level of enthusiasm for your vacancy by the responses they provide.  

  • Don’t ask generic questions. When personalizing the interview process, generic interview questions like “tell me about yourself” are also not required. Instead, note what you already know about your candidates from their skills tests results or resume details and discuss these points concerning your organization.

  • Do introduce your team members to your candidates. During the interview rounds, you might introduce your candidates to the rest of your team to personalize the interview experience and get their opinion on which candidates they connected with.

14. Use employee referral programs

One of the ideal internal recruitment methods for hiring top developers is to use employee referral programs. These can give you access to talent that has been pre-vetted by your existing employees, so you know your candidates are a potential match for your organization.

As Workable states, referred candidates are typically cheaper and faster to hire. There’s also the added benefit that retention rates are usually higher with referred candidates.

When you ask existing employees for recommended referrals, use incentives to reward them for referrals that fit your organization to make your employee referral program work.

Some rewards you might offer are:

  • Additional vacation time

  • Salary bonuses

  • Charitable donations

Don’t forget to keep employees informed about the progress of the employee referral program and give them the recognition they deserve when you’ve hired a candidate.

15. Use skill tests to evaluate candidates faster and more efficiently

Instead of resume screening, incorporate a skills-testing approach before starting the interviews. There is a vast range of recommended tests for developers, which include:

Skills testing is also a more efficient way to evaluate developers since they give you an objective perspective on your candidates based on their performance and test scores. This will help you avoid unconscious bias during the recruitment process.

16. Use skill tests to help you upskill existing employees

You can also use skill tests to help you upskill developers already in your organization to facilitate internal recruitment. If you’re aware that one of your developers is on the threshold of becoming a senior engineer but are unsure which specific skills they need to master to reach the next level, use skills tests to find out.

For instance, if your employees are competent at using TypeScript algorithms, but you suspect they lack the TypeScript debugging skills required to become a senior engineer, you could use skill tests to determine which areas they need to improve.

17. Onboard candidates efficiently to enhance retention and avoid mis-hiring

While you might prioritize beating your competition by hiring quickly, don’t forget to focus on the onboarding stage to enhance retention — you could still end up failing to win the war for talent in the long run if your employees are not happy at work because of a poor onboarding process. To onboard candidates successfully, try to:

  • Carry out pre-onboarding steps. Pre-onboarding includes all of the interactions between signing the offer letter and the moment your developer starts work. The process involves sending an email to welcome the employee, informing them about the preparation for the onboarding process, and making a suggestion about initial tasks they can get started on.

  • Assign a mentor to your new hire. The mentor you assign should be at the same level experience-wise but should know enough about the organization to assist your new developer.

  • Arrange meetings with the team. Help your new developer settle in and get to know all team members by encouraging them to participate in coffee chats, one-on-one meetings, or team-building activities.

  • Give your new hire an initial task and an evaluation. When you give your new developer a first assessment of their initial task, ensure that you give a transparent review and provide them with assessment criteria and targets. Use tools to quality check their coding skills and don’t criticize the methods or workarounds if the coding quality is good.

Put in place strategies for onboarding remote developers

Only 12% of employees say their organization does a great job of onboarding, but helping remote workers to settle in is more important than ever. Onboarding remote developers is essential for retention, so here are some of the steps to help you achieve this:

1. Send personalized company swag to their home to build excitement

2. Let them know what to expect on their first day via email

3. Give them access to accounts and team communication tools

4. Encourage your new developer to communicate via communication channels and video conferences during the first week

5. Organize virtual one-on-one meetings or coffee chats each day for the first week

6. Assign your new developer a mentor and encourage your new hire to ask questions

7. Organize training sessions and work with them to establish goals and targets to meet

8. Ensure that onboarding is ongoing and provide answers to your new hire’s questions

Implement these strategies to win the war for talent and hire top developers

Despite the challenges you might face when competing with other tech organizations for talent, you can win the tech war for talent, and you will be able to hire the right developer for your team.

To hire exceptional developers effortlessly and avoid alienating candidates, don’t forget to implement these key points:

  • Communicate openly and be transparent about the hiring process

  • Hire remotely and learn about visa sponsorship

  • Ask the right interview questions and personalize the interview process

  • Use referral programs and incentivize employees during the process

  • Integrate skills testing into your hiring process

  • Efficiently onboard top developers by assigning mentors and arranging coffee chats

Remember that skills testing can significantly affect your hiring process since it can help you hire exceptional talent. Take a look at reliable skill-testing platforms to enhance your hiring process and hire top developers effortlessly. Try TestGorilla for free.


  1. forbes.com; The Tech Talent War Has No End In Sight. Here’s What You Need To Know

  2. kornferry.com; The $8.5 Trillion Talent Shortage

  3. linkedin.com; Employers catch on: remote job posts rise 357% as tech, media lead the way

  4. comptia.org; WORKFORCE AND LEARNING TRENDS 2021

  5. igniyte.co.uk; The importance of employer branding in recruitment

  6. forbes.com; Told To Do Around 10 Interviews, A Job Seeker Pulls Out Of The Running And Shares His Frustration In A Viral LinkedIn Post

  7. rootstrap.com; How Long Does it Take to Hire Developers?

  8. inside.6q.io; Resume Screening Is Useless (Here’s What to Do Instead)


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