How Recruiters Find Top Talent in Tech

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Apr 28, 2021

Apr 28, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

As the tech industry continues to expand, recruiters have no shortage of positions to fill. Industry data projects that there will be hundreds of thousands of new tech jobs available in 2021. The challenge is filling these roles with top-notch talent. 

Tech companies aren’t searching for average job candidates. These businesses want sharp and savvy individuals who will drive their companies forward — both technically and culturally. Here’s what top recruiters are looking for in tech professionals and how they find the best talent.

What Tech Recruiters Are Looking For

When filling job openings, tech recruiters look for some level of experience, obviously. But experience is only part of the equation in the competitive tech industry. Today’s top applicants bring more to the table than the lines on their résumés. Recruiters should keep a few qualifications in mind to funnel the best candidates to tech companies. 

Technical Skills

The top professionals in tech have measurable technical skills in their focus area. Recruiters should build skills assessments into their screening protocols to put an applicant’s experience to the test. 

When filling a position for a software developer, for example, you can screen candidates through online code interviews. These live coding environments allow tech companies to assess a potential hire’s technical aptitude in real time, narrowing down qualified candidates from the start. 


Hard skills were once a clear path to a job in tech. But soft skills are officially having their moment. As a recruiter, your job is to find a candidate who will contribute to a company’s technical offerings and overall culture. 

In other words, businesses are looking for hires they actually want to work with. Attributes like a positive attitude, collaborative mindset, and strong communication skills should be on your list of recruitment criteria. 

A recruiter’s first impression of a candidate holds weight, but companies will confirm a cultural fit during the interview process. Many include employees as well as managers in these interviews to confirm that a potential hire will be a positive addition to the office.

Growth Potential 

Tech companies want to invest in their employees. And while recruiters shouldn’t seek talent based on potential alone, you’ll want to recruit professionals with a clear history of growth. 

When sifting through résumés, look for candidates who took on promotions within a company or showed upward mobility when moving on. You can then discuss their past projects and future ambitions throughout the interview process. Tech companies have high growth potential, so you should seek out professionals who will forge their own paths. 


The tech industry’s growth potential also requires employees to be adaptable. A business could launch a new initiative or announce a merger at any moment, so tech talent needs to thrive through change. 

How can recruiters spot adaptability? Personality tests and interview questions are two of the main ways to vet for this attribute. Candidates’ answers will reflect how well they adapt to change and productively move forward. 

Remember, every tech company has their own skills requirements and culture. The definition of “top talent” varies by company. While in-house recruitment teams will develop a refined eye for talent, agency recruiters need to adjust their strategies to meet client needs. 

Where Recruiters Source New Tech Hires

Once you narrow down your shortlist of attributes, you need to find the most qualified candidates. This is often the tricky part of recruitment. Fortunately, meeting talented tech candidates where they are doesn’t need to be hard. You just have to know where to look. Here are some of the top places for sourcing new tech hires. 

Online Job Marketplaces

Job sites like LinkedIn and Indeed are full — saturated even — with potential hires. However, recruiters can find the best needles in that abundant haystack with the right strategy. 

Posting a job and waiting for the influx of applicants isn’t necessarily the optimal way to find top talent. Rather, start your hunt within your own network, search for candidates using specific keywords, and skim through LinkedIn groups. It also doesn’t hurt to look for candidates who have worked at big-name companies. 

Industry Events

While most large-scale industry events are currently happening virtually, recruiters can still use these opportunities to reach talent. Online events like hackathons are great for spotting candidates who have technical talent and soft skills. As you attend these events, take note of impressive developers and reach out to them directly. A hackathon winner might just be your next hire. 


Your past hires can be some of the best tools for finding fresh talent. Recruiters should maintain a network of tech professionals, reaching out to close contacts for referrals. This process is typically easier for in-house recruiters, since your colleagues can refer candidates to you (and potentially receive an incentive in return). Agency recruiters will benefit from keeping up with online networks and holding on to résumés from past recruits.

Remember that it’s best to be specific when seeking referrals. Opening the floodgates without parameters will put far too many emails in your inbox. Know whom to ask and which qualifications to ask for when reaching out to your professional network. 

Personal Projects

The tech industry is prime for side hustles. Tech professionals often work on personal projects and collaborative efforts outside of their day job, and these may lead you to rising talent. Tech publications highlight these efforts, but you can also find upcoming thought leaders through podcasts, social media, blogs, and the industry events mentioned above. 

Individuals working on passion projects may be passive candidates in the tech job market. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in taking a meeting. Be clear about what drew you to their project and what incentives your company can offer. 

Tech recruiters have an increasingly difficult job: finding impressive talent to innovate, collaborate, and support a company’s goals. Tech companies have a high bar for entry, but this doesn’t have to stop you from recruiting effectively. All it takes is knowing the attributes to look for and meeting the candidates where they are.