Candidate Selection

How to Cut Your Engineering Recruitment Time in Half

Looking to hire an engineer? Aren’t we all.

That’s the problem to the supply and demand equation, which is creating the engineering shortage. But Bret Reckard, a technical recruiting manager at Sequoia Capital, recently offered up some sage advice on how to cut the recruitment time in half.

It comes down to employee referrals, according to a TechCrunch post by his colleague Bryan Schreier. He notes Reckard estimates that a company looking for a dozen engineers will spend roughly 1,200 hours recruiting, if only 20 percent of the job applicants come through employee referrals.

But if you ratchet up employee referrals to 80 percent, the average amount of time needed to recruit the dozen engineers is closer to 750 hours.

“Between 40 to 60 percent of hires should come from referrals,” Schreier says. “If your percentage is less than that you likely aren’t doing enough to encourage referrals, or worse, your employees can’t recommend your company to their friends.”


He softened the blow by noting that another reason could be that a startup has tapped out its network it uses to hire. But in either case, a young company hasn’t likely gone to extremes to get its employees to recruit engineering talent.

One suggestion is to meet with employees and develop a list of the best engineers from their previous jobs, social networks and college. These lists can be as important as an employee referral of a friend.

Closing the Deal

Improving the intake of referrals is one of two key measures to speeding along the process of landing the dozen engineers. The other key component is closing the deal with the applicant.

Companies should ideally be able to get 75 percent of job applicants to accept their offer, Schreier notes. “Your close starts as soon as you met a candidate with no upper limit to the lengths you can go,” he says.

That type of attitude isn’t lost on some companies, like StumbleUpon. For the past year, the startup has been using a same-day offer technique for senior engineers it is hot to hire. A candidate is interviewed and an offer is extended immediately afterward.

“I find [same-day offers] make the process easier. You have a good engineer, you get them in the door and you don’t over think it,” says Brenda O’Kane, StumbleUpon’s head of engineering, in a recent interview with Dice News. “If we wait five days to give them an offer, we may lose them.”

About Dawn Kawamoto

Dawn Kawamoto is the associate editor of Dice. She is an award-winning technology and business reporter, previously working for such publications as CNET's where she reported on a wide range of sectors from enterprise software to mobile computing to Internet darlings and the funding that fueled their growth. In 2002, she was a Gerald Loeb Awards finalist for coverage on Oracle's sales practices.