5 Questions to Improve Your Hiring and Workforce Planning Strategies

by | Oct 12, 2023

When it comes time to hire engineers and other high-demand/low-supply teammates, the ‘wait and see what comes our way’ approach just doesn’t cut it. Finding exceptional candidates means actively recruiting talent with a mix of job ads, professional associations, career fairs, employee referrals, and active outbound recruitment — but where you look is just one part of the equation.

Before setting out to find top-tier candidates, it’s imperative that your team takes a step back and assesses your company’s readiness to engage with the best and brightest. These five questions will help you explore the key areas of employer branding and recruitment. 

1. How “sellable” are you to your target candidates?

Long before searching for candidates, you need to take a step back and ask yourself: What makes your company and vacancy alluring to the great and exceptional developers of the world? 

This question really revolves around your company, culture, and initiatives, like: 

  • Do you believe in flexible work? — When people have the chance to work flexibly, 87% of them take it. Top candidates want positions that empower them to choose how they get their work done, whether that’s WFH, hybrid offices, or flexible scheduling. 
  • Is your compensation package competitive? — While a solid base pay will pique an applicant’s interest, the total package value will set you apart –  cash bonuses, company stock, continued education fund, paid time off, and health benefits. Retirement saving programs is another critical factor, with GenZ participating in 401K matching programs at double the rate of their millennial counterparts.
  • Are you striving to be best-in-class? — The most talented developers and change agents will gravitate toward progressive environments that are committed to staying on the cutting edge. Is your tech stack and development workflow headed in that direction? Is your company vision aligned with core market needs? What is your competitive differentiator today, and what might it be ahead?

2. Is your recruiting process optimized to attract who you need?

Your recruiting process should be direct, efficient, and cost-effective. This means getting laser-focused when it comes to who you want to recruit and then leveraging your company’s selling points to get the best candidates onboard. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Has everyone agreed on a vision of success? — All those involved in the recruiting process need to align on not only who you want to hire, but how it’s going to happen. Success is defined by why you need the hire and who you can afford to hire. Ensure the candidate expectations is reasonable for your compensation package. Sometimes, one has to pay more or expect less. Sit down and talk through timelines, priority needs (must-have, nice to have) and vetting techniques.
  • Have you created feedback loops? — Every time you engage a potential candidate, you leave a brand impression on them and you learn something in return. Feedback loops get people on the same page. Clear, factual and focused talent vetting lets a hiring team react to actual talent vs. theoretically determining who “the right hire” is. Feedback loops within 24-48 hours bring focus to the hiring team and candidates alike.
  • What’s the plan to counteract gaps? — No recruiting process is perfect. Even if you can’t close a gap, awareness can counteract gaps. For instance, is someone on your interview panel going out of town and do you have a stand-in for them? Is your engineering test outdated, representing the work your team has done vs. what they will do? Can you enhance or identify an alternative (such as a live whiteboard session) instead? 

3. Is your interview process optimized to vet who you need?

There’s no shortage of opportunities for great candidates, and they know it. Your team needs to be highly communicative and avoid convoluted steps and processes that get in the way of progress. If you get it right, even the candidates you don’t hire will be more likely to try again in the future or send talent your way.

Ask yourself: 

  • Can your interview team spot the best resumes? — Keyword filters don’t cut it. Your interview team must be trained to pick out the best resumes in a sea of ‘maybes’, and that means having a clear vision of your ideal candidate. 
  • Is your interview process streamlined? — Skills tests and assessments may sound like a highly efficient way to narrow down your list, but they’re time-consuming and impersonal for applicants. Take a walk in the candidate’s shoes and focus on streamlining the experience. If you implement an assessment stage, keep it focused and ask yourself what insights you’ll uniquely gain from the assessment that is distinct from the interviews themselves.
  • Does your interview process uncover priority skills and motivators? — Technical competency is one thing. The best-fit candidates will harbor motivations and aspirations that align with your company’s current challenges not to mention culture, mission, values, and long-term workforce plan. 

4. Are you building a culture strong enough to attract and retain talent?  

When you have a great employer culture, it’ll extend beyond the workplace. Companies like Microsoft and Chegg breeze through the recruiting process because they continuously have a waitlist of talented individuals clamoring to work for them. They’ve not only cultivated a powerful culture, but a community. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What do current culture and employee engagement initiatives look like? — Candid conversations with your employees can help you determine if you’re doing enough to retain and attract top talent. 
  • Do you have an individual development plan for your employees? — Employees are only as invested in your company as you are invested in them. You can foster loyalty by working with employees to develop an IDP. 
  • Are you offering continuing education or career advancement opportunities? — The best talent never wants to hit a ceiling; they yearn for opportunities to keep growing. If you’re not actively providing them with these pathways, they’ll start looking elsewhere.  

5. Where will you find the talent you need?

To create a shortlist of fantastic candidates, you’ll need to cast a net far wider than typical job boards. Consider where your ideal candidates are hanging out — conferences they attend, organizations they belong to, websites they read, and so on. 

If you’ve invested in workforce positioning and planning, you’ll have the foresight and time necessary to leverage new sources, but what if you don’t have the manpower or specialized expertise? 

Outsourcing a portion of your HR department can help your team avoid the humdrum resume stack and jump ahead to scheduling interviews with the exceptional developers who can move your organization forward.

Have questions? You can read more about the role of recruiting in workforce planning, or reach out to Digital Knack and learn why we’re chosen to build 1 out of every 5 early-stage teams. 


Written by Marcia Needels