Written by Agnieszka Szczerba Recruiting | Technology

Should an IT recruiter be tech savvy?

In recent months (already in 2021), I have twice come across the opinion that a recruiter working in the IT industry does not have to be "tech-savvy". Once it came from an experienced software development manager, the second time I heard it from a well-known American Youtuber.

Do I agree with these opinions? Absolutely not, no and no again.

A technical recruiter must be tech-savvy. But what does that actually mean?

Firstly, a technical recruiter must be interested in information technology. No, fear not. You don't have to be an engineer. I'm not one either.

The recruitment industry attracts people from very different career paths like no other. Maybe only the advertising industry is still so diverse. And that is great. A lot of recruiters have an arts or social science background. I, myself, am a philologist when it comes to my university education. People with a humanities or social sciences background often think that understanding computer science is very difficult or requires advanced knowledge of mathematics. Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.

A good understanding of computer science requires only a good knowledge (or better to say "feel") of classical logic and some concentration.

If we have these skills (and we probably all have them) then we are able to understand the language of information technology concepts. And...an amazing journey begins. Just for humanists. It's a bit like going back to high school and discovering our first philosophy book and starting to learn about philosophers who describe the world. Because computer science is nothing more than describing the world with a specific "metalanguage". Translating what is physical and concrete into digital language.

If you operate on the level of so-called "buzzwords", unfortunately, you limit all the pleasure connected with discovering the world of technology and your work becomes just... another boring, repetitive office job. You don't want that, do you? Life is too short for boring work.

If you studied psychology, sociology, philology, I assure you that, for example, Martin Fowler's lectures on YouTube (check who that is) will be an intellectual feast for you...if you understand the language of technology.

OK. If you think my arguments are pretty highbrow and you just want to close your projects...You're entitled to that too. Which doesn't change the fact that you have to become...tech-savvy.

 If you want to successfully close projects because you want a bigger bonus, to get promoted in the organization, or whatever, you need to understand the language of IT concepts on a deep level. What is this deep level? It is the level at which you are able to explain abstract concepts to yourself. You understand them on the same level as you understand physical objects like a table, a chair, a dog, etc.

Why do I need to have this level of understanding of technology?

Firstly, one of the two most common motivators for IT candidates to change jobs is the technology stack. For those who are not yet familiar with this concept: the technology stack is the set of technologies (backend programming language, database technology, frontend technology, work methodology) in which the candidate will work.

Today, in the post-Covid era, the candidates are responding to our messages much less than they did before the pandemic. There are several reasons for this - I will devote a separate post to this topic. However, one thing is certain. IT candidates get a lot of offers, to put it mildly. However, they get few good offers. What is a good offer? It is a well-formulated offer, which also includes an interesting and clear message. But a good offer is also a well-written offer. And in order to describe the technology stack to the candidate well, you must, first of all, understand what its strengths are. Otherwise, your message to the candidate will disappear in the hundreds of spam messages in his inbox.

Secondly. If you can't have a substantive conversation with the hiring manager (HM) then don't get into recruitment. A good and in-depth conversation with the HM is in my opinion the most important success factor in IT recruitment. If you're not able to have that conversation, your job becomes a lottery, and you probably don't want that. Especially if you are a novice recruiter, you need to be aware of how much the nuances of the position play a role in IT recruitment. What emphasis do you place on a particular framework/database technology/ aspect of understanding application architecture?

Thirdly.  In the post-Covid era, recruitment has become a much more relational field than ever before. To get candidates to talk about an offer you need to speak the same language as them. This is known as the 'unity principle' one of the key principles of influencing people, formulated by Robert Cialdini, one of the most famous scientists studying the principles of influencing people and interpersonal communication. Candidate language is the language of technological concepts. If you don't know it (or you only think you know it and you operate on the level of buzzwords), you will not create unity with a candidate.

The manager, I mentioned at the beginning, changed his mind after hearing the arguments I described above. He said- yes, a tech-savvy recruiter is a recruiter and not a "headhunter".

Answer yourself whether you want to be a "CV salesman in a call centre" or a relationship-building recruiter. If the latter - keep learning the language of concepts and follow IT developments.

Because it's a never-ending story.

PS. If you want to learn more about technology concepts  for non-tech people, check our training  on Learn IT Recruitment

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