It would not be a stretch to compare the process for recruiting technical talent in the Philippines to a traditional romantic courtship, says Voyager’s Sharmaine Yap
The author Sharmaine Yap is a software engineer at Voyager Innovations, the digital arm of Smart Communications and PLDT. She specialises in Android development and has so far worked on two of Voyager’s digital media products and platforms.
If you’re building a tech company in the Philippines, there’s no other way to say it: recruiting developers in the country is difficult. There’s no better illustration of this fact than the DevCon Summit held on November 13, which gathered a wide selection of the top tech companies in the nation — all vying for the attention of the programmers in attendance.
As someone who manned the booth of Voyager Innovation (digital arm of PLDT and Smart Communications), I can personally attest to the fact that piquing the interest of programmers is a considerable challenge.
In fact, it would not be a stretch to compare the process for recruiting technical talent to the way that romantic courtship has traditionally been done in the Philippines.
You have to woo, and if you don’t, someone else will — it’s a simple function of supply and demand. There is a short supply of skilled programmers in our tech ecosystem, so demand for them is high (and consequently, they can afford to be a little demanding as anyone in their shoes would naturally be).
Here’s what I learned from my stint as a recruiter:
1. You need to send in your friendliest people to recruit
This may seem like a no-brainer, but judging by the amount of booths where the representatives were only sitting around and talking amongst themselves, it’s still one that some companies don’t seem to get. Your recruiters must be friendly. They must actively approach the programmers rather than waiting for them to come over.
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Additionally, they must skirt a thin line by promoting the value of working for their respective company, all while not lapsing into a hard sell. No one, least of all developers likes to just be treated to a hardcore pitch.
2. You need to dress (and look!) the part
Just as you would dress to impress for a job interview, so should you also try to wear your best when recruiting. All of us in attendance wore casual outfits, coupled with official jackets that made us stand out in the crowded auditorium.
This made us seem friendlier, more down-to-earth, and overall just more approachable compared to if we were wearing suits. We came across as people you’d feel fine to hang out with or be officemates with.
3. You need to speak their language
Of course, your representatives cannot be all style and no substance. They must be able to reasonably interface with developers and field their questions, even if they are not software engineers themselves.
To achieve this goal, companies must thoroughly orient their representatives on key aspects pertaining to their programming culture, such as what software development methodology they use, what engineering departments there are and what perks engineers have.
Familiarising the representatives with basics like this goes a long way toward impressing engineers and showing them that they are an important part of a company’s culture.
We also made sure to have some of our actual programmers active in our area as well. That way, prospective programmers could first-hand see and hear our experiences as developers in the company, as they would be able to relate to our stories and anecdotes. It’d be like getting advice from an older sibling or friend.
4. You need to challenge them
We could have been like any other booth at DevCon by simply having marketing collaterals available for developers to pick up and a sheet for them to sign in to. Instead, we chose to set up a parallel challenge for them to complete, details of which could be found below.
This practice is common for tech companies in recruiting in Silicon Valley and other tech hotbeds. Programmers like using their wits to solve tough problems and the company gets technical talent that has already proved their mettle.
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5. You need to give out swag
And please, let it not be pencils or thumb drives. You need to get more creative when it comes out to the company merchandise you give out. At our booth, we gave out coasters, knowing that programmers often like to have a hot cup of coffee (or a cold beer!) when coding. We also gave away wire organisers to help them arrange their work or battle stations.
The lucky winner or winners who solved the above challenge were treated to some serious headphones or a terabyte hard-drive.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but as you can see from the above pointers I do think it can be done.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at writers[at]e27[dot]co
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