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Building Technical Recruiting Teams: Engagement Models, Tooling and Technology

Lushi Zeng

Technical recruiting teams play a pivotal role in helping their organizations scale, understanding not just the technical skills required but also the cultural fit that defines successful teams. 

As companies grow, so do the challenges and strategies of their technical recruiting teams. From the early days of being a tight-knit group to expanding into a larger organization, tools, processes, and partnerships evolve. They have to navigate a more complex web of emerging technologies, evolving job roles, and increasing demands to source and close candidates – all while trying to keep pace with the company's growth. Their approach to tech recruiting must adapt based on maturity, team size, and a number of other factors. 

Understanding Recruiting Lifecycle Stages

We're going to walk you through the different stages of a tech recruiting team's growth: Lean, growing, and large. 

We'll share real stories from companies at each stage, showing how they've navigated the ups and downs of scaling their teams. Whether your technical recruiting team is just starting out or well-established and looking for fresh ideas and strategies, there's something here for everyone. 

Our goal? To provide you with insights and tips on building a successful technical recruiting function that grows with your company.

Stage 1: The Lean Talent Team

Lean talent teams are typically but not exclusively part of small, early-stage companies. They are focused on building the talent acquisition foundation of their organization; have minimal internal sourcing capability; and are highly dependent on external technical recruiting partners. They may have one or two technical recruiters wearing multiple hats, or they may not have any technical recruiting experience at all. 

Technical Recruiting Approach

For lean talent teams, the right technical recruiting partner is essential. Everything from talent sourcing to screening to interviewing is managed or supported by an external partner. At this stage of maturity, organizations need a high-touch and personalized recruitment process, often with significant involvement from the founding team. 

Engagement Models

Engagement models can vary for lean talent teams, since an organization’s size doesn’t necessarily correlate with its maturity. For smaller companies, it’s common to engage technical recruiters on a contingency model to fill key roles. Larger or rapidly-growing companies with more roles to fill often opt for embedded recruiting or RPO models to better meet hiring demands. 

Tooling & Technology

Lean talent teams typically don’t have robust recruiting technology stacks. They may have a basic Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or leverage platforms like LinkedIn for direct sourcing, but they ultimately rely on their technical recruiting partner for tooling and technology as their internal need is limited.

Stage 2: The Growing Talent Team

Growing talent teams are usually found in companies where growth is happening across the organization, such as growth-stage startups that have recently secured funding. As the team scales, there is an increased need for specialization in the recruiting function; creating structured recruiting processes; and building internal capabilities. Growing talent teams often require strategic collaboration with external technical recruiters to support the hiring demands of their organization.

Technical Recruiting Approach

As they’re more mature than their lean counterparts, growing talent teams have less reliance on external agencies and employ a mix of internal and agency talent sourcing. They may still rely on technical recruiting firms to source and fill technical roles, depending on how specialized their internal recruiters are. 

Organizations at this stage need more sophisticated recruiting strategies, including a greater focus on employer branding and the candidate experience. Structure, scalability, and some process automation are also common. 

Engagement Models

For growing talent teams, engagement models start to evolve in complexity and structure to match expanding needs and objectives. As the organization transitions from a handful of critical hires to scaling its workforce, companies might blend the flexibility of contingency recruitment for hard-to-fill or niche roles with an embedded or RPO model for volume hiring. A hybrid approach allows growing talent teams to maintain agility to respond to market changes, while also building processes and systems necessary for scalable hiring.

Tooling & Technology

At this stage of maturity, investment in technology is a necessity. Talent teams may invest in a more robust ATS to automate and streamline parts of the recruitment process, like posting jobs or candidate screening. Recruiting-focused CRM systems may also be used to build and nurture the talent pipeline. 

As hiring volume increases, so do candidate sourcing requirements. To meet demand, talent teams may lean on their technical recruiting partners or seek tools with advanced sourcing capabilities, AI-driven candidate matching, and analytics for tracking recruitment metrics. These tools not only improve efficiency but also provide valuable insights for optimizing recruitment strategies.

Stage 3: The Large Talent Team

Large talent teams are typically found in established organizations or tech companies that have reached a level of maturity in their market. This stage is characterized by a wide range of specialized roles within the organization, and a significant focus on sustaining growth while innovating recruitment practices. At this point in the company lifecycle, the recruitment function is highly specialized, and they may have teams or technical recruiters dedicated to different technology stacks, seniority levels, or geographic areas.

Technical Recruiting Approach

The majority of recruitment at this stage is managed in-house by a diverse team of specialized recruiters. These teams are better equipped than lean and growing talent teams to source candidates for a wide range of technical roles, from niche positions to high-volume recruitment for expanding departments. 

Their technical recruiting approach is highly strategic and robust, and there is more emphasis on maintaining a competitive employer brand; diversity and inclusion initiatives; and building long-term talent engagement via referral programs, alumni networks, and industry events.

Engagement Models

For large talent teams, engagement models often include a mix of in-house recruitment for most roles, complemented by strategic partnerships with external agencies for highly specialized or hard-to-fill positions. Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) might still play a part, particularly for operational roles or when entering new markets, and these teams may lean on Executive Search firms to fill key leadership positions.  However, the majority of recruitment activities are managed internally.

Tooling & Technology

Large talent teams typically have a comprehensive technology stack designed to support recruiting processes. An advanced ATS, CRM systems to aid candidate engagement, and analytics tools to measure recruiting performance are common. Additionally, they often use a range of specialized tools for skills assessment, video interviewing, and online onboarding to ensure a high-quality candidate experience.

Given growth demands and volume, technical recruiting teams at this stage may look to AI sourcing and candidate engagement tools to increase candidate quality, accelerate manual processes, and more effectively build talent pipelines.  

The integration of technology into recruiting practices is aimed not just at efficiency but also improving the experience of candidates—ensuring that despite the scale, they feel valued and engaged throughout the recruitment process.

From Lean to Large: NexHealth

In 2021, Rocket partnered with NexHealth, a Series B startup with a lean technical recruiting team. We were tasked with building their engineering and product teams, successfully placing several key hires that were instrumental to their growth. Our collaboration was pivotal as NexHealth approached a significant milestone – raising their Series C in early 2022. 

Post-funding, NexHealth made a strategic decision to expand their internal capabilities and reduce external dependencies, growing their internal recruiting team to align with demands and maturity. 

As NexHealth continued its growth trajectory and its team grew larger, they engaged with Rocket to bolster their recruiting technology and tooling, transitioning to Hireflow to accelerate candidate sourcing, engagement, and ultimately time-to-hire. 

By leveraging Hireflow, NexHealth's in-house recruiters could more efficiently source talent and expand their candidate pipeline, ensuring sustained and scalable recruitment success. The shift not only reflects the maturation of their recruiting strategy but also highlights how external partners like Rocket can adapt to provide tailored tools and support, ensuring that companies continue to thrive through their growth stages.

A Partner for Every Stage of Growth

Regardless of an organization’s technical recruiting maturity, one thing remains constant: the need for a reliable, skilled partner who understands your unique challenges at every stage. Rocket is here to be that partner. We offer the expertise, tools, and personalized approach to ensure success for your organization.

Reach out to us today to learn how we can help with your technical recruiting needs.

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