It’s a sad state of affairs for software developers. Their talents are in higher demand than ever, and yet many of them have reached the point where they won’t even answer a phone call from an unknown number due to constant contact by recruiters.
Making matters worse, once in the clutches of said recruiter, most companies are still only looking to hire people with certain names on their résumés: Google, Microsoft, Amazon or Facebook.
As a jobs-finding site, Indeed.com has long offered good jobs to everyone, not just software developers. But two years ago, the company became irate with the state of recruiting and decided to do something about it by building a premium job-listing site specifically targeted at software engineers.
Prime, as Indeed puts it, offers a window into the top 5% of software developers listing their résumés on the site. Through a series of coding challenges, these candidates are vetted for their skills, ensuring that only real developers make the cut.
This also allows for talent outside of the normal stream to be surfaced to recruiters. Doug Gray, senior vice president of engineering, said that sometimes employers become blinded by those big names on a résumé, and thus they may pass over a candidate with a Ph.D. in another field, but years of experience in software development.
Two years in, Prime isn’t just helping customers; it’s also helping Indeed find new talent. It was all born out of discoveries made within the company’s data. Said Gray: “One of the things our data showed was that right now high-tech jobs have an interesting market dynamic. Many employers are looking for high-tech workers like software engineers. We were able to see what kinds of résumés get contacted more frequently than others. It turns out it’s software engineers.”
Gray said that the popularity of engineers makes them targets for recruiters, many of whom are simply latching onto a keyword in the candidate’s résumé and making a cold call. “We saw the same pattern ourselves: Engineers are inundated by contact from recruiters. They develop blindness and stop responding,” he said.
Each week, a new group of candidates is presented to Indeed Prime customers, said Gray. “Employers can see [that] this is the pool for this week—who am I interested in contacting?” he said. “We’re able to discover someone you might normally review. These candidates that we’re pulling in, most are sourced from their job search, and they’ve engaged with us in some way, so they’re at least in some way engaged with the job seeking experiences. There’s a 60% positive response rate.”
Gray said that rate of response is much higher than normal.
Elsewhere, Indeed has a few development practices that differentiate it from other software companies. For a start, Indeed has four offices, and each one has its own culture. This allows each team to offer its own insights into the development of projects.
Specifically, Gray said that Indeed does not use the spoke and hub approach to offices. Instead of all products being designed at the center and built by the outside hub branches, Indeed divides up the work into modules across a single project.
This ensures that each office has ownership over its work, but they’re also not stuck being the office that only works on Product X or Y. The danger, said Gray, is that developers will get bored when working on the same product for many years, and are likely to seek a new job elsewhere.
Another unique tactic at Indeed is that its architecture is designed for fast experimentation on live systems. Gray said the team at Indeed can run around 500 experiments on their site per week. After analyzing the data, most of those experiments turn out to be failures, but about 30% of them work out, he said.
“One of the things to understand about us is how data-driven we are,” said Gray. “The way we view the world is figuring out how to provide a great job-seeker experience for billions of people. We think of our market as everyone who wants a job. Every week we run 500 experiments and 70% fail, and that’s awesome because that means we found some good ideas.
“Where does the data come from? Two hundred million visitors a month. We have country-specific sites in 60 different countries around the world. That represents 95% of world GDP.”
And that’s important because the growth of software development as a career is not limited to the United States, or even to the first world. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects there to be 1.3 million software development jobs by 2024, and that’s 17% more than we have today. Compare that to the 400,000 developers the Bureau expects to see enter the job market over the same period of time, making for a major gap that needs to be filled.