Michal Juhas has extensive knowledge of tech hiring, and here, he discusses strategies and hands-on techniques on how to use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates to join your tech teams. Michal is CEO and Founder of Geek Recruiters & Global Talents Hub and former CTO at HotelQuickly, and it’s fair to say he knows a lot about hiring remotely.

Michal Juhas CTO Craft speaker
Michal Juhas
Hi Michal, welcome to the CTO Craft Spotlight Q & A. We’re so excited that you’re one of our May MiniCon speakers. Could you give us some further insight into what exactly you will discuss at the CTO Craft MiniCon this month?

I’ll focus on sourcing and what CTOs and tech leads can do to find tech talent to join their team. So, how to cut through the noise and how can they approach candidates, and what skills can they use.

LinkedIn, for example, has three different products, LinkedIn free version, LinkedIn Sales Navigator and LinkedIn Recruiter Lite. I’ll elaborate on these three different options at the conference and discuss which one is the best. I’ll also discuss the pros and cons so that CTOs and tech leads can decide which one to go with. And then, I’ll talk about how to use filters in LinkedIn Recruiter to find candidates.

What current hiring challenges are you seeing in the tech industry?

It depends on who you’re focusing on because different professionals in the industry have different challenges.

One of the big challenges for recruiters or hiring companies is cutting through the noise because candidates will be approached by many companies.  Many engineers will be approached on LinkedIn, so they get bombarded with messages and then they may reject these messages. It’s like with advertising. For example, if you’re exposed to 3000 adverts, you might not remember any of them because you have some filtered and you reject the rest of them.

I guess that’s also happening with these software engineers as they get lots of messages, but they just don’t respond. They are not even opening messages because they already see that some talent acquisition specialist or recruiter is approaching them. 

So, the challenge from the recruitment standpoint is how to cut through the noise and how to still get the attention. Consider how difficult it is to get business owners or C level executives on sales courses because they get bombarded, so linking it to tech recruitment, now it’s very similar to hard sales.

Thank you. And with companies trying to recruit, do you think the market is candidate led, and what impact is this having on tech recruitment?

That’s exactly the case, but it is also on the other side of the coin. Frontend developers are one of the most common positions, and a frontend developer can work remotely for any company around the globe. 

However, if they go to any job board and look for frontend developer positions remotely, they will see about 120,000 positions (I just looked it up the other day on Monster.com!). Then the challenge for the candidate is how to change their job and how even to find a job? If the jobs all look the same, what do candidates do? It’s quite challenging because they cannot apply to every opening. And if a company asks them to go through a technical assessment (which takes one or two hours each), they can’t do lots of them.

So, that’s a part of the programme we offer as it focuses on the top promotions and the job advertisement and how to make it more appealing and how to stand out in the crowd. A lot of these standard roles are very standardised, so it’s difficult for employers to stand out. Often developers are overwhelmed, and they don’t know what to apply for when they finally start looking for a job.

What trends are you seeing in compensation in hiring, and how do these differ globally?

In Europe, salaries are constantly increasing, and they have probably doubled over the last year. Now we see engineers in Romania or Bulgaria asking for €6,000 or €7000 per month, which is crazy.

I remember interviewing some people in Serbia three years ago who asked for €2,200, and now they are asking for €5,000 to €6000 just because they work for U.S. companies. We have some clients from San Francisco, and from their standpoint, it is so expensive now in San Francisco. We would pay $250,000 for some engineer they cannot afford, so instead, we find someone for $100,000 to work from Europe. So that’s quite interesting because in Europe, $100,000 is a lot of money, but it’s still less than what companies are used to in the United States.

In Europe, especially in Eastern Europe, the salaries directly sync, which eventually causes some problems in the local market. As we focus on international recruitment, we see, for example, companies from Germany, Switzerland or London approach developers in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Poland, which is more than it used to be. However, it’s still cheaper than in Germany. But the companies that are based in Serbia or Bulgaria really struggle.

For example, two years ago, they were used to paying just €2,200 a month for a mid-level developer, but now it would be €5,000 or €6000, which they cannot pay. We have some prospects approaching us for developers, and we cannot even start working for them because we know it will be very difficult to find people to work for this kind of money.

So, it’s great for developers, and it is still okay for companies on the western side of Europe, but those who suffer most are the local companies that employ people, and now they cannot afford local knowledge.

Thanks, Michal. So, do you think LinkedIn etc., approaches are the future of tech recruitment rather than just relying on recruiters or headhunters, and why?

There is still a place for recruitment agencies; it’s just really how they use LinkedIn or other forms of communication to attract candidates because often candidates are overwhelmed with Linkedin.

On the other hand, it still works despite the attitudes towards LinkedIn. People still respond, but it is just a numbers game. The developers are there, and some respond, but it’s just about capturing those candidates at the right time of their career. And I would say in the right time when they’re frustrated enough with the current job, because the frustration just increases over time, and we just need to approach them at the right time.

How do you think hiring managers should approach recruitment before they start searching for a candidate, and should they try on their own before seeking recruitment help?

I’ve seen some of our clients who use us for recruitment, but they also do their own searches in parallel as there can be some quick wins if they post on their website, etc. Some candidates may apply anyway, so if there are some quick wins, then why not use them?

But those companies that grow really quick usually need more manpower. So, while they may have some quick wins, it is usually not enough to fill three, four, five or ten positions per quarter.

If you can find tech talent remotely, do you think you can also recruit and assess skills and fit remotely and how? 

I can no longer imagine that going back to the old way. If you think about how inefficient the recruitment process used to be, especially for the initial stage of the interview process. For example, at the initial stage, our interviewers may have 7-8 screening calls per day. They are half an hour calls, but there are some notes to take afterwards and some additional tasks.

The sweet spot is about 6-7 thirty-minute calls per day which are not possible when you are meeting in person, and you need to prepare, and there is a lot more small talk with the person coming on site. So, there is a lot more time wasted when meeting in person.

And we’ve noticed video calls for interviews are a lot more structured as we open up a list of questions, and after a quick introduction, we go through those questions, and then we wrap it up after 25-30 minutes. Some clients might invite the best candidates on-site, which I would recommend, just not everyone, because that’s very inefficient.

Can you tell us about your current role and how it works to recruit talent in tech? 

I’m a technical person. I used to be a developer and IT consultant, and I led the teams as I was a CTO in a fast-growing company for about five years. And then I went through a bit of burnout, as it’s quite common in fast-growing start-ups.

Then I was searching for something a bit more fulfilling, and I realised that a lot of recruiters in technology struggle with technical terminology, so eventually, when I moved back to Europe, I started an academy for people who are not yet tech recruiters but would like to do tech recruitment. Many people are senior HR managers or specialist recruiters, but they have never been exposed to technology, so they don’t really understand the ideas or terminology. 

And then, after roughly two years of consulting for other agencies, I developed twenty-five courses (about tech and tech recruitment) with about three hundred videos, so then people started approaching me because they said I seemed to know a thing or two about technology and recruitment so ‘why don’t you just find some developers for us as well?’.

So that was the initial trigger, and I set up an agency as well, so now we have the tech recruitment agency and the academy, and we are still consulting for other agencies. There are so many opportunities in technology that we teach some recruiters how to recruit in technology. We see what works in different companies and how they do it and we improve the programme.

We have created a system where people learn, look for a job, and we give them a job, or they work for some of our clients, so now we have about fifty people on the team.

How would you say your engineering and CTO background have helped you do the role you do today?

I think I’m successful in this set-up because there are not too many people who have my kind of technical background and then transitioned to tech recruitment. And then very few out of those share their knowledge with other people.

I have created three or four hundred videos, and many of them are on YouTube and are free. And every day, I get messages from people thanking me for making it more accessible and easier for them to recruit, which has helped us create the community and the Academy and get people just to join our team without too much effort. They learn from me and from my experience as I just have this wide overview of how the technology sector works.

Finally, can you recommend a book or a podcast that every technology leader should read or listen to either in the space of hiring in tech or leadership in general? 

I’m writing a book about how to pitch new opportunities to candidates when they’re overwhelmed, but unfortunately, it’s not ready yet! In general, I would suggest books or information on copywriting as it helps to attract candidates. It’s worth reading anything by Jim Edwards on copywriting.

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