How to use data to hire developers (data for dummies)

As a recruiter, you’re in a privileged position. Data is worth its weight in gold, and you have a treasure trove that’s almost as full as Jemaine Clement’s “Shiny” crab cave. (If the metaphor has confused you, watch Moana immediately). 


As long as you’ve obtained the data legally and gained the candidates’ consent (yes, we’re talking about the dreaded GDPR), you have what most companies would dream of – real, relevant, timely data you can use to inform your strategic hiring decisions.


The good news? You don’t need a data scientist, big data engineer, predictive analytics algorithms or complicated data processing tools to start using it. You just need access to your ATS, Excel or Google Sheets and (probably) a large coffee.


Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin. 

First up, what does data have to do with hiring developers?


Everything! Analysing your own data, incorporating insights from data that has been collected by other companies and using predictive analytics tools can save you time and money, and result in more successful hiring decisions and happier employees.


“Analytics enables you to confidently double down on your strengths and eliminate the areas where you’re weakest so you can meet every talent need of your organization.”

 Ian Cook, HR analaytics expert


Data can help recruiters and HR teams:

  • Analyse trends in potential candidate demographics and candidate profiles
  • Analayse and forecast trends in programming technologies and skills
  • Understand how groups of potential candidates behave online
  • Identify which candidates are actively looking for a new role
  • Offer competitive salary, bonus and benefits packages
  • Analyse time-to-hire and identify bumps in the recruitment process
  • Forecast future hiring needs


 N.B. There is a difference between data and big data.


“Big data” is defined as data sets that are so large they must be analysed computationally. To pull your own big data sets, you’d probably need a data scientist or big data engineer, as they’d need to understand at least one programming language (likely to be Java or Python), computational frameworks, statistics and a bunch of other things we can’t wrap our heads around.


What we’re talking about is recruiter-friendly, not-so-big-but-just-as-useful “normal” data. The kind of data you can start collecting and analysing right now with no data-related experience.


“Armed with predictive analytic insights, recruiters can not only anticipate what will happen but be able to act on it as well.”

David Bernstein, VP of eQuest


As long as you have legally-obtained data on candidates, you can start using it to improve your hiring strategies. There is a wealth of data you can use, obviously depending on the type of data you’ve collected and your specific hiring needs.



How we’ve used data: talent maps


To give you an example, we’re going to focus on “talent maps”. It’s one of the easiest trends to spot and incorporate, so it’s a great place to start if you’re a data newbie or have limited resources to hand.


“Hiring plans should also include “talent maps”, so companies know where to look for talent based on data from previous hires and where an organisation’s best performers are from.”

Leslie Kivit, Director of Talent Acquisition at Berlin startup Door 2 Door


In other words, literally creating a global map of where your tech talent has come from. It’s as simple as it sounds!



Hopefully you’re still with us! Probably time for another coffee…


We’re lucky enough to have some amazing data to hand, so it didn’t take long to create our own “talent map”. Over the last few years, we’ve placed hundreds of candidates from all four corners of the world. We also have a database of over 50,000, including shortlists of candidates with particularly strong backgrounds and skill sets who are actively looking to relocate and start a new challenge.


So we set about pulling lists from our CRM detailing where each placement or shortlisted candidate was from and what their key skills were. It took us about 5 minutes to realise that in 2016 most of the UX designers we placed came from Brazil, whereas in 2017 there was a sudden influx of strong backend developers from Turkey. And the trends kept coming!


It seems simple (and it is!), but a surprising number of in-house recruitment teams and agencies don’t spend any time looking at trends from previous hires before they dive head first into sourcing.



How have these data insights changed our sourcing strategy?


After pulling the data for the first time, and realising what a big impact it could have, we decided to formally incorporate the process into our sourcing strategy.


Now, before we set a sourcing plan for a new role, we look at where our strongest candidates and previous hires with similar backgrounds and skillsets are from, and start our search in those countries.


We can also look at trends between skill sets (for example, what other programming languages or skills Java developers have), how long the hiring process takes and even what day of the week and time of day job ads get the most applications. There’s no end to the type of data you can pull, as long as you’ve set fields in your ATS (or even columns in your spreadsheets!) to capture it.


The results have been well worth the effort – and we didn’t even need the help of a data expert!





Now you have a real life superpower (yep, data really is that awesome), take a look at some of our wish-we-lived-in-the-Marvel-universe sourcing superpowers that would change tech recruitment forever.


Header image: Tetiana Yurchenko @ Shutterstock

The only candidate experience KPIs you need to measure

Experience is a tricky thing to measure. It’s subjective, the memory of it fades with time and, ultimately, it’s hard to put quantifiable figures on emotion. But candidate experience should be at the forefront of everything we do as recruiters. It might not be as easy to calculate as the number of CVs sent, or as financially satisfying as cost per hire, but it’s the single most important measure of success and indicator of growth for HR teams.


Not all experiences can be measured. The quality of your favourite restaurant’s Super Hot Finger Lickin chicken? Unlikely. The way it feels to craft your first pickaxe on Minecraft? Probably not.


But there are a load of very simple and super important KPIs to measure the experience you give candidates.



Not sure how to measure candidate experience? Here are 7 easy KPIs you could use in your sleep:


1. Application drop-off

Multiple tests, presentations, panel interviews and reviews are likely to lead to a high number of candidates dropping out of the process. As will horrible UX on your mobile site or achingly slow page load times.

Spending time assessing where and why candidates drop off – and fixing the bumps in the application process – will boost candidate engagement and drastically improve candidate experience.


2. Length of time from application to offer

Barcelona-based SAS company Typeform did an interesting self-analysis of their time-to-hire, and it’s a classic recruiter KPI that has even more importance in the age of candidate experience.

The longer the application process, the more likely candidates will look for other roles and accept counter offers. Speed is of the essence (without compromising on quality, of course), and both your candidates and your internal teams and directors will thank you for it.


3. Interview to offer ratio

If you’re interviewing 20 candidates a day but only moving one forward to the next stage, it’s time to reevaluate your vetting process.

Interviewing is seriously time consuming! If your interview to offer rate is low, your time investment is not paying off, so think about strengthening candidate screening and being a little pickier about who you chose to interview. Plus, the fewer candidates you have to reject after interview, the better their experience – remember that interviews are time consuming for them too.


4. Offer acceptance rate

Depending on the seniority of the role and industry, you should be aiming for a 90%+ offer acceptance rate.

The time and effort invested in moving candidates through the process is wasted if they turn down offers at the last minute. If your offer acceptance rate is low and candidates aren’t buying what you’re selling, then focus on pre-closing the candidate to ensure expectations are aligned.


5. Candidate satisfaction

We covered the importance of getting candidate feedback in an earlier post, but to sum up in one sentence: getting (and acting on!) candidate feedback boosts engagement, ups referrals and will send your net promoter score soaring.

Asking a few very simple yes/no, multiple choice and free answer questions in a post-engagement survey will show candidates you care about their feedback and will help you improve the candidate experience for others.


6. Referrals

Duh. Asking direct applicants how they heard about your company (as well as monitoring GlassDoor, of course!) is a simple, easy way to monitor whether candidates are referring you to their contacts.

Implementing a referral programme is a simple way to up the number of referrals, but so is providing a great candidate experience. The better experience a candidate has, the more likely they are to go out of their way to recommend you to a friend.


7. Net Promoter Score

Referrals part II. Net Promoter Score can be a little tricky to calculate, but basically involves quantifying how likely a candidate is to refer your company to a contact on a scale of 1 to 10.

The score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of “detractors” (those who score 1-6) from the percentage of “promoters” (those who score 9 or 10). Scores can range from -100 to 100, with anything over 0 being good and anything over 50 being awesome. Maths not your strong suit? Use this super handy free NPS calculator.  


Not convinced? Director of Talent Acquisition at Berlin startup Door 2 Door, Leslie Kivit, had this to say:

The most important KPI for me is “net promoter score, which focuses on candidate experience. It’s important that rejected candidates also have a great experience, especially for e-commerce companies as candidates may also be a customer.”




Good news: they’re all interconnected. As one improves, so will the others ๐Ÿ™‚


Bad news: it’s kind of a regular thing. It’s no good sending out a survey next week, then parking the issue for another few years. Once you’ve chosen which KPIs to measure, set up quarterly or twice-yearly benchmarking reviews and make concrete plans to incorporate insights. The key is not what your results are now, but how they improve over the next few months and years.


Happy KPI-ing!


Want to know how else you can improve candidate experience? Read why the industry believes VR is the candidate engagement game-changer

8 ways to change job descriptions to hire more women in tech

“Are you an expert hacker with 5 years experience in Node.JS? Do you have what it takes to work in Berlin’s most exciting, fast-paced, high-powered startup? If you play as hard as you work, and want to round off another kick-ass day with free dinner and beers on the terrace, this job is for you. Beat the competition and apply below!”


If you use any of these words, your job descriptions might be putting women off.


How you speak to potential candidates – in engagement campaigns, on your careers page and in job descriptions, is having a bigger impact than you realise.


We’re prepared to bet our next meal (or maybe just this afternoon’s cinnamon roll) that you’re doing at least one of these things in your job descriptions. If it makes you feel better, we’ve been doing them too!


Finding developers is hard. Almost as hard as finding a matching pair of socks at 7am in the morning. Finding female developers is even harder, but as they only make up 26% of the tech workforce (and bring loads of seriously important benefits) we need to do everything we can to balance our tech teams. Job descriptions aren’t the only things that need to change, but they’re a great place to start.



Here are 8 things you can change in your job descriptions right now that will help you find and hire more women in tech.


1. Stop looking for rockstars


Masculine words like “rockstar”, “ninja” and “hacker” are, unsurprisingly, not appealing to women. Overly-masculine words imply an overly-masculine culture, and that’s off-putting, not only to women but to all minority groups. The other word to be aware of is “expert”. Imposter Syndrome (though it sounds ominous) is pretty common, especially for women who work in male-dominated industries. 


We’ve pulled out the most obvious words, but there are hundreds! Run your job descriptions through this mind-blowingly amazing tool (that also happens to be free) to check whether they’re gender neutral.


Images taken from Storify



2. Look for collaborative team-players instead


If you actively want to hire more women (without positively discriminating during the interview process), include more female-friendly language.


Sure, removing “kick-ass” from your job descriptions is going to help. Massively. But including phrases that show you have an open, inclusive culture that supports learning and encourages collaboration over competition will do even more to attract female candidates. Research has shown that words like “adaptable” and “creative” attract more women, whereas “ambitious” and “assertive” appeal more to men. Disclaimer: using words is not enough, your culture might need to change too!


Image taken from Hire More Women in Tech



3. Adopt a “growth mindset”


A growth mindset? We hadn’t heard of it either. 


When Textio analysed their database of 50 million job descriptions, they found that roles written with a “growth mindset” (“loves learning”, “seeks challenge”) rather than a “fixed mindset” (“the best and brightest,” “top-tier talent,” or “high performer”) were twice as likely to be filled by women. Interestingly, roles advertised with “fixed mindset” job descriptions were filled 11% more slowly than other roles, as both men and women were less likely to apply.


The “pipeline” is a huge problem for the tech industry. Women aren’t studying computer science at university or taking up tech opportunities at school, so there are less female postgraduates to recruit. As a result, women are less likely to have a traditional background, computer science degree or as many years experience, but if you have development programmes in place, dedicated, motivated workers can learn new programming languages in no time.



4. Minimise essential requirements


Time after time, research has shown that women only apply for jobs if they meet 100% of the requirements, whereas men apply if they meet 60%. When we spoke to women in tech to see what startups need to change, they agreed.


As part of our Women in Tech campaign, we asked 74 women who work in the industry about their personal experiences and what needs to change. Several had experienced a lack of confidence and had even felt reluctant to apply to a job if they hadn’t met all of the criteria.


One easy way of getting around the issue is minimising the number of “requirements” in job descriptions. Think about splitting them into “essential” and “desired” or – even better – removing any that aren’t absolutely crucial and focusing instead on the type of person you want to hire and how you’ll help them grow in the company. It’s that “growth mindset” again.



5. Focus on diversity (and mean it!)


Understandably, women in tech often look for signs that companies support and encourage diversity.


If you’re actively championing diversity, shout it from the rooftops! Include a sentence or two in your job description to promote the great work you’re doing or a link to a diversity statement on your website. If you don’t yet have diversity policies in place, clearly state that you’re actively seeking applicants from candidates of all backgrounds.



6. Stop encouraging “forced fun”


Not everyone drinks beer. It’s a shocker, i know. Working in Barcelona, where there are 300 sunny days a year and a big terrace culture, offering potential employees free beers on the company’s terrace seems like a no-brainer, but the responses we received from women in the industry made us think about whether it’s always the best image to present to candidates.


Startups’ “work hard, play hard” culture is changing as the tech industry becomes more diverse, but historically social activities and “perks” have taken place after work – possibly partly because industry leaders (let alone the majority of employees!) are under 30. It can be hard for older employees or mothers with children to say no, as they risk missing out on facetime with senior managers or crucial networking opportunities.


Images taken from Storify


Perks such as a free dinner or drinks after work can actually give the impression employees are expected to be in the office for long hours and that the company isn’t flexible. They can also contribute to the idea that new employees must be a good “cultural fit” (i.e. similar to existing employees). Unfortunately, as we are hire people who are like us, a good “cultural fit” is more likely to mean young, male and white – and women know this. And encouraging workers to relieve stress by “playing hard” only reinforces a toxic masculine culture.



7. Include family-friendly policies


76% of the women we spoke to believe startups should include policies such as maternity leave and flexible working in job descriptions and on careers websites, and discuss them openly during the interview process. That’s a huge percentage, and for many respondents it was the most important factor when applying for a job.


Startups need to prioritise “transparency for salaries, maternity leave, health insurance, and other company policies which will encourage women to pursue a career and motherhood.”


“I think that they should offer more support to mothers, with extra maternity leave and facilities.”


Startups should “offer better compensation for families and help with tasks and online tests.”


“There are certain aspects of jobs that the tech industry could focus on if they’d like to appeal to more women. For instance, a woman with children is probably going to value flexibility and the option to work from home.”


Lots of startups have incredible benefits for parents, but don’t think to mention it on job descriptions. If that’s the case, it’s easy to fix. And if you don’t offer flexible working, the opportunity to work part time or remotely, or fair maternity and paternity policies, make it a priority in 2018.  



8. Behaviours v characteristics


One final, pretty interesting point we came across in our research… The words used in job descriptions not only influence candidates but can also influence recruiters’ decisions. Certain characteristics conjure up pre-conceived images – so candidates won’t apply if they don’t think they match the image, and recruiters will be more likely to judge potential candidates against preconceived assumptions.


It’s easy to change – just think about swapping characteristics for behaviours.


For example:

  • Change “results-driven” to “ability to take initiative and produce results”
  • Change “people-person” to “ability to collaborate effectively with a talented team”
  • Change “action-oriented” to “ability to suggest and carry out practical actions to deal with issues”



Let us know if you’ve made any changes to your hiring processes or job descriptions in order to hire more women in tech – and whether you’ve seen results!


In the meantime, check out the results of our research to see what women working in the industry had to say about these issues.

Women in tech: Improving candidate experience

Women in tech are like gold dust, so recruiters and HR managers should be doing everything they can to encourage female candidate to apply for new roles, stick with the recruitment process and accept Europe’s most awesome tech jobs.


Of the women we surveyed, only 19.3% thought recruitment processes actively put women off – which is great news!


But 95.4% of IT professionals felt that recruiters and HR teams need to do more to engage women and improve their candidate experience.


This is a pretty staggering percentage, and means we need to take action. 


Sneak a peek at what else they said.



First up, what’s the problem?


1. The hunt for talent


Where and how startups look for new employees is problem number one.


  • Research shows that we’re instinctively more likely to hire people who are like us. And that’s a problem because 93-97% of startup founders are male. Need proof? U.S. tech startups with at least one female founder have more than 48% women. (Twice the number of tech startups with no female founders.) 


  • Most young tech companies are expanding so rapidly they have no formal hiring processes or HR oversight to oversee diverse hiring



  • Small startups are heavily influenced by their founders, so they often have an over-reliance on “cultural fit” or “gut feeling”. This is a problem because it’s subjective and unquantifiable. Plus, research shows that interviewees are more likely to believe candidates with similar backgrounds to existing employees are a good “cultural fit”


  • The shortage of tech talent means startups initiate referral programmes to encourage workers to hire friends, acquaintances and old colleagues – likely to be from similar social circles, cultures and backgrounds


This has been changing dramatically over the last few years, and as more women enter the tech world, startups’ networks will continue to broaden and diversify – more great news!

2. Unconscious bias


Even companies with the best intentions can suffer from unconscious bias – I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of it before. Don’t believe us?


Check out this research:


  • When identical CVs were sent out, half with a woman’s name and half with a man’s, 79% of applicants with a man’s name versus 49% of those with a woman’s were deemed “worthy of hire”




  • LinkedIn Search queries are more likely to produce male names than female names – the result of human-generated algorithms and machine learning from a pattern of more searches for male names 



No recruitment or HR team wants to admit they have bias in the hiring process, but unfortunately it is sometimes inevitable. Even if startups have a blind screening process, bias can occur during interviews and while making an offer.



3. Engaging candidates


As well as looking in the wrong places for passive tech talent, startups are missing out on the opportunity to engage female developers and designers who are actively looking for a new role.


Job ads and careers websites full of words like “hacker”, “competitive” and “dominant”, or images of tech teams playing table football – big surprise coming up – are not as appealing to women as they are to men.


Similarly, as we discussed in the last post, failing to openly publish maternity and paternity policies, or not having a woman on the interview panel are simple mistakes that could turn off female applicants.



We asked women in tech what needs to change:


Several of the recruiters we spoke to don’t want to favour women in the hiring process or look specifically for female candidates, as they favour “gender neutrality”. They felt the problem can only be dealt with earlier in the pipeline – encouraging more women to study tech-related subjects at school and university – rather than changing recruitment processes.


“We do not have to improve tech recruitment processes in order to hire more women. We have to tackle the root cause.”


“If the problem is as the source (which is what I believe) then the work should be done in universities. There should be more women tech leaders, role models, speaking at conferences, or giving talks at universities.”


18% of computer science degrees are held by women, but 50% of the recruiters we spoke to believe their companies actually have less than 10% women. The lack of women in tech is therefore not just a “pipeline problem”.


However, a small majority of the recruiters we spoke to believe there are aspects of the hiring process that can be improved, and felt the problem also lies in startups’ “competitive natures”, “pizza and beer cultures” and “masculine management who don’t do anything about diversity”.


54% of the recruiters we spoke to do go out of their way to find female candidates, by:

  • Going to women-focused conferences, such as Women in Mobile, Barcelona
  • Using platforms such as LinkedIn, GitHub, Stack, Entelo
  • Working with associations and initiatives that promote gender diversity
  • Going to women in Tech meet-ups
  • Working on specific campaigns or roles with recruitment agencies


40% have worked in companies that have run specific campaigns to hire more women. These campaigns included:

  • Changing the wording in job descriptions
  • Analysing and removing bias from the hiring process
  • Empowering and promoting existing female employees 
  • Attending events, organising meetups and working with non-profits
  • Working with universities


It’s clear that we need to take action, and action doesn’t have to involve positive discrimination, lowering standards for women or dramatically changing hiring processes.



Some steps recruiters can take immediately:


1. Include a woman (or two!) on interview panels


We’ve already discussed the importance of making women “visible” in startups, but they also need to be visible during the recruitment process.

44.3% of the developers we asked believe there should always be at least one female interviewer.


“Most of the interviews I’ve been in were held by men, I would suggest also having a female conduct the interview not just a male.”


“When there’s an panel interview, most of the time the interviewers are all men and the management style is very much male. It would be good to show female candidates that diversity is valued and organise the process in a way they feel appreciated.”


If you have female team leads, senior engineers or senior managers, this should be an easy change to implement. And if you don’t, perhaps it’s worth looking at the gender balance of your company and making some deeper changes.


2. Promote family-friendly policies


As we discussed in our previous post on startup culture, 76% of the women we spoke to believe startups should include policies such as maternity leave and flexible working in job descriptions and on careers websites, and discuss them openly during the interview process. 


Startups need to prioritise “transparency for salaries, maternity leave, health insurance, and other company policies which will encourage women to pursue a career and motherhood.”


3. Change job descriptions


37.7% believe job descriptions need to be reviewed to exclude words such as “hacker”, “rockstar”, “competitive” and “expert”.


The words used in job descriptions have a huge influence on a candidate’s perception of a company, and whether or not they apply. Words such as “hacker” and “competitive” imply an overly masculine culture, and words such as “adaptable” and “creative” attract women, whereas “ambitious” and “assertive” appeal more to men. 


Several respondents noted women’s lack of confidence and reluctance to apply to a job if they feel they don’t meet all the criteria.


“Women tend to lie less and be more sincere with their CVs than men. Men dare to make more of their knowledge while women tend to diminish them. Human resources companies should take this into account.”


“Amongst other issues, the language is not very inclusive and the requirements are too numerous (resulting in men being hired who do not have everything that was asked, but were not shy in applying).” 


“A lot of the time, women assume they are not as good as their male counterparts, when this is in fact untrue.”


Research shows that men apply for a job if they meet 60% of the qualifications, while women apply only if they meet near 100%So think about separating skills that are absolutely required from those that are desired, and keep the “required” skills to a minimum.


For more ideas of ways startups can make job descriptions more appealing to women, check out this amazing Twitter story.



4. Be aware of gender bias


“I think society perhaps considers a man to be “technically better” than a woman, although they have the same experience.”


“Some bosses prefer to hire a man over a woman because the man would be more efficient. (He can stay late for work, he doesn’t get pregnant or go on a parental leave for a long time…)”


Gender bias is probably the hardest aspect of the recruitment process to change, as we don’t realise we’re doing it! But the bottom line is: we’re all biased as a result of our experiences – and unfortunately the AI software we use to screen candidates can be biased too.


But there are some things we can do:


  • Hold men and women accountable to the same standards in the interview process  


  • Avoid “affinity bias” – instinctively hiring people that have similar hobbies, went to the same university, etc


  • Replace motherhood with parenthood. Ask male employees about their life at home, implement paternity leave and avoid asking women interview questions about their family life as it can imply “are you going to be leaving us to have a child?”


Several of the recruiters we spoke to said they want to pick the “best person for the job” regardless of gender. But what counts as “best” can be biased. Taking the time to write a list of what makes an “ideal candidate” (and making sure it’s objective, and based on skills and aptitude) can help avoid the typical startup mistake of only hiring candidates who are “a good fit”.


The good news? There are a million things recruiters and HR teams can do. Take a look at the Hire More Women in Tech website for more ideas, stats and examples of how to improve hiring processes.

Women in tech: Changing startup culture

“I’ve gone to meetups and networking events that at times felt more like a frat party than a gathering of like-minded techies.”

June Sugiyama, Director of the Vodafone Americas Foundation.


The call for this year’s International Women’s Day is “to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.” We’ve taken up the call! We asked 74 women working in tech what we can do to #pressforprogress.


56.5% of those we asked felt that women are put off starting a career in tech because of the tech culture.


57.2% believe startups need to do more to offset legacy masculine cultures and 43% believe more companies should publish diversity statements and track KPIs. Interestingly, 76% of developers believe startups should do more to prioritise family-friendly policies (i.e. maternity leave), whereas only 50% of recruiters feel this is an issue.



Intrigued? Take a look at what else the industry had to say.


Although it wasn’t as crucial for respondents as the lack of women studying tech subjects at school and university, there is definitely room for improvement!


“Don’t just expect women to fit perfectly into the male-developed culture. I mean this for both universities and workplaces. Listen to the issues and critique they raise seriously.”



The startup culture


Until recently, Silicon Valley in real life had a tendency to mirror Silicon Valley on TV: full of young white men with similar backgrounds and life experiences. There’s nothing like the thought of spending time in a London basement with Roy and Moss from the IT Crowd to put a woman off a career in tech!


But if they did manage to avoid TV, make it through university and into a startup, women often experienced a macho culture with pay inequality, preconceived expectations and even sexual harassment. 



In 2014, Kieran Snyder interviewed 716 women who decided to leave the tech industry after an average of just seven years. The vast majority said that their decision ultimately came down to a discriminatory work environment.


In NSF-funded researchNadya Fouad surveyed 5,300 women who had earned engineering degrees (of all types) over the last 50 years, and 38% of them were no longer working as engineers. Fouad summarised her findings on why they leave with “It’s the climate, stupid!”


Several developers we interviewed had faced discrimination either at work or whilst studying at university.


There should be more awareness of this subject, more support, and more empathy between the women in the field.”



Women don’t want to be the first


Being one of only a handful of girls to study computer science at school or one of three women in a startup’s tech team of 30 isn’t appealing to most women.


“Being the first is a burden,” wrote Ciara Byrne, a former software developer. “You carry the responsibility of representing not only yourself but the entire experience of working with that semi-mythical creature: the female techie.”


Some women don’t want to be in a minority. It’s a bit challenging when you work in a team of 10 men and you’re the only woman; it can get a bit frustrating.”


It’s understandably hard to convince women that a startup’s culture isn’t masculine when they’re the first female hire! As a result, the first hires are often the hardest, and once a team is more balanced it becomes exponentially easier to bring women on board.


The tech industry still has a way to go before it is gender equal. But there are simple things startups can do right now to attract, engage and retain more female IT specialists.


We asked the industry: How can startups attract and retain more women?


1. Make female employees “visible”


Just as our respondents felt that women in tech need to be more visible at schools and universities, they also need to be more visible in companies. Women don’t want to be the “first Senior Technical Engineer”, and are much more likely to apply for and accept a role if there are women in the company’s senior leadership team.


“It always make me feel better when I’m not the only girl in the team and see female experts or managers.”


To increase the visibility of female employees, you could:


  • Think about setting up a gender-balanced diversity board and actively publish their initiatives on the company website and social media channels


  • Make a conscious effort to ensure marketing materials are gender-balanced (that means photos need to include women, but it also means limiting the number of photos that show teams drinking beer on a terrace!)


2. Minimise the perception of “bro culture”


57% felt that companies need to do more to minimise the masculine culture of startups. Several respondents had faced discrimination or harassment, and both recruiters and developers believe that the perception of startups’ masculine culture puts women off from applying for jobs.


“Easing up on the competitive work environment may help.”


“I think many tech companies have a pizza & beer culture and brag about these goodies.”


“Be sensitive about any sexist comments/jokes/behaviours and make clear that they will not be tolerated. Make sure everybody feels safe regardless of their sex, ethnicity, orientation, etc.”


“Women look for a good culture fit (i.e. “my contributions and opinions are valued here”).”


The tech world is known for its “work hard, play hard” culture. Football tables, games consoles and free post-work beers or in-house bars are understandably more appealing to young, male employees who don’t have to rush home after work to look after children. And encouraging workers to relieve stress by “playing hard” only reinforces a toxic masculine culture.

7 easy steps you could take to minimise “bro” culture:

  • Take complaints by female employees seriously. Fix flirty comments rather than explaining them away with phrases such as “that’s just the way it is around here”


  • Enforce a fair, indiscriminate and transparent company culture, so it’s easy to hold employees accountable


  • Use the same adjectives for women and men in performance reviews, and hold them to the same standards when giving bonuses and pay rises


  • Make sure social activities don’t only revolve around sports or drinking, and remove the perception that employees need to join in or be left behind


  • Work closely with HR departments (and set one up if you don’t have one!) and empower them to speak up on behalf of employees


  • Make female employees “visible” (see above!) and promote women into leadership positions


  • Write to female employees who’ve left the company and ask them to be honest about what it was like to work there, why they left and what they would change. You could ask current female employees the same questions


Startups have the opportunity to create a culture from scratch, and the benefit of being small and agile is that the culture is easier to change.

3. Prioritise and promote benefits that appeal to women


76% of the developers we asked believe startups do not do enough to prioritise and actively promote family-friendly policies i.e. maternity and paternity leave and pay, flexible start/finish times, carer’s leave or childcare vouchers.

“I think that they should offer more support to mothers, with extra maternity leave and facilities.”


“Offer better compensation for families. Offer help with tasks and online tests.”


“There are certain aspects of jobs that the tech industry could focus on if they’d like to appeal to more women. For instance, a woman with children is probably going to value flexibility and the option to work from home.”


Startups need to prioritise “transparency for salaries, maternity leave, health insurance, and other company policies which will encourage women to pursue a career and motherhood.”


Clearly setting out the company’s family-friendly policies and including them on the careers website, in all job descriptions and discussing them openly in interviews are actions that companies can take immediately. And if you don’t have flexible working, the opportunity to work part-time or remotely, or fair maternity and paternity policies, make it a priority in 2018.

4. “Show, don’t tell”


We don’t yet have pay equality in the tech industry, at least partly due to the fact women are less likely to negotiate for higher salaries or push for bonuses.


“Women get paid less because we usually ask for less.”


Although it’s too big a leap for many companies (and there are, of course, arguments for and against!), publishing annual reports highlighting the gender gap and data around pay / bonuses will demonstrate to women that you care about the issue and are prepared to do something about it.


“They know what the salaries are, so if a woman states she wants significantly less money than what male candidates ask for, they should suggest she can ask for more.” 


If your startup makes a real effort to ensure equal pay, then shout it from the rooftops! Mention it in your diversity statement, publish the results and discuss it in interviews.


And a final message for women in tech, from women in tech:


Next up: Improving the candidate experience and hiring process for women

Women in tech: Supporting the next generation

As part of our #pressforprogress campaign, we asked 74 women in tech about their personal experiences in the industry and what – if anything – needs to change. 


What’s clear from the research is that women are not taking up tech opportunities at school, not choosing computer science as a degree and dropping out long before they make it into startups. 


67% of the tech recruiters we spoke to believe that the main reason for the lack of women in the tech industry is the lack of postgraduate female developers.


Find out what else they said.


Computer science is the only STEM field in which the number of female graduates is dropping. Something needs to be done, and it’s time for the tech industry to step up. 



Why aren’t women studying computer science?


In the 1960s and 1970s, computer programming as a career was aimed at women. Check out this ad from Cosmopolitan in 1967: “Now have come the big, dazzling computers – and a whole new kind of work for women: programming.”



In 1983, 37% of computer science degrees were given to women. But in 2015, this figure had dropped all the way down to 18%.


And it’s not a STEM problem. In 2014, 40-45% of degrees in maths, statistics and physical sciences and 54% of degrees in biology were granted to women.


Computer science is the only field in science, engineering and maths in which the number of women receiving bachelors degrees has decreased since 2002.


So the real question is: what happened in the 1980s to put women off computer science?


1. Geek culture


Firstly, the 1980s was full of awkward, white, male protagonists.


The plots of the first geek culture movies like Weird Science, Revenge of the Nerds and War Games have an almost-interchangeable plot line: “awkward geek boy genius uses tech savvy to triumph over adversity and win the girl.” Fast forward to the 90s and 00s and society’s portrayal of programmers hasn’t changed – think Mr Robot, IT Crowd and Silicon Valley.


Credit: Shutterstock, EQRoy


“Programming is seen as something that’s overtly masculine and geeky. There’s this idea that a programmer is a skinny, nerdy hacker who has poor interpersonal skills and works in his basement.”

Linda Sax, UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies


In the words of one of our survey’s respondents, We need to combat the outdated stereotype that engineers are anti-social weirdos.”


Growing up, women were less likely to see themselves reflected in the tech world, so less likely to aspire to work within it.


“Preteen and teenage girls need to see the fun and value in tech. …girls are unlikely to spontaneously develop an interest in something that parents and friends / society doesn’t reward them for.”

2. Personal computers


Personal computers and gaming devices that shot into popularity in the 1980s were marketed almost solely to boys, while girls continued to receive toys geared towards home-making. Even outside the gaming world, a 1985 study by the National Science Foundation found that “55% of adult women reported not using the computer at all in a typical week, compared to 27% of men.”


Several of the developers we surveyed noted the influence of toys when they were growing up, and the lack of exposure to tech in general.


“Computers have been sold as toys for boys for decades, this needs to change.”


Things are changing, but progress is slow. Check out Goldie Blox’s AMAZING “Princess Machine” video. Their mission: “to show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses. We believe that femininity is strong and girls will build the future — literally.”


 Goldie Blox’s awesome tech toys for girls


If women aren’t as exposed to computer games as children or tech opportunities at school, they arrive at university-level computer science classes a step behind, and at interviews lacking the confidence of their male peers.


But it’s not just a “pipeline problem”.


In 2016, Facebook blamed its 17% female staff on a lack of women studying computer science at university. Sure, there are a lack of women studying IT, but that doesn’t mean we should all sit back and feel satisfied with a workforce that’s โ…• female. Where’s that pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit, Facebook?


18% of computer science degrees are held by women, but 50% of the recruiters we spoke to believe their companies actually have less than 10% women. Our research therefore shows that the lack of women in tech is not just a “pipeline problem”.



We asked the industry: How can we nurture the next generation?


There is a “pipeline problem”. But there are things startups can do about it.


1. Encourage mentorship


“There should be more women tech leaders and role models, speaking at conferences or giving talks at universities.”


Our research overwhelmingly showed that female developers value mentors, yet there is a significant lack of women available to provide that crucial leadership.


Women in tech are not “visible”, and while women of course need to advocate for themselves, startups can help by encouraging mentorship, both internally and outside of the company.


Setting out clear mentorship programmes – and publishing them online – will not only help nurture the next generation of developers, but will also make startups more attractive to potential female candidates in the short term.



Because there are fewer women in tech, the opportunity to mentor (and be mentored) is even more precious. That’s why it’s important for women with tech backgrounds to seek out opportunities to pass on the benefits of their experience.


“I have always been interested in technology, but a few years ago I listened to Hilda Jenkins speaking at an agile conference; she was very inspiring.”


“One-to-one encouragement is really important for women. It might be university mentors, advisors, older students… It’s hard to be the only female in the room and it’s easy to feel like the odd-man-out.”


“Not only does mentorship define our career choices, it can have an effect on us throughout our careers. You see these strong bonds forming between men, you see their relationship developing over time, and of course that’s something that you’d also want to have with someone that you feel connected to. Women need other women to guide them and help them grow in their careers.”

Alexandra Negrut, Software Engineer at NetSuite/Oracle


Alex Negrut’s presentation on International Women’s Day 2017 about how the different types of toys we’re given as children contribute to the gender gap in tech.



2. Sponsoring or organising events


“If the problem is as the source (which is what I believe) then the work should be done in universities. There should be more women tech leaders, role models, speaking at conferences, or giving talks at universities.”


The developers we surveyed noted the lack of other women in the classroom, university lecture hall and their personal lives. Although startups obviously have little control over the amount of coding classes schools include in their curriculum (hint: there should be more!) or the number of women teaching technical subjects, they can engage students outside of the classroom. 


Startups “should encourage female students by giving them support to build female driven/led communities and ecosystems so that they can encourage each other.”


“We need to engage students outside of the classroom, connect them with and induct them into a community of engineers.”


Respondents lacked a sense of “belonging” to a community, but they also lacked the facts – the doors that open as a result of a computer science degree or the amount of money developers have the potential to earn, for example.


Many respondents felt that the opportunity to meet women who work in the tech industry would have been invaluable to them when they were making their career choices. 

With relevant, first-hand experience of the startup community, startup leaders and others already working in the industry are in a unique position to share their knowledge with the next generation. 


Startups “need to build relationships with and grow a community of women in tech. Reach out to women who are leaders in the community and share their ideas with teams. Give them a podium.”


“Engaging younger groups is really important. This is why we organized Girls in Lab, for teenagers aged between twelve and fifteen. The best time to approach them is when they’re at a point in their lives when they start thinking about what they want to do. People from our office volunteer to take part in these events, and we are hoping that they can become role models for these kids.”

Ondrej Juricka, Netsuite/Oracle


Girls in Lab


Want some more ideas?


Startups could also help nurture the next tech generation by:


  • Organising internal social events for female employees so they can network, invite a female speaker and continue building the female tech community


  • Encouraging employees to speak at external tech conferences (or even sponsoring one!)


  • Sponsoring a prize for the best female student in a relevant course, or helping to fund university scholarships for women who enroll in courses that could lead to a career in a relevant field


  • Supporting programs that encourage underrepresented groups to code. Support could range from a one off donation or fundraising event to becoming long-term ambassadors. Check out: Girls Who Code and She Plus Plus.


The tech industry needs to take responsibility for helping to fill the gaps in the “pipeline,” and doing more to hire and retain post-graduate female programmers. And it’s easier than you think.


Next up: why startup culture is to blame – and what we can do to change it.

Women in tech: What the industry had to say

“I grew up around computers because of my dad. I remember playing games on his Amiga as a toddler, and he got his first PC when I was 5 so I learned to install and set up all my own games. I was lucky that throughout my childhood I was better than any of the boys at using computers so I never felt that it was a male-dominated world… until college and after college.”


As part of our #pressforprogress campaign, we asked 74 developers, designers, senior managers and recruiters what it’s like to work in tech as a woman.


93.1% of those we asked feel that software engineering is a male-dominated industry. 85.7% of recruiters believe there is a problem recruiting women into tech roles.


We asked them about their motivations, experiences throughout university and in the startup world, why there’s a lack of women in tech and what startups and recruiters can do about it.


This is what they said…



Why is there a shortage of women in tech?


1. A lack of early exposure to tech


“We need to show children from early on that everyone can create code. Playfulness and curiosity is the way to build a path where kids can learn equally.”


Interestingly, 42% of those we asked had been exposed to computers or other forms of tech as children, often through parents or older siblings. Although some came to tech later, either through accident, job progression or the influence of peers and mentors, a large number became interested in tech at a young age. 


Family, friends, peers and teachers are therefore hugely influential, and a majority of respondents felt they should do more to expose women to tech at a younger age. Interestingly, several also noted the fact that tech toys are marketed almost solely to boys.

 “It starts at early age: we need to change cartoons. Anna & Elsa (from the Disney film, Frozen) should code and build figures from ice bricks, not just change their clothes and wear make-up and high heeled shoes.”


“Toy stores just assume what should be for girls and what should be for boys… and usually tech-focused things are for boys. Just look at the general aesthetics of a videogame.”


The lack of opportunities to engage with tech continue throughout school and university.


57.1% of developers felt that schools and universities aren’t doing enough to encourage women to study tech-related subjects. 26.7% believe the shortage of women in tech can be put down to a lack of technical opportunities at school.


Disclaimer: We asked women currently working in the tech industry, and in the last 20 years a huge amount has been done by amazing organisations like Girls Who Code and She Plus Plus to promote equal access to tech opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds. In many countries, computer programming is now mandatory in schools.



2. A lack of female role models


Although responses varied, the availability and influence of role models was an important issue for respondents. 


Not only did developers lack female role models in their personal lives, but teachers at school and university were also overwhelmingly male and often failed to include examples of inspirational female programmers and technologists.


“I had no female role models. My father worked in electronics and I grew to like it.”


“I had only male teachers and to be honest they weren’t all that encouraging.”


Interestingly, although only 10.1% had female role models growing up, men are stepping up to fill the void. 13.5% were positively influenced by male role models and 8.4% by their fathers.


3. Culture


“We need to combat the outdated stereotype that engineers are anti-social weirdos.”


58.9% of respondents agreed that there is a problem with tech culture, whether that’s the TV-born “computer nerd” cliches, the “pizza and beer” culture of startups, or their focus on “competition over collaboration”.


“I think many tech companies have a pizza & beer culture and brag about these goodies, but there’s very little focus on doing something for people who might not be interested in these benefits. Many companies also have a workaholic/push yourself harder culture rather than caring about employees.”



Respondents also noted the lack of encouragement from friends, family members and peers. Several felt they lacked confidence in their abilities or in their choice of tech as a career (more on this later!).


“For women to be attracted to the idea of pursuing a career in technology, they need to be told from a very young age that they can be as good as the boys. I still feel sometimes that I’m out of my depth, but I am lucky as I also realise that most of my male colleagues feel the same way, they are just less likely to show it.” 

Several also noted that, growing up, they had faced discrimination because of their choice to pursue a tech career.


“In our university, there was very obvious sexism and discrimination. And the female professors were as bad as the male ones. There should be more awareness of this subject, more support, and more empathy between the women in the field.”

There are less women in tech. Why does it matter?


Three clear reasons startups should hire more women kept coming up in respondents’ answers:


1. Diversity “of thought and experience” breeds innovation


“It’s well researched that companies which are more diverse have a propensity for creativity and ultimately perform better – It’s in the interest of the business.”


“Tech needs a diverse perspective. Especially in machine learning, where there’s a risk of biased programming and interpretation.” 


2. Women bring different skills to the tech table


“Women are “quick, organised and disciplined.”


Women and men work and think differently. In male dominated industries, it’s very hard to change the status quo. By incorporating more women, there might be a higher likelihood that positive social change can flow from the private sector out to the public sector.”


3. Customers are women too


“Because their customers or users are not all male, not one color or one nationality. And if you only get one type of person or one gender’s perspective on things then how are you truly going to convince your customers that you care about them?”


“Women comprise 50% of technology users. It makes sense that companies’ staff should reflect this.”


 “Diversity of perspective helps to ensure that the user is well and thoroughly represented.”


Plus (obviously!) the shortage in tech talent more broadly. As one respondent succinctly pointed out, “More women = more candidates. More engineers = more stuff you can make, more quickly.”

So, what can we do about it?


Although respondents overwhelmingly agreed that there is a problem within the tech ecosystem, they were optimistic about the industry’s capacity for change, as well as the work that’s already going on.


In the next three posts, we will look at the three major areas that need to change and what startups can do to bridge the gender gap.


First up: supporting the next generation.

Women in tech: Why weโ€™re all responsible

In 2018, over 100 years since the first Women’s Day was held in New York, women in a majority of countries can vote, open a bank account, serve on a jury, apply for loans and even “spend their own money in a pub” (U.K. law, 1982). They also have the right to equal opportunity and equal pay – though we’re still working on these two.


Just last week, the U.N. Secretary General announced that the U.N.’s top body achieved gender parity, with 23 women and 21 men now making up the Senior Management Group.


But women still make up only 26% of the tech workforce.


In the tech startup world, women are drastically underrepresented. They’re less likely than men to study STEM-related fields at university, less likely to choose careers in tech and less likely to work at startups.

“74% of young girls express an interest in STEM fields and computer science, but only 18% of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26% of tech jobs are held by women. Worse still, just 5% of leadership positions in the tech industry are held by women.”

Girls Who Code


Something is going wrong, and we need to know what it is and what we can do to change it.





On March 8, the organisers of International Women’s Day will issue a call “to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.”


As part of our #pressforprogress campaign, we spoke to 74 developers, as well as recruiters and HR managers, to get their views on what it’s like to work in the tech industry and what we can all do to be more gender inclusive.


Based on their responses, our own research and personal experiences in recruitment, we’re publishing four more blog posts – one every day this week. Tomorrow we will publish the survey results, then we will address some of the biggest issues respondents identified and what the tech industry can do to combat them.

We’re all responsible


Key finding: we all play a part in making sure more women are hired


Whether it’s acting as mentors for young women considering tech careers at school or university, making startup cultures more inclusive and diverse or improving the hiring process and candidate experience, we need to be doing all we can to encourage women to apply for and accept Europe’s best tech jobs.

“With so many aspects of our industry ready to be made more inclusive, each of us plays a part. Whether it’s donating to great organizations, promoting young women in STEM, giving your time to serve as a jungle guide for talented women leaders early in their career, or developing company policies for inclusive recruiting and flexible work and more.”

Swati Mylavarapu, CEO of Incite Ventures and Incite Labs 


Check out the survey results, why we should be hiring more women developers, designers and IT managers, and what can we do to bring them on board.

Why you need to move from recruitment to talent acquisition

Recruitment is changing. As we move from a reactive, responsive sourcing mix to proactive candidate engagement, companies need to know what they can do to nurture their databases and keep potential candidates engaged. No longer can recruiters and HR managers in tech startups rely solely on job boards, Boolean searches and Linkedin.


And there’s no one better to talk us through the process than Leslie Kivit, who’s currently implementing these changes as Director of Talent Acquisition for Berlin startup Door 2 Door.


Having buzzed around the Berlin recruitment scene for over 8 years at companies including and Rocket Internet, we were keen to see how Leslie thinks recruitment is changing, and what startups can do to keep up.




Leslie, how do you think the recruitment industry has changed over the last few years?


I believe many organisations are “stuck” in the classic way of doing recruitment, where recruitment is merely a response to a resignation or a newly created role with a particular set of skills and competencies to meet.


You post your job online, you activate your sourcing mix (LinkedIn, StackOverflow, GitHub, Boolean), you might do some direct sourcing and for your critical roles you might call in the headhunters.


It’s likely that your hiring manager is looking for talent right now and you need to respond with good candidates almost immediately. Job boards are outdated and finding the right talent on platforms like LinkedIn takes longer than necessary, as you need to build relationships first. These situations lead to an increase in the time-to-hire and inconsistencies in the quality of hires. It puts teams a step behind, constantly having to react to changes in the company with no time or opportunity to plan ahead and schedule resources.


As a result, we’re now seeing a shift towards talent acquisition – ongoing recruitment based on forward-looking hiring plans and proactive candidate engagement.

What practical steps can HR teams take to be more proactive?


Create a hiring plan. Ideally, startups should already know who they need to hire – and when – based on a hiring plan that includes growth strategies and salary ranges.


Rather than restarting every time they need a new developer, companies should focus on maintaining their existing pipeline so they have a warm database of candidates to turn to. It’s about maintaining relationships with people who might not have been a good fit six months ago, but could now be the perfect candidate. We’re not using our existing databases properly, and it’s kind of a shame.


Hiring plans should also include “talent maps”, so companies know where to look for talent based on data from previous hires and where an organisation’s best performers are from. During my time at Rocket Internet and GetYourGuide, we hired lots of incredible non-EU developers (particularly from Egypt and Brazil) using the EU Blue Card – pretty easily and painlessly!


If they have the budget, they could purchase a CRM tool to manage their candidate engagement. There are lots out there that integrate with ATS systems. There are also some ATSs that provide CRM solutions, but they’re limited. Of course, Excel works too, but it gets messy when you scale!


Want to hire non-EU developers? Download our guide to the Blue Card in Germany.



I guess there must be some reactive hiring too – if employees leave or there’s sudden growth, for example?


Yeah, definitely. If you can plan 70% of your headcount, or perhaps Q1 and Q2 of the following year, that’s still a huge step for a lot of companies. It takes so much time to find the right person that companies often end up compromising on quality, and making false hires is one of the biggest mistakes a growing startup can make.


Passive channels are important too, for example a great careers website and targeted regional marketing campaigns. It’s an end-to-end solution, so you’ll never be completely proactive.


I guess the dream for everyone is that the direct applicants who apply on the website end up being the perfect candidates. The Facebooks and Googles of the world are getting these, but it would be cool if small startups could get the same attention.



Do you think forward planning is especially important for the tech industry, bearing in mind the shortage of tech talent?


I’m not sure it is any more important. It’s hard to find great developers, but here in Germany it’s also hard to find a great accountant. All companies would benefit from being more prepared in recruitment, as in normal life!


Big companies have an advantage because if they’re already looking for 20 developers, then adding one more doesn’t change the sourcing strategy. But if you weren’t looking for a developer and one decides to leave, then you’d need to hit the ground running again.

And how do you feel about referral programs? Do they fit into a more proactive approach?


As part of your sourcing mix, definitely. It’s a great way to engage with candidates.


Research has shown that you’re most likely to refer someone within the first two years of working for a company. The ideal time to encourage new hires to bring in referrals is about a month after starting – when they’re still enthusiastic about the work environment!


Which KPIs are most important for recruiters and HR teams?


Time to hire, source of hire and quality of hire are useful data points that can give great insight into how your recruitment funnel is looking. What I find more interesting is net promoter score, which focuses on candidate experience. It’s important that rejected candidates also have a great experience, especially for e-commerce companies as candidates may also be a customer.



Any other trends you think we’ll see in the next few years?


The first is a rise in the gig economy. Young workers want an exciting “gig” to work on rather than a cool office or company culture. They want to work on a project with a huge impact and then move on when the challenge is finished or the problem solved. Many companies still hold on to the idea that employees need to work for five years until their investment is returned, but I believe employees can add a lot of value in a shorter time period. More and more, employees are leaving a company and returning a year or two later to work on a different project.


The second is the on-demand culture. Algorithms already affect what we see on Facebook and what we watch on Netflix. Soon candidates will only see the jobs they’re interested in. AI functionalities in careers websites will only show relevant roles, based on a candidate’s past work experience, other online interactions and their social media profiles.

What about remote work?


It’s increasing, but I personally see more value in on-site teams – for quick interactions, it’s easier to discuss issues face-to-face, and this also minimises mis-interpretations (which often happen over Slack, especially when different cultures and languages are involved).


Being in the same room as your colleagues is a completely different experience. There’s a reason why lots of companies aren’t encouraging remote work.

Do you think VR/AR could alleviate these issues and help employees to interact while working remotely?


I’m 100% sure VR will improve the experience for everyone. Imagine if you’re applying to a company and can already walk around the office, or don’t have to fly across the world for a final interview.


Talent is scarce, so we need to offer potential candidates as many options and opportunities for personalisation as possible. Perhaps they need to be able to choose how they apply – whether to use VR glasses or by come in to the office in person.


VR is the future of everything. But we’re not used talking to bots, or even real people sometimes! So its development and adoption will take a long time.

Wondering how to incorporate VR into your candidate engagement strategy? We have the answers.

The secret to getting actionable candidate feedback – and using it

What’s not a secret is how important it is to get feedback from candidates. What remains a mystery is how to get it, what it all means and how to use it.


Sometimes, getting feedback from candidates feels like wringing a sponge that’s already been drying in the sun. They don’t have time, they’re not motivated and, quite frankly, they have better things to do (they’re job hunting, after all).


But collecting and using feedback is such an important part of the interview process, it’s worth dedicating time and resources to get it right.

What are the benefits of getting candidate feedback?


One word: candidate experience. Ok, two words.


Although it might seem counterintuitive, as you’re asking candidates for a favour (and to give up more of their time), collecting feedback will alert you to pressure points in the process that can only be seen from a candidate’s perspective. Knowing why candidates drop out is the only way to improve the process for them and keep them engaged. Note – this only works if you actually act on the feedback! More on that later.


“Nearly 60% of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience and 72% of them have shared their experience.” (Forbes). Giving candidates the chance to air their grievances (especially if they feel like they will be taken seriously) might just be the difference between a slightly disgruntled candidate and a full blown rant on Glassdoor.


Your employer brand is everything, and using feedback to improve the experience you give candidates will:

  • boost candidate engagement (and decrease dropouts)
  • up the number of referrals
  • send your net promoter score soaring
  • help you hire kick-ass tech talent



How to improve candidate experience with surveys


Surveys are a super easy way of automating feedback. Obviously phone calls usually trump emails, but incorporating a mix of in-depth feedback calls and quick, 10-question surveys can ease the pressure on both your time-strapped recruitment team and ex-candidates.


Plus, taking a data-driven approach to candidate engagement will help you measure your progress over time, look for recurring patterns and compare responses between roles and departments.


Check out Typeform’s customisable, ready-to-go candidate engagement survey.


Workable suggests including questions that help assess:

  • The clarity of your job descriptions (“Did your discussions reflect what you read in the job ad?”)
  • Candidates’ first impressions (“How friendly/warm was the receptionist when you arrived for your interview?”)
  • Your recruiter-candidate communication (“How clearly did our recruiter explain the steps of the hiring process?”)
  • Likelihood of referral (“How likely are you to refer other job seekers to our organisation?” or “Would you consider re-applying?”)


For more ideas about what questions to include and what you should be assessing, check out their super-useful candidate experience survey guide.


Remember that new hires were once candidates too. Including a survey as part of employees onboarding programme – around six months in – will give you valuable feedback about the interview process and whether their expectations matched reality. Note – they will be more engaged and more likely to reply than rejected candidates, but might give you less objective feedback. 

How to incentivise candidates to give feedback


Firstly, make sure surveys are short, engaging (think images and videos), and take the time to explain why you’re asking for their input and that their data will be kept private and anonymised. The higher the response rate, the more representative your data.


Sure, being able to give each candidate a giant financial incentive would be the dream, but unfortunately that just isn’t feasible or scaleable. This doesn’t mean you have to discount incentives completely, however. Useful, actionable feedback is just as valuable to candidates – especially if they’ve been rejected. 


Think about scheduling a “feedback” call with rejected candidates to give them individual feedback and gather their insights in return. Over 70% of companies fail to give candidates regular feedback, so it’s an easy candidate experience win. 

How to incorporate candidate feedback into your recruitment processes


Setting up a clear system (and asigning responsibilities) for incorporating insights is key, otherwise you might find yourself spending hours setting up a survey or holding feedback calls but not seeing any improvements. If candidates feel that you’ve spent time taking their insights on board (you could even let them know when you’ve made the changes and thank them again for their contribution), they’ll be more likely to refer you.


Set up a quarterly call with the relevant teams to review the insights, look for trends, adjust your net promoter score accordingly and compare the results to the previous quarter. If possible, set up alerts on your surveys, so critical issues can be addressed immediately.


Remember to reinforce positive behaviour, as well as correcting negative actions. Finally, think about using positive feedback as “testimonials” on your website, in emails or specific campaigns. Your marketing team will love you. (Just make sure you ask the candidate’s permission first!)


Want some more candidate engagement advice? Here are 3 easy ways you can incorporate VR into your candidate engagement strategy.