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5 Tips for Hiring Tech Talent When You're Not Technical

Hiring and recruiting for tech talent when you have no technical background can be scary. How do you ask the right questions? How do you feel confident that you’re getting the right answers? How do you figure out if your candidate has the right skill set when you don’t really understand what it is he or she does?

Understanding that many of our clients are in the same boat, we’ve put together a few tips for hiring tech talent when you’re a recruiter who is not technical. Try them out and let us know how you do!

  • Back End v Front End: Know the Difference. This simple delineation can make big difference when figuring out if you’re talking to the right candidate. Make sure that you ask the hiring manager whether Front or Back end experience is needed…then find out where your candidates’ experience lies.

  • Functional, Technical or Techno-Functional? In the tech space someone who will be interacting with non-tech people or who will be managing the business aspects of the project is called a Functional Role. Often hiring managers are seeking someone with this skill set who has a background in what I like to call “Hands-on development” – this person can both manage a team or product or client, as well as understand the intricacies of the development process. They might even need to jump in and do some architecture or coding themselves. This person is called a Techno-Functional resource. A technical resource is just what it sounds like!

  • Talk Shop. Most companies fall into one of three categories: Microsoft Shop, Java Shop or Open Source Shop. Knowing what kind of “shop” your tech department is running will help you piece together what types of technology you should be looking for on a candidate’s resume. Tip: Just because you use Microsoft Office for Word and Excel doesn’t mean that your tech department is running a Microsoft Shop – so be sure to ask!

  • Updates, Fixes, or New Development. When talking to candidates make sure that their experience matches the type of resource your tech department needs. Some positions require “full life cycle” experience while others will be working on existing technology. When discussing job requirements with the hiring manager be sure to ask what this person will be working on so that you can better match the experience.

  • Agile or Waterfall. The right candidate for the job doesn’t only possess the technical know-how, he or she also needs to feel comfortable in the work environment in regards to process & methodology. Finding out if your tech team uses Agile or Waterfall methodology, and matching your candidates’ experience, can be key to filling a technical position.

Often the key to hiring a great technical resource is understanding the concepts behind the position. The jargon can be off-putting but hopefully these basics will help you get started. Good luck with hiring!

...For additional understanding of tech concepts, check out our TechBites series: 5 minute videos explaining tech concepts for the non-technical recruiter. We use easy analogies to bridge the gap. No code. Just concepts.

Note: This post was originally published on the Experts Blog at and can be found here. It has been republished with the author's permission.

Jessie Pressman | Founder
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