Elisabeth Wehlin on how to become a successful tech recruiter

Elisabeth Wehlin on: How to become a successful tech recruiter

  • 40 minutes
  • Talent Acquisition
  • Ep 17

One of the biggest challenges facing recruiters today is recruiting and retaining qualified tech talent. With the competition for tech talent so fierce, how can recruiters reel candidates in?

On this episode of How We Hire, we talk about the optimal process for hiring tech talent with Ants Tech Recruiter’s Talent Acquisition Manager and Competence Lead, Elisabeth Wehlin.

Elisabeth has accumulated vast experience hiring tech talent and is actively involved in training teams to make better tech recruitment decisions. From sourcing hacks to the biggest do’s and dont’s in tech recruitment, learn Elisabeth’s secret recipe for hiring exceptional tech talent.

Key takeaways

  • Understanding tech talent trends
  • Why organisations should adapt their tech recruitment processes to the candidate
  • How to improve your candidate response rates
  • Tips and tricks for hiring software engineers
  • Sourcing hacks for finding tech superstars

On the show

Elisabeth Wehlin Talent Acquisition Manager at Ants Tech Recruiters
Linnea Bywall
Linnea Bywall Head of People & Operations at Alva Labs

Elisabeth Wehlin

Elisabeth Wehlin is a Talent Acquisition Manager and Competence Lead at Ants Tech Recruiters. She specialises in tech recruitment and sourcing. Elisabeth started her TA journey in Employer Branding. This quickly led her to become a total recruiter strategy nerd. Now, she’s leading a competence group for recruitment processes at Ants. Elisabeth is passionate about teaching people how to build efficient and evidence-based recruitment processes. 

Linnea Bywall

Linnea Bywall is a former NCAA athlete turned licensed psychologist – and Head of People at Alva Labs. Linnea was recently listed as one of the most inspiring women in tech by TechRound and was featured as one of the 22 Innovative HR Leaders to follow in 2022 by AIHR Academy to Innovate HR. 

From attracting and hiring to onboarding and growing Alva's employees, Linnea's main mission is to change the world of hiring every day by challenging biases in recruitment.


Show notes

-What a competence process is and what it looks like internally at Ants Recruitment-1:53
-Areas that HR companies need most education in-3:44
-What are the most important knowledge areas for tech recruitment-4:48
-Buzzwords in tech you need to know if you’re recruiting in tech-6:15
-Why tech recruitment stands out-8:51
-Why organisations should adapt to tech talent, and not the other way around-12:00
-Biggest challenges within tech recruitment right now-13:36
-Why is it so challenging to hire software engineers?-15:12
-The optimal process for hiring tech talent-18:18
-How to run screening interviews-20:17
-When do you do want in your hiring process; does it matter?-26:18
-What happens behind-the-scenes, before recruiters start actively looking for candidates-28:35
-Tips to stay on the same page as the hiring manager-29:52
-Writing compelling ads to get a large pool of candidates into the funnel- 31:38
-The value of taking a copywriting course to improve you job ad writing skills-33:1
-Sourcing hacks for tech talent-36:16
-Biggest do’s and don’ts when it comes to hiring tech talent-39:22
-Advice for someone new in the field trying to break into tech recruitment-41:01

How We Hire Podcast Episode 17 Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:00):

You need to have basic understanding of tech. And I can talk for hours about this, but tech candidates, they're so sick of recruiters reaching out to them, not knowing what they're talking about. But this doesn't mean that you have to be coding yourself or understanding every single technology. It just means that you've done your homework and you kind of know the difference between backend or front end, Java and JavaScript. That's kind of classic technology mistakes that recruiters do that they don't read up on basic things.

Speaker 2 (00:35):

Welcome to How We Hire, a podcast by Alva Labs with me, Linnea, Licensed Psychologist and Head of People. This show is for all of you who hire or just find recruitment interesting. In every episode, I will speak with thought leaders from across the globe to learn from their experiences and best practices within hiring, building teams and growing organizations. Our guest on today's episode is Elisabeth Wehlin. Elisabeth is a Talent Acquisition Manager and Competence Lead at Ants Tech Recruiters, a recruitment consultant company specialized in the tricky field of tech recruitment and sourcing.


Elisabeth started her TA journey in employer branding and academic work, and this quickly led her to become a total recruitment strategy nerd, which is why she's now leading a competence group for recruitment processes at Ants. Elisabeth is passionate about teaching people how to build qualitative, efficient and evidence-based recruitment processes, which is why she obviously loves to work with Alva, but she also loves the challenge, which is I guess why you work in tech recruitment. So welcome to How We hire, Elisabeth.

Speaker 1 (01:45):

Thank you so much. It's great to be here.

Speaker 2 (01:47):

So fun to have you. You're leading this competence group for recruitment processes. What is that?

Speaker 1 (01:53):

Great question. So at Ants, we kind of structured ourself in competence areas. So this started because we've always been a learning organization and we always specialized in tech, but that of course takes a lot of knowledge and we needed a way to pass that knowledge on in between ourselves. A year and a half, two years ago, we decided to structure our learning a little bit more. So it started with us just kind of figuring out what areas of expertise do you need to be a good tech recruiter. So we ended up with a lot of different areas, but some of the biggest ones is my area, which is recruitment processes, but we also have a team for sourcing and for copywriting and data-driven recruitment. So we have all these kind of teams that are working with just teaching people how to do these things.


So I'm responsible and my team is responsible to seeing what's happening in the recruitment marketing or in the recruitment market and seeing what are other companies doing and what should we be doing. And then we take that knowledge that we get from other companies and the world and then we are responsible for sharing that knowledge internally. So this enables us to have a funnel for great ideas from everywhere and just make sure that we're learning it. So it started off with being kind of an internal thing for us to structure our learning, but in the end it kind of developed. So now we're also working with learning with our customers. So we're working externally as well. And we have courses that you can take, you can do workshops with us to learn sourcing or interviewing techniques, for example, yourself and your company. So that's been really exciting and a fun journey to do this.

Speaker 2 (03:38):

What is the area where you see that your clients needs most education?

Speaker 1 (03:45):

So that really depends. Sometimes our clients, they don't have a TA team in their company yet. Then my area of expertise might be good because I can come in and teach them just how to do interviews, basic recruitment skills, and what is competency-based recruitment, for example, just teaching them the basics. But sometimes we have larger companies that already have a really great TA structure, but they don't know how to do the tech part of it. And then we might do a crash course in tech for recruiters with them, or we might do a sourcing course with them. So it really depends on the team that we're doing it for. Recruitment managers, recruiting managers, usually we do interview technique, but for TA teams, I would say sourcing or our tech workshop is the most important thing to learn.

Speaker 2 (04:35):

And I mean that's a nice bridge to my second follow-up question, which would be what are the most important knowledge areas specifically for tech recruitment? What can you not live without?

Speaker 1 (04:47):

Yeah, that's a great question as well. There's so many things, but of course you need to have basic understanding of tech. And I can talk for hours about this, but tech candidates, they're so sick of recruiters reaching out to them not knowing what they're talking about. But this doesn't mean that you have to be coding yourself or understanding every single technology. It just means that you've done your homework and you kind of know the difference between backend or front end, Java and Java script. That's kind of classic technology mistakes that recruiters do that they don't read up on basic things.


So I would say knowing some tech, but definitely sourcing in tech. We very rarely get candidates through advertising, at least not if we're just posting an ad. You might need to do some marketing for that, but you most likely need to source for candidates in quite a large volume. So to learn how to do that and to not do it in the same way that everyone else is doing it. So you find other candidates, and maybe not the ones that have already gotten 20 messages that day, but you're finding other people. So I would say tech and sourcing. Oh, and copywriting as well. You need to write good InMails. There's so many things that you need. But yeah, maybe those.

Speaker 2 (06:02):

I think those are great areas. So if we should make our listeners sweat a bit, what are the buzzwords within tech that you need to know if you are recruiting in tech, your top five.

Speaker 1 (06:15):

Top five. That would probably be just knowing the difference between front end and backend, definitely. Know some languages within that. Know what ".net" is, for example. Know some languages and know which languages belong to front end or to backend. That's really great. Google that before you go into the interview. I would say something that really helped me when I was in the beginning of doing it was just kind of understanding how a tech organization is built and how a product owner relates to a developer or a tech lead. What do they do? What's the difference between a product owner and a Scrum Master, for example? And just figuring out how the tech team is connected can really give you a lot of intel on what the person you're talking to is actually doing at their team, so I would say. That was more than five, I think. So you got some bonuses.

Speaker 2 (07:09):

No, but that's great. So languages, what role you have within the team, but also how it relates to the full tech organization. I think those are good areas to dive into.

Speaker 1 (07:20):

And it's not that hard. A lot of people, they're going into tech, think that it's so complicated and really, really tricky, but it's really not a lot of words that you need to learn. And in the end of the day, I don't know any coding myself, I would never be able to work in a tech organization, but it's just about figuring out how the roles and the languages and the technologies. This is really simplified though, but just about figuring out how they all connect and then you have a really good starting point for talking tech.

Speaker 2 (07:49):

And I think you bring up a super important point on this is true for any role that you're recruiting for. It just feels like there's so much mystique around tech roles where it's... I think you make a good point of it seems to be so hard and it seems to be so difficult. Maybe it isn't all that difficult once you dive into the pool of tech and start understanding the basic principles, at lease.

Speaker 1 (08:13):

It's a bit of a threshold, but my advice to anyone that is starting off in tech recruitment, you might not want to ask your client too many weird questions, but ask the candidates. The candidates are often really, really relaxed about you not being a technical person yourself and be really open with it if possibility to say, "Hey, I'm a recruiter, but I want to learn. Can you tell me what your technology is and how does that really connect to this?" And for me, that was a great way to learn. So that's some advice.

Speaker 2 (08:45):

That's great advice. So, what is it about tech recruitment that gives you butterflies?

Speaker 1 (08:51):

Great question. But I think the largest part is the bigger purpose of tech recruitment. There are so many important technological developments happening right now, and a lot of the ideas that are out there could really change our world. There are really so many breakthroughs in tech every single week. So we need that kind of technical development and that can really change the world for the better. But there are of course many challenges with that. One of them being of course, investments. You need investments in these ideas, and we're seeing right now that that's being slowed down a little bit because of the economy and things going on in the world. But another thing that has been a trend for many years now is that there aren't enough tech specialists right now. We need more people that know tech and we need to put them in the right places.


An example, it's like concrete numbers, TechSverige, a Swedish organization for tech companies. They kind of calculated how many tech specialists are actually missing. And they figured out that by 2024, so that's already next year, there is going to be 70,000 people missing from the tech industry in Sweden. That's 70,000. That's so many people. And that's completely insane to me. And imagine how much faster the development could go and how many great products and scientific things that we could have on the market if we have those people in the right places. So that's kind of the bigger purpose of it, figuring out how to solve that issue. But then from a personal perspective, why I like to do it every single day is because it's challenging. You really need to be creative when you're working with tech recruitment and every role is different, every circumstance is different. So it's very challenging, that gives me butterflies. Yeah, definitely.

Speaker 2 (10:45):

This is so interesting. And we obviously have hired a lot of engineers to Alva, and I might sound almost rude. It's challenging for sure, but we haven't stumbled upon this complete wall when we look for tech profiles. And I think the things that you mentioned, we don't limit ourselves to a specific language. We have brought on engineers that aren't familiar with the language that we're using, and it doesn't take long before they figure it out. It's a no-brainer. English is our first language, so we hire people that either relocate to Sweden but come from different countries or that we offer remote roles. Our most recent hire now is joining from Spain and will remain in Spain. And that's fantastic. And I think changing how you adapt the organization rather than just demanding the talent to adapt to your way of arranging your organization, there's so much that you can do there. So I think that's a really good point.

Speaker 1 (11:52):

Exactly. And I think that's one of the things that we talk most often with customers about, is that it might be a customer that they've been around for 20 years, so all their code is in Swedish. They have comment in their code and everything is in Swedish. And they can be like, "Yeah, it would be fine to have an English speaker, but then we would need to redo everything in our code in our platform that we've had for 20 years." So that's the threshold for them to just consider doing that. So they might be open to somebody that speaks a little bit of Swedish so that they would be able to understand the code that they have.


But we are always trying to challenge our customers to think more long term. They always come to us when it's like, "We need somebody in a month, they need to start right now." A, that's probably not going to happen. It takes longer than that and B, but you're probably going to need to recruit somebody in two years again, right? How many people are you going to be recruiting for in the next 10 years? How many is it? And if that number is more than this one person, you might need to consider making that long-term adjustment into redoing how your organization works, start doing documents in English and start working on your code slowly but surely you might have a more open environment for non-native speakers to be in your company.

Speaker 2 (13:17):

That's a brilliant suggestion. It takes time and energy and effort, but it might be the only way out.

Speaker 1 (13:23):

Really, yeah.

Speaker 2 (13:24):

I think that's really something to consider. We are already talking about some of the challenges. There's a talent shortage, you need to learn how it works. But what would you say are the biggest challenges within tech recruitment right now?

Speaker 1 (13:36):

The talent shortage, of course, that's a really, really big one. But we also now are seeing layoffs in bigger companies. And even though there is still a candidate shortage in the tech market and the tech market is still growing, that kind of puts the candidates off from switching positions. So that's something that we're seeing that candidate might be interested in switching positions, but when it comes to it and it's about to sign, they get a little frightened because they don't want to be the last person into a new company and they'd rather stay where they're feeling more secure. So that's definitely a challenge in just finding those candidates that are willing to take the risk.


But also, on the plus side of that is that we're also seeing companies that are stopping their recruitments right now. And of course that's not great, but for the companies that are still recruiting, this might be a really good time to do it because you're losing some of that competition. So you have other companies that are not recruiting, then you should go for it right now. Again, if you want to recruit tech in the next two or three years, now is a good time to go get some candidates because the ones that might have been laid off or just the ones that are interested in something new, the competition is as low as it's going to be, I think.

Speaker 2 (14:54):

So the going back to thinking long term, and it might be worth starting that recruitment earlier than planned simply to get ahead of the rest. I think that's interesting. Why is it so challenging to hire software engineers? Is it only that there's too few or is that oversimplifying?

Speaker 1 (15:12):

I mean, it is that they are too few, but that is creating so many more problems because we have lots of competition with other companies that are trying to [inaudible 00:15:23] more roles than there are candidates, and that creates competition between ourselves. But this also creates that candidates are being contacted a lot more. They never need to apply for a job to get a job, which means that we're getting lower response rate. We're not getting any people applying for our jobs. The salaries are going up. It's just really hard to get these candidates. So I would say that's one.


And as we've already touched upon, we have recruiting managers that have really high demands on what they're looking for and aren't really willing to compromise. And that's definitely a challenge. I understand it when you're kind of in a desperate need for a specific competence, it's hard to say that I'll recruit somebody with potential and let them learn something if that's going to take a year because you need that skill right now. But then a third thing that's difficult with software engineers or any kind of tech roles is like we've already touched upon, but to understand them. We need recruiters that understand tech and complicated roles. Yeah, I think that's it.

Speaker 2 (16:27):

I saw a hilarious and sad post from a engineer. I have no idea if it's true or not, but there was an engineer that said, "It's so easy to get a job. They don't even check in the recruitment process. It's pretty much just wham bam and a sign." So this person, fictive or not said that, "I'm now holding multiple jobs because it was so easy to get in. So I'm getting multiple paychecks and it's going to take a couple of months before they even notice that I'm not doing anything." And true or not, I think this speaks to what you're saying. A lot of organizations have become so scared of not being able to hire tech talent that they're completely removing anything from the recruitment process, any obstacle, meaning that they're not always sure what they are hiring. Am I out of line or would you agree?

Speaker 1 (17:21):

I would agree. Yeah, I can definitely see that. But it's also from the other side. What I'm seeing is also recruiting managers that are over checking things and they want to have four interviews in the process. So yes, you have those companies that are really jumping for it, but honestly I'd rather have those because I think I'm sitting in a lot of meetings talking to hiring managers and trying to explain why we need to not shorten the process, but making it more efficient so that every step has a purpose. I think that's the most important thing. And then if you have a recruitment process that is really thought out, you're going to be fine with maybe two or three steps. I think you can kind of figure out a candidate in just those steps, but not more than that. That's my perspective, I think.

Speaker 2 (18:08):

Okay. So now you're going to have to spill the beans and give us the optimal process for hiring tech talent. Give us all your secrets. How would you do it?

Speaker 1 (18:18):

How would I do it? When we're working with our customers, we of course have to be really flexible with them. So we're working as a recruitment partner and different companies have different needs and they have different ways that they like to recruit, but we of course give suggestions and if we're talking process, a lot of the work is happening before we even get into the recruitment process. But if we're talking process, I would say a screening interview, a shorter one, and then a first interview to assess, just asking some technical questions and some personality competency-based questions as well.


In the first interview, I really like to see some kind of test logic and we of course use Alva Labs. So that's a really great way to do that. There are both personality and logic tests in an unbiased way. And then I like to do a case interview, and if it's for a developer role, that might be some kind of technical challenge or a coding challenge. It might be a coding test. But I think the best way to do it is having a step where the customer or the development team that we're recruiting for had really sat down and figured out what do we need for this person to do? And then creating a challenge that is really similar to what they will be doing in the role. I think that's the best way to test actual skill.


And then you might want to do references. I don't think references is the most important thing, but if you do decide to do them, I think it's good to be mindful of them not being really a way to judge skill or competence. It's more of a way to check kind of what do I as a manager need to be aware of when I'm going to lead this person forward. So you might get some really good tips from the previous manager about how to lead them, but also of course, checking for any warning signals. I don't think it's the best step in the process, but for some roles I see a purpose with them.

Speaker 2 (20:12):

Okay, so let's deep dive. Screening interview. What do you do?

Speaker 1 (20:17):

We usually do a phone interview. It might also be over Teams or some kind of video interview. They're usually 20 minutes just to check the hard skills or to check the big requirements. Do they fit this profile at all? So we're just checking, "Have you worked with JavaScript, for example? Have you done that? What kind of projects have you been on?" And really also a lot about selling the role, really. The first screening interview, in the first interview, I would say it's mostly just about selling the role to the candidate because that's the hardest part in tech recruitment and trying to get them to stay in the process. So spend half the first screening interview just explaining what the company is doing and why they should work for you, but then also checking off some basic skills, of course. Salary expectation, really important to do in the beginning of the process because in this industry it can really be... It can vary. So make sure to check that in the first screening interview.

Speaker 2 (21:18):

And by the way, do you have a lot of people that you reject after the screening interview or do most pass it?

Speaker 1 (21:24):

I would say most past it, actually. We're of course very data-driven at Ants, so we're always looking at our key figures and conversion rates. And we are kind of aiming towards having a 50% conversion rates in almost all of our steps. And that's basically that if we want to get people, of course, to be converted from screening to first interview. However, if we're not getting people that are getting rejected after the screening or the first interview, then we're probably not broadening our horizons enough. Then we might be screening to harshly because you never know what candidates might actually be a good fit in the end. So we're aiming for a 50% conversion rate. But I would say from screening to first interview is probably a little bit more than that.

Speaker 2 (22:15):

And then what happens? You're one of the 50 plus percent that moves on, what happens in the first interview and who do you interview with?

Speaker 1 (22:23):

Great question. So that can also vary, but the most common thing that we do is that we present the candidate to our customer or the recruiting manager, and then they do the first interview as a way also to kind of anchor and explain to the candidate why they should work at that company. So that's how we like to do it. And a lot of the time, we give the recruiting manager a little bit of interview training before they go into that first interview because if you have a source candidate or somebody that we brought into the process, you don't want the recruiting manager's first question to be, "Why did you apply for this job? Or why do you want to work for us?" Because they probably don't yet, and that's their job to explain why they should want to work for them. So that's something that we can only do, bang into recruiting managers' heads.

Speaker 2 (23:14):

Exactly. I think those small but important shifts in mindset can make all the difference, right?

Speaker 1 (23:21):


Speaker 2 (23:22):

And to be honest, I think that mindset needs to spill over to more roles even outside of tech, not assume that people are going to come running to you.

Speaker 1 (23:31):

Yeah. Changing jobs is a really big decision. It's a really, really big part of your life. So even if it's a really great company and it's great salary, you're going to be spending eight hours of your day doing it. So the candidate is going to want to be really, really sure that this is what they want before they sign anything. So I think that's good to keep in mind.

Speaker 2 (23:54):

Okay, so screening interview, first interview with the hiring manager. And then you said some sort of assessment and personality logic test.

Speaker 1 (24:03):

Exactly. Some kind of assessment test is of course always my preference. Sometimes we do that before the first interview as well, depending on if we're doing a case interview where they have a challenge to do at home, then we might feel like it's too much for the candidate to do in their own time to do some screening tests and also doing a case preparation. But yeah, usually after the first interview we do an assessment test or we do a case and then we have a case interview.


And for more softer roles, that might be problem solving challenge that we write with our customers. We're working with them figuring out what difficult situations will this person be in, and then we simulate that in a case that they work on at home and then they do an interview to discuss it. But if it's more of a technical role, they get to do a technical challenge. And we like for our customers to do that themselves, for it to be as specific as it possibly can be. But if they don't have the capabilities to do that themselves at that time, we might also suggest doing a test for that as well and using some of the great platforms that there are for doing technical tests.

Speaker 2 (25:23):

Obviously we do coding tests as part of our process for hiring engineers, and we've tried a little bit of a variation here. So in the beginning, we did only at-home assignments, try to keep the time spent down, but it was still, I think two, three hours or something. So it was kind of heavy. And then the team would review it and they would have a technical interview to talk it through. The other setup that we tried was more like you do, a little bit at home, I think an hour, and then you do a pair programming second half of it and kind of bake that into the interview. And I think that was actually perceived as better from the candidates. And then, I know we haven't tried it, but I know other companies are doing more, "Come and work together with." Fantastic, but time-consuming. Do you have any strong opinions on when do you do what?

Speaker 1 (26:18):

It really is exactly like you're saying. It really depends on the time that they have, because I've also tried that and had great results when the team can actually take the time to sit down with the candidate and do it because then the candidate really gets a sense of this would be my team and this is what we would be doing all day if I worked here. It can really make the candidate visualize what their life would be like. So I'd definitely say that that's the best way to do it if you have those capabilities. But very rarely is that the case.


I'm usually happy if the tech team has a few hours or an afternoon to spend on making a coding test for us, then I'm really happy with them. But the dream scenario is of course, having the candidate come in and meet the team, maybe just one or two developers who don't want to overwhelm the candidate, but just have them sit down, grab a coffee and work on something together. I think that's a great way, both from your perspective to understand how they work in a team, but also from the candidate perspective and the candidate's experience.

Speaker 2 (27:26):

For sure. I like how you say there are specific tasks that you can use that are more generic, but the ideal would be to create tasks that are designed for that specific team, or at least use super relevant ones. It feels good that we're not doing it wrong, I know when I hear you talk about it. We obviously, again, use our own platform for the coding tests as well as we now have that as part of our offering that we have, which is super, super, super helpful. I don't think we could have hired the high quality engineers without the coding tests.

Speaker 1 (28:03):

No, true. We are just starting with it, so I'm really excited to try it out and see how it's going.

Speaker 2 (28:09):

Nice. Okay, so we've talked about screening, interview, some sort of assessment, but also coding task. You mentioned references, maybe, maybe not, but you also said the biggest part happens before.

Speaker 1 (28:25):


Speaker 2 (28:26):

We cannot not talk about that. So okay, you have just received a, "Please hire a tech persona for me." What happens then?

Speaker 1 (28:36):

It's really the biggest part in tech recruitment because the biggest challenge that we have is just getting people into the process. Once they're in, we can figure out what they do, we can figure out what they know, but the really big challenge is just getting them into that pipeline. So the first thing we do is of course we set up a meeting with the hiring manager and preferably some people in the team as well and talk to some developers, for example, if we're recruiting a software engineer.


But we have a meeting with them, we take a requirements profile and this is really important just to get everybody in the same room and agreeing to what we're looking for. That happens so often that we think we know what we're looking for, but then five weeks in, somebody comes in and says, "But wait, we need this as well." And then we have found the completely wrong candidates. So for us, it's really important that everyone agrees on what we're looking for. And in these meetings, we also usually try to challenge our customers as well into thinking maybe we don't need all these requirements. Not looking for example, for specific amounts of years of experience, but opening up to maybe one year is enough for some candidates that are really good.

Speaker 2 (29:46):

For what are your best tricks to make sure that you're on the same page as the hiring manager?

Speaker 1 (29:51):

Just stopping them at every single word that they say. So something that we're getting all the time is that they say, "Yeah, we're looking for somebody who's a little bit more senior." "Okay, what does senior mean for you? What is a senior candidate? Is that somebody with 25 years of experience? Does it have to be in the tech industry? Do they have to be developing in that language or could that be somebody who has two years of experience? What's a senior candidate to you?" Something else that we hear a lot is teams saying that, "We want somebody who can solve complex issues." And that's one of those things that's like, that can mean anything. We need specifics here, what's important? And then always challenging. "Okay, so you're saying that they need to code in this language. What if..." That's something that I say a lot of the time.


"So you're saying they need to be coding in this language and be specialized in that. What if they do that language, but they're also doing C-Sharp, for example? JavaScript and C-Sharp? Weird combo, but say that you have a candidate that has those different languages, would that also be okay, would we reject that candidate or would you be fine with meeting them?" So always, I think asking a lot of questions and being a little bit annoying. And I also usually start those meetings with just having that disclaimer and saying, "I'm going to ask a lot of questions now and you're going to think I'm really annoying, but this is for the best. Yeah, we're looking into your best interests."

Speaker 2 (31:20):

I think we need more carte blanche in life to be annoying just in general.

Speaker 1 (31:26):


Speaker 2 (31:27):

That's brilliant.

Speaker 1 (31:28):


Speaker 2 (31:28):

Okay. So you are super annoying in that meeting, making sure that you're on the same page and then what?

Speaker 1 (31:35):

Yeah, we do write ads for our jobs. We're seeing that about 30% of our positions are actually still being hired from the job ad. So that's quite a high number.

Speaker 2 (31:46):

It is.

Speaker 1 (31:47):

And the reason why it is, is because that we're putting a lot of effort into our copywriting. Everyone at Ants is doing a copywriting course to make sure we're not writing a generic ad. And so, we try to make it different and we try to make it fun. And then something that is really great if we can do is that we do an advertisement on that ad. So we are working really closely with our marketing team. I don't know what we would do without them because they are sending these ads into LinkedIn. We do job posts on LinkedIn and we also do social media ads.


So this is a really great way to find those passive candidates that might be sitting on the subway home from work and they're feeling a little bit tired and sick of what they're doing, and they might see an ad for a fun developer role in their phones scrolling through Instagram. Then if we are removing the CV requirement from our ads, we might have somebody who applies for the job right there on the subway. So yeah, definitely social media marketing, that really helps us and helps the customer in long term as well, just to build that employer brand long term. Just getting some exposure really helps in the beginning of the process.

Speaker 2 (33:05):

I think this copywriting aspect is super interesting and a great example of how HR talent acquisition and marketing needs to hang out all the time.

Speaker 1 (33:15):


Speaker 2 (33:16):

Not only to give us great microphones when to remove [inaudible 00:33:18] the costs, but also to make sure that we get the message out there in the right way. When you took this copywriting course, because I'm guessing you did, what was your biggest takeaway? What did you do differently after that course?

Speaker 1 (33:32):

One of the thing when you're writing job ads is definitely to not be generic, or in general, not to be generic. I think when I started writing ads for tech roles, I was really scared that I didn't know how to write all these technical words or that it needed to be really formal. Of course, it depends on the tonality that our customers have, but a lot of the time writing something that's fun and kind of speaks to a person that you use storytelling and saying that, "Imagine coming to our office and having a cup of coffee and looking at the view over this garden that we have." I don't know, but just making it something that's a little bit more fun for the candidate to read and to imagine themselves being in

Speaker 2 (34:17):

Some things that we have done in our job ads for software engineers, we make them shorter than our other ads, we link, "This is our tech stack, so you can if you want to, go in, read really nerdy about how we work, cloud base, et cetera, what tech stack do we use?" Especially early days when Alva was still startup, had no one knew who we were. We quite specifically spelled out, "You will get good benefits, on-market pay," spelling out the obvious benefits right in the job ad. That was also something that I think helped.

Speaker 1 (34:53):

I completely agree. And I think that's something that's even more important now. And we talked a little bit about candidates being hesitant to switching jobs, that they're kind of scared that they're going to be laid off. Something that's really important to have in your job ad or in your in-mail or in your first screening interview is talking about job security. Put that in writing. What can we offer when it comes to job security? How are you financed? Are you at risk of being without funding? Is that a possibility or are you really stable and unaffected by the market? I think it's really good if you have any kind of job security to offer, do that. You might want to consider hiring people to permanent positions straight away, not doing a probation period, but just hiring them on permanent positions. And if you can do that, spell that out in the ad because this is really going to make a difference for those candidates that are scared that they might lose their job if they switch jobs.

Speaker 2 (35:52):

That's a great ad. So, we've had this meeting where we were annoying, we write a great job ad, make sure that we send it out to the world in relevant channels. And then I guess we end up in the sourcing aspect of it?

Speaker 1 (36:09):

Yes, we do. Time for the fun part to do the sourcing. We like to work, of course, with LinkedIn, but something that maybe is good for tech recruiters to start doing is to look outside of LinkedIn and look at other kinds of forums. We are always on GitHub looking at candidates over there, try to find ways to get around the algorithm. So usually with LinkedIn for example, you're getting the candidates that have been viewed the most times and stop at the top of your algorithm. So if you're searching for a Java developer in Stockholm, the first person that comes up might look like the best one, but that person is probably the one that has been contacted the most by recruiters. So try to get ways to get around that. Look in Facebook groups, look in other kinds of forums, look at other kinds of web pages to find candidates that other people aren't looking at. That really makes a difference when it comes to your response rate and interest rate.


And then when you actually do contact people, again with the copywriting, make sure that you're not writing generic messages. There's so many tech candidates out there that are so sick of recruiters now because they're getting these generic messages from people who don't even know what their job is. And we need to change that. I think all of us that are recruiting tech, we need to take our responsibility and learn what we're recruiting and write better InMails because that's going to benefit us all in the end. Just write those good InMails that are personal and make sure that candidate can see that you actually read their profile and write something that's fun and personal. Again, that's the best way to do it.

Speaker 2 (37:54):

And I think that makes all the difference, right? Because I think there's one aspect... Now, I'm just guessing here, but one aspect of why it is harder to recruit these roles is that because there have been a high demand, a lot of recruiters that maybe don't have the competency or knows how to do this have been spraying and praying and just as you say, very generic InMails, which has led to fewer candidates even wanting to open those type of messages, meaning we have to reach out to even more and makes it even harder. There's a vicious circle there that I think we need to turn around to some extent.

Speaker 1 (38:39):

Yeah, definitely. And I saw that you wrote a post about this on LinkedIn actually, about the issue with mass send outs to candidates. And we've all been there. We've all done it, but it's not a benefit for us in the long run. It's really harming us as a brand, the recruiting brand, but to write those personalized messages is really something we need to be careful with.

Speaker 2 (39:04):

Yeah, we tried. It didn't work. We went with more personalized messages, worked great.

Speaker 1 (39:10):

Yeah, it really does.

Speaker 2 (39:12):

I'm just one data point, but a big [inaudible 00:39:15] in doing that. So I think we should start wrapping up. What would you say are the biggest dos and don'ts when it comes to hiring within tech?

Speaker 1 (39:23):

Yes. One that we've talked about a lot now is being generic. Try to understand what you are talking about. Do your homework and actually write something that stands out both when it comes to the ad and when it comes to the InMail that you're sending out or the email, or text message, or whatever. Make sure that it stands out and make sure the candidate knows that you know what you're doing. And then I would say to dare to open up your requirements profile. We did discussed this, but it's really, really important to try to look long-term. What can you teach within the organization in the long run? And also measure things.


And that's something that we do a lot, measure what you're doing. We like to work with A/B testing when it comes to our messages and when it comes to our job ads. Test what you're doing, measure what you're doing and try something else, see if that works better and look at the data and that can really help you with your recruitment. Try to get some key figures as quickly as possible. We have a new statistics report coming out very soon. The one from 2021 is already out, but 2022 will be coming shortly. And there you can see our key figures and kind of compare what your response rates are or what your conversion rates are to what we do. Try to beat us.

Speaker 2 (40:44):

That's fantastic. If it's out when this go live, we'll make sure to link it in the description.

Speaker 1 (40:49):


Speaker 2 (40:50):

Otherwise, keep a lookout for it. Okay. So if you have someone that's new within this field and they need to get started on hiring within tech, what would be your advice? The first thing they should do before they call you guys at Ants if they need help. But how does one approach it in a good way?

Speaker 1 (41:12):

Learn basic tech terms. A great way to do that is now with ChatGPT. I just started using it, it's revolutionary. Just write a question there and you will get a great answer about so many different tech words. So learn the basics and then just get into sourcing. That's a really hard skill that you really need in this field. So learn how to do it and learn how to do it in ways that everyone else isn't, so that you can find those candidates that not everyone else is looking at.

Speaker 2 (41:44):

I think that's great advice. Thank you so much for joining How We Hire, Elisabeth. It has been an absolute pleasure. If people want to talk to you more, learn more from you, I'm suggesting they can connect with you on LinkedIn or something?

Speaker 1 (41:58):

Please do. I'd love to continue the conversation.

Speaker 2 (42:02):

The nerdiness. That sounds amazing. Thank you for joining and have a nice day.

Speaker 1 (42:07):

You too. Thank you so much.

Speaker 2 (42:09):


Speaker 1 (42:09):