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Home / Technology / We asked tech recruiters what they look for in candidates. Here’s what they said

We asked tech recruiters what they look for in candidates. Here’s what they said

Simply put, tech recruiters are recruiters specializing in acquiring technical talent in a variety of industries. With their technical knowledge and understanding of the demands involved, tech recruiters are in a better position to connect the right candidates to open positions in a company’s tech team.

But what are they really looking for? In the first of this four-part series, we spoke to seven tech recruiters in Singapore to find out.

Technical skills

Having the necessary technical skills, as expected, ranked top of the list of things technical recruiters were looking for.

Produce neat and clean code

“Candidates should be skilful at coding in a variety of languages,” said Alberto Resco, engineering manager and tech recruiter at ecommerce startup Shopback. “They should be able to code neatly and cleanly.”

Close adherence to job requirements

For mobile advertising platform Pocketmath, it is important how closely candidates’ skills match the startup’s needs. “With technical roles, we are strict on how closely a candidate’s tech stack matches our requirements set in the job description,” said Frederic Bonifassy, talent manager at Pocketmath.

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“As the adtech industry is still maturing, experience and skill can make a huge difference. We also require candidates to undergo a technical test before they can be considered for interviews.”

The chief product and technology officer at PropertyGuru Group, Malcolm Fitzgerald, broke down what he looks out for in both product and user experience design, as well as the engineering team.

“For product and UX, I look for people who are data driven and technically savvy,” he said. “They need to know how to pick and measure the right metrics and create solid roadmaps that move the needle. For our technology (engineering) side, they must have solid engineering skills in any language and apply out of the box thinking to solve real problems.”

Key skills he lists for PropertyGuru’s product and UX team include data collection, extraction and analysis, some familiarity with code, experimentation (A/B testing), and interactive prototyping. Key skills for the engineering team include HTML, Javascript, SQL, a deep understanding of one’s speciality language or framework, debugging and security skills, microservice architecture, and system design.

Solid foundation in computer science

For other companies, candidates’ foundation in computer science is more important than familiarity with the tech stack the company is using. “It’s like learning martial arts,” said Edmund Yee, talent acquisition manager at concierge and delivery startup Honestbee. “We’d like for candidates to first have strong 基本功 (basic skills).”

Beyond that, candidates at Honestbee will also be assessed on their problem solving skills. “We will usually give them a complex technical problem to solve in front of the interviewers,” said Edmund. “Their approach to tackling the problem is also something we will assess, and not just the answer.”

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But very rarely are technical skills enough to nab you the job.

Balancing hard skills with soft skills

For a startup like Grab, in the competitive ride-hailing industry, it is crucial to find well-rounded, experienced professionals who are determined to make a difference in the industry.

“To succeed and thrive in a growing company, we want adaptable people, equally balanced with soft and hard skills, who are driven and eager to make a difference to solving and improving transportation in Southeast Asia,” said John Hall, head of talent acquisition (engineering) at Grab.

Soft skills he looks out for in particular are a willingness to collaborate, thoughtful communication style with clearly thought-through solutions, and an entrepreneurial spirit with a track record of doing whatever it takes to succeed.

Culture fit

Right behind technical skills, many of the recruiters we spoke to listed culture fit among the things they look out for.

Although engineering candidates are still primarily assessed for technical skills at online dating platform Paktor, culture fit comes in a close second.

“After [assessing their technical skills], we will then look into their personality fit into our family-like culture over here in Paktor,” said Amanda Tan, regional HR manager. “This is to ensure that he or she will enjoy their time here and will look forward to building a long term career with us.”

Similarly, for community marketplace app Carousell, on top of aptitude, experience, and values, candidates are assessed on whether they’re a good match for its culture. “We like to hire people with varying experiences so that we can learn from them, and grow together as a team,” said Victor Neo, senior engineering manager at Carousell.

“This is where interviews are important,” said Frederic. “Because you can get a feel of whether this candidate is a cultural fit and can be a good team player. While hard skills are definitely important, we place equal emphasis on soft skills, and it is very important that their personality matches our team and core values.”

Passion and determination

Edmund believes it’s important for candidates to be passionate about what they do — actively working on software projects in their own time.

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Alberto also looks out for candidates who are driven to excel in their domains, are willing to learn and apply new technology, and demonstrate grit and determination when the going gets tough.

“I also like candidates with initiative (don’t we all!),” said Frederic, “so anything in your brief summary that talks about your motivations or inspiration, will also interest me.”

Format of application

“One of things that will catch my immediate attention is how your resume looks,” said Frederic. “Make it user friendly and don’t clutter it. If it is easy to read, with information obviously set out, I’ll want to find out more.”

“I need to be convinced that this person really wants to join us and that we are not one of the many companies that he has applied to (even if that is true – don’t make it obvious in your resume!),” he continued. “I’d recommend having two or three lines upfront on why you are applying for this role.”


Other soft skills the recruiters also brought up include curiosity, being outcome-focused, being friendly and approachable, respecting deadlines, and having strong business acumen.

“We keep a lookout for candidates who are able to link tech with business requirements,” said Edmund. “We would like people who can see the bigger picture.”

This article originally appeared on Tech in Asia.

courtesy : Express Tribune



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