Software Development

3 ways to find and attract the best engineers in DC

Talent pros share their strategies for finding the perfect match.

NET/WORK DC 2018. (Photo by Dominique Nichole)
Full disclosure: Some of the companies mentioned in this article are clients.
When it comes to recruiting tech talent, jobseekers rule the market: Their opportunities are vast, which makes the competition for top talent just that — competitive.

Indeed, a 2017 survey found 66% of CIOs say it is extremely or somewhat challenging to find workers with the skills they need to grow their business, especially outside Silicon Valley.

But as the tech community grows, companies are changing how they find (and keep) the area’s top tech talent. Spoiler alert: There is more to it than big salaries and beer fridges. The new generation of job seekers have heard that tired startup pitch, and now they want something more.

So what is it? We went straight to a few of the fastest-growing companies in the D.C. region to learn how they’re attracting top talent.

Attend (and host) more meetups

Sponsoring events, speaking at them or even simply hosting them is an easy way to give potential candidates a glimpse inside your office and culture.

“We put ourselves in front of the actual candidates,” said Hilliary Turnipseed, an HR consultant who has worked in talent acquisition at several D.C. tech companies, including Upside Travel. “We host and attend a lot of Meetups in the area to expand our network.”

Upside’s prime location near Logan Circle makes it an ideal hub for hosting events in the D.C. community. But even companies that find themselves in more remote locations can learn from Upside’s tactics. The more hands you shake, the more doors you open.

Make referrals your friend

In today’s market, top recruiters say referrals are still the best way to grow and create a culture in the office.

“Involving every team member in the talent process can be really beneficial to finding a good fit,” said Paul Travis Klein, chief of staff at HatchApps, a company that helps organizations build, launch and manage apps without having to write code. “We go to the most talented person we know and ask who the most talented person they know is.”

Dozens of companies in D.C. (and beyond) value referrals so strongly that they place cash incentives for employees to refer their well-qualified friends. [Editor’s note: We do this at, too!]

Leverage your OOO incentives

Sure, having a chic setup with espresso machines is great, but today’s employees are thinking more about how work affects their life after 5 p.m. — beyond their salaries.

“Sometimes, for younger candidates, there needs to be more explanation about the offer,” noted Steve Feldman, VP of engineering at Contrast Security. “Some applicants don’t take into account the cost of living here versus someplace like Silicon Valley.”

That’s why it’s so important to own who you are as a company. A realistic work culture attracts (and keeps) real talent. These experts note that job seekers are seeking more stability to grow not only in their careers but also in their lives outside the office.

How will you incorporate these tips into your recruiting strategy? Let us know.

How to Build a Tech Recruiting Strategy

Companies: Contrast Security / Hatch
Series: Builders

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