Why Technical Depth in Recruitment Matters

Peter Starling

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Historically, the majority of technology and engineering recruiting has focused purely on the capability and expertise of a candidate.

If they presented as knowledgeable in their field and had extensive experience, there was then very little drive left to explore more about them as a person. The process was quite linear when it came to cultural fit, and any requirements or desirables relating to culture and values were marginal or non-existent.

The Challenge of Technical Recruiting

Over time, the exclusive focus on hard skills has changed, though. Culture and values within companies are now seen as integral facets of a productive and happily co-existing workforce – regardless of the industry. A person might be an expert in their domain, but there is now an emphasis on ensuring that person culturally aligns with a company’s values.

This presents several challenges and difficulties when you’re striving to achieve these considerations; it’s particularly perplexing when you have a great person who looks like a good fit and has all the competencies you’re chasing, but, from an objective standpoint, doesn’t align with the right cultural criteria. 

An easy example would be comparing the general cultures within startups and enterprises. Somebody from the latter comes from a well-structured work environment with many processes and then joins the former, where everything is much less structured, where the focus is normally on commercialising and achieving results. Figuratively speaking, it can be like trying to put a square peg through a round hole.

The Advantage of Technical Knowledge

I’ve found that my engineering background doesn’t necessarily make me better at sourcing candidates, but it does help me achieve better outcomes across the board. Our separate ideas come into line easier, and capturing requirements with a greater understanding of acronyms and the finer nuances around a role is the usual outcome.

High importance should then be given to interpreting this information and how it can be applied to the candidate market; otherwise – more often than not – the focus is placed solely on acronym-matching relevant technical terms, which sometimes creates gaps between a recruiter’s interpretation and what a candidate is truly communicating about themselves. Technological familiarity also allows a recruiter to drill down into particular skills and ascertain what skill level somebody has and whether it fits the bill.

Underlining all this is the capacity to bring in a more lateral thought process. You might have a candidate who sits outside the skill requirements but happens to bring something additional that is worth compromising for. Overall, recruiters with technical understanding may find that their knowledge leads to a contextual, solutions-driven approach instead of a universal, outcome-focused methodology.

Recruiter-Client Feedback

When recruiting, job titles and content need to be analysed and changed based on research and feedback received during the process. This should happen semi-regularly throughout the recruitment process, so that each new interaction is better than the last.

The level of familiarity and expertise within a particular field can affect how a recruiter views the candidate market, and whether they perceive certain skill sets or qualifications as abundant, present, or rare.

Managing expectations is critical in this process, especially with rare skills. In these cases, it is essential to communicate the rarity of the required skills via the job listing and offer alternatives by highlighting other valuable contributions that a candidate might also bring to the table. Technical knowledge is beneficial in this process, not only for the prospective candidate, but also for the recruiter, as it helps recruiters understand what the market does and doesn’t offer. With a bit of technical knowledge of their own, a recruiter who adapts job descriptions and titles to reflect unique skills and qualifications required for a role will shortlist the right candidates.   


Having a depth of technical knowledge in a particular field can be beneficial in recruitment. There is no definitive evidence to suggest it guarantees better performance, but better recruitment practices can lead to finding candidates who are a better cultural fit for the business.

Each recruiter has their own unique way of working, and technical knowledge can be an asset in building relationships with candidates. When recruiters have a solid understanding of the technical aspects of a job, this builds credibility and allows them to communicate more effectively with candidates.

The result: a smoother, more agreeable recruitment process from start to finish. Technical knowledge is ultimately a powerful tool for building confidence and trust with candidates, and plays a large role in successful talent acquisition.

Peter Starling is a recruitment professional within Technical, Scientific and Emerging Technologies. He brings over 26 years as a recruitment professional within Australia and the United Kingdom, coupled with an early career as an Electronics Engineer. 

You can connect with Peter on 0433 422 518. www.ontalent.com.au

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