Blog Overview

Attracting and hiring the best software engineer is becoming increasingly challenging. Traditional recruitment practices are proving to be outdated and time-consuming. The tech talent shortage has made it a candidate-driven market, with highly skilled individuals more aware of their worth and seeking quick results. 

As companies race to secure top talent, executive and technical recruiters like Lilia Tsalenko are playing an increasingly crucial role in the hiring process. We recently had the pleasure of talking with her to gain insight into her experience of fifteen years in the field and learn about her strategies for success.

Lilia has helped over 30 startups build their teams and supported more than 300 professionals, including executive-level leaders. Her expertise in talent acquisition has also landed her in-house roles at startups and modern science companies like Box, where she served as talent acquisition leader and executive technical recruiter for the past five years.

Best Practices in Candidate Sourcing

When it comes to sourcing top candidates, one of Lilia's key principles is investing heavily in the initial stages of each search to gain a deep understanding of the business, team, and culture. By asking thoughtful and probing questions, recruiters can identify the must-have requirements and the nice-to-have skills for each role. 

During the search process, it’s a good idea to kick things off with a meeting agenda designed to align the team on the search flow and role descriptions This typically involves setting expectations on the length of the search pipeline, volume, meeting cadence, and communication channels with hiring managers and talent teams.

For in-house searches, close collaborations with hiring managers on candidate engagement and network reach-out will increase efficiency.  For external searches, the team has to agree on advertising channels, target companies, and alternative sourcing channels like conferences, Twitter, GitHub repositories, and open-source projects.

“It’s important to align on various signals. For instance, what are the sample projects that signal relevant experience? How tolerant is the team to the patterns of short tenures? What level of verbal and written communication skills is critical for the role?”

To ensure a successful hiring process, some of the key questions include how to measure project complexity, target companies, and the importance of different schools. Also, align how to sell the opportunity to top candidates and what information to share about the team, company, culture, impact, and growth potential. 

The next step is to schedule a collaboration meeting to review 15-20 diverse profiles with pros and cons, with the goals of understanding team preferences and ensuring interest in at least 75% of the shared profiles.

Strategic Approach for Candidate Outreach

Recruiters who approach candidates with empathy and genuine curiosity are more likely to make meaningful connections and build relationships. In contrast, recruiters who only focus on their own needs and use templated messages often fail to engage with candidates in a meaningful way. 

Personalization plays a key role in successful candidate outreach, according to Lilia. She emphasizes to expect that engagement will take a few iterations and be sure to plan at least five messages with timely follow-ups. The flow of messages should start with an exploratory chat about an attractive role or company, followed by more information and updates about the company.

In cases where candidates have not responded to initial outreach, recruiters should send a connection request on LinkedIn and a final message with an offer to stay in touch and a request for referrals. It can be a lot of work to craft these messages strategically, but having customizable templates streamlines the process and ensures efficiency.

Creating Inclusive Teams: The Importance of Diversity in Hiring

Building a diverse team should be a conscious effort from the start. It's crucial to open the minds of hiring managers to different sources of candidates and put conscious efforts into building diverse candidate pools.

"As someone who values diversity of thoughts, backgrounds, and experiences, I strongly believe that it has a significant impact on the ethos, visibility of products, and the culture of any organization". 

There are many benefits to diversity hiring beyond financial performance, including a larger talent pool, positive employer branding, and an increased range of skills, talents, and experiences. Studies have demonstrated that companies with gender and ethnic diversity outperform their competitors by 15% and 35%, respectively. Inclusive teams have shown to outperform homogenous teams by 80%. 

 By opening our minds to different sources of talent and being intentional about building diverse candidate pools, we can create a better future for our organizations and society as a whole.

The Future of Technical Recruiting: Trends and Tips

As the job market becomes more competitive, companies are reevaluating their recruiting strategies for the next growth cycle. One trend we can expect to see is the increased utilization of modern technological and AI tools, such as automation interviews with chatbots and GitHub analysis. Companies may also eliminate extensive coding interviews and instead focus on early candidate screening to develop deep human relationships with the best candidates.

“For aspiring technical recruiters, it's important to focus on motivation, intellectual curiosity, and learning abilities when evaluating candidates”.

Rather than overpromising the future of the company, emphasize the team, product, and impact that leaders will have on the entire business. Look for patterns in a candidate's previous experience to gain insights into their potential performance. Playing devil's advocate and trying to convince the candidate that the opportunity may not be right for them can also be a helpful tactic.

By staying up-to-date with emerging trends and focusing on key qualities in candidates, technical recruiters can attract top talent and build strong teams for the future.


As the demand for skilled software engineers continues to rise, hiring the best talent has become a crucial factor for companies to stay competitive. Lilia Tsalenko's expertise in technical recruiting provides valuable insights into best practices. For instance:

  • Investing time in understanding the business, creating a search strategy, and reviewing diverse profiles.
  • Personalization is key in candidate outreach, tailoring messages to their interests and needs.
  • Creating an inclusive team is essential for improving productivity, innovation, and employee retention.
  • The future of technical recruiting will involve utilizing modern technological and AI tools and focusing on early candidate screening.

And if you're looking to optimize your technical recruiting process, Prog.AI can help you out by pulling data from GitHub, LinkedIn, and StackOverflow. 
You can easily filter through candidates based on over 50,000 technical skills and find the right candidates for your technical roles. 

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