Due to the ever-growing consumption of digital products and services, there is almost always a high demand for software engineers. However, there is certainly no lack of qualified talent competing for that demand. 

In fact, 2023 turned out to be surprisingly challenging for software engineers who applied for new jobs. The data shows this was mainly caused by inflation concerns, mass layoffs, and breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. 

That is why now it is more important than ever to understand the big picture of the software engineering recruitment process. By doing so, candidates can get an edge over hundreds of applicants who compete against them on each job listing and recruiters can select more qualified candidates. 

This article will provide a general overview of this process, as well as real steps that recruiters use in their hiring process. 

Understanding the Recruitment Process 

Put briefly, software engineering recruitment is the process of sourcing, screening, and hiring software engineers. It is very delicate and involves dozens of steps and conversations with multiple stakeholders. 

Since recruiters serve as gatekeepers, their role is critical to any company's success. Every day, they make high-value decisions in collaboration with the company’s executives and departments, as well as various third-party entities. 

Here are eight common steps that nearly all software engineering recruiters take when looking for new hires. 

1. Identifying hiring needs 

2. Creating job descriptions 

3. Designing and posting job ads 

4. Sourcing candidates 

5. Analyzing resumes 

6. Scheduling and participating in interviews 

7. Verifying references 

8. Negotiating salaries and benefits 

This list is not exhaustive and most recruiters do much more to find and filter out the right candidate. Finding talented people who are a good cultural fit is a very challenging task. In certain cases, it can even become the determining factor between a company’s growth and downfall. 

Keys, Skills, and Qualities Sought by Recruiters 

When assessing primary qualifications, software engineering recruiters focus on four core areas: technical skills, soft skills, experience, and education. Here is a closer look at each. 

Technical Skills 

Technical skills are at the core of software engineering. It is all about understanding the core principles of a programming language or operating system and being comfortable within a certain development framework or infrastructure. 

In most cases, recruiters will forward the candidates who pass the initial screening to a technical interviewer, such as a team lead, department lead, or CTO. Most recruiters have a list of a few basic tech questions to weed out the most lacking candidates. An excellent way to weed out unfit candidates is to craft a test of some sort to prove their knowledge. Something akin to a code challenge. If a candidate shows an unwillingness to showcase their skills, it may be best to move on to someone who will. 

Some of the technical skills recently reported as high in demand include:  

  • Artificial intelligence

  • Cybersecurity

  • Cloud computing 

  • Programming 

  • Systems and networking 

  • Data analysis

Soft Skills 

Great software solutions can only be made by teams of talented individuals working together. That is why soft skills, or people skills, are just as important as technical skills, and software engineer recruiters are very likely to ask about them. 

Recent reports show a high demand for soft skills such as:  

  • Communication 

  • Emotional intelligence 

  • Adaptability 

  • Creativity 

  • Problem-solving 

  • Self-awareness 

  • Time management 


Listing the relevant skills on a resume is usually not enough. Those skills need to be backed by a history of relevant work experience, with the exception being entry-level positions. 

While it is certainly true that people learn at various speeds, there is still objective value in time-based seniority. Being exposed to an industry or environment for a long time helps develop perspective, creativity, and intuition. 


While not as important as skills and experience, holding a relevant degree is still valued by companies. It is rarely a strict requirement and can often be compensated for by a number of years of work experience. Certificates from reputable sources are important as well and can often show a more prepared candidate than traditional education. 

Cultural Fit and Company Values 

Culture is another important metric for determining a company’s success. People who share similar values tend to collaborate more effectively and inspire each other. There is also much less misunderstanding and friction, allowing for greater employee satisfaction and productivity. 

So, in addition to technical qualifications and work experience, good recruiters will try to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the company’s culture and values. Some choose to do this more subtly, such as spreading out a few value-based questions throughout the whole process. Others rely on specialized questionnaires that are tailored to give an overview of each candidate's personality. 

Disruptive companies that drive big innovations often have clear mission statements, as well. That is why their recruiters take extra care in finding highly motivated individuals whose life purpose is aligned with that of the company. 

Demonstration of Passion and Interest 

Employees can be both highly skilled and a good culture fit. But are they passionate and genuinely interested in what they are doing? This is another core factor that good recruiters pay very close attention to. 

Recruiters determine this by reading their energy levels and emotions during the interview. How enthusiastically do they speak of their previous work experience and highlights? Are they showing a personal interest in the product, service, or industry they are involved in?  

Body language can often tell the truth when even if someone is trying to stretch the truth. When they speak of a former employer are they saying nice things but pursing their lips? When you ask a more difficult question do they fold their arms, that could signal defensiveness. You can check out some more body language tips here. How to Understand Body Language and Facial Expressions (verywellmind.com) 

Another way recruiters can test for passion by asking candidates about their side projects or open-source contributions. The logic behind this is that if a candidate is willing to do the same work in their free time or for free - they genuinely enjoy it. 

Tips for Applicants 

On a final note, here are some tips to help software engineers stand out from the competition when applying for jobs. 

Custom Tailored Resumes 

Writing a universal resume for mass-applying can be very tempting, especially considering how challenging the job market has recently been. But we would argue that it is not the best road to take. Instead, software engineers should focus on boosting their application-to-interview success rate by customizing their resumes and cover letters for each new job listing. 

Avoiding AI Writing 

Nowadays, almost everyone is using AI for common writing tasks, which recruiters can easily spot. Software engineers should use this information to their advantage and stand out by writing their resumes and cover letters manually. It is always a good idea to consult AI for advice, but only if one can resist the urge to copy and paste directly. 

Preparing for Technical Interviews 

Technical interviews or assessments are among the most challenging parts for unprepared candidates of an interview. So, software engineers should get a good sense of what to expect by checking for interview questions on websites like Glassdoor and forums like Reddit. They should also do their best to practice as much as possible before the assessment takes place. 

Some recruiters say that the technical assessments narrow down the pool of potential candidates. However, those same recruiters prefer to spend their time with candidates who are genuinely interested in the job and want to work for the company.  

Final Words 

Software engineering recruitment is a complex process worth understanding. It involves several core steps, from defining and advertising the company’s needs to screening and employing the ideal candidate. 

The ideal candidate is determined by factors such as having the relevant skillset and work experience, being a good culture fit, and having a genuine passion for the role. Recruiters consider all of this and much more to create a big picture of every candidate before hiring them. 

Software engineer recruiters should avoid candidates using AI-generated content, give preference to custom-tailored resumes, and use technical assessments. By following these steps, they will have a much better chance of hiring the right person.