| 6 min read

The Candidate Experience: Just How Important Is It?

Written by DevOps Republic

On LinkedIn and other similar platforms, it does not take a long time scrolling to find a post complaining about recruitment consultants or shoddy recruitment practices – and for the most part, those posts are accurate. Unfortunately, as more and more agencies flood the market and use outdated approaches, candidates are becoming increasingly disillusioned with their job search. The result? They are therefore losing faith in recruitment agencies all together. And, in markets like DevOps, where the availability of high-calibre candidates is already scarce, disillusionment to this level can be catastrophic for those businesses who are looking to source the key talent necessary to advance their technological capabilities. 

But, how do organisations overcome this trend towards candidate apathy? With first-hand insights from DevOps Engineers in Germany, we’ve examined the candidate experience today, and how businesses can alter their talent acquisition plans to win over much needed talent.

  1. How many job offers do you get on average, per week?
  2. How many would you open and engage with?
  3. How do you feel about companies being represented by numerous recruitment agencies?
  4. How does the recruitment process affect your judgement about a business?


The Permanent Market

The team here at Third Republic covers Berlin, Munich and the NWR Primarily, so these figures will reflect candidates in those cities, however, we fully expect these results to be reflective of Germany as a whole.

On average, a DevOps engineer with 3-5 years’ experience, with experience in CI/CD, Kubernetes, Docker was being approached 5.3 times a day; both by Recruitment Consultants and In-house recruiters. From the same sample, 0.9 said they would regularly open each message they received – with 4.4 messages being ignored and left unread.[1]

The message from this alone is pretty simple – and rather alarming. Evidently, candidates are no longer engaging with typical recruitment outreach. And this is hardly surprising, considering the influx of messages they are receiving. The drive for DevOps talent in Germany has created a completely candidate-driven marketplace; with so many organisations clamouring for the attention of professionals that their messages are now falling on deaf ears. 

Notably, many engineers we spoke with commented that should they be approached for the same vacancy by more than one recruiter, or if a vacancy had remained open for longer than 2 months, alarm bells would start ringing. When digging further, we found this to be for a number of reasons:

  1. Why was an organisation having to engage with so many agencies to fill this role? It seemed to be taken as an indication of desperation if they were unable to fill the role through just one or two trusted partners.
  2. What is the internal culture like if the vacancy is still open after such a long time? An unfilled vacancy was taken to mean that there was something inherent in the business itself that was either not attracting or retaining talent; again, something that signalled a warning sign for many of the top engineers in Germany.
  3. Why have the previous candidates for this role been unsuccessful? With candidates being aware of how in-demand their skills are today, many questioned why the role had not already been filled by professionals, and if this was in fact indicative of candidates turning down the role.

Our research not only demonstrated just how in-demand DevOps talent in Germany is today, something that is already frequently documented, but it also revealed how permanent professionals in the market today view an unfilled vacancy. Clearly, there is more to consider than just sending out a mass message and hoping for the best; businesses now need to be selective when choosing a recruitment partner, or even when trying to fill a role, and need to be prepared to answer some difficult questions in order to validate why the role may still be vacant. With over 5 individual outreaches every day businesses, more often than not, only have one change to engage with engineering talent in the correct way, so care needs to be taken from the offset!


The Freelance Market

After much discussion with our network of freelancers, we found that DevOps and Cloud freelancers within the Berlin market were by far receiving the highest number of daily messages and calls from recruiters. Across a group of 10 freelancers in Berlin, we found that they were contacted about a staggering 11 opportunity’s per day, on average.

Across Munich, these numbers were slightly less, on average 6, yet we believe this is reflective of the ever-growing tech scene in Berlin creating a more seamless project searching process – with the more enterprise businesses in Munich looking to move away from freelance resources for cost reasons. However, one thing that did become apparent is that a large number of these freelancers are often already working on an ad-hoc basis for pre-existing clients, and therefore their search for a next project is less aggressive. The result? Candidates who are even harder to engage, and businesses who need to think about engaging the top 20% of technical talent – most of whom are passive - in an increasingly innovative way.  

We also saw a similar trend in the freelance market as in the permanent market in Germany; namely the way that professionals perceived outreach from recruitment agencies. Speaking with a Contract DevOps engineer this week, he mentioned that he was getting 20 calls a day from recruitment agents, and one of his biggest issues was with multiple agents calling representing the same business. From his perspective, he contended that it made the company in question seem desperate, or pointed him to believe that there was significantly wrong internally if the organisation had to reach out to so many recruitment agencies - all of which resulted in the project seeming less attractive to him as a potential candidates.

All of the above further highlights the need to choose your recruitment partner carefully. In essence, the companies you choose to work with become another extension of your brand; their name is linked with yours in that candidates’ mind, so it is important to know exactly how they are representing you! Are they simply sending out mass messages, or are they looking to network on your behalf?

Clearly, with the candidate experience already being at the top of the list of things to focus on in 2019, businesses also need to consider how their external partners influence how they are seen within the marketplace. It is now vital to ensure, if you do choose to outsource your talent acquisition capabilities, that you are working with a modern, specialist recruitment agency who understand the vertical in which they are sourcing; failure to do so may further, and irreparably, damage your employer branding and the success of your candidate experience.


So, how important is the Candidate Experience?

The question ‘How important is the candidate experience’ can be summarised pretty succinctly by Gaelle Polart who, speaking to Third Republic as part of our #TalentQA series, maintained that:

It is now the sole responsibility of the recruiter to approach and engage the right person, because candidates just won’t do it themselves. A good candidate in the technology market in London will stay on the market for maybe 10 days.

The candidate experience is now, hands down, the most important thing to candidates when they consider engaging with a business. Unlike a few years ago, when the larger businesses had a monopoly on the top talent, the ecosystem is moving at such a rapid speed that it really is anybody’s game when it comes to attracting talent o your organisation. Indeed, with the increasing importance of Cloud Technologies and Open Source Software, much smaller start-ups are rapidly becoming employers of choice. Furthermore, they can often be in a position to hire within a shorter time frame, and entice their candidates with more overall freedom when it comes to the likes of technical stacks, working environment and an opportunity to directly impact the business they choose to work for.


To conclude, the question of the candidate experience is a fundamental issue that enterprises businesses need to address. Without a streamlined, built to fit recruitment process they risk losing out to their competitors and - as so many of us know in the tech world - you are only as good as the staff you employ. So, if you are losing out on this talent to other organisations – you risk falling behind your competition. Being mindful of the DevOps marketplace as it currently stands, and drawing on intel that comes directly from the candidates you are trying to entice, can help you to stand out amongst the crowd in both the permanent and freelance DevOps Germany ecosystem today.


[1] Data Complied by Third Republic subject to GDPR. Sample of 73 DevOps Engineers