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Why your company should have an engineering blog

With software engineering having the lowest unemployment rates globally, most top engineers are not actively looking for a job at any given moment in time. Even if they might be considering a switch, they are quite unlikely to be reading job descriptions on job boards, so it is unlikely that they will ever come across your company. Add to it the fact that you're competing with fat compensation packages from the likes to Google, Facebook and Netflix for top engineering talent.

  • Why it works
  • Companies that use engineering blogs as recruiting tools effectively
  • How to do it right

Why it works

In a sea of job descriptions that all look the same, an engineering blog is an effective way to grab the attention of the best engineers. You can use it to shine light on your engineering culture, the challenging problems your team is working on, your reasons for choosing a particular tech stack etc.

Companies that use engineering blogs as recruiting tools effectively

Heap.io: Their engineering blog focuses on the technical challenges they faced, what they tried, and how they overcame them. For e.g. one of their popular blog posts is about how a small change improved their CPU usage by 10x for their Postgres cluster resulting in millions of dollars saved per year.

Quora: Given that Quora deals with a wide range of problems within NLP, their engineering blog is focused on NLP and big data. The Quora Question Pairs dataset is a popular dataset among NLP reseachers.

BlackRock: Being the world's largest assets manager (as of 2019), BlackRock does face complex engineering problems, which is what their blog is about.

Airbnb: Airbnb's blog focuses on how the tech team has scaled services as the company has experienced rapid international growth.

Netflix: Given that Netflix is synonymous with video content, Netflix's challenges are mostly around dealing with huge amounts of data and pushing the limits for high-quality streaming.

Cloudflare: Cloudfare's blog is mostly "deep dive" technical posts on specific problems they run into and how they go about debugging the issue.

Auth0: Being the leader in the online authentication architecture space, Auth0's blog gives other developers a sneak peak into what  what authentication and security look like at scale.

How to do it right

You need to actively promote it: Just because you've launched a blog, doesn't mean that it will automatically get in front of an audience that is interested. You need to actively promote your post- especially in the beginning. You can ask your team members to share posts on their social media accounts, add them to relevant forums and include them in your reach-outs to passive candidates.

You need to set up a straight-forward approval process: One of the main reasons that blogs fade out is because engineers get sick of a long approval process, especially when it include non-engineers. Often companies require engineers to remove crucial information from drafts, remove reference to any specific making it less attractive for engineers. Management support is crucial to keep the blog approval process straightforward. This is often not a priority for the leadership, even though they agree that this is a good idea in theory. To make sure the content of the blog is compelling, engineers shouldn't be restricted by approval processes unless there is a genuine legal/ PR concern.

Add a clear CTA to apply to open roles: If you're blogging about interesting engineering problems, it is your best bet at getting in front of world-class developers. Adding a big bold CTA to your open engineering position might lead them to quickly exploring, and you never know when the stars might align in your favour!

Spread out the content creation: When it comes to blogging, consistency is key. Make sure content creation is spread across multiple teams and engineers, and your goals are realistic. Fresh content is key to making a blog thrive, and it is important that the blogs are well written and dive deep into the technical challenges and solutions.

Take inspiration: While most engineering blogs haven't been updated in years or are a collection of boring posts that engineers don't want to read about, a handful of companies have been able to build it into the culture and make it work. There is no shame in borrowing what has worked for them- their game plan isn't a secret. Companies like Cloudfare are fairly open about what has worked for them, what has not and about their blogging process and strategy to use engineering blogs as recruitment tools.

Keep it focused on engineering: Often companies use the engineering blog as a way to market the company, which drives away any interest from engineers. The idea is to let your engineers be themselves, they know what their kind are interested in reading.

A compelling engineering blog can attract talent, engage leads and customers and strengthen your talent brand. It is also a way for engineers within the company to learn from each other.

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We evaluated several of their competitors and found Adaface to be the most compelling. Great default library of questions that are designed to test for fit rather than memorization of algorithms.

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Swayam
CTO, Affable
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