Recruiting Tech Specialists for Research: Why it’s Hard and How to Make it Work

If you have ever needed to recruit technical profiles for research, then you probably know that this is a challenging group to reach. We’ve spent time investigating the underlying causes of this issue and fool-proofing the outreach strategies that can give you the best chances of success in finding and engaging the people you need.

Why technology professionals are hard to recruit:

One of the main reasons it’s difficult to recruit people who work in tech is that they tend to lead busy lifestyles. This, combined with the field’s relatively high income averages, means that the standard monetary rewards used in exchange for participating in market research aren’t as enticing on their own. If tech specialists are going to choose to devote some of their time to participate in your study, more often than not they’ll need to understand the positive impact their contributions could create; in short, convincing them that their input is needed for good reasons. 

Technical specialists often work long hours, so scheduling can also be an obstacle. Recruiters often work around the clock to find participants, especially in the days and hours leading up to sessions. Drop-outs happen in nearly every study, and you may not be aware of the amount of shuffling around that goes into finding new people when this happens. Whether it’s in the processes of searching, qualifying, or scheduling, a lot is happening behind the scenes.

Professional environments in tech often have a lot of security and privacy policies in place for employees, which can make them hesitant to participate in research. Establishing trust is crucial, which is why as recruiters we scrutinize everything from the language used in our announcements to the types of platforms selected for outreach.

How to attract participants: 

Offer a high reward. This is so important. But its really not about the money. In most cases, tech professionals are not in immediate need of supplemental income. However, the high reward amount is important because it reflects how seriously you are taking your study and how much you value your participants’ time. In terms of building trust, this can make a big difference in whether they choose to make the commitment. By showing that you take them seriously, participants will take your study more seriously and, in return, give you their time and honest effort.

Be transparent. It’s much easier to find participants when you tell them who the research is for. When the beneficiary of the research is confidential, people get turned off and are less likely to collaborate, especially in tech. So in short, reaching out to potential participants on behalf of an established company will get more traction than reaching out for research on behalf of a mysterious party.

Be flexible in the initial stages. Sometimes you may need to consider small changes to your participant criteria, especially if you are still in the process of defining what your ideal participant is. Keeping an open mind can be incredibly advantageous, as it will allow you to keep your eyes open to the possibility that your criteria may be limiting your potential for the study and holding you back. IT professionals have experience in different areas, and many have long term experience in interrelated fields. Opening up your criteria even in small ways may lead you to find participants that surprise you in a positive way.

When to use a recruiter:

If you need the research done fast, then you should definitely use a recruiter. We’ve found that the biggest must-haves when recruiting technical profiles for studies are time and patience. Considering all the challenges, we’ve tried and tested multiple methods to ensure the best and quickest outcomes. Whatever method you use, you will need to do lots of legwork to make the study a success. So if time is of the essence, its best to use a recruiter who has experience in this demographic.

It’s also time to consult a recruiter if you’ve hit roadblocks when doing it yourself. If you are new to research in the tech field then you will likely have a steep learning curve. There are key factors to navigate such as the exact reward offering amounts that will result in optimal engagement, or how to best convey trust through the description of your study. A recruiter’s value here is a solid understanding of what it takes to relate to these specialists and successfully recruit them for your project.

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