7 Tips to Win the War on Tech Talent

Ready, Set, FIRE! The war for tech talent is in full swing and there are no signs of it slowing down anytime soon.  Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 1.3 million Information Technology jobs will have to be filled by 2022.  Talk about opportunity tech!  Millennials and Generation Z, are you listening?  Do you hear what we hear?  Cha-ching!

This war is not just among emerging startups and leading mid-market companies.  The industry elites are faced with the same challenges of finding and hiring top technical talent in addition to meeting overall hiring goals. A survey from Indeed discovered 86% of company’s find it challenging to find and hire technical talent, with over a third (36%) find it “very” challenging.  The challenge also spans geographies including Detroit, Houston, New York, Philadelphia and Seattle.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in just three short years, there will be 1 million more Information Technology jobs than computer science students in the United States by 2020.  Yes, you heard that right, ONE MILLION!  This is outstanding for the United States economic development and the technology sector but companies will need to change up their plan of attack or risk their profitability and competitiveness.

Here’s the deal.. each company has plenty of open jobs for technical professionals.  That is not a big surprise.  The kicker is each company big or small are fighting over the same talent pool.  Seriously, come on these candidates are getting 20 messages a day from corporate and “agency” recruiters about how their career opportunity is the best using various recruiting job board sites such as Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, Dice.com, Glassdoor.com, LinkedIn.com, Monster.com just to name a few. This is crazy talk, which means top talent usually goes to the company that can provide the greatest overall opportunity (compensation and challenge), the best culture and let us not forget, the company that moves the fastest.  As the saying goes, “If you’re not first, you’re last!”  Love that quote from Will Ferell as Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights.

Speaking of company culture, we are talking about culture that stands for a larger purpose than just perks and amenities like slushy machines, energy drinks, ping pong tables, game rooms and punching the clock like Fred Flintstone screaming Yabba Dabba Doo!  Company cultures that embrace innovation, creativity, work life balance and forward thinking.  Sure, company perks hold weight when candidates make a decision to hang their hat.  Consider what Troy, Michigan based United Shore Financial is doing for their employees in moving their headquarters to Pontiac, MI.  Their new HQ digs will include amenities such as indoor basketball court, fitness center, massage rooms, outdoor volleyball court, indoor and outdoor putting greens, convenience store, game room, outdoor amphitheater, escape room and video production studio.  “Massage rooms,” “Convenience store” and “Amphitheater,” say what!?  Kudos to you Mat Ishbia.  Not all of us are fortunate budget wise to create these type of amenities but you get the drift.

Tech Talent in the Startup Culture

This war gets nasty for startups, because for them it is hard to compete against the big fish that offer better benefits, compensation, perks and stock offerings they can provide for their employees. The competition is brutal because not only can start-ups not afford top talent unless venture backed, it ultimately hurts and slows down innovation and growth within the startup. When it takes too long to fill an open position in the meantime, current employees begin experiencing burnout which ultimately is a factor in employee turnover.

Another Way Companies are Losing Out on Top Talent  

An additional struggle that delays the time to hire top talent is the amount of time it takes some companies to pull the trigger, Human Resource key performance indicator and metric known as “time to fill ratios.”  One of the bottlenecks are some Human Resources staff may not be as qualified to determine a candidates technical skills, and we all know those in HR are extremely busy people with enough on their plates.  Another bottleneck are hiring managers taking their time in the interview process.  If the hiring needs are a priority, it probably is a good idea to act with a sense of urgency or do not be disappointed when tech talent has already been taken by a competitor. It’s like draft day, you’re on the clock!

Seven Tips to Win the War on Tech Talent

  1. 1.  Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes.

If you are waiting over a month to get that offer letter in hand after several rounds of interviews, and during that long process another equivalently great company offers you a position, you’re going to take up the second opportunity regardless of the effort into the initial one. If the position you are having candidates interview for is not urgent then set expectations about the true timeline.

2.  Be fair!

Compensating top talent appropriately is a BIG deal. Having a cool work place ward with fancy awards is not a differentiator. Sorry!  People’s pay along with benefits need to be in the market going rate with bonuses, if not some extra perks on top of that. This is the most basic level yet guaranteed way you will get talent in your company.

  1. 3.  Show it off!

Put it out there, show the world how awesome your company’s culture is. We are visual creatures and the internet is a good way to get people talking about why they want to work for you. People have the idea of a “dream job” because of what they hear about a company/role. One way we suggest showing off your culture is by having a professional video be made. A video can show insight of what the work place looks like, testimonials about how employees and clients feel about the company and at first-glance candidates will get the vibe if your company is the right fit. If you’re using cutting edge technologies, have a great mission, wellness Wednesdays, or employers who care, then get creative to getting this out to the world.

  1. 4.  Open the Pool of Talent.

Hiring Mangers tend to overlook any out of state candidates. This is mostly because of the perception that flying candidates out to interview will take longer and will be more expensive than a local. We say not necessarily, Skype is a great tool to begin the consideration of non-locals. If you can get a good feel of the candidate via Skype, it’s likely you will feel the same once meeting in person. By considering non-locals you have just one upped your competitor because now you are able to be choosy with your top talent. Non-locals are serious about the move or they wouldn’t apply if they had no intention.

  1. 5.  Consider Hiring Non U.S. Citizens.

Another way to leverage success in your business is to take advantage of the ability to hire non U.S. Citizens, immigrants. Gifted and talented people are found all over the world, not only in America. One with an innovative mind will recruit the best no matter where they are from. It does not take an economist to agree that hiring EAD/H1B/TN Visa candidates within the U.S. is better than outsourcing jobs to another country for pennies on the dollar. When EAD/H1B/TN Visa employees are here in the states, they are contributing to our society in a way that they are paying income, sales and possibly property tax. Economist Madeline Zavodny conducted a study to find that adding 100 H1B Visa workers results in an additional 183 jobs among U.S. natives.  Not bad if you are trying to build and justify a business case.  Remember, we are trying to stay progressive and keep innovating.  Not slowdown because of the lack of tech people, right? To keep up with the competition, there are other options of talent beyond local markets.  There are also immigration attorneys to help with the process of hiring non U.S. citizens to make the process easier.

6.  Leverage subject matter recruiting experts to source tech talent.

Research may have indicated in-house Human Resource departments are relying less on recruitment agencies to fill vacancies but most Information Technology staffing businesses are still posting strong results.  As the war for tech talent continues to heat up, this is a proven strategy for sourcing qualified talent the quickest based on agency recruiters knowledge of the market, extended reach of tech talent pools and data sources, assist with your company brand and receiving actual candidate’s vs applicants.  Using an Information Technology recruitment agency should mean you only see actual candidates, job seekers who have been vetted, pre-screened and pre-selected to match all the criteria that you are looking for and who are worthy of consideration for an interview.

7.  Implement remote schedules.

Yeah, we said it… REMOTE!  After all, we are talking about technology right?  Working remote seems to be a sour topic of discussion but the facts are working remote is a real “game changer” for companies stealing away top talent from the competition.  Recent studies have supported the idea that work from home for the right people can increase productivity and decrease stress.  Research also suggest companies that encourage and support work life balance protocol actually save money in the long run as well.  An added bonus for the company.  A Microsoft whitepaper, Work without Walls, points out:  “Business leaders assume employees who work remotely and take advantage of the policy are not really working.  This is because of the loss of control.  Employers lose direct oversight and cannot witness productivity firsthand.”

So, in other words, this market is not only ultra competitive but it is candidate driven like it or not and top talent are going where the money and overall opportunity is.  A good strategy to implement is to change up the definition of what it takes to succeed so your company can too win the war on tech talent and lead your company’s digital transformation with the Internet of Things (IoT).   After all, we are rooting for you!

We hope you walk away with a better understanding on the war of tech talent and what it entails. We have 7 bullet point tips that give companies better intelligence how to keep, attract and win top talent. If you’d like to talk more about how QStride is helping companies win the war on tech talent, give us a holler at Info@QStride.com or (313) 442-9912.