“Competing for tech talent never gets easier, nor is it a perfect mathematical equation. Instead it’s about understanding your market, knowing what your current and prospective employees are looking for, and doing your best to create the environment that attracts the right workers to your company.” – Stacey Carroll, principal consultant at PayScale
Carroll is right. However, recruiters have to have the right tools in order to understand the tech talent pool. Every job has tools of the trade. Construction workers have hammers, doctors have stethoscopes, and veterinarians have tranquilizer guns. But what about recruiters? The tool of the trade for recruiters is a very specific set of skills and an ability to adapt quickly to the changes in the job market. In any profession, however, tool belts age. Knives need honing, pencils need sharpening, and sometimes people need new glasses as their eyes age. And as the industry changes, there will be tools recruiters need to augment their skills. The changes in technology have already begun to reconstruct how recruiters use their skills…
Tech talent is hard to come by these days. The growing demand is met with a decline in the savvy. Of the 122,300 tech jobs in the United States, there were only 59,731 qualified computer science graduates last year. Those are tough odds… less than 50% of the available jobs are met with appropriately educated applicant pool. The loss of tech talent has gone up 10% in the last year. Small business owners feel the pressure, too, it’s not just large companies. Shradha Agarwal, co-founder and chief strategy officer of ContextMedia out of Chicago, says:
“As a technology company in the healthcare space, our biggest growth challenge is hiring skilled talent, and more specifically, tech talent. We advertise open positions and receive many resumes but many do not have the technical expertise and experience…”
Some organizations easily recruit the tech talent today’s modern age so desperately needs. Companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft claim the top 5 businesses the new college alums want to work for. Sure it could be the big ad budgets and constant campus exposure, but there are other benefits these brand behemoths offer that smaller companies can emulate. What about telecommuting or flexible work scheduling? Casual dress, control over scheduling and work from home options are virtually cost-free opportunities many businesses can offer. Candidates want flexibility, and 82 of the Fortune 100 companies offer such flexibility with telecommuting. So, it stands to reason then that job descriptions with these features get 3-6 times more applicants.
It’s not easy to do, challenging the seemingly unchallengeable. Companies like Google, Bitly, Facebook, Yahoo, ESPN, Yelp, FourSquare, and Meetup give the tech savvy the opportunity to do just that. These organizations host hack-a-thons in which they give tech talent the chance to try and get into the backend of their websites. Even though these are big name brands, any company has the opportunity to do this. Attending meetups, trolling local code schools, and technical school programs can yield great results outside the big enterprise and – shocker – outside Silicon Valley. Not to mention, the cost for hosting your own hackathon may be as inexpensive as a large room, lots of snacks, beer, and an expert the crowd could learn from.
Prospects like this keeps the tech talent interested. The intrigue inspires learning, and employees stay in one job as long as they have the opportunity to learn something. In fact, one of the top 3 offers that will keep tech talent in a position they are unhappy with is the chance to work with new technologies – as well as the opportunity for advancement and flexible hours and telecommuting.
Employee referral programs are common in the HR space. However, it’s how some companies reward the name-dropping that’s surprising. Hubspot takes the lead for rewarding employees. Those who take the plunge in telling their tech friend down the street to apply at Hubspot get a $30,000 reward for doing so – if they get hired of course. Followed not-so-closely by Scopely at $5,000 and Google at $2,000. In fact, employee referral programs beat social media in tech recruiting.
The Applicant Tracking System the company has been using to keep track of candidates – including the tech talent – hasn’t quite been doing its job. It has left candidates lost in the hiring process, and with the extremely high demand for tech talent, you can’t afford to work with dull tools anymore. Offer flexible hours, use employee referral programs, use industry-specific keywords to improve SEO, and use specific accomplishments instead of the traditional length of experience in the job description. Most importantly, be aware that 1 in 3 candidates are inspired to apply for a job based on employer branding. It’s not just for attracting candidates, it decreases cost per hire and company turnover rate.