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Attracting IT Talent: Four Steps to Hiring the Right Employee

Attracting top IT talent takes time, tact and tenacity.

Technology positions are so abundant relative to available professionals that you must be proactive and persistent if you want to hire the best candidates, who can essentially pick any position that they choose. In the third quarter of 2014, the unemployment rate among tech workers in the United States was 2.7 percent, compared with a national average of 6.1 percent for all industries, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Dice, a career site for technology professionals. The tech sector’s unemployment rate declined from 3.9 percent in the same period a year ago, partially because employers added more than 18,000 technology positions in the third quarter of 2014 alone.

With conditions so favorable for candidates, you must build a strong employer brand, broadly disseminate your openings and speed your hiring process to secure top talent when it is available. Here are four steps to hiring the top employee for your technology position.

1. Position your company to win.

Other than a raise, the top three offers that would keep an IT professional at their current job would be more opportunity for advancement, flexible hours and telecommuting, and a chance to work with new technologies, according to research compiled by TalentPuzzle, a recruitment agency recommendation site. So, create a technology-focused culture that recognizes candidates’ desire for learning, flexibility and compensation.

Learning

You need sizzle to sell top IT talent on your company. IT professionals do not want to work off Net 1.0 when the market is at Net 4.5. They want to be at Net 5.0.

  • Cultivate an innovative culture that prioritizes the adoption of new technologies that make your company more efficient.
  • Nurture your tech team’s development by letting them hone their skills on the latest applications.
  • Prepare a vision of your company’s future technology infrastructure that you can share with IT candidates while emphasizing their role in bringing that future to fruition.

A developer would not want to see a green screen with MS-DOS when they come in to interview. But they would be impressed to see that you use the latest technology, or that you have a plan for doing so. Developing a reputation as a cutting edge workplace will help you recruit better talent.

Flexibility

Flexible work schedules and telecommuting are important to tech workers. Programmers, for example, typically work more than eight hours in a day, so knowing that they can get away and get time off is huge. According to the research compiled by TalentPuzzle:

  • Job listings offering telecommuting get 3x to 6x more applicants.
  • 81 percent of top employees work for companies that offer flexible schedules, according to a Harvard Business Review survey.
  • 33 percent of IT workers would take a 10 percent pay cut to work remotely.

If tech giants like IBM, Dell, Microsoft and Apple offer telecommuting, shouldn’t you? Or, would you rather risk your top candidate becoming their new employee?

Compensation

You expect top talent to demand top dollar. But compensation encompasses more than salary. Paid time off and benefits like health insurance also matter.

The definition of “competitive compensation” is always in flux as well. You cannot trust the first salary range that you find online. The website may say that you should expect to pay $50/hour, but the actual rate for top talent may be $75/hour.

  • Conduct a salary survey on your own or hire an IT staffing firm with access to realtime data.
  • Provide perks like access to technology libraries and other learning opportunities.
  • Hold the line on salary if you offer unparalleled access to new technology and a challenging but rewarding work environment.

Money is not always the deciding factor for a candidate, but blending competitive compensation with a great culture can help you land the right employee.

2. Plan your approach.

You know you need to fill a position. But is it the right position? Just because someone was doing it before doesn’t mean it was the best way to use talent to achieve your company’s goals. Nor is the position you want to create necessarily the one you first envision.

Evaluate your needs based on your company’s mission and goals. Consider the skills available in the marketplace as well. You may be able to find one type of professional more easily than another, without compromising your objectives. This would help you hire top talent more quickly.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do we need to accomplish?
  • When does it need to be done?
  • How will we measure success?
  • What would the ideal candidate look like?
  • Why would they want this job?

The more detailed your assessment of your needs, the more targeted you can be in your search.

Create a compelling job description that speaks to your ideal candidate. Convey your company’s mission and culture. Appeal to their desire to contribute to meaningful work.

Make your job description easy to find by promoting it online. Use keyword hashtags and ask your employees to share with their followers.

Differentiate yourself as well. If your ideal candidate stands apart from others, so should your posting. Adhere to these principles when writing a job posting:

  • Address the reader as “you” to create intimacy.
  • Avoid jargon but include technical expertise that is required.
  • Set minimal experience thresholds. Solicit examples of successes instead.
  • Use relevant headlines that clearly depict the job’s function.
  • Vividly describe your work environment so that candidates can picture themselves collaborating with other members of your team.

Tailoring a job description to your target candidates will help you attract qualified IT talent applicants and establish mutual expectations early.

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