Strategies to Win the Tech Talent War

March 28, 2014 at 6:00 AM by Kathleen de Lara

tech recruiting tipsThe pursuit for top tech candidates is hot and tough. With recruiters across the nation demanding specialized talent, the chances of finding the right hire at the right time are rapidly growing slimmer — even more so depending on where you’re searching.

A recent study by reported over half of the 12 most difficult cities to recruit tech talent are located in the Midwest. To add, despite unanimous claims as the nation’s unofficial tech headquarters, cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and New York also struggle to hire for similar positions.

Although the talent gap reigns supreme in the Midwest, New York ranked as the toughest city to recruit tech candidates, with San Francisco coming in as a close second. Silicon Valley alone represents a rigid industry of job seekers, recruiters, and hiring managers vying for comparable, competitive benefits — a particularly ambiguous feat considering many companies are doing some sort of variant of what the other guy is doing. “What can your company do for me?” becomes a question not only asked by consumers, but by candidates, engineers, programmers, developers, and designers who have probably heard the same recruiter pitch dozens of times.

hard-to-fill tech recruiting locations

Honing and tweaking that pitch to just the right degree and balance between pay and perks becomes a fine art, proof of countless trials and errors in engaging candidates many recruiters insisted was “the one.”

Timing and approach also become factors in determining how a candidate responds to outreach, which ultimately boils down to whether or not there’s a mutual interest and availability, and if recruiters know (or at least give the impression that he or she knows) exactly what position they’re hiring for. The fine line between a data analyst and a data scientist, for example, is weighted differently from company to company.

Winning the tech talent war takes wit, tact, and tenacity. It also helps to have a nimble, compelling way with words. Try these strategies to enhance your team’s recruiting action points.

Build upon the story of the candidate’s journey.

Use the talent you have to recruit the talent you want. If you’re sourcing engineers, go beyond having an engineer be part of the interviewing process, and allow employees to share their experience with candidates on topics like why they chose your company over sticking with their previous company, and aspects of their current position that are developing overarching career goals. Candidates get an intimate, straightforward glimpse into the judgement of someone who was once in their position, giving them a channel for communicating concerns and goals with a peer.

Brand your company as an employer.

Sure, you recruit for a company, a business, but one key detail most people forget is they are the employees of an employer, an entity that exchanges labor for compensation, in the most basic sense. Instead of marketing the company as a business that creates a product for other businesses or customers, start building credit as a recognized great place to work.

Ranking as a top company to work for adds value to a perspective that matters most to candidates: "Is this a team I’ll enjoy being a part of?" To add, being recognized as such is plausible evidence of approval straight from current employees themselves. Highlight company culture through pictures, videos, blog posts on team news, and get the scoop on what it takes to place.

Flaunt small city goods to recruit big city talent.

If you happen to be recruiting for positions in smaller-scale tech cities located in places like the Midwest, take advantage of the perks that come along with not living in a big tech hotspot. It’s likely that the cost of living is more affordable, housing and workplace parking are abundant, and access to getting a breather and break from city life is quicker and more convenient. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, and may not always be exactly what a candidate is looking for.

Add perks that matter.

You’ve got a pretty good handle on your recruiting pitch which includes free lunch and a complimentary laptop, but how much is your company investing in other mutually beneficial bonuses? Working at a tech company requires a constant revival of up-and-coming trends and tools, as well as regular refreshers on the team’s business strategies.

Consider setting aside a budget for education, actual courses on topics like entrepreneurship, programming, and marketing to drive candidates’ and employees’ motivation to be part of creating an exceptional brand and product. It’s a win-win one-up that can set your company apart from the next. General Assembly, Lynda, and Khan Academy are good places to start.

In spite of the regional challenges affecting the way recruiters attract and engage tech talent, one factor remains standard and true: It’s a grueling industry to trek through, and being the one to properly stand out from the noise is indicative of a recruiter who’s found the right recipe for the company, which unfortunately doesn’t translate in a uniform manner for all companies. Translated: Sorry, there really isn’t such thing as a paradigm secret formula for recruiting. It’s a solution that shifts across the board.

Think you've found a sweet spot for your company's tech recruiting strategy that you'd like to share? Let us in on your blueprint in the comments or tweet us @Entelo!

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