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A practical guide to hiring and retaining Tech Talent

It's not news to companies in Australia that competition for tech talent is insane and only worsening. If you’re looking at Talent Supply/Demand data you're probably getting nervous. So, here is a practical guide to help you think about attracting, hiring and retaining these sought-after skills.

Deloitte’s recent Digital Pulse quotes the need for an additional 100,000 ICT workers over the next 4 years. Professional Services and Healthcare in particular have a higher than average demand.

So, let’s look at:

  • How to hire,
  • How to retain, and
  • How to build tech skills

How to Hire Tech Talent

No matter who you speak to, everyone has an opinion about what you should or shouldn’t be doing to attract tech people. The reality is, you should be doing a bit of everything. There is no silver bullet, your organisation’s context will drive the strategy.

Proactive sourcing and advertising are likely going to play a role at some stage. The critical variable, however, is that the value proposition needs to be individualised. A one-size-fits-all Employer Brand message simply won’t work. If we take Developers as an example, Stack Overflow’s survey demonstrates what’s of interest;

  • 54% care about the tech stack they will work with
  • 48% care about company culture
  • 45% care about flexibility
  • 43% care about career development
  • 31% care about remote working options
  • 23% care about the impact of their work
  • 15% care about the industry

Don’t just take our word for it though!  Speak to your current and prospective employees. Listen to what’s important to them and how you can match (or not) their needs. When crafting an advert, make it appeal to what matters most and what you can genuinely deliver on. Fortune favours the bold, so also have a think about how you will stand out.

  • Rethink the ‘must have’ qualifications. Remove potential barriers to entry like degrees in your advert and selection criteria. For some companies, this will require a mindset shift around bias and inclusion. According to Stack Overflow, 42% of tech people don’t possess a formal qualification, so the numbers speak for themselves.
  • Be flexible. According to SEEK and Indeed, you will receive between 3-6 more applications if you offer a flexible work environment. In reality, this is already becoming table stakes.
  • Be transparent. With the rise of social media and people sharing what it’s like to work for you on review sites – this is not a time to ‘fake it until you make it’!
  • Targeted messages. Avoid too much talk about ‘we’ and instead think about how to be relevant to the audience. Use ‘you’. Try something different to target the skills of the ideal candidate, like putting some code in the advert. Make it relevant.
  • Job titles. Keep it simple. Too creative or complex and people don’t know what you are hiring for. ‘Rockstars’ have their place, but it’s not in your advert.
  • Cultural insights. If you haven’t already, try doing a “day in the life of” video, place the link in the advert. Bring the inside of your company to the outside.
  • Go Overseas. In 2019, 1/3 of all job seekers were international. Think about overseas markets as a key talent pool.

Whether you are advertising, proactive sourcing or a combination of both, what else may be impacting your ability to hire tech talent?

  • Mobile first. Candidates expect to apply on their devices, so make sure your experience is mobile enabled and easy.
  • Hiring experience. Speed matters! The process needs to be wrapped up in a couple of weeks or less. Get the business to prioritise interviews. The in-demand candidates are rarely interviewing with just your company, we’ve seen many cases of ‘missing out’ on a great hire due to delays.
  • Internal networks. Tapping into current employee networks (and advocates) makes common sense but needs to be approached carefully – top talent won’t just share any old jobs on LinkedIn. Our best advice is to consult with your teams. What do they need from you to help them share contacts, content and more? Short sourcing sessions as a collective team can throw up great names.
  • Don’t just source from your desk. Go to meet ups, sponsor a hackathon and hang out in different online and real-world environments. Recruitment is still about relationships and human interaction, so get out there.
  • Look at GitHub & Stack Overflow. These are some great resources for sourcing and proactive approaches.
  • Hire for potential. Have you met someone who was great but not quite senior enough? Considering hiring and upskilling as a viable option in such a tight market.
  • Know your profiles. Before proactively approaching talent, make sure the role is absolutely relevant to them or you risk negatively impacting both your organisational and your personal brand. Recruiters need to really know their tech talk.

Retaining Tech Talent

This is not rocket science! Key factors are often the same across most industries, but a refresher can be useful:

  • Salaries. The space moves fast so access to market data is important.
  • Flexibility. This is a mindset more than just a policy or process, but investigate whether you’re being as competitive, flexible and inclusive as possible.
  • Culture matters. People want to like where they work. Sought-after talent will move easily  because they can. If you have a problem with culture, prioritise that first or you are wasting your time.
  • Training and development. Latest thinking, languages, projects – whatever it is, tech talent know their value lies in keeping up to date.
  • Decent tools. Hardware and tools matter too, so a keen eye on commercial viability is key here. A client of ours had a great tech stack but were still providing staff with outdated laptops. Until they upgraded these, their attraction strategy had no impact.
  • Autonomy. Control over their project, product and work environment is essential. Consequently, role design is critical, along with team dynamics and working styles.
  • Career advancement. According to LinkedIn 45% of people left their role due to career advancement concerns. While US-centric, this has relevance globally and we are seeing a real focus on pathways and development as a way to keep tech talent engaged.

Building Tech skills

According to Deloitte, reskilling will have an average cost of approximately $11,000 per employee. Compare this to potential hiring costs of approximately $18,000 per hire. (Assumes $100k salary, 18% agency fees, 52 day average time to hire but does not include the cost of the role being vacant)

With these kinds of cost benefits, and the challenges of supply/demand for tech talent, it’s no surprise many organisations are building their own internal talent pipelines. Amazon have pledged USD $700m to upskilling their workforce with coding skills over a six year period. A client of ours has built a tech academy for employees with no previous tech experience who want a career change.

Another TQ client is building a ‘Future Workforce Planning’ team. Their sole focus is to plan the reskilling of around 1300 people whose roles will be impacted by tech advances in the next 5 years.

Retraining employees keen to stay with the business and who are able to undertake an education program funded by the business will mean big rewards for both the employer and employee.

Reskilling can be a viable as the business needs change. You will need to have a clear future workforce plan in place to consider this option.

We hope some of these tips are useful in your search for tech talent for your business. If you would like to find out more, reach out!

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TQSolutions (TQ) is regarded as Australia’s leading Advisory and Solutions firm for Talent Acquisition, Recruitment and Careers related projects – this is the world of organisational Joiners, Movers and Leavers. We do this through:

Advise

Partnering with organisations about to embark upon significant change or transformation programmes. Our advisory services cover areas such as independent technology, capability and operating model reviews, deep market intelligence, employer brand and candidate experience.

Deploy
Our scalable, on-demand model delivers exceptional results for our clients. With a national team of experts, all with at least 15 years’ experience, we deploy brilliant people on an ongoing basis or to support key projects and spikes in activity.

Inform
We curate insights, provide thought leadership, community and training – all geared to help you cut through the noise with the informed perspective you need to make smart decisions.

www.tqsolutions.com.au

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