As IT job growth continues to exceed the national average in the U.S., companies are facing an increasingly tight job market and ongoing challenges to fill positions. In such a competitive environment, businesses must strive to attract qualified job seekers, who often are weighing multiple offers. To flourish in this strong economy, where demand exceeds supply, smart organizations need to implement a multi-pronged hiring approach.
With 25 years in staffing, I’ve worked through numerous tough seasons, both for companies hiring and candidates seeking employment. Based on my experience in IT recruiting, here are several strategies companies should adopt to win the battle for tech talent.
Due to constant information overload, it’s critical to find ways to stand out online. From job boards and website postings, to social media and classified listings, your company must differentiate itself, whether selling an open position or sharing insights into its culture. We always seek to create sizzle in our ads for clients, and put ourselves in the job seekers’ seat to highlight what is most appealing. Whenever possible, we emphasize how clients differ from their competitors, highlight rewarding opportunities for employees and note a culture of volunteerism or activism.
It’s important that companies also establish long-term relationships and demonstrate leadership industry-wide, with efforts such as active university recruitment programs, participation in professional associations, sponsorship of networking events, presenting at conferences and authoring articles for trade publications.
Streamline the hiring process by having detailed job descriptions, specifying qualifications and wish lists, determining compensation ranges/benefits and establishing timelines. Get buy-in from all related parties, from HR and the hiring manager, to the direct supervisor, to ensure that everyone agrees on what you are seeking before the job search.
At the same time, companies should remain flexible while proactively pursuing the best candidates and be ready to expedite paperwork and extend offers immediately. Organizations also must have a plan for managing candidate negotiations, clearly knowing what they can agree to, what limits exist and potential deal-breakers.
Let’s face it – hiring is time-consuming, resource-burning work that can take longer than and become more complicated than anticipated. Competitive companies partner with qualified staffing agencies to save valuable time and money, capitalizing on their expertise and access to a much broader pool of top-tier talent, and expanding their reach beyond their local geographical region. At ConsultNet and TechBridge, our team of expert recruiters spends 50-60 hours each week meeting IT talent across the U.S. and in Mexico and Canada to equip clients’ success.
In addition to delivering candidates, reputable staffing firms pre-screen them to ensure a good fit with a company’s needs and culture. Agencies should also counsel businesses on the hiring process, from establishing realistic expectations, to ensuring competitive compensation and perks – ultimately to increase the likelihood of attracting the best individuals. And staffing organizations manage negotiations between candidates and companies, aiming for a dream match and a win-win.
And last, but perhaps most important, is that staffing agencies supply a pipeline of qualified and available contract or SOW talent that is vetted, skilled and quickly able to step in and perform as critical additions to teams. This resourcing flexibility allows companies to keep projects on track and on budget, right-size heavy workloads, more effectively utilize their in-house resources and make innovation a reality, ultimately giving them an edge over the competition.
To win in hiring, organizations must expedite the process, as immediacy is the expectation in our 24/7/365 connected world. No longer can companies take weeks to identify, interview, call back and ultimately make an offer to a candidate, or they risk losing individuals. Good talent today won’t wait for a company with a protracted hiring process, so businesses must move thoughtfully, but quickly.
It’s a fatal flaw when businesses are compelled to follow its standard practice of interviewing 5-10 candidates, even after the first person is ideal and meets their needs. We recommend moving fast once they identify an individual they want to hire, and not to continue a lengthy search in hopes of holding out for someone better. It’s not about compromising or settling, but about seizing opportunities.
Invest in retention.
Keeping current employees is essential, as this rich market presents continual opportunities, even for those who aren’t actively seeking a new job. So smart organizations stay on top of what their competitors offer in terms of compensation, benefits and employee appreciation, and intentionally discuss with both candidates and employees what they want in the workplace.
It’s not just all about money either. Today’s IT experts are seeking workplaces that deliver consistent learning, ambitious projects, professional development and ongoing opportunities. Job seekers want autonomy, work-life balance and flexible schedules, and some may appreciate perks such as bringing their dog to work or a video gaming room. Many Millennials prefer to be a part of companies that are doing good things – like volunteering, charitable contributions and community involvement.
Competitive companies don’t have to offer absolutely everything, but must foster enough appeal to keep employees satisfied in a candidate-driven market where the stakes of workplace expectations continue rising.
Ultimately, overcoming hiring challenges in IT requires that companies embrace creativity, flexibility and progressive thinking, along with engaging staffing experts. I’d welcome a discussion about how you can keep your company staffed, succeeding and growing.