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Finding (and keeping) IT talent

Alemba • 14 Jun 2018

Need to recruit top-notch IT talent, as in yesterday? Here’s how to nab (and keep!) the best talent in a competitive market.

As the demand for technical expertise continues to surge in nearly every industry, many businesses are faced with an IT skills shortage.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026. That’s faster than the average for all occupations!

In a field where demand is steadily outpacing supply, finding and landing top IT talent is becoming increasingly challenging. Plus, employees with highly sought-after skills are often fair game for head hunters, meaning you may just lose your ace developer to a sweet-talking competitor.

Need to recruit top-notch IT talent, as in yesterday? Here’s how to nab (and keep!) the best talent in a competitive market.

Call in the experts

Your normal recruitment agency may have worked for you in the past, but your go-to recruiter may not necessarily have the specialist knowledge required to source and screen suitable candidates in the IT field.

Hiring a good niche recruiter means you can tap into a vast data bank of candidates with the right skills to suit both your available role and your company culture.

Skilled recruiters will not only remain up to speed with new developments in their specialist market, but are also often actively involved in the communities they serve. By keeping an ear to the ground, recruiters can get the inside scoop on who’s hiring, who’s actively seeking, and who could be persuaded to apply with the right encouragement.

Nurture young talent

Young tech talent are in high demand – find them early and nurture them.

Career fairs and university recruiting events are great places to meet and woo soon-to-be graduates, but don’t focus your attention solely on campus-led activities. Expand your search to include more unconventional community hubs, such as local makerspaces.

If you are planning to take your search online, keep in mind that the more obvious social media platforms may not necessarily be the right places to advertise. Do some research to find out where young people in your field and region ‘live’ online. This is where a specialist recruiter may be able to provide valuable insights.

If your budget allows for Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, consider investing in educational programmes, hackathons, internships or scholarships to support and nurture young talent.

Look closer to home

Your star candidate may be right under your nose. Is there someone within your current employee pool with the necessary qualifications to fill the open position?

Hiring from within your company is a practical and cost-effective solution to a skills shortage problem. This strategy allows you to cut down on recruitment and on-boarding costs, and reduces the risk of a bad hire, because you are already familiar with the person’s strengths and weaknesses.

The knowledge that there is scope for career advancement within the company can also result in a boost in employee morale and productivity.

Likewise, rehiring candidates from your alumni pool can be a smart move, provided that there are no unresolved grievances between them and your company. Former employees or ‘boomerang candidates’ already have a good understanding of your company culture and processes and may also bring with them fresh ideas and new skills.

Keep ’em keen

Once you’ve found your ideal candidate, you’ll want to make sure they’re not lured away by the promise of a six-figure salary and a yacht in the Caribbean.

Retaining your top tech talent is about more than benefits, compensation or installing a new PS4 in the breakroom (although that helps).

IT professionals enjoy more career mobility than ever before, and to keep them you will have to consider what value you can offer employees, beyond a pay check. For example:

  • What are the avenues of opportunity within the company?
  • How much flexibility and autonomy can your company offer?
  • Will they be working on the cutting edge of technology?
  • Does your organization have a well-defined mission employees can really get behind?

Fostering a supportive culture, providing a stimulating work environment and offering opportunities to learn and grow are some of the key ways you can keep your team intact in an aggressive marketplace.