How to Attract and Retain Top Technical Talent
(without the ping-pong table)
With the nationwide shortage of tech talent, companies have become increasingly competitive to attract and retain top technical talent. One of the most popular methods we've seen, specifically among smaller companies, has been to "out-perk" the competition. With a ping-pong table, beer fridge, and a dog-friendly office, who wouldn't want to work for your company?
The problem is, these perks aren't enough anymore. Sure, the slide in your office might be a little more unique, but the company down the street gives their employees bi-weekly massages, and the one across town has an in-house chef, weekly massages, and a slide. Perks are awesome, don't get me wrong, but everyone has them.
With the tech skills gap only increasing, companies have to go deeper to attract and retain top talent. But, what does that really mean? It's easier than installing a slide in the office, that's for sure.
1. Respect your candidates
This starts with being honest. Be upfront with candidates about the hours, salary, and the type of work they'll be doing in the position. Don't play games, and don't waste anyone's time (including yours!): tell the candidate what you need, what you're willing to pay, and what the culture is like without the buzzwords or out-dated negotiation tactics:
"Companies need to understand what the market salary is and that low-balling an offer is no longer a valid negotiation tactic. In a time where candidates have multiple options, a low-ball offer will ruin the hiring process quickly. Having a clear understanding of what the developer is looking for at the beginning stage of the interview process and knowing what you can pay and making sure those two align will save a lot of time, energy, and your reputation,"
~Eric, Co-Founder of Code Talent.
But being upfront doesn't stop there, continue to communicate and update your candidate throughout the entire hiring process. If you posted an opening or engaged a candidate a little too early, a quick email saying "it will be a week before we can review your resume," is always appreciated. If you rejected a candidate, provide feedback so they can improve for future opportunities; give them the respect of a few pointers in return for the time and work they put into the application process.
2. Establish and Empower Company Goals
While company goals are important for the business as a whole, establishing goals are especially important in talent attraction and retention. Company goals not only motivate employees, but give your team a better idea of how their work contributes to the company; how they are directly impacting the business. Tech workers especially want to feel the value behind the work they're doing, and having short-term and long-term goals established and understood throughout your company gives a stronger sense of impact:
"I recently had a candidate interview at Ibotta, and he was very impressed about the transparency of company goals. Tangible goals for the end of the year are posted in the break room, which helps give a reason for meaningful work,"
~Kevin, Co-Founder of Code Talent.
3. Provide Growth Opportunities
This starts during the hiring process and never ends. Show candidates from the first interview that the company is invested in their personal growth, show them how working for you can expand their knowledge and keep them on-top of new technologies—even if your company doesn't use them.
"Provide a general path of advancement. If someone joins as a junior or mid-level employee, show them what their path may look like in a year, 2 years, 5 years down the road,"
~Tyler, Senior Recruiter.
Providing growth opportunities shows a deeper, more genuine interest in your employees. Give them the tools to expand their skills and knowledge, and empower employees to try new projects or attend out-of-the-box meetup groups. It'll do a lot more for their career, and your company, than a ping-pong table ever could.
4. Stay Relevant
In order to provide valuable growth opportunities, you have to stay aware of the latest and greatest in technology and look for avenues to leverage it inside your organization. While there are obviously constraints for every company and their product, knowing the current trends keeps your company relevant/exciting for current employees and can create competitive advantages for attracting talent.
"There's currently an appetite for Elixir development in Colorado, we speak with candidates all the time looking for professional opportunities to work with this language. So, if your company has the opportunity to leverage a language like Elixir, you're going to generate more interest from exciting candidates who otherwise might not be actively looking for new opportunities,"
These days, technology is taking over, and no one can keep an edge without keeping up. Candidates frequently cite a boring or out of date tech stack as their #1 reason for rejecting an offer, so anything you can do to spice up your stack can make for a big advantage.
5. Company Culture
Let's end where we began. Perks are a major part of company culture, and while your beer fridge won't attract and retain top talent, the culture you establish will.
I'll never forget walking into an undergrad internship at a PR firm: the office was silent, employees G-chatted each other from across the table, and even the dogs looked depressed. It didn't matter that their office was casual dress, in a great location, and had an open-floor plan and dogs: no one wanted to be there. Employees didn't enjoy interacting with each other, creating a depressing—but more than anything—a really boring workday.
The key is to look for perks that encourage employees to come together. Find unique ways to get everyone in a fun, casual setting—something they actually want to do. From Friday happy hours with live DJs to catered lunches every Friday, give your employees a chance to interact with each other in a new environment. Not only are these perks fun for everyone, but they help lower stress levels and foster new relationships within the office. When your employees like each other, and spending time in the office, it's a lot harder to lose them to the competition.