How to Capture the Attention & Win Over Tech Talent

Tech Talent War

Tech talent demands continue to rise, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that approximately 13,000 IT positions were created each month in 2021, which is a 62.5% increase over the typical average for this job category. Much of the demand for tech talent stems from a move to digital business models, increase in digital transformation, and the need for cybersecurity professionals as ransomware and other attacks continue to advance.

So now we know the why, but the real challenge is in the how. How can hiring managers capture the attention and win over tech talent in this competitive market?  We interviewed Lauren Elphick Kistner, Director of Strategic Hiring at Think, for an inside look into the world of IT recruiting. Lauren has more than a decade of experience in both the public and private sectors leading recruiting teams to fill variety of technical roles.

What are some tips to win tech talent over?  

Candidates have never been more in control of the hiring process than they are right now. The need for top technical talent amongst organizations is greater than anything I’ve ever seen throughout my entire career—which is both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Here are a few things that can really make a difference to attract top talent.

Build Your Reputation as a Top Workplace

Reputation is gold. Bottom line, candidates talk sharing initial first impression and their overall experience that starts with recruitment. Just like organizations can develop a bad reputation for an unhealthy work environment, recruiters can develop a reputation among candidates for working with not-so-great organizations. Recruiters and business development professionals need to change their mindset from strictly working for the hiring manager, to working for the hiring manager and the candidate; equally. If you develop a bad reputation among candidates, it doesn’t matter how many great roles you have- no one will want to work with you. 

Create a transparent, supportive work culture where everyone can use their talents to better the entire organization. This creates an atmosphere that builds loyalty and sense of ownership while fostering an environment where people want to grow their careers. This is the fastest way to build your reputation as a top workplace. No one wants to just be a cog that performs a function, employees seek meaningful connection with the work they do daily.

Know Your Stuff

Get to know the role inside and out. Be transparent with the hiring team, educate them, and don’t be afraid to make them aware of where they are falling short. If they can’t sell you on the role, how can you be expected to sell a top candidate on the role?  

Taking the time to really understand the needs of the hiring manager will help to attract candidates with the skill set required to thrive in the role. This deeper level of understanding provides the ability to be clear and detailed on what the expectations of the roles are and the type of individual who would best be suited to fill the role. Providing this level of detail makes candidates feel confident in deciding whether the role is right for them. It also goes a long way in making a great first impression for the hiring company. Candidates will see your company as organized and a place with skilled leadership that knows what they need to grow or scale the business.

Tailor Your Benefits

If you want to attract top tech talent examine your benefits package to make sure it aligns with what current-day talent seek in an employer. Not saying you have to revamp your entire structure, but if your packages are outdated and offer little flexibility you may be at a disadvantage when trying to fill your open roles.

It ultimately comes down to work and pay, but employers who take the necessary steps to create a better overall package and working environment generally come out on top. It’s not just about pay anymore; top candidates want a benefits package that meets their specific life goals. This may include flexible schedules, opportunity for remote work, allowances for wellness and self-care, casual dress code, student loan reimbursement, professional development opportunities, and as outlandish as it may sound some companies are even offering expenses-paid vacations on top of paid time off.

When the pandemic hit, employees got a taste of what real work life balance means. Many also realized that they didn’t want to work for companies that devalued personal/family time, or for places that saw them as replaceable. Another revelation was the fact that a commute was no longer necessary to get the job done, which has led to the demand for flexible and remote work options.

Where do top tech talent candidates hang out?  

Everywhere. We’re living in a digital world and the lines between social and professional platforms have blurred. The best thing we can do is to join the conversations when we have something of value to add, stay engaged with candidates and clients even if we aren’t currently working with them, and always keep the conversations going. The best place to look is always within your own network. If you aren’t constantly growing your network or if you are only lingering behind the scenes, you’re falling behind. 

Here are a handful of places you are sure to find top tech talent and a great place to build your network:

How can your sourcing messages stand out against the competition?  

Stay on top of the current trends and what candidates in their niche truly want. It goes beyond money. With candidates controlling the market, clients need to adapt to the world around them and make the necessary changes in their organizations to attract and retain top talent.  

Uncover as much information as you can about the roles you are recruiting for. The ups, the downs, and everything in between. If you can’t answer simple questions about the culture, the day-to-day responsibilities, the benefits, etc. you are wasting everyone’s time.  

Be up front with the candidates from the start. The days of sending cryptic messages to candidates are over as they don’t have time for the song-and-dance. Tell them what they want to know upfront and develop an honest and open relationship from your very first interaction. Candidates are getting hundreds of messages titled “Exciting opportunity with room for growth!” a day. When the market wasn’t so candidate-centric, that kind of line might entice someone to hit the ‘reply’ button. Today, however, that mouse is just hitting ‘decline’ without a second thought.  

When you identify a great candidate, avoid copy and pasting a generic email or LinkedIn message. Take a moment to really check out the candidate’s profile/resume. See if you can identify what may or may not interest them. The more genuine the message, the more likely a response. We need to become human in the eyes of candidates, allowing them to connect on a deeper level.  

How do you know what they care about (salary, certain benefits, flexibility)? 

TRANSPARENT COMMUNICATION! All candidates are different. If you don’t take the time to get to know each candidate you are working with, and what they truly want, you will not be able to successfully match them to the right opportunity. If you’re able to grab the attention of a strong candidate, you better make sure that you develop a trusting, open line of communication in the very first conversation. Stop being so transactional. Ask the tough questions about money, work environment, how their job flows into their personal life, etc. Now that you have their attention, get to the bottom of why they are choosing to talk to you. If they were 100% happy with their current situation, you wouldn’t be having a conversation with them at all. There is pain there somewhere, but you as the recruiter, need to find it.   

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