Six Tips for Attracting and Retaining Top Tech Talent
By Veanne Smith
With recent 2019 unemployment rates for IT occupations hovering around 2.4%1 and projected 13% growth rates for information technology occupations between 2016 and 20262, the market for tech talent is the definition of competitive. Strong candidates don’t stay on the market very long, challenging your company to compete for the top talent with a solid hiring and retention strategy.
Read on for 6 ways to improve your position in the candidate-driven IT labor market and get ideas for attracting valuable tech talent to your team.
1. Start with a strong online presence
Take a quick inventory of how your company appears online to both active and passive job seekers. Is your company website candidate-friendly? A strong website should be intuitive to navigate, include easy-to-find career postings and communicate the highlights of the company culture in a direct, easy-to-digest way. Shop your social presence across both industry-centric forums and career sites like LinkedIn Indeed and Glassdoor. An active and authentic online presence signals an engaging workplace and builds brand recognition among potential candidates. Before you conclude your online assessment, check to ensure job postings are optimized and accessible across all devices.
2. Prioritize an optimized, well-defined hiring process
The pressure to hire quickly can actually undermine the long-term success of your recruiting and retention strategy. A well-organized and clearly communicated hiring process enables your business to achieve the levels of timeliness and transparency imperative to attracting tech talent in a tight market. Internal team members and candidates alike should be able to easily understand the candidate’s journey, which helps minimize frustration on both sides of the hiring equation. Take the time to document your hiring process and clearly define the roles played by talent acquisition, internal team members and the tone and timing of each candidate interaction. Centralize open positions in one location, save time by automating standard processes and take advantage of technology tools that increase visibility across the hiring process.
3. Differentiate the job description
Recent studies show that software and application developers were the most in-demand skill sought by IT employers,3 which translates into thousands of technology job descriptions. You have a short opening to capture job seekers’ attention and help them visualize how they can contribute to your company objectives. Attracting tech talent begins with clearly detailing open positions with complete job descriptions that convey why the job is important, what makes the job unique and the best skill set for success in that position. Keep the description succinct and clear. Get input from current team members to make sure the description reflects the day-to-day realities of the job. Search out other descriptions of similar positions and differentiate your position by including unique elements, around benefits, work culture and expectations that make your position stand out.
4. Commit to an exceptional candidate experience
Frequent, transparent communication is essential in the race to attract top tech talent. Your candidate is likely choosing between several job options as they go through your process. An exceptional candidate experience begins with establishing clear parameters so the applicant knows exactly what to expect from your process. The initial job posting, interviews, and post-interview follow-ups are all great opportunities to showcase your company and culture. This is the stage to allow time to truly consider the fit on both sides, instead of rushing to check a box. As you assess the candidate, focus on discovering who the candidate really is by asking exploratory questions that can help you discover unique and valuable capabilities the candidate could contribute to your company.
After the interviews, keep the candidate informed with timely follow-up on next steps or a final decision. Even if the candidate is not the right fit for the job, they may know someone who is a better fit or they may be perfect for your next open position. A strong interview experience only helps your company’s long-term reputation and recruiting goals.
5. Prioritize a robust talent pipeline
In the competitive race to attract top tech talent, your pipeline of viable candidates plays a critical role. You can minimize hiring stress and distractions and maximize your talent pipeline by working with an outside recruiting agency. An outside agency can augment your internal talent acquisition team by providing a wider pool of candidates, reducing initial screening time and initial hiring steps and providing additional resources to keep your hiring process moving at an accelerated pace. By working with a partner that takes time to understand your culture and requirements for recruiting top tech talent, you add an extra set of proactive eyes and ears, always looking out for your next candidate.
6. Rally around employee retention
Attrition among highly skilled tech employees can quickly become an expensive Achilles heel that hampers productivity and innovation. A LinkedIn survey found the technology roles of user experience and designer, data analyst and embedded software engineer had respective annual turnover rates between 23.3 % and 21.7%.4 These findings underscore the ongoing dilemma of attracting and retaining top tech talent. Employee attrition involves the direct loss of the investment you’ve put into recruiting and training the employee, and it also inflicts the indirect costs of the loss of institutional knowledge, disruption to project timelines and operations delays while the role is filled.
Talent retention is tricky territory. It begins with carefully recruiting and selecting the best talent for the position from the start. Once the employee has joined the company, transparent communication, career mapping and constructive, frequent feedback can foster stronger employee engagement. Offering defined growth opportunities that utilize the latest technology tools to solve new challenges and develop new solutions also nurtures motivation and interest. Keeping salaries competitive is a must along with providing generous opportunities to develop and expand expertise and skills through focused training.
Focus on the final goal
Successful recruiting creates a competitive advantage in the tight labor market and contributes to efficiencies and new innovation across your company. Investing time upfront to create a well-defined hiring process that keeps the focus on the candidate experience increases your chances of attracting and retaining the best tech talent. Frequent, transparent communication and a well-primed candidate pipeline also strengthen your position in the race to attract top tech talent.
- 1. and 2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer and Information Technology, “April 12, 2019.
- 3. Comptia, “US Tech Sector Hiring Rebounds in January” February 1, 2019.
- 4. Booz, Michael. “These three industries have the highest talent turnover rates, Business LinkedIn,” March 15, 2018.
Veanne SmithCo-CEO & Co-Founder
Veanne Smith serves as the co-CEO and co-founder of SOLTECH – Atlanta’s premier software development, technology consulting and IT staffing firm.
Prior to founding SOLTECH, Veanne spent more than 10 years in the technology industry, where she leveraged her software development and project management skills to attain executive leadership responsibilities for a growing national technology consulting firm. She is passionate about building mutually beneficial long-term relationships, growing businesses, and helping people achieve their personal life goals via rewarding employment opportunities.
Outside of SOLTECH, Veanne is considered a thought leader in Atlanta’s IT community. Currently, she serves on the Advisory Board for The College of Computing and Software Engineering at Kennesaw State University. In addition, Veanne helped launch the AxIO Advisory Council, has been a member of Vistage for 20 years, and created Atlanta Business Impact Radio – a podcast that showcases some of Atlanta’s most innovative businesses and technology professionals.
As an influential figure in the technology and IT staffing industry, Veanne consistently produces insightful articles that address both the opportunities and challenges in IT staffing. Through her writing, she offers valuable tips and advice to businesses seeking to hire technical talent, as well as individuals searching for new opportunities.
She holds a degree in Computer Science from Illinois State University.