Trolling for Tech Talent in a Tight Market - Page 1

Jun 18, 2012

CIOUpdate Contributor

Job trend reports point to openings and opportunities for growth, particularly among mobile app developers, data warehouse analysts and user experience designers.  And a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article reports that computer systems manufacturers, social media and other Internet companies at the front lines of the talent wars, are seeing fierce competition.

Tech sector hiring tightens up

Job growth in the technology sector continues to tighten the hiring environment and makes it that much harder for growing companies to find great tech talent.  According to HR thought leader John Sullivan, the war for talent is fully underway in Silicon Valley and will soon heat up everywhere else.

To lure these IT professionals, it’s important to keep in mind what motivates them.  The sine qua non is job content and the impact of the position.  These individuals want to know that they are having an impact; that the animation they create is used and admired by millions of people every day. 

They are a very diverse group and can only be said to be consistently inconsistent.  Some are extremely introverted, while others are the life of a party.  Some adopt a traditional approach to their work day and some like the graveyard shift.  So as you market your employer brand, be sure to also emphasize your flexibility.  They all work differently and you need to assure them that you are accepting of their personal work style whether that means working noon to 10 pm, 8 am – 5 pm, or midnight to 8 am.

In looking for the ideal personality type, there is only one thing a recruiter can count on as a predictor of success and longevity, and that is passion; a passion for technology and specifically their area of expertise.  If they aren’t curious about the next product release and they don’t get excited about how it relates to what they are doing, they may not be the best fit.

The evolution of the tech market

A growing trend is that of people leaving their current roles at big companies for small and start-up companies where they can try their hand at entrepreneurialism or play a larger role in shaping an organization’s direction.  The market demand for social media, mobile technology, and e-commerce start-ups is providing abundant opportunities to jump ship. 

The likely next phase will be a consolidation of promising companies and the withering away of those that are not viable.  When this happens, we will see a lot of talent returning to their old positions or looking for new positions at established companies.  But until then, start-ups will continue poaching proven talent, especially from those established companies they want to emulate.

Before the iPad, recruiting professionals expected this next phase to come quickly.  But now, bolstered for the foreseeable future by the white-hot tablet space and Microsoft’s Windows 8 with its app-friendly platform, it is very hard to predict when this next phase will bring an end to tech’s seemingly limitless growth.

Tapping talent in a tight market

To attract the talent critical to their survival, technology companies have long been known for performing crazy stunts.  Today, recruiting tactics from the late 1990s dot-com craze appear to be making a comeback.  These include give-aways of ice cream, cheeseburgers, beer for life, cats, and of course, cold hard cash. 

Given the relatively finite universe of talent, companies have become increasingly aggressive in plundering from their competition.  Stories, like Google’s $5 million bonus package to keep an engineer from defecting to a start-up or retaining an employee being pursued by Twitter through a significant counter offer, are becoming more and more common. 

Another approach that some companies are taking quite seriously is to leverage their internal talent to help with the recruiting effort.  According to Bloomberg Businessweek, social gaming company Zynga uses software to match prospects with current employees.  Employees are instructed to call prospects based on overlapping employers, schooling or just similar hobbies and interests.

As creatively inspired as some of these approaches are, the only lasting defense in such a fiercely competitive market is to achieve employer loyalty by emphasizing cultural fit and communicating employment brand during the talent acquisition process thereby ensuring hires that are a great fit and love where they work.

As the demand continues to increase, the available pool of talent will diminish.  Together with the evolving demands on tech talent being driven by the consumer marketplace, this environment necessitates a far more sophisticated recruiting approach to find, attract, and retain the increasingly elusive talent necessary for a tech firm to compete during this period of seemingly limitless growth.

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Tags: career advancement, IT hiring, CIO Leadership, Pinstripe,

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