Throughout the global labor market, attracting and retaining technology talent is notoriously challenging. The field is highly specialized and niche – not to mention exceptionally competitive as today’s best tech talent knows full well what their worth and how to achieve it – which complicates your efforts to build a desirable employment brand within key segments. In fact, 75 percent of hiring managers report that the time it takes to fill technology positions has increased over the past three years, with the No. 1 reason being "inability to find qualified candidates."
This begs an important, increasingly complex question: How should you design and continuously hone your talent acquisition strategy to steadfastly compete for today’s most sought-after, technically proficient professionals?
1. Use segmentation to prioritize your talent attraction strategy.
Even in a hiring market as competitive as the technical sector, hiring managers can’t act as though every position is the “most” important. It’s vital to work closely with your business leaders to learn which positions are crucial to the everyday operations of your organization or have outsized impact on your business strategy. Next, overlay this information with an assessment of the talent supply for given positions. This proven strategy is called the Difficulty vs. Impact method of talent segmentation.
For example, if a certain type of software engineer role takes twice the average time-to-fill, you may want to assign this role a high difficulty/urgency score. If the same role has a low importance score due to your ability to tap into and attract the right skill set in quick fashion, it would warrant a lower level of prioritization. Of course, all open roles impact your business, but by prioritizing you can begin to set expectations and divide your resources in the most efficient manner.
2. Know your target audience; learn how to market to them.
Once you’ve prioritized a few essential talent segments, put on your marketing hat. Learn about your audience; consider the demographics of the professionals you’re seeking/skills you need, and find out where they congregate online. Developing an in-depth understanding of the people you want to hire is integral for crafting an employment branding strategy that resonates with them.
2017-2018 research and talent trends make no bones about it: the marketing and talent strategy lines are continuing to blur. Companies need to partner with marketing to tell their employment brand stories, to make certain go-to-market strategies are aligned organization-wide, and to achieve maximum outreach. In fact, according to WilsonHCG’s upcoming 2018 Fortune 500 Top 100 Employment Brands report, “If candidates see positive employee and candidate experiences on review sites or in communication with peers, they feel more confident submitting their resume and making a career move.”
3. Use the right tools, not the newest tools.
Before employment brand efforts can begin, the strategy first needs to be defined. In brief, define what the success and failure of your campaign(s) looks like (e.g., more robust talent communities, higher retention or improved external perception, among others), then begin the effort.
When you’re ready to start engaging your audience and broadcasting your employment brand, especially if we’re talking niche IT talent, technology is perhaps your best friend. However, that friendship depends on your ability to ignore the shiny object and focus on choosing the tools that make sense for the strategy you’re trying to execute and the roles you’re attempting to fill.
Technology should never replace talent strategies or processes. Technologies help drive efficiencies, but your people need to be at the forefront of all employment branding and acquisition initiatives (e.g., candidate experience, employee engagement and workforce planning).
4. Create expectations you can deliver on.
Finally, when developing your employment brand, ensure you have your finger on the pulse of your organization’s culture. While you don’t need to broadcast every blemish, you should be willing to be genuine and honest about the current state. Authentic branding keeps candidate expectations grounded and, done properly, improves your overall quality of hire. Why? Because authentic branding efforts attract people who want to work for who you are rather than the company you wish you were if falsely communicated.
Alternatively, if your branding implies that every job is a dream come true, you will inevitably fall short of new-hire expectations and create an engagement problem in the process. Further, today’s tech talent has full transparency into what they're worth and what competitors are offering. Not only will they happily reject a job offer or leave quickly if they don't feel their expectations are being met, but they will waste no time sharing their experiences with peers on social media.
Each company is unique; as such, each approach to overcoming tech hiring challenges must be unparalleled. Toward this end, on December 14 (1:00-2:00 pm EST), join Human Capital Institute and WilsonHCG for an expert-filled panel discussion to uncover actionable, innovative yet grounded tech hiring strategies to implement in 2018. Register at the link or to sign up for the free replay!
Alan is an experienced analyst in the human capital and recruitment field. He is also an avid networker and writer with a background in best-practice research, constantly striving to explore the trends, issues and challenges that affect the way businesses attract, develop and retain talent.