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Best Practices for Recruiting Technical Talent

 Have you tried to hire technical talent lately – software engineers, hardware engineers, product managers, QA professionals, system administrators, or other tech team members? We find that many companies in need of qualified technical professionals encounter what’s been called the tech talent war, tech talent crunch, or tech talent shortage.

By any name, the competition for top-tier technical employees and/or contractors is heating up. And according to a recent survey by Dice.com, Texas is among the top three states feeling the pinch. Yet, in a world in which technology is central to most endeavors and technological advances continue to progress, tech-skilled talent is often the lifeblood of the enterprise.

Can a tech-savvy staffing firm help you find candidates with the right stuff – skill set, personality and work ethic – to move your technological initiatives forward? We’ve developed strategies that work for us, and we want to share some of these best practices with you.

Branding. Be sure your career portal and other communiqués express who you are as a company – and the benefits and perks of working for you. In addition to financial rewards, the bright minds you seek are looking for an environment that fosters innovation, autonomy, and opportunities for professional and personal growth. How does your company measure up as an employer in the tech community? Are you known for retaining and growing good people? Does your company host a technical blog or forum that gives candidates a peek at the types of projects they might get to work on?

Going where the talent is. Don’t rely on job postings alone, even if you’re tweeting them! There’s a good chance the talent you seek is already employed. You’ve got to be proactive to reel in these passive candidates. Once you determine the specific skillsets you need to build your team, hang out where these groups hang out. Need a Ruby on Rails developer? Spend some time with the local Ruby on Rails user group, both online and face-to-face. Sponsoring events and participating in meet-ups, online forums, open source projects, tech conferences, and other “watering holes,” you gain the opportunity to get to know the thought-leaders in a particular technology area.

Casting a wider net. You may have to go outside your local network to source technical talent. Here, you can leverage the broad, nationwide candidate pool a technical staffing firm offers to cast a wider net. If you’re relocating a new hire, you will most likely need to sweeten the deal. Provide relocation packages that include a concierge service to acclimate newcomers and their families to your locale. Don’t forget, your city is part of your brand; promote the quality of life it offers to prospective candidates. Alternatively, consider hiring talent where you find it, and let your new hires telecommute from wherever they are.

Culture-matching. To find the candidates who match your requirements and fit your culture and your team, solicit involvement internally from stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs). Keep in mind that when you interview candidates you are not only vetting them, you are wooing them. Your most technically astute employees are not always the best interviewers; they may even come across to the candidate as arrogant or critical. For your interview team, choose natural mentors – the people on your team who recognize and magnify talent in others. We find these team members often have a knack for spotting your best candidates and making the connection needed to bring them on board.

Thinking superstar teams, not just superstar players. Software development is a team sport, and the prospect of joining a dynamite team can be a powerful draw to a technical candidate. When you’re building your team, think in terms of balancing not only technical skills and talents, but also personal characteristics such as drive, energy, creativity, forthrightness, determination, and warmth. Get the right mix of team dynamics, superstar talent and software development methodologies, and you’ll see real traction on your projects.

Keeping them once you’ve got them. Smart companies realize that even in a still-rebounding economy, employee retention is an essential ingredient of the tech talent formula. You’ve worked hard to gather the best and the brightest; now you’re got to work hard to keep them on your team. Competitive compensation packages are a good start. Combine this with workplace practices that give your people consistent opportunities to advance, learn, and have an impact. This approach goes a long way toward protecting your human capital investment.

Be on the lookout for our future blog post, “Five Tips to Decrease Turnover,” for a closer look at how to retain the great talent you’ve found.

Have you felt the pinch of the tech talent war? Let us know what’s working for you, and what’s not, in bringing technical professionals on board.

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