IT talent: 4 tips to update your recruitment strategy

IT talent: 4 tips to update your recruitment strategy

Are you placing too much emphasis on tech degrees? Is your benefits package competitive? In a tight IT talent market, consider shaking up your approach

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In 2019, U.S. employers spent an average of 65 days to hire a new tech employee — 23 days longer for all other types of hires, according to iCIMS data.

This trend is expected to grow each year. To win the best tech candidates in the market, organizations need innovative recruiting practices.

[ What kinds of talent are in demand this year? Read also: IT career goals 2020: Most-wanted technology and core skills. ]

As enterprises increasingly apply technological innovations like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virtual reality, the future will be won by those with the strongest IT teams. For companies looking to find top IT candidates in today’s competitive job market, the following four practices encourage decision-makers to think outside the box.

1. Keep an open mind regarding education

According to a recent study, fall enrollment in higher education fell for the eighth consecutive year in 2019. As the tech industry continues to evolve, candidates with non-traditional educational backgrounds are becoming more desirable. In fact, 70 percent of recruiters believe past work experience is more important than an entry-level candidate’s college major.

Seek out candidates who have demonstrated aptitude, even if they don’t have a four-year degree in technology.

Seek out candidates who have demonstrated aptitude, even if they don’t have a four-year degree in technology. For example, individuals who have completed relevant programs or have received certifications, such as a Certified Associate in Python Programming, can be incredibly valuable to employers.

Similarly, don’t overlook vital soft skills like communication, accountability, and drive, which can be instrumental in project managing teams looking to innovate. In today’s tight tech labor market, allowing a candidate’s relevant soft skills to take precedence over their degree enables companies to fill gaps in areas as they arise and helps identify candidates that might otherwise be overlooked.

[ Want to tease out core skills in an interview? Read: Soft skills: 10 ways to hire for them ] 

2. Stay connected with potential prospects

It takes 50 percent longer to fill a tech role than all other types of roles, and that costs companies valuable time and money. Maintaining a relationship with past candidates can reduce time-to-fill by giving you a head start on gathering potential prospects when you have an opening. It’s important to stay engaged with the most qualified individuals who have previously expressed interest in your company by sharing the latest news, insights, and job recommendations based on their specific skills and interests. By staying connected with candidates who didn’t get a previous job, you can encourage them to apply for openings for which they may be a better fit.

However, don’t limit your contact only to past candidates. By tapping into your own company’s network of employees, you can share job descriptions, thus further extending your reach to potential tech talent.

3. Step up your benefits offering

In today’s tight market for IT talent, employers are increasing benefits to make themselves more competitive in hiring — and it’s working. According to a survey from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), 80 percent of employees would choose a lower-paying job with good health benefits over a job with no benefits. Benefits such as training and development programs, tuition reimbursement, and student loan repayment are just a few ways employers are upping their game.

[ Top CIOs share their IT hiring strategies: IT talent: 5 key practices for the decade ahead. ]

Furthermore, a survey from SHRM found that the leading reason employees look for external positions was higher compensation (56 percent), followed by better overall benefits (29 percent). Not only does offering competitive benefits give your company an advantage in recruiting top talent, but it also helps retain skilled employees by boosting job satisfaction. Work closely with your organization’s human resources (HR) department to ensure the benefits you offer remain competitive within the industry.

4. Prioritize employee referral programs

There is no better testament to company culture than feedback from current employees. In fact, 47 percent of people actively looking for new positions say company culture is the main reason they are looking for a new role. If you’ve built a solid culture, encourage your employees to share their experiences on professional networks and empower them to offer a glimpse into company culture through their own social media profiles.

When seeking employee referrals, provide employees with context for the roles you need to fill — instead of asking them to simply raise a candidate, for example, explain the skills you are looking for and ask if they know anyone who may be a good fit. Most importantly, reward employees for successful referrals. Something as small as a gift card or team lunch shows employees their work is appreciated.

In a candidate’s job market, organizations need to get creative to attract top IT talent. Remember to keep an open mind when evaluating potential hires to ensure you don’t overlook useful skills, utilize talent pools to extend job descriptions to your entire network, work with your HR department to ensure you are offering competitive benefits, and empower your own workforce to be your biggest advocates.

[ How does your talent approach measure up? Download the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: IT Talent Strategy: New Tactics for a New Era. ]

As chief technology officer, Al Smith leads the creative and technology teams behind iCIMS’ product portfolio, providing its 4,000+ clients with the industry’s leading talent acquisition platform.

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