Everything you need to know about finding and retaining tech talent

To say that finding the right talent – and retaining it – is hard, is a massive understatement, especially if you’re a relatively new kid on the block (aka startup) and competing against more established players in the realm of Google, Facebook or Apple.

New research by tech recruitment firm Dice revealed that Google is considered as the gold standard for an ideal employer by millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers. Other tech giants featured in the top 10 include Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Hewlett Packard. These companies are arguably some of the most widely recognisable names in the technology industry, but this doesn’t mean smaller companies cannot attract great tech talent too.

Dice’s research saw the recruitment firm survey more than 5,000 respondents across the UK and US and ask them to rate the strengths of their ideal employers across a series of categories, including competitive salaries; bonuses; open and transparent communication; opportunities for promotion and more. 

The words ‘tech’ and ‘company’ typically conjure images of laid-back offices with plenty of bean bags, well-stacked cafeterias and perks including paid-for gym memberships, but it seems these kind of perks are not considered essential by candidates. According to Dice’s findings, less than a quarter of the top 10 Ideal Employers earned a collectively strong perception in the ‘perks’ category. Interestingly, these businesses also displayed some weaknesses with regards to equity awards, open/transparent communication, sabbatical time and manageable working hours. To put this in other words, the data collected from the survey showed that the top ranking companies offered competitive salaries, financial stability and culture that supported growth and innovation across the ranks, but when it came to work-life balance or volunteering, they often have significant ground to make up.

Making up for the lack of resource

Tech startups may not have the same resource as VC-backed tech giants, but this does not mean they cannot compete in the tech talent market. By their sheer nature, startups and scaleups are nimble, adaptive and operate at a competitive advantage: they can create a positive culture and environment from the onset.

Regardless of a business’ size (revenue, market cap or employee count), c-level executives should not lose sight of the fact that employees typically value a combination of perks, and are not just incentivised by high salaries.

But, what exactly do tech professionals look for in an employer? The short answer: challenging work and positive culture. Generally speaking, technology professionals value manageable working hours and firms which offer a flexible working approach. 

Trial and error

Offering high salaries, benefits and perks is easy, providing the business generates sufficient revenue. Devising and setting the right culture, however, can take a lot longer and is often achieved through trial and error. In order to set the right tone when it comes to culture, it’s important that managers and business leaders listen to their employees; paying close attention to what they want, what they value, and what can be done better or perhaps differently.

This, otherwise known as the feedback loop, will provide a powerful tool to help companies interact with current and prospective employees, helping pave the way for a transparent and responsible way of working. Importantly, this kind of communication loop should underpin the entire workforce – not just c-level executives – from the top-down.

Once this is in motion, teams can begin to take the necessary steps to make company culture more appealing. And this is where things get interesting. Dice’s ‘Ideal Employer’ report, also showed that offering solid training ranked high on respondents’ lists of valued attributes – hardly surprising given the need for some tech workers to constantly up-skill. 

Overall, the report suggests that tech companies need to be holistic in their approach to finding, hiring and retaining talent. Throwing money (if you have it) at current and prospective employees is simply not enough. Businesses must strive to present an image of innovation and transparency in order to compel talent and consequent employee loyalty.

To conclude, here are the top five things you need to bear in mind when it comes to recruitment.

  • Use insight to build a picture of what really matters to tech professionals
  • Define an employer brand proposition that appeals to prospective tech workers
  • Create a culture where tech professionals are able to develop their careers and bolster their skills
  • Build your own brand by talking about yourself and backing it up with hard evidence
  • Get people talking about how you build a successful organisation