Phil Borge, director, head of business services at Eulogy, looks at how tech startups and scaleups can stand out to potential recruits.
Deliveroo wants new tech talent, 300 new people to be precise, a move that will more than double its current tech-focused workforce.
On face value it’s a hugely positive story, the business riding high on its global investment haul, gearing up for its next phase of growth. But this demand for ever diverse tech-based skills also represents a major challenge to the business, when considered alongside recent announcements from Google, Facebook and countless other established tech companies and startups on their immediate recruitment plans.
Nearly every tech company in existence is on the hunt for new tech talent. If you then consider the fact that it isn’t just tech that requires tech, you have a problem.
Increasingly the myriad skills that sit under the banner of technology (from front end developers to software engineers to algorithm programmers) are in high demand from businesses across almost every industry.
So vital has the catch all of tech become as a driver of innovation and growth, that corporate success may as well be directly linked to the numbers of tech-heads being recruited.
The challenge faced by Deliveroo, and by nearly every other company engaging in the same talent search, is standing out in the eyes of potential recruits.
It goes without saying that salaries and benefits packages need to be competitive, but beyond this even the days of differentiation through those added extras in the ‘office’ environment (think Astroturf, slides, well stocked breakfast bars and the all important foosball table) aren’t exactly different. Go to any WeWork and you’re all set.
There is merit in any business going beyond the expected or the superficial. Like any employee in today’s market, tech staff will respond well to a host of other motivations; being given a voice within the business, having the opportunity to build something that matters to them (beyond their formal day to day tasks), and being given the time, support and investment to learn. Yet again, arguably, there’s not much that hasn’t been offered before.
So if differentiation in what you offer is a challenge, differentiation in how you tell people what you offer may not be.
Increasingly there is a clear objective (and fresh opportunity) for communications, HR and recruitment teams to work together. An obvious approach is to channel positive and stand out messaging externally; to anywhere this rare tech talent congregates. And beyond being part and parcel of a standard corporate positioning and awareness brief, creative campaigning and lead generation tactics are also becoming recognisable tools to ensnare the attention of potential recruits.
But an often missed opportunity, and one which should absolutely be marshalled by this holy trinity of teams, is a focus on the internal story – that of current employees. After all, your number one advocates should be your own team. They know what it’s like to work for the company, they are experiencing all it has to offer, and they can display the passion and commitment to the parent business, evidence of which becomes yet another way of encouraging new recruits over the line.
This is all very easy if you’re lucky enough to have a strong and engaged internal team already. It’s also near on impossible to fake it. A sensible starting point, regardless, is to listen. Listen to employees, find out why they choose to work for the business, and find out what keeps them happy.
It is this, and authentically this, which can make all the difference in the fight for fresh talent. Is it the salaries, the benefits, the fresh fruit and the foosball? Or is it something else; something which is best delivered (with a little help from comms, and HR) by the tech team themselves?
Will Deliveroo succeed in its talent search? Probably, and not least because it has the weight of investment behind it. However, it shouldn’t underestimate the value of public perception.
As it may already be learning, convincing top talent of your workplace credentials while waging an ongoing and very public battle around the employment rights of delivery staff may not be easy.
Skilled in tech or skilled on a bike, everyone values an employer with an even hand.