How to Attract and Retain Top IT Talent
Our experienced IT Search team at WinterWyman knows the tech candidate market is tight. Along with identifying and presenting the best talent, we encourage our clients to help the process making the roles and the company attractive to job seekers. We asked our IT team to share their tips on what companies can do to attract and keep talented IT pros. Here’s what they had to say.
Robert Byron, Partner, Manager
Most importantly, companies need to show their candidates professional courtesy during the hiring process. This means respecting a candidate’s time during interviews. Canceling at the last minute, showing up to an interview unprepared without reviewing the candidate’s resume in advance, and dragging the process out unnecessarily over multiple rounds all have the potential of turning off a top candidate.
Companies also need to do their part to sell why their opportunity is a good next step in the candidate’s career. In this market, the best candidates have several options. The companies that understand the market dynamics and can explain or “sell” the benefits (company culture, mission of the company, impact this position will have, potential growth in the organization, compensation, perks, etc.) of joining their organization have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.
Patty Coffey, Partner
For IT talent, it has always been and always will be about the technology. Successful candidates know how to stay up to date with the newest technology to remain relevant and marketable. They constantly need to ask themselves: What is the marketplace looking for? How do I stay relevant and employable? When looking for a job or evaluating their current role, they will consider these factors when making sure the opportunity supports their goals.
Technologists are also naturally curious about the latest and greatest. They want to bring technology into the workplace that allows users and business owners to do their job more efficiently and effectively. Every IT employee has customer service at their core—they love being the “go-to” people and the problem solvers—and they want to do it with the latest technical advancements. Make sure the role you are offering will support this innate desire most IT professionals possess.
Kelly Finn, Principal Consultant
You can’t put a price tag on flexibility. This doesn’t necessarily mean allowing employees to work from home as a regular schedule (although that is a good perk), but it can be as simple as letting someone come in late and/or leave early regularly to accommodate a long commute or daycare responsibilities. It is so easy for people to stay connected these days—employees are easily able to respond to emails, take calls, etc. from anywhere. Ironically, I find that most people who work a flexible schedule often end up working more than if they were in the office because they are logging in after hours to be sure they are on top of tasks. A flexible schedule is a privilege not to be abused and if both the employer and employee are clear about what the expectations are, I find this an easy way to keep employees happy.
John Hogan, Principal Consultant
Most of the companies we work with have major concerns about their ability to retain their top people, so they are always interested in what strategies other companies are using to get in front of this problem. Most places think that a salary increase or better benefits will solve the problem, but that is not always the case. There are many other perks that can make employees happy or feel better about their current job. It’s important to regularly survey current employees to identify what they think their company is doing well and where they can improve in keeping the employees happy, engaged, and loyal. Employees want to feel valued and part of the process of improving the work environment. The companies that are proactive and try to anticipate employee needs tend to have better retention rates than those that don’t see this as a priority.
Joseph Kotlinski, Partner, Manager of IT Seach
There is no “one size fits all” for attracting and retaining top talent. The reasons why people join a company or decide to leave differ from person to person. It could be about the role, the organization, the company, the benefits, the technology, the room for growth, the location, the industry, or the ability to have a flexible schedule or work from home. What might be attractive to baby boomers might not be important to millennials and vice versa.
The key is to know your audience. Try to identify the REAL reason someone is looking to make a change when they are gainfully employed. During the interview, ask the prospective employee not only their reason for looking, but also the three things that will be most important to them in their next role. They might tell you their reason for leaving is because of their commute, but the top three things they seek in their next job are the chance to work with new technology, the chance for career advancement, and better compensation. Once you’ve identified the real reason, try to figure out how to make a good fit with a new position. And when top employees leave, it's a great practice to conduct exit interviews to identify their reasons. Then you can put plans and programs in place to address any trends and stop a brain drain before it starts.