Companies have been struggling with one of the tightest labor markets around. Not only has this made recruitment more challenging, but it has also altered retention. Tech professionals have the ability to explore new opportunities with greater ease and make choices when it comes to selecting an employer. This climate has led many tech pros to keep their options open, particularly if they aren’t thrilled with their current company.
In order to remain competitive, companies need to take extra steps to retain their top tech talent. If you want to make retention a priority, here are some tips you can use right away.
One of the biggest headaches for any manager is replacing an employee who resigns. Not only does losing an employee mean you need to spend time and money recruiting their replacement, it also makes it difficult to get your department's work done. Other employees need to pick up the departing employee's work; they may resent it and start thinking about resigning themselves. The best way to solve this headache is to prevent it from developing in the first place, by reducing your turnover. Here are some things to look at to help you keep your top talent.
Offer financial rewards.
Periodically review your compensation bands and make sure you're paying market-level salaries. Beyond the paycheck, make sure your company offers other competitive financial benefits, including a well-structured 401(k) plan.
Understand your employees' perspective.
Don't wait until an end-of-year annual review process to find out how your employees feel about their jobs. Talk with them informally throughout the year. You can also conduct surveys to collect anonymous feedback that may include opinions no one would tell you to your face.
Tailor work assignments to employees' preferences.
It's probably not possible to ensure that your employees will enjoy all of their work responsibilities every day, but you can make sure they're assigned to projects and roles that are in line with their interests and abilities. Make sure employee reviews include discussions of what they'd like to work on. When new projects come up, don't simply assign people based on what they're currently doing; assign them based on what they would like to do.
Offer emotional rewards.
Saying "thank you" costs nothing but goes a long way in making employees feel like their work has meaning and is valued. Praising someone's work in public is especially valuable. Make employees feel like they're part of a team, and that the team matters, by having occasional low-cost team celebrations. These acts boost morale and make employees less likely to give notice.
Don't wait until they give notice.
In most cases, if you're an involved manager, you should have a sense that someone on your team isn't happy. There will be even more signs when they progress to actively interviewing, such as moving away if you pass by when they're on the phone or showing up to work late wearing nicer clothes than usual. You probably don't want to flat-out ask them if they're looking for another job, but you can and should make the effort to ask how things are going. If you find something you can change for them before they give notice, you may never have to deal with their resignation at all.
Until recently, the biggest technical innovation in luggage was the wheel. Now, though, bag makers are teaming up with tech firms to make smart bags that will streamline the travel process and make lost luggage a thing of the past. Samsung and Samsonite, plus other vendors, are adding features that mean bags do more than just hide your dirty laundry from prying eyes.
No More Bag Check-In Line
You won't have to stand in line to check in your bags with the new smart luggage. Because of a chip inside, these bags will know when they've arrived at the airport and talk to airline systems automatically. You'll get a unique baggage ID sent to your phone. Just drop the bag on a conveyor belt. With some bags, you'll avoid overweight bag fees because the bags have a built-in scale and it'll tell you before you leave home if you've packed too much.
No More Dragging Your Luggage
Human traffic patterns in an airport concourse can seem more chaotic than highway traffic patterns, so self-propelling luggage may be as difficult as a self-driving car, but it's coming. A motor in the bag will let luggage trail close by your heels as you walk through the terminal. Don't worry about forgetting to keep it with you, because a proximity detector will alert you if you walk off without it. It's too bad bags won't self-propel themselves into the overhead storage bins, though!
No More Hanging Around the Luggage Carousel
If you've ever raced through the terminal only to wait interminably for your bag, you can now take your time. Bags will send a message to your phone when they've made it off the plane and head for the carousel. Once everyone uses this feature, you won't need to fight through the crowd to get close enough to grab your bag. If everyone has a self-propelling bag, it's possible the luggage carousels will be eliminated and your bag will find its own way over to you.
No More Lost Luggage
Worse than an interminable wait in baggage claim is an interminable wait that ends when you realize your luggage isn't going to come. If your bag doesn't show up, the new smart bags can tell you where they are, so you don't have to wait for the airline to track it down.
Given the shortage of qualified IT candidates and the comparable wealth of open positions, many tech contractors find themselves moving quickly from one project to the next. A 2013 survey found that 32 percent of these IT and engineering specialists receive their next offer within two weeks of completing a project, while 84 percent received an offer for their next job or project within three months.
When searching for your next IT candidate, then, it’s important to remember that time is of the essence. While you should certainly never rush into a decision, hiring managers in the tech industry simply don’t have the leisure of others in less-competitive fields. You’re never going to find the perfect candidate (or, if you do, consider yourself very lucky), but there three things you can do to help narrow it down to your best possible option.
Shorten Your List of Desired Skills
If you’re searching for an IT candidate, there’s likely a very long list of skills that you’d like interviewees to possess. This long list can hurt you in several ways, however. On one hand, very qualified candidates are likely to skip over your job posting if they find that they lack two or three (or more) of your desired skills. Even if they’d do the job admirably, you may never even see their resume because of an over-ambitious job description. On the other hand, you may fail to consider talented candidates because they don’t perfectly align with your ideals.
To counteract these negative effects, you should narrow down your list of desired skills to three or four key competencies. This ultra-focused list will help you define your expectations and hone in on the skills that matter most for the position. You won’t be disappointed when each candidate falls short of the “dream candidate,” and they’ll be more likely to apply to a reasonable description.
Plan & Prioritize
An unorganized review can cause you to miss out on important aspects of a candidate’s qualifications or character, or it can result in a biased, subjective perception that can harm you and your company in the long run. Develop an objective, consistent system for gauging each interview. For instance, you can refer back to your list of desired skills and rate each candidate on their abilities in relation to your requirements. Based on the importance and priority of each skill, you can objectively choose the right person for the job based on your metric system.
Evaluate Your Needs & What You Can Offer
While it would be nice to have that Ivy League-educated, highly experienced engineer, those may not be the needs of your company, and you may not be able to pay the salary that caliber of candidate would require. Be fair to your interviewees and your company, and honestly evaluate your needs for each position. Do you need a full-time IT worker, or would a contractor better suit your needs? This will help you adjust the job description and accurately articulate the details of the position to each candidate.
IT and engineering specialists often command high salaries, so look into the market value of the position and offer something in a similar range. If you offer too low, it’s unlikely that you’ll attract a qualified candidate, while aiming too high may put a financial strain on your company. IT workers know what their skills are worth, so make sure your number is accurate if you want to attract talent to your business.
These three tips will help you seize the moment while you’re searching for the right IT candidate. If you make your job description concise and realistic, prioritize your interview to get an accurate picture of each interviewee, and create a sensible, attractive salary offering once you’ve chosen a candidate, you increase your likelihood of selecting the best person in a timely manner.
Whether you’ve been with a company for years or are just accepting a new position, negotiating salary is a tricky prospect. But with a little preparation and the right mindset, you can make the experience far less nerve-wracking — and far more lucrative. Below are a few tips to prepare you to negotiate your salary.
Do your research.
Before starting negotiations, you should know the average salary range for the position. This will give you a solid starting point and show that you have the industry knowledge to back up your income requirement. Always take into account your experience, education, and skill level. If you’re fresh out of college with no experience in the workforce, you’ll likely be on the lower end of that salary range. If you’ve held a similar position for several years or are requesting a raise in your existing job, try to aim for the higher end.
Adjust your mindset.
Many people go into salary negotiations under the mistaken impression that they’re being greedy by requesting a higher salary. While it’s true that you should always be friendly and respectful during these discussions, you should also be assertive. Hiring managers expect you to negotiate, so know your worth and ask for it. You should never be so tied to the outcome of your negotiations that you’re unwilling to take risks. Go into the interview with the knowledge that negotiating your salary is a mutually beneficial partnership with the hiring manager. You aren’t asking for something you don’t deserve.
Practice your tactics.
Always have a strategy in place before you start negotiating. Many recommend that you never give the first number. If the hiring manager pressures you to name a number, try to deflect whenever possible. You can say things like, “What do you think the position is worth?” or refer to your research into the average salary range. Try to get the interviewer to give the first number (it may even be higher than what you were inclined to offer). If they are unwilling to budge on salary, you have other tools at your disposal. You can ask for more vacation days, a flexible bonus structure, relocation fees, or other benefits to compensate for an initially lower salary.
Regardless of the amount, you shouldn’t accept the first offer, especially if it’s lower than what you need or deserve. If necessary, ask for time to think over the offer. If the number is well below your market value, don't be afraid to turn it down. But chances are, if you do your research and determine what your skills and experience are worth, you can come out of the negotiations with a comfortable salary and a strong relationship with your employer.
For many organizations today, finding top talent is a top priority. The IT talent gap makes it challenging to find appropriate candidates, let alone great ones — but the good news is, there are steps you can take to bring in a higher caliber of IT talent, and hire and retain candidates who are in the top 10 percent.
Your talent acquisition strategy is the key to attracting the best candidates to your organization. Here’s how you can improve your recruiting methods to get top talent interested in your open positions, and excited about working for your organization.
Build your employer brand
One of the most crucial elements of talent acquisition is also one that’s the most often overlooked. In order to attract the best IT talent, you need to make sure that your company is viewed as a great place to work — and that means building your brand as an employer.
Your employer brand is your work-life promise to your employees. This includes salary and benefits, working conditions, and especially your company culture. When it comes to talent acquisition, it’s important to have a strong understanding of your employer brand, as well as the type of person who flourish under your brand — employees who share similar values and objectives to your organization.
When you know your employer brand, you can use it in your recruitment process to attract the right kind of talent and hire the best candidates.
Keep your candidate profile real and marketable
Many organizations struggle with finding top talent not because candidates aren’t available, but because they’re looking for “purple squirrels” — rare, nearly mythical candidates who have exactly the right skills, education, and experience for a given position. The problem is that in general, purple squirrels don’t exist, and those that do are typically already employed and happy with their jobs.
You’ll have far more success with your talent acquisition strategy if you abandon the idea of purple squirrels, and instead look for high-quality candidates who can do the job and are a good fit with your company culture. Create a candidate profile that includes a realistic set of skills and competencies, and include your desired characteristics beyond technical skills to ensure a cultural fit, such as:
- Key personality traits
- Behavioral characteristics
- Soft skills (communication, values, work ethic)
Write a candidate-centric job description
A great job description is not a list of the skills and qualifications you’re looking for in a candidate. This type of dry, unappealing description focuses on what your organization needs — but if you want to improve your talent acquisition process, your job descriptions must focus on what the candidate needs.
Think of the job description as a sales tool, and what you’re selling is the opportunity to work for your organization. The elements of an enticing job description are:
- An appealing headline with a clear job title
- 3 to 4 critical skills and/or experience requirements
- Details about the position and the role of the candidate
- Key information about your employer brand
- Selling points that reveal why candidates should be interested (competitive salary, benefits, great company culture)
An extensive list of required skills, education, and experience will turn off even the most highly qualified candidates, because if they’re missing a few, they’ll feel it’s not worth their time to apply. You should also keep your job descriptions relatively short and to the point — overly wordy job descriptions typically go unread, especially by top candidates.
Make talent acquisition a priority
Attracting and hiring great talent is a time- and labor-intensive process. If you want to successfully acquire top IT talent, it’s essential to make recruiting a priority for your organization. Effective recruiting campaigns require strategic planning, responsiveness, and timely participation on the part of the employer in responding to and evaluating candidates.
Working with an experienced talent consultant like The Armada Group can help you relieve the stress of finding top talent. Armada’s goal in talent acquisition is to work closely to determine the unique staffing needs of your organization, and screen out 90 percent of potential candidates in order to present you with the top 10 percent to choose from. Learn more about our talent consultant services today.