Exploring the Most Overlooked Strategies in IT Talent Acquisition

by Anastasia C. Valentine on September 7, 2016



With the rapid pace of digital transformation in today’s business world, companies are striving to keep up. The biggest challenge, according to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, is that the supply of talent to support this development is falling short. The report cites a survey of over 3,000 CIOs and other technology leaders, of which 65 percent claim that challenges in recruiting are a significant impediment to major technology initiatives.

You have probably experienced this issue first hand. With demand soaring across the nation, IT professionals face multiple job offers and are often fielding calls from recruiters left and right. Too often, we see organizations losing their top technical candidates to competitors just as they are about to close the deal.

In this candidate-driven market, it is imperative that organizations implement a strategic plan to attract, recruit, and retain top IT talent. We have identified three of the most overlooked strategies in IT talent acquisition.

Leveraging the Parallels Between Candidates and Customers

Mark Stoever, Chief Operating Officer of Monster, believes that the smartest companies approach their candidates the same way they interact with customers.

A customer’s buying cycle – from initial brand awareness to the final buying decision – is very similar to a candidate’s journey through the job search and hiring process. From the moment an individual reads or hears about a job opening to the minute they walk in the door to their new position, there is a complex, ongoing relationship between the candidate and the organization, which is vital to understand.

In the same way that a company’s marketing efforts align with every stage of the sales cycle, it is critical to apply the same strategy to the hiring process. That means evaluating your employer brand and how it impacts recruitment. Does that brand align with the type of talent you’re looking for? What is your reputation in the marketplace? How do you measure the candidate experience throughout the hiring process? Does every recruitment touchpoint create an effortless experience for the candidate? Does your recruitment strategy align with your retention and engagement strategy?

When an organization truly understands the candidate journey and designs their recruitment strategy accordingly, their potential to attract higher quality technical candidates will increase significantly.

Harnessing the Power of Employee Referrals

It is no secret that great people know other great people. For technology professionals, this is especially true. According to a survey of over 50,000 developers, the most common way to find a new job is through a referral. And according to the same survey, only 15 percent of people are actively looking for a new job, while 63 percent are not actively looking but are open to new opportunities.

For organizations trying to attract the best IT talent, this means that candidates found through job boards, career fairs, and job advertisements are only a fraction of the people who might be a great fit. When a company taps into a network of referrals through their current employees, their talent pipeline suddenly gains access to scores of previously unreachable candidates.

Furthermore, because a referral is a reflection on the employee’s reputation, they will typically only refer individuals whom they already know would succeed in the job. In other words, referrals are a source of higher quality candidates. This means hiring managers can bypass the daunting task of screening unqualified resumes and instead start interviewing people with real potential.

Implementing a formal employee referral program will require a considerable commitment of time and effort, but there is substantial return on investment.

Communicating a Consistent Company Culture

The aforementioned developer survey also reported that work-life balance and company culture were the second and third most important considerations in accepting a new job (behind salary). The notion that companies need to be a great place to work in order to attract and retain the best IT talent has been well established. The Great Place to Work Institute has done ample research to show that the best workplaces consistently show higher growth in employee headcount and greater retention than the average company.

Unfortunately, company culture has become a buzzword in the business world that carries no universal definition and creates more confusion than one might expect. A recent Entrepreneur Magazine article identifies two critical mistakes. First, many organizations adopt a hands-off approach to company culture, believing that it will take its own course organically. The second mistake is neglecting to address anomalies within the company culture, allowing individuals with misaligned values a “free pass” to do as they please.

When organizations fail to adopt an intentional approach to defining their company culture, mission, and values, the resulting workplace may not be enough to attract and retain their ideal employees. Hiring IT professionals based on culture fit, as well as technical capability, is critical to ensure company values are consistently top-of-mind.

Refining Your Strategy for IT Talent Acquisition

As IT supply and demand trends continue to shift, new challenges have appeared for organizations looking to hire. Candidates undoubtedly have the upper hand, and competition for the best of the best is at a record high. Companies need to adapt accordingly and reevaluate their recruitment strategies to maintain their competitive edge.

For over 34 years, Resource 1 has been helping clients navigate these trends and attract the best IT talent. Tell us more about your hiring challenges, and together we will strategize the best solution for your organization.