5 Keys to Hiring Tech Talent

5 Keys to Hiring Tech Talent

by Michelle Checketts

Last year my previous employer, a small company, went through a hiring spree – we almost doubled employee headcount. As an HR department of one, this meant a lot of work for me. What I didn’t know at the time was how difficult it would be to find certain kinds of talent, particularly technology talent.

Unemployment rates for the Tech sector are approaching record lows. According to Dice, unemployment in Tech was at 2.5% in Q4 of 2014, the lowest since 2008. The natural rate of unemployment, meaning a healthy level of turnover and a strong economy, is 4%. For Tech professionals, this is excellent news! There are plenty of jobs to be had, and people will fight to bring you onboard. For HR professionals, this means you need some creativity and know-how in finding Tech talent.

Unemployment in Tech was at 2.5% in Q4 of 2014, the lowest since 2008.

So how do you find Tech talent in a scarce market without getting into a wage war? I spent months figuring this out last year, and through trial and error, here are a few tidbits I discovered.

  1. Speak their language – when writing a job description, don’t fill it up with corporate catch phrases or mission statements. “We value hard work and integrity” won’t set you apart from anyone else. Tech professionals want to know specifics, like the programming languages your company uses, the types of projects they’ll be working on, and how much autonomy they will have.
  2. Hang out in Tech spaces – at the beginning of my Tech recruiting, I spent a good chunk of time posting to and mining LinkedIn for candidates. I quickly realized that LinkedIn is fantastic for hiring marketing managers, but terrible for hiring software developers. These people spend more time on technology-focused sites like Dice rather than broad, general sites.
  3. Numbers talk – since Tech job seekers currently hold the upper hand, they can be selective when it comes to salary. Many of them won’t even waste their time applying to a job if it doesn’t include at least some pay information. I found that including salary ranges encouraged a higher volume of applicants than phrases such as “competitive salary with great benefits” or “salary dependent on level of skill.” No hiring manager wants to be pinned down to a specific salary for a job opening, so choose a reasonable range.
  4. Including salary ranges encourages a higher volume of applicants.

  5. Be flexible – make sure your list of job requirements includes actual requirements and not just nice-to-haves. Can you be flexible with degrees, schedule, working from home, etc?
  6. It’s about who you know – the most effective way to hire good Tech talent (or really any good talent) is through referrals. Everyone likes to work with people they know and enjoy, and as an HR manager you’ll spend a lot less time weeding through resumes if you have good referrals. Consider offering referral bonuses – it’s a perk for the employees and usually much less expensive than long-term job postings.

What has worked for you in hiring Tech talent?

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