4 Tips For Finding And Retaining Tech Talent

Hiring is a gamble. The cost of a bad hire is high — tens of thousands of dollars down the drain, from onboarding and training, not to mention re-recruiting, re-onboarding, etc. And the job market for tech talent is tighter than ever: if tech pros aren’t a needle in a haystack, they’re a very popular — and poachable — haystack.

According to the BLS, in the 10 years from 2014-2024, employment of computer and information technology occupations will grow 12% — far above the average for all occupations, swelling from 3.9 to 4.4 million jobs. Credit the cloud, big data, mobile and social, and the burgeoning Internet of Things. But the supply of candidates won’t keep pace. We’re already facing a narrow recruiting field. By 2018, it’s estimated that the U.S. will face a shortage of about 224,000 high tech workers. The pressure to find the right candidates is going to get worse.

Wondering how to recruit and hire the tech talent you need? Here are four tips for staying ahead of the curve:

  1. Call in an expert.Tech is different; it is all about very specific, tangible skills. Not all recruiters know how to assess them; some aren’t even sure what they are. A survey last year found that 67% of CIOs were well aware they were facing increasing challenges to find qualified IT talent. One solution: team up with a tech pro on recruiting — they have the skillset and knowledge base to accurately assess the tech skills of potential candidates, and help your company make smart hiring decisions.
  1. Go big and innovate. Welcome to your tech recruiting base: there are some 53.5 millennials in the workforce. Millennials tend to prefer innovative workplaces and benefits they can actually use. They like flexible schedules, work-from-home options, and an employer culture that respects the fact that its employees have lives (and families). Rather than scrambling to layer a perks package like a veneer of sugar coating around a fat salary that still can’t match the offers of Silicon Valley giants (for instance), consider more enticing, millennial-relevant benefits. Align your employer brand and recruiting platforms to better speak to the most innovative workplace values. 
  1. Make a problem your solution. No riddle here: transparency in the tech industry has peeled the layers off an unsettling lack of diversity in the workforce. Mention of that 2013 blog that revealed 90% of Pinterest’s engineers are male can still evince shudders. But a push towards diversity — as reflected in events like Grace Hopper — is an ideal way to widen the recruitment pool. Given the proven advantage diverse perspectives have in the workplace, and the fact that without a broader (and more secure) talent pipeline, the supply of tech talent is going to shrink even more. It’s a no-brainer to be recruiting with diversity in mind.
  1. Improve engagement.Here’s one thing we know: the workforce is shifting to a revolving door sensibility, even on payroll jobs. And while there may not be a proportionate increase of qualified tech candidates, the pressure’s on. The number of employers in IT planning to hire is above the national average, at 44 percent, and a recent study found that tech companies in the Fortune 500 have the highest turnover of any industry (including poaching). One way to keep your talent: keep the grass green.

True technical expertise is hard to find — and it’s just going to get worse, or better, depending on your ability to stay ahead of the competition. But one thing’s clear: whatever your workplace, whatever the size and scope of your organization, you’re going to need it. And hiring for tech needs requires a far bigger picture than simply filling the 14th floor. So don’t be short-sighted. That’s not going to keep your talent. They’re smart. So get creative, leverage your advantages, and go for it.

This post was first published on Forbes.