How to Win the IT Talent War
Approaching, competing in, and winning the IT Talent War is a topic so broad and multi-faceted, that it would be worthy of an entire academic semester’s worth of study and debate. The fact is, there is no tried, tested and proven method. There is no single golden bullet. You need to look at marketing, and how and where you’re sourcing.
You need to consider the budget and analyse whether or not you are utilising all resources available to you. The long game, of course, also includes your business’ reputation which then leads all the way to how well you look after your current employees.
So that’s what it boils down to, and that’s the point I want to concentrate on in this piece. You want best-in-class talent to join your company? Then you have to BE a best-in-class company. That’s not to say that you have to be the biggest or most well-known company in your industry, but you have to be a place where people want to work. Can you offer the best IT jobs in Dublin or the country?
At this point you’re probably thinking, “What’s this guy on about? I want him to be telling me what job boards to be posting on. What marketing techniques should I use? What salaries I should be offering.” Well, okay. Yes, they are all valid points that need to be addressed along the way when you go to market for new IT talent to join your team. The fact is though, they’re all irrelevant if you have a bad reputation, and your true reputation doesn’t come from your customers, it comes from your team.
“Loose lips sink ships” reads an old, second world war propaganda poster. There are several contexts where it can still apply (albeit not causing actual boats to stop floating…) and few more so than word of mouth impacting your business.
If one employee complains to their chums more than once about work being a bit of a pain, it doesn’t take long before that information (even though it’s fifth or sixth hand by now) to have translated into, “Such and such a company is dreadfully hard on their employees. Nobody that I’ve spoken to likes it there”.
Your employees talk outside of work about the company. That’s an inevitability – you’re never going to stop it, it’s out of your control. What is well within your control though, is how they talk about your company. Are they meeting friends for drinks and telling them what a great day they’ve had, or are they arriving home at night with nothing good to say to their family? Could you confidently turn to one of your employees, knowing full well that they know lots of people who work in your field, and ask them to refer to some of them? Would they do it?
There isn’t nearly enough time to go into different ways in which you can establish a decent reputation, nor would I profess to be one you should speak to in order to achieve it. But when it comes to the question of how to attract the very best talent to your team, there is genuinely no other place to start.
Aside from the obvious (having a great place to work) what other benefits are there to having this in place when looking to hire?
Once you have this in place, half the work is done for you. You have your employees and colleagues posting on social media about how great their workplace is. They’re telling their friends and families how satisfied they are and all of a sudden, that Chinese Whisper has become, “Oh yeah, Such and such a company? Everyone I’ve spoken to says it’s great there!”.
You lower marketing and advertising costs significantly because not only is word of mouth powerful, it’s free! Well, almost. More on that in a moment.
Prospective candidates will also be more enthusiastic about your organisation. This ultimately leads to an easier sell at the point of engagement, and increases the likelihood of them accepting an offer once you get to that stage.
Are there any downsides to this?
I’d like to say no but, of course, everything can be picked apart to some degree. In most cases, growth requires you to hire, or at least leads to the need to hire. Whilst company success doesn’t always hinge on headcount, as your company grows, you’ll inevitably have to bring in new people.
Establishing a strong and respectable company culture takes time and sometimes that moves slower than your expansion plans. It can be very difficult to balance the two processes, or rather, synchronise them, but the latter will never succeed without the first.
In addition, if you are much further along than this, already well established in your market, and morale is low or your culture has gone a bit stale, it’s natural for there to be a bit of push-back on any claims that this needs to be addressed. Just because something used to work well, doesn’t mean it hasn’t somewhat fallen behind the times.
So, to summarise…
Check in regularly with your employees and keep a close eye on not just performance, but the overall mood of the team. Maintaining that strong morale keeps people focused, dedicated and satisfied in their workplace. Again, your colleagues are the company’s ambassadors outside of the workplace and directly impact what other people hear about you down the grapevine.
Willing and happy ambassadors are the key to, if not out-right winning the IT Talent War, competing up there with the heavyweights.
Reach out to us via the following links if you’d like to discuss more about how GemPool could partner with you on your end-to-end process, or provide valuable insights on seeking out top talent and other workplace-related topics.