It's a IT job seekers' market: Employers need new tactics to recruit IT pros

With unemployment in the tech sector at a 3.3 percent low, employers need to restructure their game plans for recruiting and retaining top talent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for tech professionals is at a low 3.3 percent.

"This is what is keeping C-suite executives up at night," said Kathy Harris, managing director at Harris Allied, which provides executive search, technology and Quant Analyst placement services to the financial services and tech industries.  "Employers need to get up to speed about the new rules of engagement to successfully attract the top tier of the high tech talent pool—the thought leaders, the innovators, the people you have in mind when you consider succession planning and filling the next generation of executive positions."

Here are her suggestions for how employers need to look at recruiting and retaining top tech talent differently than in previous years:

Streamline the hiring process: Employers need to execute this process more quickly than in prior years because the competition is ready to make your top candidate an offer now. Engage your best job candidates: Candidates should leave the interview feeling engaged and already connected in some way to the organization. Give them a big picture of the company and where it stands in the industry. Offer them a closer look at the team they will be working with sooner rather than waiting for the third round of interviews. Let them meet with their future colleagues to demonstrate they will be part of a high quality team. Put on your sales hat: Ensure that all who are part of the interview process are consistent with their messaging and how the company is positioned. Share information about high profile projects if the candidate will be working on them and talk about the company's investments in special corporate initiatives that pertain to the position. But never overhype details or oversell your organization because that can backfire as soon as they are part of your organization. Be flexible: Be willing to expand your search to look for the best of the best, which may be found outside of your immediate area. Take the search for the right candidate nationally if necessary. Fly people in for interviews and be willing to be flexible on such enticements as signing bonuses, bonus guarantees, corporate housing, and benefits, if possible. Offer the opportunity to work on diverse and challenging projects to retain top talent: Many companies offer special programs for HIPOs. Sometimes called "stars programs," they allow employees to become involved in high profile projects that afford them access to leadership, even if only for a few hours a week. These programs allow employees to provide input on higher level corporate initiatives and contribute in a meaningful way while underscoring their value to the organization. Communicate often and openly: Maintaining an open line of communication and providing consistent feedback is important to employees who want to make the most of their career opportunities. Clearly lay out a career path that includes mentoring and training and development that will position them for the long term. These high powered tech employees are mindful of not letting their career flatline. Get some real-time perspective on compensation: The benchmarking tools of yesterday are no longer a good bellwether for how to compensate today's high tech employees. Employers need a current view of what is happening in a dynamic market. Keep your ears to the ground and know where the potential threats (in the form of competition) lie. Stay current on what the market is really paying and adjust your compensation program as necessary. They are not resources: These are people, not a commodity. Treat them as valued members of your team, not as if they are dispensable or interchangeable. This is often the deal breaker for a high tech employee when he or she decides to look for a new opportunity.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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