How to recruit top tech talent: Do's and don'ts

Companies need to stand out to recruit top tech talent, and not in the ways you might think. Here's what your organization should—and shouldn't—do in its bid to attract the best candidates.

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Image: fizkes, Getty Images/iStockphoto

It's no secret that the tech industry is facing a talent shortage, and that means recruiting the best and brightest can be tough.

It's a job applicant's market in which qualified professionals can shop around until they find the company that offers them exactly what they want. Organizations that want to succeed in such a tough market need to know what tech professionals are looking for and how to offer it.

If your business is having trouble recruiting top tech talent, it's time to reexamine the hiring strategy and look for ways to make your job posting appeal to the best applicants.

SEE: Why IT pros need soft skills to advance their careers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Survey says: What tech job seekers want

A survey conducted in late 2018 by the tech job website Dice found that two things topped the list for tech job seekers: Great healthcare benefit and the ability to work remotely. Those factors beat out stock options, hardware choice, a preferred job title, and "little things," which Dice classified as perks like an on-site gym, swag, and other minor bonuses.

Dice Editor Nate Swanner said they were surprised that remote work rated so highly on the list and added that "tech pros can see through the pizazz: A flashy job title, dedicated parking spot and a fresh MacBook Pro won't cumulatively overcome great health benefits or remote work."

Research firm Gartner has found that things may not be so simple, though: Benefits like healthcare may be highly desired, but they're also basic expectations for job seekers.

"Instead, candidates want to know which benefits set the organization apart," Gartner said, noting that educational benefits, well-being initiatives, and innovative perks (defined by Gartner as benefits that go above and beyond those typically offered by peers in a given industry or region) are far more likely to attract top talent.

SEE: 10 tech companies with amazing employee perks (TechRepublic)

Giving credence to Gartner's argument is its research on the types of benefits mentioned in a job posting v. how much time that posting remains up. Mentions of medical care, employee well-being, and work-life balance (which includes remote work) had zero impact on how long a posting goes unfilled, while dental/vision coverage, financial benefits, family programs, and disability/life insurance all significantly reduced the amount of time it took to fill a job.

Tech job seekers' expectations v. desires

70% of the organizations Gartner surveyed included those basic expectations in their job postings, but the benefits most likely to influence an applicant's decision (perks, family benefits, continuing education, and well-being) were the least likely to be included in a job posting.

Don't assume you can toss every single possible benefit of a job in a posting, though: Gartner also found that there's a bell curve-like effect to providing information about a job. Offer too little information and an applicant may make a decision that isn't best for them or your company, and offering too much information can be overwhelming and lead to bad choices.

How to make your organization stand out in job postings

First, do opposition research. Look at similar job postings in your area and elsewhere to determine the overlap. Seeing a lot of mentions of remote work? Don't emphasize that. Not many mentions of continuing education reimbursement? Put that at the top of your list.

It's also a good idea to ask employees, especially recent hires, what brought them to your company. Knowing what made your staff choose your organization over the competition can help you figure out where you're different; the benefits you think are nothing to brag about could be the very ones that are attracting stand-out employees.

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By Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.