SmartRecruiters Blog

The Recruiter’s Guide to Retaining Tech Talent

Retaining highly skilled tech workers is a huge challenge for recruiters in this tech-driven ultra-competitive era of recruiting. In order to do so, there are a few key insights recruiters should be aware of.

Attracting and hiring STEM workers is anything but easy in today’s recruiting climate. And with employers constantly battling each other for the best and brightest—sourcing is only a part of the equation. An equally formidable challenge is talent retention.

Currently, there’s an acute shortage of skilled developers actively looking for work. Organizations spend thousands of dollars in recruiting talent, with the HR efforts that goes into sourcing and hiring tech talent and the cost associated with on-boarding and training, the costs associated with a hire gone bad are really high. 

The demand for tech talent is at an all-time high. According to the Harris Allied 2014 Tech Hiring and Retention Survey finding and hiring top tech talent is the biggest concern for hiring managers—closely followed by retaining talent. Therefore, retention should be high on the list of priorities for recruiters and talent acquisition (TA) teams. Accordingly, relevant measures should be put into place early in the tenure of new employees.

Wondering what it takes to prevent prized team members from jumping ship as soon as a better opportunity comes knocking at their door? Here are a few actionable tips to help hiring teams stay ahead of the curve and retain the talent they work so hard to attract and hire. 

1) Become Fluent in Tech Terminology

As a recruiter or hiring manager, there’s a good chance you won’t be familiar with the granular details and responsibilities of many of the positions for which you’re hiring. If you want to build a long-term relationship with tech workers, the ability to “speak their language” will pay off in spades.

Fluency in technical terminology does not entail that you need to learn programming languages yourself. You just need to cover the basics and acquire a cursory knowledge of the positions you’re looking to fill. Let’s say you’ve been tasked with finding a Java software engineer for your company. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll need to engage candidates for that position in lengthy discourse about databases such as PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Oracle.

However, if you enter the interview with some basic understanding of those platforms and why they matter for the role, you’ll have a better idea of how to guide the conversation, learn about the candidate’s strengths and interests, and potentially their pain points or weaknesses. All of this will be useful information to include when reporting back to the hiring team.

2) Emphasize Benefits Over Compensation 

The pool of tech talent is largely comprised of millennials who, with their positive, can-do attitude, take a free-wheeling approach towards career direction and employment in general. Hiring and retaining the generation of millennial workers who have proved themselves as workplace innovators and adept at learning new technologies on the go can be a real challenge for recruiters. 

Gone are the days when stability, job security and high salaries ranked top in the list of job seekers’ desired benefits. Skilled tech workers today can already command high salaries and associated perks. To many candidates, flexible working arrangements, student loan repayment assistance, and professional/career development are factors of equal or great importance when contemplating career decisions.

In this regard, it’s absolutely necessary to be forward-thinking. Many top-tier companies already have unique, attractive benefits packages in place. Doing so is a competitive advantage. Failing to do so could be irreparably damaging to your recruiting and retention efforts.

3) Retire the College Degrees in Favor of Experience

Rejecting candidates that don’t tick the boxes of formal education is one of the easiest ways an organization can miss the boat on talent. Technical expertise is hard to find and if recruiters insist on playing by the book, it is likely that candidates who are potentially a good fit for the organization may get missed out on. 

These days a number of developers are self-taught. With options like Coursera and Udemy, candidates can easily access university-level courses and training without matriculating at an institution. According to Stack Overflow’s 2018 Global Developer Hiring Landscape report, almost 90 percent of developers said that they have learned a new language outside of their formal education. 

Furthermore, high profile companies like Google, IBM, and Apple no longer require applicants to hold a four-year degree. In fact, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook recently said that about half of Apple’s US employment last year was made up of people who didn’t have four year degrees. Additionally, he asserted that many colleges do not teach the skills that are most needed in today’s workforce, like coding.

To that end, it’s important that recruiters begin reigning in any bias they might have against autodidacts and applicants without degrees from accredited universities.

4) Convey the Strength of Your Company Culture

Candidates are more likely to remain with a company and be engaged if their personal values match those of their employers.Therefore, it’s important to clearly communicate those values early in the recruiting process to avoid misunderstanding, disengagement, and employer dissatisfaction—all of which contribute to poor retention. 

In the US, the average employee tenure is right around four years. That’s not long. As a result, it’s now more important than ever for employers to strategically think about how they can hold onto their workforce. Few measures are as effective as a solid company culture, which is a truly binding force.

Want more insight on technical recruiting? We recommend reading the following post: 5 Technical Recruiting Insights from Over 100K Coding Tests.


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Vinati Kamani

Vinati Kamani

Vinati Kamani is a Content Writer at Arkenea—a full-service, custom software development company.

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