Winning the war for talent – but peacefully
The war for talent has been raging since 1997, when a McKinsey analyst first used the martial term to characterise the mounting competition for qualified young talent. Since then, recruiting suitable employees has become a survival factor in many industries. We need only mention the struggle many companies face in finding digital transformation and IT specialists.
As a result, HR departments are no longer focused on simply publishing job ads; they are also now developing comprehensive talent attraction strategies. This blog post provides guidance on how to ensure the performance and growth of your organisation using these strategies.
The causes of the war for talent
How did the war for talent come about? Here are some of the reasons in summary form:
Due to demographic shifts, there’s a shortage of labour in European countries, in the USA and even in populous countries such as China and India.
Global economic growth and the development of the knowledge society are based on the activities of highly qualified professionals. Organisations today are in global competition for them.
In addition, younger generations place high expectations on their employers. According to statistics, Gen Z members are not only interested in job security; they also want greater flexibility. It’s vital for them to have a work-life balance, mobility, flat hierarchies and the assurance of being able to contribute. These needs are particularly common in the IT industry, where agile working has long been established.
IT-savvy companies can do little about points one and two, which is why the talent search must focus on responding to point three.
Five readily achievable talent attraction measures
1. Your company is a brand. Cultivate it.
Does your company need system administrators, database programmers, graphic designers, SEO copywriters, social media marketing professionals or something similar? If so, the wording and design of your job ad should be adapted to your target group and stand out from those of your competitors. In addition, mention financial and non-financial perks in the job ad. You can find out more about the benefits of this in tip five of this blog post.
What do you think potential candidates do once they’ve looked at a job advertisement? That’s right, they go to Google. Use this stage of the candidate journey to your benefit by presenting your organisation as an attractive brand, regardless of the specific recruitment campaign.
Since IT professionals use industry-specific platforms and communities, companies should be active here as well as on LinkedIn. This way, they can inform themselves about IT trends and news, gain know-how and simultaneously expand their network. In forums, you can address talent directly or receive recommendations. Workshops and events such as hackathons as well as cooperation with universities, associations and non-commercial organisations also generate excellent contact opportunities.
Another option is to keep a company blog (like this one). Regularly updated blog posts signal that your organisation thinks in a contemporary manner, is committed to issues beyond its core business and is not afraid to share information. A blog comes across as approachable when employees from different departments report on their personal experiences.
You can also assume that sought-after IT professionals are scouring social media for your company. Turn the tables and become active yourself. Use the popular platforms and career networks to present yourself to professionals. You should even consider appearing on TikTok. Does your board turn up its nose at this? Well, rise above it, and let success speak for itself!
2. Think outside the box by thinking inside the box when recruiting talent
No one can promote your company better than the employees who are already there. This is why you should start a referral programme. Through private and professional networks, you encounter talent that you would never have reached otherwise. You can also assume that the candidates will suit your company – after all, no one puts their reputation on the line by making unsuitable suggestions. A referral programme is particularly motivating when combined with rewards, such as additional holidays or salary bonuses for successful hires.
However, it could be that you don’t need to recruit externally at all. You might have the IT talent you are looking for right under your nose – because they are already working in the company and just need to be further qualified. Conduct some tests so that you can spot capable employees and find out which of them can be trained. This will cost a little, but the added value is huge: you make savings on your recruitment budget while promoted employees thank you with greater loyalty and increased motivation.
3. The secret of successful communication: Listening and feedback
The first point of personal contact with IT talent is your visiting card. Be well prepared; confusion and misunderstandings are a no-go that reflect badly on your company. Discuss all matters in a transparent manner, such as how long an interview is likely to take, how many stages your recruitment process involves, and whether any aptitude tests are planned.
Keep applicants informed of their status without being asked and answer questions promptly. Appropriate feedback also includes explaining to someone why they are not suitable at this time. In return, you can underline your commitment by making alternative proposals.
Applicants get a rather negative impression if they have to answer the same questions in different recruitment interviews, e.g. because team leaders and HR are not in communication. This ultimately shows a lack of sales skills.
In the end, you should keep in mind that it’s not only the candidate’s responsibility to convince you of their abilities; the company must also make an active effort to win over applicants.
4. Recruitment processes reveal as much about companies as they do about candidates
The selection process must be short and clear. If the loops are too long, qualified candidates will be the first to say goodbye. To speed up the process, video interviews are now a good and commonly used option.
IT specialists love technical debates and like to consider the pros and cons of various software and hardware. You need to take this into account in the selection process. Non-committal questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or conversations about hobbies and their last holiday seem a little out of place. Stick to what you know about the applicant from their CV and discuss how their qualifications will contribute to the success of your company.
Outline some challenges facing one of your projects and ask the candidate to comment. This will achieve two things: they’ll feel like you are taking them seriously and you’ll get an impression of how confident and technically skilled they are.
5. Don’t think of benefits as a fruit basket
Perks shouldn’t be the primary focus of any application processes. Cleverly placed, however, they can tip the balance in your favour. To do so, your perks need to stand out compared to those offered by your competitors. Free snacks, coffee, fitness subscriptions and table football will at best bring a sympathetic smile.
Rather, you should offer structural benefits: a flexible working model, working remotely and from a distance (IT professionals in particular like to work abroad), a company car, a company pension scheme as well as supplementary health insurance and, above all, regular further training. Of course, you can keep your fruit basket as well.
Conclusion: The war for talent in the IT sector doesn’t end with recruitment
You’ll not succeed in the war for talent if you just implement these tips in isolation. This is because retaining talent is at least as important as attracting it. You can enjoy better talent retention with strong employer branding, a referral programme, transparent communication, a streamlined application process and structural benefits.
Experis supports you on this path as an expert in IT talent attraction and retention.