Loren Larsen: 4 creative approaches to technical recruiting

Loren Larsen: 4 creative approaches to technical recruiting

Expanding outreach efforts and offering unusual perks can make an employer stand out.

Loren Larsen, HireVue Let's face it: Finding the right technical talent nowadays is no easy task. With low single-digit unemployment for IT workers and a scarcity of qualified candidates, organizations large and small are struggling to keep their technical teams stocked with good talent.

The unemployment rate for IT professionals fell from 3.9% in Q3 2013 to 3.5% in Q4 2013, according to tech jobs portal Dice. At HireVue, we're seeing demand for tech workers stretch beyond the typical fields and into categories such as healthcare, education, and sales and marketing.

In this environment, the IT workforce isn't sitting still. A recent Dice survey found that 42% of tech-related hiring managers saw an uptick in voluntary departures last year.

With the supply side of the tech hiring equation unlikely to change in the near future, employers have to quickly become more efficient and effective in their recruiting efforts. It creates myriad issues for your current staff when you can't fill key technical roles. In Computerworld's 2014 IT Salary Survey, 26% of respondents said positions sitting unfilled significantly affected their working conditions, up from 20% in 2013.

Read the full report: Computerworld IT Salary Survey 2014

Here's a look at what you can do to ensure that you recruit and hire the best IT talent.

Expand your recruiting efforts geographically. Outside of Silicon Valley and a few other markets, the likelihood of having a large local talent pool to recruit from is small. Companies need to recruit people from other areas and interview them remotely, and then be willing to go a step further and hire them to work as remote employees. Building and managing a remote team today is easier than ever.

Become more engaging. Don't just expect talent to come to you. Establish a presence in the places where techies hang out. Attend conferences, join user groups and sponsor trade events. These are simple but surefire ways to get your company on the radar of good talent.

In addition, take time to brand your company and its culture. Offering a distinct look into how the company operates -- perhaps via a video introduction from the CEO as part of the application process -- enables top candidates to see what they're buying into beyond the job description.

Get creative with perks. Money is often not the most important factor in a candidate's job decision. Enticements like hack days or 20% time, where employees can work on their own ideas on company time, or even letting new hires select their own laptops and other office equipment can be big influencers for candidates. Fringe benefits like these can become the tie-breakers between prospective jobs when other factors are equal. Enabling candidates to feel like they are a part of the company and giving them autonomy to get the job done are often key criteria for technical talent engagement.

Grow your own talent. Far too often, hiring managers think they need to go outside their organizations to find the best tech workers. But keeping the search within the walls of your own organization can lead you to employees who are hungry to grow.

It's not a short-term solution, but setting up an internal training program can strengthen employees' attachment to your company as it boosts their skills. In the long run, it could give a loyal team member an edge over outside contenders.

Next: Top-paying industries for IT 2014

Loren Larsen is CTO at HireVue, a talent interaction and digital interviewing leader, where he manages the company's engineering and development team, based on his 20 years of experience. He also leads the team for HireVue CodeVue, a digital interviewing product that incorporates coding challenges for technical hiring. Prior to joining HireVue, Larsen held various engineering positions with Sorenson Communications, Move Networks and World Wide Packets.

IT Salaries 2014

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