David vs. Goliath: Tips For Attracting Top IT Talent Before The Tech Giants

For startups and SMEs that are struggling with hiring fresh talent, these tips can help attract quality workers before the tech giants snap them all up.

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Many startups and small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) find it difficult to recruit top IT talent as they often have to compete with the allure of joining the well-known tech giants.

Fresh graduates will often try to attain positions at the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple in order to add a big name to their resume. Smaller companies, however, are also trying to hire the same talent as a way to add more unique IT skills to their teams.

With the skills gap widening in data science and development, smaller companies have to recruit smartly to lure talented candidates away from the big firms. In fact, 60% of small business owners and managers noted that finding skilled workers is their company’s greatest challenge.

To ease this burden, startups and SMEs should focus on offering remote work, powerful networking opportunities, and unique perks.

Be Open to Remote Work

Allowing employees to work remotely either part-time or full-time is a perk that can set companies apart.

Employers that support remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover rate than those that don’t. As many as 74% of employees say they would quit their jobs to work for an organization that would allow them to work remotely more often, even if their salary stayed the same.

Rafael Torres, Co-Founder of marketing technology company, GAIN, uses this advantage to secure top IT talent. He notes, “We understand that development does not require 100% face time at the office. Even if you’re located in our Miami office, you can choose to work from your home whenever you like.”

David Lloyd, CEO of international internship placement organization, The Intern Group, takes a similar approach with his 80+ employees spread across 12 countries, measuring employee performance based on work produced rather than hours worked. The company allows employees to keep flexible hours, providing the ability to work from home as needed, as well giving the chance to travel to offices abroad for up to one month each year.

Always Network

Most of the big tech firms are constantly networking and recruiting, so, even though it’s a time drainer, SMEs should follow suit.

Networking at local events and on LinkedIn is an excellent way to find top talent interested in new opportunities. Partner with local universities that have a strong technology program so recruits can learn more about the business. Hold informational sessions on campus so that students know their options stretch beyond the big tech companies.

Furthermore, there is plenty of top IT talent located outside of the United States. Startups and SMEs can look abroad to find a top candidate that could travel to meet the team on a biannual basis but work remotely. Employees in Latin America and the Caribbean can even work during the same hours as a US company since there are minimal time changes across the Americas.

Focus on the Work and the Work/Life Balance

When interviewing top candidates, it’s important for them to learn about their growth opportunities within the company. Ask them what their goals are and explain how they can achieve those goals at your firm.

Remember, at larger tech companies, they may not be able to work on high-level projects or gain the experience they want, so it’s essential to note professional growth opportunities during the interview.

Torres notes, “We always point out that developers can get to work on stuff that is directly and immediately visible to our customers. Many software engineers on large companies are working on a tiny piece of a huge product, and sometimes their code never even makes it to the end user. Being a small company, everyone on the team has a direct impact on the product’s direction.”

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Additionally, recent graduates want to gain experience but many want a work/life balance. At the large firms, they may feel pressure to work exhausting hours to get noticed. This work trend is typical in startups as well, but working longer hours does not necessarily mean doing better work. If an employee completes his or her tasks on-time, then they should be encouraged to leave instead of staying late unnecessarily.

This type of work ethic is very alluring to recent graduates, so don’t be shy about showcasing that if it’s part of your company culture.

Torres uses this as his personal motto and a way to attract talent. “We really are a 9-5 company. Not 9-5 literally, but in the sense that we’re looking for deliverables, not seeing you in a seat eight hours a day. We understand that the “grind” doesn’t really work long term, and it’s just not fun for anyone, including the customer.”

Lloyd strikes a similar balance in allowing his employees to figure out a schedule that works for them. “We believe that work is a big part of your life and it should fit into your other routines the way you see fit. We also know that one size doesn’t fit all. Having flexible hours and work locations means you can exercise in the middle of the day, wake up early and leave early or sleep late and leave late. We allow people to figure out what works for them – when are they the most productive? Where are they the most productive?”

The Future of IT Hiring

Companies that look in the right places and offer the right perks will find themselves with top IT talent.

Graduates want hands-on experience and a work/life balance, which is not always offered by tech giants. Many hires also want to try out work in both a large and small firm to see which fits. For those struggling with hiring, however, these tips can help attract quality talent and keep employees happy.

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