Hiring Hi-Tech Talent by Kickin’ It Old School

This article was first featured in Information Week

by Nicole Dohnal, President, Ontech Talent

Companies need the hard skills of highly specialized IT and engineering professionals to fill open job functions. But it’s the soft skills throughout the interview process that will narrow down the best fit. 

Tech industry hiring has experienced its share of swings over the past three years. Amazon, Costco, META, and Microsoft have grabbed headlines with the layoffs of tens of thousands of tech workers to compensate for the explosion of post-pandemic hiring and other economic factors, with the early months of 2024 seeing over 42,000 dismissals.  

Yet, simultaneously, demand for tech workers is picking up across the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the tech job market is expected to continue its growth through 2024, showing the sector’s resilience its pervasiveness in our economy. Tech hiring is expected to grow by 5-8% in the first half of 2024, with the promise of continued momentum.  

AI and automation may help human resources departments filter and sort resumes, but to land top notch talent, companies will need to take an old school approach. The recruiter is often a candidate’s first contact with a potential employer company. And the way the recruiter conducts themselves serves as a reflection of the company’s core values. At least, that is how candidates see it.  

Premier IT and engineering talent will be interviewing the company as much as the company will be interviewing them. An engaged, communicative interviewing process is not only respectful and transparent with the candidate, but it provides a clear idea of company culture, and the level of engagement candidates can expect once they are on board as employees.

Salaries, benefits, flexibility, growth opportunities, work-life balance — all are essential considerations candidates are going to ask about and base their decision on. But at the end of the day, employees are seeking a supportive work environment.  

The following are the top ways recruiters can engage with candidates — and keep them engaged — throughout the hiring process: 

  • Position company culture as a prominent feature – Talent acquisition needs to be more proactive and strategic, focusing on building long-term relationships aside from filling immediate job openings. A recent Harvard study found that companies that have stated their goals for diversity and take action to make their organizations more inclusive are twice as successful at attracting top tech talent.  

  • Build a positive relationship – even before recruiters know if the candidate is going to join the company. Most candidates still have long careers ahead of them. No matter the outcome of this interview process, it should be a goal that every candidate that walks through the door becomes an advocate for the company.  

  • Meet face-to-face as much as possible – and if needed, over a video call. The higher up the position is, the more important it is for both parties to meet. These meetings establish a comfort level between the candidate and the recruiter, who represents the hiring company, so that all questions are answered, and concerns addressed. It also helps both parties get a sense of whether the candidate is a good fit for the company.  

  • Follow each interview with an email – include a thank you message, company contact information, additional information about the position and a recap of the interview, if helpful. The best recruiters make it an obsession to provide constant feedback and engage in follow-up conversations to pull out what really drives the candidate. 

  • Send a written card – at any time! As an interview thank you, as congratulations for joining the team, a thank you after the position was awarded to a different candidate, or whenever the moment strikes the mind of the recruiter.

    Provide new hires with company merch – a swag bag can go a long way when a candidate excitedly accepts a position and already feels like they are on the team.  

What candidates discern about a company from a high level of engagement in the hiring process is that the company cares about them, that they are important and wanted, and that they can trust the recruiter. Regardless of their level of confidence, candidates want to feel wanted.

Engaging candidates with a high level of detail and transparency throughout the hiring process will ensure your company can build a team of mission-focused employees to drive business growth through the long term.

If you’re looking for additional support with your hiring needs, please reach out to us to see where we could ease the burden of even the most difficult-to-fill technical, engineering, and IT roles.