• February 16, 2017

Enterprise’s Got Talent: Getting Creative to Attract the Best IT Employees

Conventional recruitment tactics just aren’t cutting it.

Any enterprise that wants to thrive knows it needs a secret weapon: top IT talent. But highly skilled tech workers aren’t easy to come by, and recruiting has become a particularly acute challenge over the past few years. According to a study by CareerBuilder, at least seven in 10 IT-related job openings in 2015 went unfilled. As these positions remain vacant, numerous projects are delayed and business productivity drags.

Game On

In response to this growing struggle, some enterprises have adopted unorthodox recruiting strategies. In one case, Uber launched a game called “Code on the Road” to test the coding skills of Uber riders in cities that have large concentrations of tech workers. If riders agree to play, they receive three coding problems to solve. Those who score well are prompted to get in touch with Uber.

Uber uses the game to lure potential software engineers who may never have otherwise considered working for the company. Google has taken a similar approach, using a programming test that launches when someone searches for certain programming terms. If a player successfully completes a few elaborate programming puzzles, he or she is prompted to submit contact information to Google.

Lifelong Learning

These efforts tap into a large, nontraditional pool of recruits, which is critical. Enterprises have found, for instance, that conventional recruiting on college campuses for computer science graduates limits their prospects. According to a global 2016 developer survey from Stack Overflow, an online forum for programmers, 69 percent of developers are at least partly self-taught and do not hold computer science degrees. In fact, 31 percent of respondents said they had no formal higher education training. These workers learned to code at boot camps or industry certification programs, or learned on their own.

The lack of formal university training may not handicap these workers. Programming languages, system platforms, and hardware change rapidly, and what is taught in college computer science curricula can become quickly outdated. To have a successful career, IT workers must be lifelong learners, driven to keep abreast of new technologies. So those who are already committed to teaching themselves may be ideal recruits for some key positions.

A New Approach

In a tough recruiting environment, newer tactics like searching social media (e.g., LinkedIn and Facebook) to identify IT prospects can be unfruitful because so many other companies are doing the same. Instead, some recruiting specialists recommend prospecting on sites frequented by technical professionals, such as Stack Overflow. Those who post impressive questions or answers about a technical skill your organization needs may be ideal recruits.

Another option is to grow your own technical talent by inviting smart, driven people who want to learn needed skills to training boot camps. These multi-week training sessions allow those lacking experience to gain a sound footing in a hot language or even in systems development, and gives your organization a chance to vet potential hires.

Some companies have established ties with universities and high schools by helping to guide curricula and shape course development. In addition, employees make presentations to students and answer questions about their careers. The company creates relationships with certain students and encourages them to apply for a job after graduation.

The old recruiting standbys of posting openings on the web and meeting university seniors on campus are not enough in this tight job market. You’ve got to get creative and try new tactics or application development and business productivity will suffer.

Like this story? Learn more about closing the talent gap and crowdsourcing for IT security solutions.