2014 is shaping up to be a very good year for tech pros. An amazing array of changes are taking place at businesses – from more than half of the country’s companies moving to cloud computing to a world now dominated by mobile computing – that require serious tech talent. As the economy improves every month, talented, smart, ambitious tech workers looking for startup jobs are finding themselves in a seller’s market. The last thing you want to do is scare them off, but so many businesses do without meaning to.
These are the best ways to send talent running.
Put Your Customers First
The old cliche is that the customer is always right, and that may very well be correct. But the fact is, customers should come second. Your employees should come first.
Between flextime scheduling, stronger family/maternity packages, healthy worker packages, and more, smart business startups are trending toward keeping their employees happy to make sure their customers follow suit. Show your prospective tech talent that they come second, and they’ll find someone who will treat them right.
Don’t Let Them Fail
One of the greatest incentives to join or stay with a company is autonomy. Team spirit is great – and a boss who will never leave you hanging is even better – but absolutely no one likes to be micromanaged. By letting a new worker trip over his or own feet – not to the point of catastrophe – in the beginning or during a probationary period, you’re telling them that you trust them to make decisions, adapt to changing circumstances, and get things done.
Sweat the Interview
Some people are just bad at interviewing – especially if the interview is complicated, pressure filled, or unnecessarily stressful. An interview should be a warm introduction, a feeling-out session. By making it a what-have-you-done-and-what-can-you-do hot-seat session, you’re sending the message that your company is not run by humans, but by corporate robots. Good tech people work with machines; they don’t want to work for them.
Forget That You Need Them, Just as They Need You
In tough economic times, the phrase “lucky to have a job” gets thrown around a lot. Whether it’s for a Fortune 500 company or a business startup, a job is an exchange of labor for money. Good tech people are educated, competent, talented, and rare. They’re not lucky. Treat the wooing process just as that – an attempt to convince a talented prospect that you’re the right one for them. Treat them as if they’re lucky to be in the room with you, and they’ll find a better suitor.
Have Outdated Equipment
When touring your facility, a savvy tech pro is surveying your business’s infrastructure, hardware, and setup. When checking out your IT situation, he or she is imagining a future at your company. If your hardware, wiring, connections, and servers are antiquated or poorly maintained, it sends a message right away that tech is an afterthought. The tech department is often engaged in a struggle for resources, and part of what the most talented tech pros are often forced to do is find a way to do less with more. If that’s even part of the reason they left their last job, your shoddy IT setup will send them running for the hills.
Surround Yourself with Mediocrity
Top talent is attracted to be other top talent – and they tend to have an eye for spotting ambitious, career-minded workhorses. If your other departments are filled with – or especially managed by – lifers and chair warmers who are clearly mailing it in, your tech recruits will begin to wonder whether or not they’re just another warm body on a sinking ship.
Think of it this way: If you’re an attorney starting your own practice, you’ll do a better job attracting top talent if you’re working with someone well-known and respected such as Timothy Broas than you would Joe Blow down the street who is fond of ambulance chasing.
An out-of-work tech professional may be looking for a job. But a top-tier tech pro is looking for a career with a company that values – and seeks out – excellence, and fast tracks their big talent for big positions.
You don’t need the biggest budget or even the best benefits to draw top talent. Many tech pros are simply looking for a good place to work at a wage that’s worth their talent. Avoiding key mistakes in the beginning can lead to a long and prosperous relationship down the line.
Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about tech, small business management, and showcases top business and legal profiles.