The lack of skilled IT workers is hurting the deployment of emerging technology, according to a new survey from Gartner. In areas from cloud to cybersecurity, this crisis is expected to last for years to come.
Prospective employees often appreciate a fun challenge, and many companies have held contests of various sorts to engage job seekers. Game dynamics work for reality television, and they work for real companies too. The trick is coming up with a puzzle that attracts the right people.
The most obvious way to recruit top talent is through material rewards. Almost anyone can be tempted with a sufficiently lavish offer. But organizations need not break the bank to attract top tier technical experts. Start by offering flexible work hours and up the ante from there.
"One of the hardest things to achieve, as expectations for technology teams continue to grow, is work-life balance," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, in an email. "So one tech startup in the Midwest is offering unlimited vacation time to their technology talent and giving their employees $7,500 to take a vacation."
Reed also points to career development as a popular perk.
"Technology professionals are especially focused on staying up-to-date on industry trends for their career growth and development," said Reed. "One retail company has industry leading speakers come to the office to teach in-demand skill sets, and they pay for extended education courses and conferences."
Athletes often get signing bonuses. In the past few years, a growing number of recent graduates have been offered signing bonuses, often in technical fields according to Bloomberg. While organizations may not want to pay a premium for workers, such an upfront enticement is a pittance compared to the golden parachutes offered to executives. Gain sharing (profiting from reducing waste or improving efficiency) and profit sharing (profiting from increasing corporate profits) can be effective variants on direct-reward payments.
Having a positive corporate image makes recruiting easier. Not every company can muster the brand appeal of Google or Facebook, but doing work that makes the world a better place can help. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the ethics of an organization represent a critical factor for new college graduates seeking jobs.
One way to be cool is to be open. "Organizations are making it easier for talent to get an 'inside look' at the culture," said Reed. "One creative agency holds an open house for tech talent. This allows the potential candidates to see their environment, meet some of the employees, and potentially get the first interview completed at this time. They hold these during off-business hours to accommodate working candidates."
Make Them Feel For You
Generating positive feelings for an organization can help recruiting. In 2012, the Swedish Armed Forces, with the help of DDB Stockholm, created an interactive exhibit in which a person imprisoned in a box placed in a public area could only be released if another person selflessly took the prisoner's place. In the military, not to mention other organizations, willingness to endure discomfort for the benefit of others obviously has value.
Organizations can solicit empathy by presenting scenarios that appeal to common humanity. For example, an IT group could offer to fund an animal shelter if a particular puzzle or challenge is solved. Or it could present a pressing social problem that can be solved by code.