Searching for tech talent in this red-hot market? “If you, as a hiring manager, are interested in a candidate, you need to make a decision quickly. The interview window has shrunk dramatically,” says Tara Wyborny, Vice President of Talent Development at Dev10, Genesis10’s Talent Creation program. Wyborny was speaking to current trends employers are experiencing as a member of a virtual panel discussion, “Who’s Austin Hiring,” by Austin Women in Technology (AWT).
On the panel with Wyborny were:
- Angela Means, Assistant Director for the City of Austin
- Kimberly Storin, Chief Marketing Officer for Zayo
- Bryan Chaney, Employer Brand Lead, Corporate Recruitment for Workrise
Heather Trumpfheller, President of AWT, moderated the discussion. Dev10 was a panel sponsor.
An earlier blog on this event presented tips for job candidates to land a plum tech role in Austin. This time, we look at the hiring process from the employer point of view. The panelists share their tips for hiring in a market where technology jobs far outnumber technology workers.
While the market is especially tight in Austin, the tech talent gap exists in metro areas across the country. In January, IT occupations throughout the economy increased by 178,000, lowering the unemployment rate for tech occupations to 1.7%, down from 2% in December. “By all accounts this was an exceptionally strong start to the year for tech employment,” said Tim Herbert, Chief Research Officer at CompTIA. “The arms race in recruiting and retaining tech talent undoubtedly challenges employers in direct and indirect ways.” In fact, employer job postings for tech roles reached nearly 340,000 in January, spanning industry sector, geographic location, and skillsets.
“We have seen so much growth in the past 15 years,” says Angela Means of the City of Austin. “Organizations have become reliant on technology solutions and are looking for people who are not just strong in tech skills but also have an ability to work with people, and as a ‘business consultant’ in these organizations so they can merge that gap between our needs and available technology solutions (not just what’s out there, but what could be).”
Spend time crafting the job description—and understand what people are searching.
Bryan Chaney of Workrise says “do not simply ‘copy and paste’ an old job description into a new one. So many companies do this! The hiring manager gets their req approved and they want to hit the gas. They dig out and dust off a previous job description. It’s got lots of bullets. But what do you really need? What is the job title? What are people searching for? At Indeed, you can search for hiring insights and find data on the roles people are searching. I use that as a starting point, to help guide the hiring manager on which title to use. Then, I go through the bullets and start deleting. For instance, excellent communication skills? That should be a given.”
When the role is newly created, the first thing most people do is google it, and then go to the job boards to look for descriptions of jobs with similar titles. Then, they pick it apart or add to it. But, Storin says, “you need to understand what people are searching. For instance, different regions of the country may use different terms to describe a role. I start with companies that have good reputations. They will have specific information in their job descriptions. They pull elements of the culture into the job description. Look for brands that have a good story to tell and check out how they express that in the job description.”
Make onboarding a priority
The City of Austin’s goal is to make sure employees are set up for success. Means wants them to have “a very good experience. So, we created a 30-, 60-, 90-day onboarding plan. The plan guides our employees so they know what’s expected of them. The first 30 days are for getting to know us, understanding the environment. The next 30 days, we ask them to evaluate and assess their current position, to look at our processes and begin to make recommendations. Thirty days after that, we ask that they put an action plan in place. Plus, we have regular performance reviews through which we try to understand what the employees is looking for from their role and the opportunities for growth.”
At Dev10, the team is taking a more disciplined approach now than before the pandemic Wyborny says. It’s because of the move to remote work. “We feel that now we are more prepared for your arrival as an employee.” Means agrees. “We definitely have expedited the process. Other organizations within the city are competing for the same talent so we have to be creative in how we recruit—and more aggressive.”
While Chaney was working at Indeed, hiring managers presented candidates with an interview kit. When a candidate showed up for an in-person job interview they received a bag that contained branded merchandise such as notebook and coffee tumbler. With the pandemic, that stopped. “But we set up a webpage for job candidates that thanks them for taking the time to interview with us,” he says. “We gave them a code so they can select their swag. We also gave them the option of donating the value of the swag to a local charity.”
Give informational interviews
These days, some candidates are off the market in four business days. What do you do if your HR department doesn’t more that fast?
Kimberly Storin at Zayo is surprised at that quick turnaround. “While I know we must move fast, we have to know that it is going to be a great fit on both sides. Four days is a lot of pressure and leaves a lot of room for hiring the wrong person.” She suggests hiring managers be open to informational interviewing to get the ball rolling before a role opens. “Talk to folks, start to build relationships. That’s an important piece to building a funnel.”
Keep relationships warm
Give your top choices an elongated timeline to keep the relationship warm. And never tell a candidate that they were your second choice!
Job candidates are very interested in the company’s values as an organization—and should easily be able to learn more about this through the website and marketing materials. “Candidates will know by what they see,” says Means at the City of Austin. “When they look at leadership, what do they see? What services are you providing your customers? Who do they serve? Are they mindful of all?”