Some of the most sought-after career paths right now lie in the tech industry, and rightfully so. The explosive growth of big tech companies such as Google, Meta, and Amazon in the past decade or so has brought about many lucrative and intensely competitive jobs.
Expanding way past Silicon Valley, tech hubs are springing up across North America, and alongside them, the demand for top tech talent. Combining the highly coveted positions at giant tech companies with the labor shortage of the current candidate-driven market results in a scenario where smaller tech companies and start-ups might struggle to attract prime candidates.
With that said, the question is this: What are the strategies that smaller tech companies can employ to compete with tech giants?
There are several advantages of a smaller organization that can be leveraged.
Your company’s mission and values
When a candidate considers an organization’’s total compensation package, the company’s mission, values, and purpose, they can serve as compelling reasons for talent to join an organization.
- Does the product, service or technology disrupt or revolutionize how something is done?
- Does the culture of your company align with the candidate’s values?
- What is your company doing in terms of social and environmental accountability?
These questions and more are matters to consider when crafting an Employee Value Proposition (EVP).
One way to attract top tech talent is to communicate that what your company does matters. According to the Harvard Business Review, 9 out of 10 people are willing to earn less money to do more meaningful work.
Whether the mission of your company is to create a product that combats ecological damage or a service that aims to make the day-to-day life of people easier, be authentic about your company’s mission and communicate it clearly. The mission, vision, and purpose of an organization will attract candidates who share similar passions.
In addition, the role should matter as well.
Role meaningfulness & career development opportunities
Providing a picture of potential internal and external impacts of working within a role can be a compelling reason for a candidate to join a company. People who feel that their workplace contributions are meaningful have an increased sense of self-fulfillment and improved mental well-being.
How does someone in a role contribute to the bigger picture of the company?
- Will the worker feel valued and that their contributions matter?
- Does the worker have opportunities to expand their skills and explore other roles within the field?
- Does the worker provide a roadmap that aligns with the candidate’s career goals?
Furthermore, it’s also important to provide attainable career advancement opportunities and offer candidates the ability to grow their skills and career within the organization.
Adapting to worker feedback & needs
One of the key findings of The American Work Index is that working adults highly prioritize a workplace where their ideas are listened to and considered.
As organizations grow in numbers, it’s understandable that certain processes must be put into place to manage work effectively. However, one disadvantage to these processes is that, at times, they may feel unnecessarily bureaucratic. For example, in an organization of over 150,000 workers, talent may feel that their individual concerns are unheard, and unaddressed.
In this regard, a relatively smaller company can leverage their size to ensure everyone’s feedback and concerns are heard and addressed.
Relatively smaller organizations:
- May have less bureaucratic procedures that can impede action on worker feedback.
- Can host open forums for discussion and feedback without individuals feeling drowned out.
- Can provide workers with a line of communication with leadership to voice their concerns.
Communicating to candidates that talent feedback and concerns are valued, listened to, and actioned upon can be a major selling point for a company.
Be able to share, at minimum, one example of how your company made a change based on employee feedback.
When it comes to worker feedback, it is becoming abundantly clear that remote workers do not want a full return to the office.
Procom’s 2021 Voice of Talent report surveyed over 1000 knowledge workers, and one key finding to this report is that less than 4% of respondents want a full-time return to the office after the pandemic. Many companies are wise to this sentiment and have either shifted to a fully remote model or some type of hybrid model.
With that said, an employer can further proposition to prospective tech talent by offering additional means of flexibility in the workplace.
This can include:
- Open schedules
- Flexible locations
- Condensed shifts or work week
- Unlimited paid time off
Workplace flexibility is at the top of the list when a candidate is considering an offer. According to the same report, flexibility is now just as important as compensation for talent when choosing work opportunities – with 67% and 68% respectively citing each as ‘very important’.
How is your organization actioning one of the candidate pools most highly prioritized demands?
Attracting tech talent: Recruiting for skills over degrees
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a skills economy.
With an increasing amount of accessible self-learning resources and courses online, many knowledge workers are developing skills in areas that they do not possess a “formal degree” for.
Organizations that only consider candidates with four-year degrees in roles that do not necessarily require it are actively alienating a large pool of talent.
In fact, when it comes to tech-related jobs, candidates who have completed up to date bootcamps and certificates may possess more relevant skills to certain roles than candidates who graduated with a Computer Science Degree a decade ago.
Creating a screening process that allows candidates to display their skills in the field as opposed to arbitrarily requiring a four-year degree will allow an organization access to a wider pool of talent.
Navigating the candidate-driven labor market
When it comes to attracting top talent, “average” does not cut it anymore.
With remote work allowing talent to find work globally and tech giants offering increasingly competitive compensation packages, organizations need to re-evaluate their own total compensation packages. While it may be difficult to compete with the budget of the big guys, relatively smaller companies can leverage advantages elsewhere to entice strong candidates to join their team.
The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook
Over the past two years, we have captured hard won lessons learned across thousands of worker hiring engagements by our team of professional recruiters and distilled them into practical ideas that you can start using immediately. The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook is a step-by-step guide to help source, screen, select, onboard and retain talent in the New World of Work.