The talent economy is undergoing an upheaval, but it’s an upheaval that yields promising results. For firms engaged in tech consulting, the search for the right tech talent is both a struggle and an opportunity. At Xperti, we observe that the struggle lies mostly in the first stage: Finding top talent.
In an earlier article, we mention the benefits offered by tapping into the passive interest of top talent in the technology industry. Assume, you’re a hiring manager in a tech consulting or business consulting firm. You approach a passive candidate, and everything seems to work out. The candidate proves to be top talent immediately, and everything in the resume and interview maps beautifully onto the job description. But then comes the next step—making the job offer.
How to Find Top Talent?
Highly skilled professionals are difficult to find in the technology industry anyway. How will you convince your hard-to-find top talent to accept?
Studies prove that when it comes to full-time roles, the best performers seek something above salary and benefits. And that’s prestige.
The importance of attracting top talent with a positive, exciting corporate culture is an idea that is slowly gaining ground with large organizations. Thanks to their lean, permeable structures, startups have been able to make use of employer branding much more aggressively.
And it works. There’s a reason the Ivy League is so well-represented in Silicon Valley startups. It’s not just the technology industry that’s so attractive, but the chance to be part of something exciting and new. That ‘young, fun vibe’ isn’t an accident or a coincidence. It’s created on purpose to attract the kind of minds these startups need: Creative, not boxed in by tradition, averse to over-structured environments, ready to question the obvious and accepted.
Hiring managers in larger organizations can do the same with much success.
Corporate culture is just one element in employer branding. The latter encompasses a much wider definition—it’s the aggregate of how your target audience, (in this case the selected candidates), perceive your organization: Their perceptions, their feelings, and most importantly—their expectations from your firm.
7 Best Ways to Attract Top Talent
The good news is that decision-makers within the firm retain control over all three. In crafting your employer brand, stay mindful of the following factors:
1. Understanding Your Talent
If there’s a gap between what prospective employees want, versus what the employer has to offer, you’ve got a problem. At Xperti, we find this especially true when attracting top talent from within the millennial demographic: They want more than a paycheck. They want socially accountable employers. They also desire greater flexibility than their predecessors. As a hiring manager, your job is not to make your firm everything to everyone. Your job is to understand what your top talent wants and be prepared to offer that, without going against your organization’s mission and values. Let’s assume research on perks reveals that people you want in your organization desire a healthy lifestyle, and dislike travel. If your career page advertises offsite in exotic locations and doesn’t offer onsite gym facilities, you can only imagine how wide the expectation-reality gap is between you and that coveted top talent.
If prospective candidates have something in common, start by conducting an informal survey on their preferences, observe what they like in other organizations. Do some social listening to know what’s working in rival firms—it could be anything from playful furniture to a great cafeteria. If it doesn’t violate what your firm stands for, consider adapting it.
The key is to resonate with top talent. And you do that by offering something relevant to them.
2. Build On Your Strengths
Adapting a popular practice is alright, imitating is not. A fundamental rule of branding is to embrace your uniqueness. Identify your greatest strengths—forget competition, this is about you. Communicate that strength aggressively. It doesn’t have to be something innovative, by the way. Are you the:
- Newest (“Modern”)
- Best selling
- Most socially responsible
Business in your category? Even if you’re not, you can always identify an internal strength and promote that. Do you offer the best learning opportunities? Do your employees enjoy exceptional freedom in designing their career plans? Is your internal transfer program the best in the business?
Great! Start with that!
The idea is to give your top talent something that makes you memorable for all the right reasons. It can be anything, as long as it’s true, and consistently delivers on its promise.
3. Be Visible
If employer branding had cardinal sins, the lack of visibility would be number one. At Xperti, we’re surprised by how much some of the biggest organizations we work with underplay their strengths. They do plenty of wonderful things for their teams but are notoriously private about them.
The talent economy is a highly competitive space, and global skills-gap is only rising. No firm cannot afford to not be seen. Flaunt all your positives and do so without apology or embarrassment. As long as you’re telling a truthful story about how you keep your people happy, it will work well in attracting the best tech talent out there. An important point here: Visibility isn’t just about social media. Does your marketing collateral feature employee images (with consent)? Do you have a newsletter? Are your giveaways funky and attractive, always in demand? Are people excited when town-halls are announced? Visibility is across all touchpoints.
4. Make On-boarding As Transparent As Possible
Part of what top talent considers prestigious is how hard a firm’s hiring process is. The harder, more competitive it is, the more prestigious the firm is perceived to be. But there’s a fine line between ‘highly competitive’ and ‘highly opaque’. Your hiring process should have undisputed credibility. Candidates should know that it’s tough to get in, but they should also know what they need to do to get in. Develop a road-map of your screening process. Assign weights to each stage. If possible, provide candidate feedback, or use a product that can help you enhance capabilities for transparent feedback. At Xperti, we follow a 3-stage process, which informs candidates of their progress across functional, analytical and cultural competencies.
5. Engagement Programs All Year Round
In the case of fresh graduates, it makes sense to concentrate on hiring efforts in the final semester. But what about top talent already employed? There’s no hiring season for passive talent, which constitutes roughly 70% of talent today.
Engagement programs don’t have to be high-budget, fancy productions focused purely on an external talent pool. You can organize an open day. But you can also have a town-hall asking employees to talk about what they love most about the organization and promote that. Celebrate the little victories at work. As all tech talent knows, it’s the little wins that accumulate into the big team wins. Work anniversaries, OTJ training, new personal achievement records—all of them qualify as engagement opportunities.
6. Be Responsive
Hiring managers must strike a balance between discretion and openness. They have an obligation towards the employer. But they’re also employer brand ambassadors. We work with hiring managers across several industries, so we understand your response limitations. But there are still some safe, easy channels that allow you to engage with top talent. Technology helps streamline processes that maintain a consistent perception of your employer brand. For example, we know some firms have:
- Recorded their orientation presentations and uploaded them on the intranet. It saves time and allows the new employee to reflect freely; Not to mention creates talking points with prospective top talent.
- Chatbots that answer ‘high traffic’ questions about application deadlines, correct email addresses, expected response date, interview schedules and so on. The more applicants you have, the more helpful this tool will be! You can humanize the experience with funny messaging and real follow-up calls.
Keep It Real
Lots of career advice these days emphasizes the importance of authenticity. We feel it’s a great tip to attract the best people to your company too. Authenticity is about truthfully representing what your employer stands for.
Business consulting will evolve to address new needs—technology for example. But the need to stay human when identifying and attracting top talent will always stay the same. Tech consulting firms especially must start looking inwards to decide how they want to grow, and who their growth leaders will be.