Our Key Takeaways from the Talent Acquisition Breakfast Roundtable: Building Tech Teams Amongst Post-COVID Challenges
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way that we work as an industry. What’s come to light in the past year is the impact that COVID has had on the way that we (and you!) recruit. In Australia’s tech market, there’s a significant candidate shortage at the moment and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This month our Technology & Product team hosted a roundtable with some of our nearest and dearest Talent Acquisition and People & Culture Leader friends in Brisbane (unfortunately not at The Pancake Manor this time…). We wanted to look at building tech teams amongst post-COVID challenges, share what we are seeing in the market and allow these industry leaders to connect and discuss what they are experiencing.
Here’s some of our key takeaways:
Takeaway 1 | The challenge starts at the top of the funnel
We know that there’s many challenges facing Talent Acquisition at the moment and it doesn’t matter what type of business you’re working in – start-ups, scale-ups and established businesses are all finding challenges in recruiting technical roles into their businesses.
When speaking with our guests, the common challenge is getting talent to engage with being interested in exploring opportunities. This depletion of talent at the top of the funnel is slowing down recruitment processes and placing strain on tech teams and hiring managers.
So, what’s the solution? Combatting this challenge requires thinking outside the box and potentially outside the organisation.
Here are some ideas to help:
- Referrals: Referrals from employees already in the building are a great source of talent for your funnel – they’re also more likely to be culturally-aligned and come with a positive predisposition towards your organisation.
- Outsourcing: Sourcing talent can be a timely exercise for little reward. Our guests suggested outsourcing this part of the process to someone that has an existing network and processes in place to source the right talent for your business (might we suggest…. Hunt & Co.?)
- Grow your talent: Where possible, bringing on more junior talent with a clear development plan may open up your talent pool to ultimately get people into the business to help take the load off.
- Go national or… international: If you cannot find the type and volume of talent within your geographic proximity, it might require you to look up and out. Many organisations are adopting a remote-first approach to yes, provide flexibility to their current team but just importantly, to open up the talent pool so they can continue growing the team!
Takeaway 2 | Design a process that plays in your favour
When it comes to designing a recruitment process, there’s many questions that come to mind:
- Do you include psychometric testing?
- To tech test or not to tech test?
- How many stages is too many stages?
Ultimately, what we’re currently seeing in the market is that there are so many variations when it comes to interview processes. Sometimes there’s only one hoop to jump through and other times there can be many. What’s important to remember is that the process should be designed to suit your business AND your candidates. This means that having a stock standard process that is consistent across every recruitment process may not fly in today’s market.
With the tech market moving as rapidly as it is right now, ensuring that you have a process that aligns with your company values and creates rapid buy-in for a candidate is key for your success in winning the talent game.
Takeaway 3 | Employer branding
Ahhh…. Employer branding. So many companies have entire departments and budgets dedicated to marketing to the customers/clients. But what is also very important is building a strong employer brand and marketing to potential employees.
In a candidate-short market where businesses are fighting for technical talent, the difference between a candidate joining your company vs. another company could purely come down to employer brand (or lack thereof).
Candidates are excited to join companies that have clout and brand name recognition in market. They are also more receptive to joining companies that they have heard about, seen in action (whether that be on a panel, online or through hackathons) and trust.
If a candidate hasn’t heard about your company before, there is an education and trust-building process that has to happen before they are fully-invested to sign on the dotted line.
And in a market moving this fast… that additional time and process could mean you miss out.
So, what are small but impactful steps you can take to improve your employer branding efforts:
- Be seen: Put on a company t-shirt and start going to events in the industry. It will get your brand out there more and you can start building rapport with people in a social setting. Increase your impact by encouraging other team members to do the same! Plus, as an added bonus, it’s great professional development and an opportunity to gain industry insights.
- Take it to LinkedIn: Don’t underestimate the impact of a LinkedIn post – we recently had a candidate join a company and post about their new role which resulted in a spike of 3,000 unique viewers to go check out the company. Sharing employees’ stories, fun company initiatives and career opportunities within your company are great talking points for potential employees.
- Get the marketing team involved: Work with your company’s Marketing team to come up with creative solutions to market the employer brand, just as they are marketing the client/customer brand. A great place to start is by building employee personas; who are they? Where did you find them? What motivates and drives them? What do they want to see? How do you best connect with them?
Takeaway 4 | Preboarding is just as important as onboarding
In this very candidate-short market, we are seeing candidates being thrown offers even after they’ve accepted a contract. This has put a greater emphasis on the need for ‘preboarding’ to get your newest recruit embedded in the company and culture before they have even had their first day in the building.
Some suggestions to integrate into your preboarding include:
- Swag: It’s never too early to send swag! Get them inducted into your business with a swag care package. We love the personalisation of Teach Starter’s welcome package. Not quite sure what swag to include? A t-shirt never goes astray (and hey, you might be featured on Shirts of Startups) but here’s a comprehensive list of swag ideas beyond the almighty startup shirt.
- Catch ups: Lock in a time to have a coffee catch up or lunch with your newest team member and the team – that will make their notice period go a little faster and start getting the newest recruit acquainted with the team.
- Material: Start sending material to help them ease into their onboarding process (and make it all a little less daunting). One startup we worked with would send bios on all the team members and a list of questions/conversation starters. This gave the newest recruit the opportunity to familiarise themselves with names and faces of the business and walk into their first day armed with conversation starters (particularly courteous for remote-workforces where the first few Zoom meetings can feel a little socially clunky).
Takeaway 5 | How do you protect against counter-offers and multi-offers? The question that HR professionals are yet to answer
As recruiters, we’ve seen some crazy examples of counter offers in the market. Where some companies will come to the party to meet their employees’ salary offer, we’ve also seen examples of counter offers that offer north of $50k above the employees new offer (which is very hard to compete with!). On top of this, we’re playing in a market where candidates can have multiple offers on the table at any one time – often creating a furious bidding war to secure talent.
So how do you stop this? How can you be competitive and still stay true to your companies values and integrity? That is the million dollar question and one we don’t really have an answer for (yet!). While we’ve seen creative ways of combating this issue, it’s still a challenge in the market and one that we’ll be working to find a solution to this incredibly tricky problem!
If you’re looking for help in growing and retaining your Tech Team but aren’t quite sure where to start, Emily Conaghan (firstname.lastname@example.org / 0403 726 487) and Carly Shearman (email@example.com / 0488 721 180) are a great first port of call.