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Motivating Top Talent to Accept Job Offers

July 2017- By James Boucher, Senior Vice President, Operations

How is top technology talent attracted? How do organizations better their chances of top technology talent accepting their offers? We asked our Sr. Vice President, James Boucher, what he believes, in his experience, are the biggest motivators for today’s top technology talent when it comes to accepting a job offer. The following is James’ list of the five biggest motivators top candidates are looking for from their employer.

In my experience, if hiring managers can show technology job seekers that their organization can support, satisfy, and follow through on the following five specific areas, they will win more good hires than they will lose.

1. It’s All About the Tech

Want strong technology professionals? Well, they want to work with strong technology stacks and modern approaches. If your organization is not quite there yet, but you plan to be, proactively share your tech road map. What tech projects will your company be undertaking? What tools, languages, and frameworks will it be using? Outline current tech stacks your organization utilizes and/or share the future state of your tech landscape, or you may miss out on great candidates that want to work with companies that are technically relevant.

2. Money Matters

There’s a lot of talk about millennials and neighboring generations being motivated by things other than money, but to not discuss the money motivator would be starting off on the wrong foot. Money is part of the “scoreboard” of criterion new employees use, and “what’s the pay and overall compensation package?” is a question that is instantly on their minds. The financial package (salary/rate + bonuses + profit sharing + benefits) needs to be addressed, and it also needs to be within current market trends. There are exceptions that can allow a company to pay slightly below market rate for their talent. One would be if your company is known to be working with bleeding edge technologies that will improve someone’s marketability down the line and another is the allure of a startup company. With that said, in both of these examples there are plenty of startups paying top dollar that you’ll still need to compete with for top talent. As a Technology Manager, it’s vital that you understand current market rates/trends of the audience you’re seeking, and that your compensation aligns.

3. Visualize a Career Path

Most motivated professionals, especially certain generations, can’t imagine doing the same job forever. They need to know there will be opportunities to expand their responsibilities, do different tasks that interest them, and have overall career progression. This is where hiring managers need to be VERY GOOD at their “this is your career opportunity in the short, mid, and long term” pitch. Using visuals is crucial! Lay out an organization chart and show the different areas of the company where a person can grow their career. Present a career path in such a way that the candidate also sees how this progression supports corporate strategies and solves major pain points, deficiencies, and/or goals. This will only increase the interest of your best and most talented technology problem solvers.

When I interview someone I feel has career growth in mind, I white board out our core groups and teams, along with our vision and strategy, and show how each team and role in the company impacts our ultimate goal/s. I make sure to highlight the different roles within our teams and how one would progress through those roles throughout their career. I share stories of different individuals, and how they got to where they are now.

4. Make an Impact

As a follow up to motivator #3 above, an area that many top performers are concerned with, but that is often not discussed, is the impact the role and team has on the big picture and again, the overall goals of the organization. The importance of this can’t be stressed enough. Communicating the impact this role will have, and the difference this person can make, is a huge ‘interest igniter’ for top talent, so make sure you’re discussing how they can impact the big picture at some point in the interview. At a company like Google, where they were famed in the past for allowing employees to spend 20% of their time on projects of their choice, it might be easy to describe to a candidate how their work could have a broader impact on the company. But if something like that does not apply to your firm, I feel personal stories of company-wide impact, or another easily relatable employee’s early-impact are important anecdotes to share. Is there a way to translate what the candidate’s job function is to a big initiative (i.e. major system upgrade, transformation from one methodology to another, building a new platform, data security, etc.)? Is there a way to have your ideas heard and acted upon via committees within the organization? If so, what examples can you give the candidate of real change that was made through these committees? If they’ll be interacting with key executives or change makers often, this is worth noting as well.

One thing I’ve always loved about Apex is the open door policy: even our newest employees are encouraged to reach out to our most senior executives with thoughts and suggestions. If you have an idea, it’s encouraged that you share. But be careful, because if it’s a good idea you will likely be asked to drive it. When I meet with inspired candidates I make sure to always share this, passionately, along with examples; “If you are an agent of change, this firm is for you.”

5. Highlight Opportunities for Learning

Every quality candidate is likely going to ask you about training, and most companies have gotten ahead of this trend by significantly investing in their onboarding process, training programs, tuition or certification reimbursement, etc. This is all good to mention, but also lay out what their first few weeks will look like. If the conversation ends there, will the stand-out candidate remember you like you’re remembering them? My guess is no, because the jobs you are competing against have the same things to offer. What about painting the picture to each candidate that if they choose your organization, they will get a MSDN or Pluralsight license, coverage of one annual conference, and their MBA, PMP, CISSP, other certifications, or advanced degrees covered? The best candidates want to be inspired to wake up every day knowing they will learn something new. Whether we’re learning technology, leadership, large organizational dynamics, or a host of other things new employees have access to, there has to be something in the package that will satisfy the thirst for knowledge and educational advancement that top tech talent craves.

One thing I love describing to internal candidates is the MBA I’ve received since day 1 inside the walls of Apex. I’ve learned about technology; how my clients’ businesses work in every industry; the problems businesses face and how to frame solutions and solve those problems; leadership tactics; human resource functions; executive presence; and a host of other skills most people spend a lot of money trying to gain at prestigious universities. One of our internal four core values is “Make Others Better,” and we live that but making sure our newest employees are set up with all the learning situations they desire. If you can’t identify two+ ways your company and/or group supports your tech staff with their education, attainment of certifications, etc., you have some work to do!

Lastly, as hiring managers, we can’t be the only one talking about these high priority items with top candidates. We need candidates to hear it several different ways from several different team members. There are better people within my group to speak to each of these five areas than me, and I make sure to tap them for each of these conversations when we have a candidate we want to join our team. We make sure it’s a team effort, just like growing their career at the organization will be once we’re lucky enough to have them accept our job offer.

Technology, Compensation Package, Growth, Impact, Learning. Top candidates want it all, and deserve employers willing to provide it to them. Those companies are the future, as they’ll forge ahead from being able to attract strong tech talent through their offerings and culture.

Is your organization seeking a partner in acquiring top technology talent? Contact your local Apex branch here.

Are you a top technology candidate in the job market? Click here for our current job opportunites!