Talent recruitment has always been a problem for companies in the technology sphere, especially in expanding markets where business growth and technological innovation generate intense competition. Over the next couple of years, recruitment will get even harder. GDP growth is at about 3 percent and it’s expected to remain at that level. Unemployment is low and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
A growing economy with low unemployment creates a candidate’s market. Demand for qualified engineers and executives with domain expertise is outpacing the talent supply, which means technology companies have to go the extra mile to attract top-tier candidates.
It will come as no surprise when I say that technology companies should expect to pay more for the best and brightest in emerging technology fields. Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock. Recent graduates with AI expertise can expect pay ranging from $300,000 to $500,000, for instance. Salaries are also rising in less esoteric fields such as network engineering and database administration.
But it’s important to note that top-tier technology executives, developers, and engineers care about more than just salary. The salaries are astronomical everywhere, and to compete with industry giants like Google and Facebook, companies with less name recognition should consider culture, brand, and the impact of the work they expect candidates to do.
Cutting-edge tools and technology
Your company’s technology stack is important to attracting the right people. Leading candidates want to level-up their skills with current and emerging technology. If your tech stack is based on decade-old software, it’s unlikely to be a draw compared to a company that makes an effort to keep up with the latest tools and technology.
Make the work meaningful
Would you like to work for a company that is breaking barriers, creating exciting products, and making a real difference in the world? So would leading technology candidates. To take a recent example, Chris Lattner, who created Apple’s Swift programming language, the LLVM compiler, and a host of Apple’s developer tools, left the company for Tesla, seeking new challenges in the AI field. Lattner is a huge talent, and he thought helping Tesla build self-driving cars was a more interesting challenge.
Lattner didn’t stay at Tesla for long, moving to an AI-related role at Google Brain because he found the culture at Tesla didn’t suit him, which brings us to our next strategy for attracting top talent.
Get the culture right
When your talents are in high demand, you go to the employer who can offer you a comfortable working environment, perks you find attractive, and a happy work-life balance.
By culture I don’t mean adding a foosball table to the office or implementing an unlimited holiday scheme that no one is expected to take advantage of. I mean creating a friendly, supportive, and flexible work environment that is a pleasure to be part of.
Hire the best to hire the best
Talent attracts talent. I’ve known technology workers to move across the country because they were given the opportunity to work with someone in their field they respect. The more respected tech talent you have, the easier it is to hire people of a similar calibre.
A culture of openness
Apple is a notoriously secretive company, especially where research and development are concerned. To the surprise of many, Apple recently began publishing the research of its AI team in the Apple Machine Learning Journal. Why? Because in the AI field cutting-edge researchers are expected to publish, and Apple was having trouble retaining the best researchers. They valued their reputation in the field more than the cachet associated with working for Apple.
Similarly, developers expect to be able to work on open source software: it’s an important part of their career development and resume. Many technology companies sponsor and maintain open source projects for exactly this reason. It helps them build a brand that creates a positive impression among developers.
The fight for the best technology candidates is becoming increasingly competitive, and the companies that win will have taken the time to think about what it takes to attract candidates with ample options.