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IT Leadership // Team Building & Staffing
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Richard Hoehn, CIO/CTO, FreightWise
Richard Hoehn, CIO/CTO, FreightWise

5 Ways CIOs Can Better Compete to Recruit Top Tech Talent

A CIO shares lessons he's learned about finding and securing the best job candidates for IT teams.

Image: Alphaspirit - stock.adobe.com
Image: Alphaspirit - stock.adobe.com

America’s unemployment rate is at a near 50-year low. In a tight job market, quality candidates often find they have multiple employment offers from which to choose, and this is especially true for highly skilled workers, such as IT professionals. Whether you're leading a small tech startup or the IT department of a large company, here are five ways to boost your chances of landing your preferred candidate. 

1. Ensure the role is appealing, not just the salary and benefits.

The salary package you're offering needs to be competitive, but perhaps surprisingly, my experience is that many candidates are willing to compromise $10K or more in salary if they feel a role elsewhere will be more meaningful and challenging. So, if yours is a large company, highlight what's interesting about the work they'll be doing, particularly if it's project- versus maintenance-based. Or, if you're chief information officer for a tech startup, convey to applicants that the resulting satisfaction from building an exciting new solution will make up for what your company might lack in prestige or brand recognition. We’ve found through our own hiring efforts that candidates are often more excited by the prospect of creating software that will have a major impact on our clients’ day-to-day business than by a slightly higher salary offered for a more mundane job.

2. Engage candidates practically during the recruitment process.

Having applicants complete a short but stimulating programming exercise, for example, not only can  give you an indication of their ability, it can whet their appetite and get them excited about the sort of work that you do. The exercise that we employ requires significant creativity to overcome, and the submissions give us insight into how a candidate thinks. This allows us to gauge their potential fit within the team, and quickly reveals anyone who is copying code instead of writing their own.

3. Network with emerging talent.

I lecture part-time in the tech department of a local college, which has been a great way for me to not only meet potential team members, but also to keep my finger on the pulse of upcoming social and industry trends. Friends and prior colleagues of your current team members are also a great resource because candidates recommended by a current team member are likely to be a good fit. Further to this, positive word of mouth from a happy team member can be your best advocate when attracting new talent.

4. Position your company as a training ground for opportunities elsewhere.

Highlight opportunities for career advancement within your organization, but Gen Y and Z developers are less likely to be looking for something resembling the traditional "job for life". So, a top candidate might be more willing to consider joining your company if you suggest that rather than wanting a long-term commitment, you encourage employees to seek opportunities elsewhere after one to three years and to perhaps then return to the company with that externally acquired knowledge at some point in the future. An ironic benefit of this approach is that when employees don't feel pressure to stay, they often do.

5. Create a great working culture.

Investing in "bling" personal hardware, convertible standing desks, free snacks and drinks, a games area and other such perks can improve job satisfaction for existing team members and impress job candidates during an office walk-through. In our company, we’ve also worked hard to ensure that the traditional divide between the dev team and other departments is non-existent. Our experience is that a greater sense of integration creates a more pleasant working environment than the typical “sequestered” style.

Richard Hoehn is CIO/CTO of FreightWise, a cost-management technology provider that tightly integrates with a client’s existing infrastructure to reduce time, money and resources spent on logistics and transportation. He has more than two decades’ experience in tech, management and academia and was a founding director of FreightWise, named America’s second fastest-growing private company on the 2019 Inc. 5000 List.    



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