How to win the battle for IT talent for your startup

- August 12, 2021 3 MIN READ
dogs chasing ball
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Two years of lockdown due to COVID-19 has meant an exodus of migrant workers from our shores and the near impossible barrier to enter the country has left the IT sector suffering as a result of the shortfall in skilled workers.

The recent publication of the 2021 Skills Priority list has listed IT related jobs to be among 10% of those in highest demand.

Gone are the good ol’ days of posting a simple ad on Seek or LinkedIn and waiting for the right candidate to come to you. Also gone, the days of carefully examining each candidate with rigorous reference checks before making an offer. As they say in the real estate game, this is a ‘sellers market’ and companies are often caught in a bidding war even before they have had the chance to get to know their future employee.

Fatigue is also setting in on potential candidates as well, regularly fielding calls from recruiters who have weaponised LinkedIn so much that even the smallest post or tweak to their profile triggers a barrage of phone calls.

So, how does your company stand out from the crowd? What are some things that you can do to attract and retain the right guys for your project?

While there is no doubt the salary package you offer will need to be competitive, here are some of the guiding principles we have used in our ability to triple the team size here in Australia over the last two years.


Make some noise

No one is going to get excited about your project or company if they don’t know about you. Having a presence in the media be it digital, print or social is key to getting your brand out there.

Engage the community you want to come work for your company. From experience, we failed to realise this early. Even after having some outstanding success, from a commercial standpoint, we were still relatively obscure amongst the developer community and suffered for it.

Once we did pick up our PR game the results were quick and noticeable.


Have high standards

The brightest, most driven people wanted to work at Google because they knew it was hard to get into Google.

It was challenging to even enter their walls and their interview exams were legendary, so much so that books were written on how to prepare and overcome them.

While this may seem counter intuitive, once the word gets out that you’re building the A Team you will get the dual effect of having staff act as promoters for your company as well as the brightest potential candidates wanting to know more about what you offer.


Be clear on the mission

Why should I work for your company? How are you different from your competitors?

There should be a razor-sharp answer to both of those questions that need to resonate with people, so much so they are willing to move on from their current employer. Spending some time crafting your mission and having clear vision will not only make it clear to candidates but to your existing team as well.

For example, Elon Musk’s SpaceX mission is to save humanity’s future by establishing a permanent presence on another planet. While not every company aspires to these goals, the mission statement resonates beyond the technical challenge but also touches on social issues that exist and what their company’s solution is to that problem.

The work/life balance goes both ways and these days people are looking for companies that have a social conscience that make them feel that their work is making a difference.


Look for high value, low-cost perks

Once people come into the company, treat them exceptionally well.

It costs nothing to walk up to the team and praise them for their efforts or spending some time to mentor your staff members.

Look for those perks that make your company stand out amongst the crowd that don’t break the budget.

For example, at our company we offer things like monthly remedial massages, stand up desks, onsite parking as well as a yearly training budget that people can use to upskill themselves. It can also be weekly lunches or cake, whatever works, but do something and don’t be idle in your efforts to keep your staff happy.

Otherwise, there are many more companies out there that will be willing to do so.

The game has changed, and now it is up to companies to find the path that is going to work for them, in terms of mixing up what they offer to attract and retain talent.

It is competitive and difficult to find your rhythm but it is pretty clear that your offer needs to be compelling from a financial, intellectual and increasingly social standpoint to bring in the best and brightest.