Moderated by Women Who Code Chicago President Andrea Chang, the panel was made up of some of the best and brightest women in Chicago’s tech community, from recruiters to in-house hiring managers:
- Beth Joiner, account manager, Collabera
- Alyssa Romeo, tech lead, software engineer, Capital One
- Eileen Kane, VP of IT project management, E*TRADE
- Nancy McKinney, VP, Robert Half Technology
The wide-ranging panel spoke to both sides of the hiring equation: employers and candidates. And having audience members in the room from each of those groups made for a great dialogue!
Here are seven tips from the panelists — including Collabera’s Beth Joiner — on how employers can attract and hire the best tech talent in 2020, particularly diverse talent that includes more women.
Make a human connection
Despite the numerous ways companies can automate their search for the best candidates, entirely removing the human element from recruiting is a dangerous proposition.
As you reach out to prospective candidates, think about the type of person who would add to your organization — going beyond their skill set to think about how they would interact with the current team, as well as the intangibles they might bring.
Spend your time thinking, understand the opportunity, communicate it appropriately to the right people. Make that human connection.
And ensure the work itself is fulfilling, said Alyssa Romeo of Capital One: “You can have the greatest snacks and best culture, but if you’re not keeping us engaged with the work, it’s not enough,” she said. “But don’t take the snacks away!”
Recruit outside the box
The further digitization of the hiring process is inevitable, according to the panelists — but LinkedIn isn’t the only place to source candidates.
“I see recruiters sending 1,000 emails a day,” said McKinney. “There’s no way anybody is doing targeted outreach at that volume.”
Many of the most qualified candidates have completely blocked InMail messages on LinkedIn because they’re completely inundated by outreach from recruiters who haven’t even tried to get to know them.
So how can you reach those candidates? Go where they’re investing their time.
“We source a lot of our candidates from events just like this,” Joiner said, referring to the Meetup event. “We go to networking events to show candidates we have a genuine interest in getting to know them personally.”
Rethink your interview process
For all the benefits that come with a personalized hiring process, one area that can be both time consuming and fraught with issues is the interview process.
“Hiring managers get interview fatigue, and unintentional bias comes into the room,” said McKinney.
One way to address this: make it easier on candidates and hiring managers to get through some of the early screening stages.
In some companies, a hiring manager or recruiter records themselves asking a series of questions that candidates then have an opportunity to answer through their own video responses. The hiring managers can review their answers with a fresh perspective when the time is right, eliminating some of that interview fatigue.
Other companies take the recorded interview a step further, using AI to evaluate various personality indicators, including tone of voice and facial expression.
“It establishes a flat-line threshold,” McKinney said. “It even removes some of the bias against female candidates” because AI is gender agnostic.
Ghosting has left the realm of dating and entered the workplace — and it’s not just employees suddenly deciding not to show up for work one day.
Prospective employers frequently ghost job candidates, too.
In a 2018 survey, 23 percent of respondents noted that they abandoned their job search with a company after never hearing back about a position they applied for.
In today’s candidates’ market, being unresponsive can really tarnish a company’s reputation.
“If you’re a company and you’re not responding to candidates that have applied or interviewed, you do yourself harm,” Joiner said. “Be up front. That will gain you a lot of rapport with candidates — even if you don’t give them the answer they’re hoping for.”
Move quickly to snag the best candidate
More and more companies are becoming “tech companies” today, and as a result, there were about 918,000 unfilled IT jobs in the United States in the past three months alone, according to CompTIA. But there aren’t nearly enough qualified candidates to fill those roles.
And that makes it a candidate’s job market through and through. So if you interview someone you like, make your move.
<blockquote>Today, I see candidates who are only on the market for a week or two, when in years past they might have been looking for six months,” Joiner said. “Don’t be afraid to move quickly. If you don’t, another company will!</blockquote>
If you’re feeling hesitant to make a full-time hire, consider contract to hire or another more flexible arrangement, she said.
Look beyond traditional degrees
Half of Apple’s U.S. workforce in 2018 lacked a four-year degree, CEO Tim Cook told a White House audience in early 2019, noting too that founder Steve Jobs was a college dropout himself.
Apple is joined by other major enterprises like Google and IBM that are expanding their focus to candidates showing raw talent and scrappy experience, rather than just those with traditional degrees.
The panelists agreed that companies in the market for top talent should do the same. Keep an eye out for “new-collar workers,” including those who have been through coding bootcamps and other intensive programs.
The JUMP program through Cognixia, a Collabera company, whips promising tech talent into shape during a 12-week paid bootcamp experience.
“We source talent from all over the U.S. — we look especially for diverse candidates, including women — and they’re coming out of this program with the equivalent of two years of software development experience,” Joiner said.
Embrace diversity — and build a support system
It’s no secret that the tech industry, on the whole, is a male-dominated one.
According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women hold just 26 percent of the computing jobs in the United States (to break it down further, just 3 percent are black women, 6 percent are Asian women, and 2 percent are Hispanic women).
As the United States population becomes increasingly diverse, the tech workforce must follow suit.
“When you study patterns on a bigger scale, you see that diversity isn’t just good optics, it’s key to your survival as a business,” said Eileen Kane of E*TRADE. (A McKinsey study found that diverse leadership correlates with better profitability.)
Joiner always presents clients with candidates from diverse racial, gender and other backgrounds.
“I encourage my managers to seek out diverse candidates,” she said. “I ask them, ‘How is this person going to make a difference on your team from a tech standpoint, and how are they going to make a difference to your team and your organization?'”
Then, as team diversity increases, there may be a need to build systems within the organization to support those employees and their needs — including promoting allyship among majority populations.
For example, Capital One’s Male Allies program (started in 2015) brings employees together to raise awareness about gender diversity in tech and create a dialogue around their experiences.
“A big component of lifting women up is having supporters in place to do that,” Romeo said.
Save time and effort by outsourcing
Getting recruiting right in a tight labor market is absolutely crucial. Sourcing the right candidates, asking the right questions, and perfecting your hiring process can make or break you in your search for the best talent.
Depending on your tech needs, it could pay off to find a workforce partner that understands the changing hiring landscape. From simple staff augmentation to managed IT services and direct hire, Collabera can fill the gaps to ensure you don’t miss an opportunity to hire your next rockstar.
With more than 17,000 employees in 70 offices around the world, our global team can work 24/7 to get results for our clients. Contact us to start a profitable partnership. collabera.com