Not a Big Tech Company? Here’s How to Attract Tech Talent
Over 150,000 tech workers globally were laid off in 2022, according to tech layoffs tracker website Layoffs.fyi. While large tech companies continue to announce layoffs, other organizations see an opportunity to scoop up talent looking for work.
Tech recruiting has historically been a challenge for startups, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. But with so many tech workers out of a job, now is a good time for these organizations to fill vacant positions. For those outside of Big Tech, here’s how to attract tech talent.
Why is attracting tech talent so hard?
If you work for one of the organizations mentioned above, you know recruiting tech talent means competing with large tech companies like Meta, Microsoft, and Alphabet, all of which have very deep pockets. When these companies can offer starting base salaries well into six figures—not to mention world-class perks and benefits—it makes sense for software engineers to be drawn to them.
Company culture and job stability are two other major components of the allure of working for an established tech company. Companies like Google and Apple are known for fostering innovative and exciting cultures where employees are encouraged to think outside the box and try new things. And up until a recent drop in confidence, a career in tech was seen as one of the most stable career paths you could take.
These points made it very hard for almost anyone else to attract developers and offer competitive compensation packages. However, that could be changing in light of massive layoffs in the past year.
Where are tech workers getting jobs?
Many unemployed tech workers are still struggling to find new jobs, but there’s been a sharp uptick in interest for certain areas.
One area that would have seemed highly unlikely only a few months ago is government agencies. A recent article in Wired reported the US Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to fill 1,000 vacant tech positions, and the State of California is looking to fill nearly 2,500. Interest in non-profit tech jobs is up as well.
Marrying purpose with the high pay of Silicon Valley, climate tech is also becoming a highly attractive field. Thanks to increased interest from venture capital and funding made available by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), developers are landing high-paying jobs that also give them a sense of fulfillment.
“Money equals jobs equals more innovation,” says Natalie Laverly, Marketing Lead at climate tech recruiting firm Climate People. “Not only are people seeing the effects of climate change, they are being incentivized for all the reasons you take a job—money, remote work, all those things.”
Across the board, a trend is beginning to emerge: tech workers want to do meaningful work that aligns with their values, even if it means taking a pay cut.
How can organizations outside of Big Tech attract tech talent?
While Natalie works in climate tech, she has relevant advice for a variety of organizations seeking tech talent. Pointing to a recent survey Climate People conducted to identify entry barriers for new climate tech workers, she says organizations should focus their efforts in three areas to attract tech talent:
- Raising awareness
- Meeting people where they are
- Offering smart incentives
A lot of people don’t realize that experience in the specific field they want to work in isn’t necessary. For climate tech, Natalie says a lot of people disqualify themselves because they think they need a background in climate science or sustainability.
Some tech jobs do require a certain degree of experience in a particular field, but for the ones that don’t, organizations need to make potential applicants aware of that. Organizations that educate people about this will have an advantage in attracting talent.
Meeting people where they are
There are countless websites where job seekers can find opportunities for specific roles or fields of interest. But due to job post saturation on larger sites, many non-profit organizations and startups turn to more niche sites to get the word out. This is a good idea, but Natalie says organizations should still post jobs to sites like LinkedIn since that’s where the majority of job seekers are looking.
Offering smart incentives
At the end of the day, a job is still a job. And while it seems tech workers increasingly want to work somewhere that’s making an impact, organizations can’t rely on that alone to hire the best and brightest.
“People want to work on something meaningful, but they also need remote work, they need to be paid well, they want flexibility,” Natalie says. “They want all those things that you’re looking for in a job search. So climate companies are really hurting themselves if they’re strictly using their mission or their impact as a crutch.”
The same is true for organizations outside of climate—rely too heavily on the impact nature of your work, and you could be missing out on top applicants.
Be a place where people want to work
Some things (like money) are hard to change, but organizations outside of Big Tech can still compete for tech talent in other ways. Many such organizations already have at least one advantage in that they do work tech workers find meaningful, but that alone isn’t enough.
To have open tech positions that people compete for, organizations should focus on being a place where people want to work. That applies to everything, from work-life balance to job flexibility to fostering an equitable and inclusive workplace.
It isn’t enough to make progress on these points and expect the rest to follow, but it will make recruiting a lot easier in a labor market that just saw a massive influx of tech talent in a short amount of time.
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