13th of May, 2019
How to manage and retain IT specialists: 19 best practices of 2019

The global shortage of tech talent creates fierce competition for qualified and experienced IT specialists. As a member of a company that has grown in size by 331% in 3 years, and competes with big guys on IT market, I understand the importance of developing a smart and systematic approach to hiring, training, and retaining top software engineers. So, I have decided to share some of our best practises with you.

Best practises of IT staffing

Finding the right specialist within the tight time frame can be extremely complicated. So to do it effectively, you should:

1. Aim for the right people. We believe that looking for developers who share the values of your company is vital. Choose people not only for their hard and soft skills, but also attitude and motivation as it allows building an active, loyal, and sustainable community within the company.

2. Use multiple channels of recruitment. Traditional sources (like LinkedIn, Indeed.com and others) seem to be less effective than three years ago. So looking for alternative channels can help you reach the pool of experts unavailable otherwise. For example, we visit various tech conferences and connect with developers there to raise awareness about the company and available projects.

3. Stop searching for the perfect CV. We all want a perfect match or a candidate with a dazzling CV. However, people without a Master’s degree or with a modest profile can be talented and suitable for the position as well.

4. Shorten your position description. An average full-stack developer is contacted by at least five recruiters a week. In order to get their attention, present the concept first, and only then list the skills. Alternatively, even better, have a short version of a vacancy and a link to a full description if they are interested.

5. Throw a challenge to the developers. We have noticed a tendency that many tech experts are no longer interested in salaries only. They want a good challenge, a task that can help them grow, or make the difference, or at least catch their attention and distract from boring, routine problems.

6. Approach recruitment as a sales process. However, instead of selling the company to a client, they need to sell it to a developer. The same work for ‘selling’ a developer to a client. Only by matching the solution (skills) to a business need of a client, we can build a perfect match.

7. Adopt a data-driven approach. Learn about the recruitment routines that have worked before and make a decision based on the data you have. Analyze each successful hiring instance and look for the r insights into the best working channels, approaches, and techniques.

8. Customize the benefits you offer. Take more time to list things that are interesting for a specific group of experts. For example, junior developers would often need a career development plan and a good mentorship program, while senior specialists would be more interested in the educational budget for programs of their own choice.

Talent management

Sometimes, it can be hard to find a specialist for the needs of a project. In such cases, an alternative can be in finding the right expert within your own company and within a short span of time. Or helping the existing one gain new skills, adapt to the growing demands of the market, adopt new technologies, etc. Here is what we practice:

9. Provide effective onboarding. Did you know that nearly 20% of people quit within the first three month due to ineffective onboarding process? To help newcomers adapt faster, prepare for their effective welcoming.

10. Dig deeper into the process. Knowing how much time it takes for a developer to grow from a Junior level to a Middle one, understanding the specific skill set a specific type of projects to call for, is important to be able to manage the available resources.

11. Establish realistic employee learning and development programs. Use a relevant qualification matrix and set S.M.A.R.T. goals. However, remember to make them applicable to both the needs of a project and company vision.

12. Elaborate a mentorship program. Another way to help your people grow is to expand their expertise via mentorship and training programs. This also will help them gain market value and acquire additional competence as a personal competitive advantage.

13. Encourage profound knowledge sharing within a project. If managed properly, it will help build a cross-functional team that can manage most issues on their own.

14. In-company knowledge sharing. We have a regular practice of tech talks that cover multiple topics. Covering the best practises of coding, testing, business analytics, project management, etc., help us raise well-rounded experts who understand the SDLC and can contribute to every part of the process.

Retaining the tech talent

Retention of tech talent is a huge problem all over the world. For example, in the US only, the turnover rate reached 13.2% in 2018. So in order to help your company save money and time, let’s take a look at things that can help you reduce the turnover.

15. Provide clear paths to professional growth. Career planning is not a new thing, however, the tendency shows that many companies expand the ‘expectations’ beyond the traditional qualifications. For example, one of our newcomers shared that a company demanded him to learn Scala despite being a front-end developer. This is not going to work if you are aiming for highly-qualified developers.

16. Administer performance appraisal and recognition. Providing your specialists with honest and objective feedback is not only vital for building a trustful raport, but to predict, reveal or prevent escalation of conflicts. Moreover, positive reinforcement helps them to reach a sense of accomplishment and success faster.

17. Nurture the culture of entrepreneurship. Our company believes that allowing our developers to push ideas forward, try and introduce new things helps us keep the best people. It gives them the freedom to drive the change and ensures a sense of self-fulfillment. Encourage a healthy work-life balance. Despite being the common line in many job offers, rarely do companies make actual steps to achieve this. Make sure your employees have a chance to spend time building their lives outside the work (even if the client demands daily meetings after 8 pm). Don’t assume they are happy just because they show up to work. Prepare to communicate with employees and let them provide you with feedback. However, be ready to act upon this feedback, otherwise, it won’t matter. Sometimes people can act normal but then quit out of the blue, just because no measures were taken once they provided you with some input.

18. Assign HR business partners. They help younger generations understand the whole spectrum of their career possibilities, find the most effective career path and avoid bureaucracy bottlenecks. These things are what Generation Y is especially grateful for.

19. Create a sense of belonging. I believe that forming a connection with an employee, helping them embrace the company’s culture is what helps them choose us every single day.

Overall, the strategy is simple: choose the people that embrace the values and vision of your company, provide quality training and let them share their own ideas.

Nadia Serheichuk
Nadia Serheichuk Guest Author

Nadia Serheichuk is a writer at N-IX, who is passionate about discovering and writing about technology at its very best. She loves writing about professional services, cloud solutions, and business intelligence.

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