Always Be Recruiting: What Tech Talent Really Wants

Casual dress codes, open collaboration, and free snacks are top must-haves for young tech talent. After listening to a panel of IT leaders, recruiters, and local business leaders discuss all things recruitment and retention at the CXO Executive Summit by Evanta, it became clear that hiring top tech talent — and keeping them at your company — may not be as insurmountable as you think.

When it comes to tech talent, companies should always be recruiting or re-recruiting. It is crucial for company leaders to continually engage, delight, and challenge their employees. For young talent, it is especially important that companies invest in developing their careers.

The demand for tech talent is fierce, and no matter how hard we may try there is no silver bullet that can answer all of the challenges that talent recruitment and retention are known to bring. That being said, this panel believed that we can tilt the scales in our favor by focusing energy in these four areas:

1.) Pair new recruits with mentors for the first three to six months.

It is critical that these mentors not be direct supervisors, but people who can provide new recruits with constructive criticism while also being their number one cheerleaders.

2.) Delight new hires and help them develop a broad skill set.

Place new hires on cross functional teams and pull them into interesting projects where they can see the impact of their work.

3.) Bet on young, inexperienced talent.

The earlier you engage emerging talent in internship programs the more likely they are to return as full time employees. College students typically accept jobs during their senior year and they have a good idea of where they want to work by their junior (or even sophomore) year.

4.) Money doesn’t matter as much as you’d think.

When audience members were asked what matters to them most as employees, nobody said salary. They care about culture, having opportunities to make an impact, mobility, flexible hours, and staying motivated with new opportunities.

Having led the Xtern program through two classes now — recruiting 150+ of the top tech students in the country to work in Greater Indianapolis — I’ve learned that we need to sell to our strengths. Our companies are solving the same complex problems that employers are out west. We are using the same technologies, and we can provide all of the aforementioned perks.

What sets us apart is our people-driven approach. You may not have the deepest snack closet or fattest wallet, but if you take time to invest in recruitment candidates and continue investing in employees on a personal and cultural level, there is no reason we can’t win as individual employers and as a community.


The Evanta CXO Executive Summit panel on Solving the Recruiting and Retention Conundrum featured author Nancy Ahlrichs of FlashPoint and Ina Kamenz, SVP & CIO of Eli Lilly and Company. TechPoint’s CEO Mike Langellier moderated.