Hiring the best tech talent is a challenge for everyone regardless of whether you’re located in the heart of Silicon Valley and other Coastal tech hubs, or in the heart of the Midwest like in our very own Indianapolis tech community.

Large, medium or small; established, scale-up or startup; tech and tech-enabled companies alike all struggle to find and hire highly qualified people for certain technical roles, but especially for software developers, engineers, and specialized or emerging roles. This is despite Indianapolis being ranked #5 for Cities Creating the Most Technology Jobs by Forbes (2017).

The job search website Indeed recently surveyed more than 1,000 tech hiring managers and recruiters from across the country and close to nine in 10 respondents (86 percent) said they find it challenging to find and hire technical talent, with over a third (36 percent) saying they find technical hiring “very” challenging. With companies desperate to achieve their hiring goals, more than half (53 percent) of respondents have settled for candidates who do not meet the job description requirements.

“The U.S. technology industry has seen a pretty large and sudden increase in private and public money entering the marketplace since the end of the recession, which puts a bigger strain on resourcing in general, but especially on human capital as there are more and more companies sharing in the talent pool,” said Matt Tyner, vice president, finance & operations for SmarterHQ.

TechPointX talent programs like Xtern, Xtern Bootcamp and The Grid help to immerse students into the Indianapolis tech community and launch their careers in tech.

Fast-growing marketing technology platform provider SmarterHQ takes a longer view for technical hiring and considers the process more of an investment as opposed to filling any particular job opening.

“Instead of waiting until we have an immediate need for new headcount — say for junior developers or engineers — we make the investment early and often, cultivating the young talent into the experienced pros we need in the future through internships like the Xtern program,” said Tyner.

The hiring pipeline he described can begin up to 18 months to three years before bringing tech talent on board full time. The benefits are worth the wait, according to Tyner, and the internships and lengthened hiring timeline mitigates the risks of a bad hire as well.

“There are more jobs available in Indianapolis than there are experienced and well-trained job seekers, so you’re getting off on the wrong foot if you’re waiting until you have an actual job opening to line up great talent to join your team,” said Kristen Hamerstadt, vice president of marketing, SmarterHQ. “Investing in talent and building relationships now helps you plan for the future. Plus, you can steer interns toward mentors and resources that will help prepare them to hit the ground running when they graduate, and those relationships make a big difference when you’re competing with out-of-state tech giants and the lure of the Coasts.”

Of course, it doesn’t work out 100 percent of the time and SmarterHQ prides itself on transparency and being upfront with interns and potential full-time hires that there may not be available headcount months down the road when they graduate. There are too many uncertainties to make guarantees to incoming college seniors right when they are finishing their internships. However, SmarterHQ has experimented with continuing part-time employment, and by the time seniors are interviewing at job fairs on campus in the fall and into the New Year, things have firmed up enough for SmarterHQ to make offers to their top choices for full-time employment.

“I think forecasting is one of the hardest things in business,” Tyner said. “It is always going to be an imperfect process, but we try to think about staffing from a short-term, mid-term and long-term perspective. For instance, when building out an engineering team we know that resources are scarce and that’s why we approach it as a two- to three-year process and guarantee dollars towards programs like Xtern knowing that we’re getting the cream of the crop in talent and helping to develop their skills ourselves.”

Indianapolis-based healthcare CRM software company hc1.com is another local employer that takes a longview approach to hiring for technical roles — sometimes reaching deeper into the university setting to cultivate young talent for future full-time positions.

“I always make sure we’re fully immersed in the universities and have a presence at the key job fairs,” said Mariel McAlister, employee experience manager at hc1.com. “Whether we’re hiring interns or full-time, every interaction matters because even if the person in front of you isn’t a fit right now, they might be a perfect fit down the road and building those relationships is important for when the time is right.”

By focusing on the experience hc1.com offers its interns, the company has a nearly perfect track record of its full-time offers being accepted, which creates more stability for the recruiting process. “Fortunately, we have a very strong internship program and we do participate in the Xtern program and Orr Fellowship as well, so we really don’t have to go outside of that process for highly skilled entry-level talent,” said McAlister.

hc1.com has a robust “passive recruitment” program including media and community relations efforts, networking events and referrals. The company also maintains an online internship application  encouraging future interns to apply “because you never know when and where the next great new hire will come from.”

To learn more about how the TechPointX talent programs can help you access and develop a pre-screened and turnkey top tech-talent pipeline, visit https://techpoint.org/talent/ or contact Nichole Clayton, senior manager of program operations.