4 Ways Your Competitors Are Stealing Your IT Talent

Talent Acquisition Methods

Savvy companies are shopping for talent in what is arguably the best place to find it -- their competition. As the talent war heats up, poaching tech professionals is becoming increasingly common. Here's how it's done and how to stop it.

One of the best places for your competitors to find great talent is within the walls of your company. If your best and brightest have been jumping ship to work for your biggest rival, it's important to know how they're being recruited, why they are being targeted and what you can do to stop it. Here's how your competitors may be poaching your talent.

They're Using Professional Search Tactics

Savvy companies know that the best talent is often already employed - with their competitors. Hiring a professional search firm -- or if that's not financially feasible, copying their subtle approach -- can lure away even the most content employees. As this Inc. Magazine article points out, targeting successful talent and then making contact via social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, or at professional networking events, conferences or industry events with the promise of a "great opportunity" can pique their interest and entice them to consider a move.

They're Using Tools Like Poachable or Switch

One of the biggest challenges for hiring managers and recruiters is finding passive candidates, says Tom Leung, founder and CEO of anonymous career matchmaking service Poachable.

"Passive job finding - and searching for passive candidates - has a lot of interest for both candidates and for hiring managers and recruiters. As the economy rebounds and the technology market booms it remains difficult to match potential candidates with key open positions," Leung says. Employees and candidates are demanding higher pay from potential employers while, at the same time, STEM jobs are taking twice as long to fill as non-STEM jobs.

"When we asked hiring managers and recruiters what their biggest challenge was, they told us their weak spot was luring great talent that was already employed. Everybody seems to be doing a decent job of blasting out job postings, targeting active candidates, interviewing them, but this passive recruiting is where people get stuck," says Leung.

Passive candidates are already employed and aren't necessarily unhappy, Leung says, but if the right opportunity came up, they would consider making a move. That's where tools like Lueng's Poachable and the new Switch solution come in.

"These folks might want to make a move, but they're too busy to check the job boards every day, and they're content where they are. What we do is help them discover what types of better, more fulfilling jobs are out there by asking them what 'dream job' would be tempting enough for them to move, and we help them find that," says Leung.

Are You Offering Competitive Benefits and Perks

Flexible work schedules, job-sharing, opportunities to work remotely, subsidized child and elder care, employee-paid healthcare packages, on-site gym facilities, a masseuse and unlimited vacation time are all important if you want to attract talented IT professionals.

"Companies that acknowledge and accommodate the fact that their talent has a life separate from work tend to have more engaged, loyal and productive employees, says Dice.com president Shravan Goli.

A March 2014 study from Dice.com surveyed tech pros and found benefits and perks like flexibility, free food and the ability to work with cutting-edge technology were key drivers of their decision to take a new position. "With approximately 2.9 percent unemployment rate in the IT industry, companies must get creative to attract and keep their top talent. Perks and benefits are one way they are looking beyond compensation," says Goli.

Offering Better Monetary Incentives

Your talent is one of your business' greatest assets, and if you're not doing everything you can to ensure they stay happy, especially where compensation is concerned, you could lose them - and be at a competitive disadvantage, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"All companies have valued employees - those they can't afford to lose because of their skill, experience and commitment to their work. One way you can help them resist the temptation to stray is to show that you are invested in their future," according to data from the SBA.

The SBA advises giving these employees one-on-one time with management, discussing their professional goals and their importance, and sharing the company's vision for continued growth as well as the employee's role in that growth.

In addition, the SBA says, offering meaningful pay increases, a generous bonus structure and/or compensation like "long-term incentive plans tied to the overall success of the business, not just individual performance, can also send a clear message to your employees that they have a recognized and valuable role to play in your business as a whole."

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