by Michael Kirven

Reeling in top IT talent in a hot job market

Jul 05, 20113 mins
CareersIT Leadership

By Michael Kirven

To attract and retain the market’s best tech minds amid the current bidding war for top IT talent, CIO’s need hiring and retention strategies which go beyond a competitive salary.

Make Company Culture a Selling Point

A strong cultural fit is one of the most important considerations for hiring managers — if your team is close-knit and humming, the wrong hire can throw it off balance. With company structures flattening and work environments becoming more flexible and creative, culture is growing in importance to candidates as well. Get clear on what your company and team culture is and isn’t, and expose candidates to it from the outset.

One way to simultaneously reveal and build team or company culture is through team interviews. Holding rounds of interviews where each member has a chance to provide feedback can strengthen the team by making each individual feel valued, while offering a well-rounded and deep evaluation of the candidate. 

Appeal to Achievers through Vision

Beyond desiring a great team and a supportive culture, IT pros tend to be high achievers who love a challenge.  During the interview process, provide a vision of the challenges you want the applicant to tackle once on board and communicate potential growth opportunities in your company. The trend of IT and business convergence provides the perfect opportunity for IT to integrate with other departments — a challenge that will likely appeal to top candidates.   

You can also incentivize your current top talent to stay put by helping them map out their professional development within the organization. For those that don’t want, or perhaps aren’t cut out for a management track, offer alternative paths to specialize or move horizontally across departments.

Show the Impact of IT on the Business

Budget freezes, lay-offs, off-shoring and a view of IT as a support role rather than business driver has left many IT pros feeling overworked, under-appreciated and commoditized. Those that held on through the recession may now be seeking greener pastures.

You can help ensure that they remain by running your department like a small company in which each team member feels like a stakeholder. Continually update them regarding company issues, goals and plans, and regularly communicate to your team the true impact of your department’s successes on the company’s bottom line. By showing the connection between their efforts and the company’s overall success, you tie employees closer to the goals of the business and allow them to see more meaning in their work.  Additionally, as the CIO is increasingly expected to generate business ideas, engaging top talent in this innovative process will further solidify their sense of purpose and achievement within the company.

The bottom line is that today’s CIOs must go to bat for their employees, and offer them new opportunities by breaking down departmental silos and leading company-wide innovation. The convergence of IT and business provides more chances than ever for CIOs to offer team members a higher sense of purpose within a creative, collaborative and vibrant work culture — a combination that both attracts and retains top IT talent.

Michael Kirven is co-founder of agile business consulting firm Bluewolf, which provides lifecycle innovation, cloud implementations, IT staffing, managed services and other services to sync business and IT for efficient, adaptive performance.