by C.G. Lynch

Five Tips for Recruiting Tech Workers to Out-of-the-Way Places

May 21, 20073 mins
IT Leadership

Far from the big city attractions? No fancy salary to offer? There are still ways to encourage talented people to join your team.

So, you can’t wow talented IT recruits with a fancy corporate campus, never mind a fancy salary? Neither can the other mid-market CIOs—but you must make the most of what you’ve got. Since you can’t count exclusively on local talent, prepare to treat folks from across the country well, says Suzanne Fairlie, president of Prosearch, an IT staffing firm based in Philadelphia, who has helped place candidates at mid-market companies. Here are five tips from recruiters and mid-market CIOs who’ve won at this game.

1. Work the phone. Do at least one, maybe two, in-depth phone interviews before you fly a candidate to your location. This way, you won’t waste your time or theirs. “Don’t just do one short interview; you need to give them time to get to know you,” Fairlie says.

2. Roll out as warm a welcome as possible. “You don’t need to have a limo waiting for them at the airport,” Fairlie says. “But you need to make sure you arrange transportation and lodging. Make sure a person meets them at the airport. I’ve heard of [recruits] getting stuck and wheeling their suitcases down the street.”

3. Enlist your staff as recruiters. During the visit, have your staff sell the job too. If a candidate is middle-aged, talking to him about good healthcare benefits, the school system and a low crime rate will likely resonate, since taking care of the family may be a top concern. But CIOs say that fresh-out-of-college kids might relate better to their peers who recently took jobs at your organization. “We’ve had new hires recruit their friends,” says Denise Stephens, CIO of the Washington Savannah River Co., who gathers recruits from schools like Clemson and the University of South Carolina.

4. Emphasize upsides. For example, tout the ability to work from home, if available. Allowing an employee to put in some occasional time at home might just be an added perk, says Fairlie, and serve as a stark contrast to a big firm where only the big shots can utilize such an advantage. At Oklahoma-based Amcat, a call center software maker, CTO Jim Texter will tell recruits that he has even gone so far as to let some employees work remotely permanently when, say, that employee’s spouse wants to relocate. “If that person is the right candidate, we try to allow them to go work in other areas and still work for us,” he says.

5. Keep it real. While it’s tempting to tell recruits that you’re working with the same technologies as the big guys, don’t embellish your company’s résumé. “You can’t say what you’re not,” Fairlie says. If you don’t have the cutting-edge technologies, put your best foot forward but be honest, she advises.