Finding, Acquiring and Retaining Talent

by | May 19, 2018

I attended a CIO Association of Canada Vancouver Chapter meeting on May 15 on the topic of :  Finding, Acquiring and Retaining Technology Talent in Competitive Market Segments.

The session format had a panel of HR and Talent Recruitment leaders answering questions and providing guidance on the current employment market.   The questions posed were very interesting focusing on the fundamental challenges Technology Leaders face in recruiting talented people to our companies in the Vancouver area.

Some of the in demand positions are;

  • software developers and designers
  • business analysts
  • cybersecurity analysts
  • project managers

We also discussed the current state of job openings at the “head of technology” level (CIO, CTO, Director of IT, etc.) too.   Vancouver is a relatively small market and currently there are around 20+ of these positions open.  The difficulty is that many of these roles are with small and medium companies and very few are with large enterprises or government bodies.

Here are some of the highlighted challenges for finding, acquiring and retaining technology talent:

  • Large multinational technology companies are setting up and/or expanding their offices in the Vancouver area
  • Salaries that companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google offer far outstrip any salaries that local private and public sector organizations can provide
  • Newer technology workers are more likely to changes jobs that those who have been in the industry for a decade or more
  • The high cost of living (and particularly housing costs) in Vancouver is driving younger technology workers and their families out of the region
  • There is a shortfall of people who are trained in technology careers that makes the hiring market skewed in favour of the job applicant
  • Slow hiring practices and procedures will cause companies to miss out on good applicants who typically are deciding on multiple offers at the same time
  • With the removal of mandatory retirement, senior employees are not retiring as quickly which limits the upward progression of junior employees and potentially blocks career paths within organizations

The list above is daunting and really makes the outlook for local employers appear to be bleak.   So what can we do?

  • Start by treating your people well and by that I mean get to know them.  Make a personal connection!
  • Make the commitment as a leader to dedicate time to develop your people by providing face to face time, create personal learning/performance plans (I wrote about the value of this here and here) and provide opportunities for your people to try new things
  • If we can’t compete on salary, then find other things that might be valuable to potential recruits and to your existing team like work-life balance, benefits like medical and dental coverage, telecommuting and the value of a pension plan.
  • Market and emphasize the mission of your company.  I have worked most of my career in the public sector particularly in higher education and local government.  Highlighting the mission of these organizations does make a difference and people will come to work for you because of this higher calling.
  • Establish your personal brand as a leader and mentor.   If you commit to helping others advance their career, they will tell people.  “This boss I had gave me their time for mentorship and provided me the opportunity to try new things and learn.”  If applicants know that the culture of your company is to develop people, they will come and work for you.

The market for finding, acquiring and retaining talented technologist is getting harder and harder.   We can make a difference by focusing on what makes working for us and our companies a positive thing.   Good luck and if you have any other strategies, I would love to hear them!


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