Career Skills

Tips to Attract Tech Talent in a Tough Market

By Elizabeth Lions

With the lowest unemployment rates in 47 years, companies are working harder than ever to find top technical talent. A recent ISACA survey stated it took enterprise-level companies up to six months to identify and hire security professionals. And that’s just one hot tech skill. IT overall is showing high demand in 2017, and the candidates I speak to often have an offer in hand.

The ‘post and hope’ approach to job boards is no longer effective. Just ask any recruiter who is trying to find a rock star security engineer and they will tell you just how hard it is to find the genius that doesn’t want to be found. Top talent is not hanging out on job boards and may not even be active on LinkedIn.

Here are some proven tips that will help you uncover the best talent for the job:

  • Write and Post an Enticing Ad on Technical Sites
    Dice still has a bulk of the technical professionals online, but other niche sites are just as good. Make sure your ad is flashy and not stuffy, and has a catchy lead to woo the candidate out of cyberspace. Google and Apple ads are some of the best if you need to read a few to get your creative juices flowing before you post. If you are lucky enough to find a good technical person who is working on a job board, this is the best approach.
  • Partner With the Hiring Manager
    Recruiters do the heavy lifting, but being able to leverage a hiring manager’s network can give your recruitment effort the boost it needs. Often it’s not the hiring manager’s first connection, either, it’s who that connection knows that leads to a great candidate. If you are a recruiter, partner with the hiring manager and sit with her while she goes through her contacts. If she turns up a short list, help her broaden her network’s reach. This approach will save money and pay dividends – 71% of passive technical candidates are found through referrals, according to Dice.
  • Ask a Recent Hire
    There is no better billboard for your company than your latest hire. Filled with excitement and possibility (and not yet jaded by office politics), she is likely willing to share her enthusiasm for her new employer with her network – a great source of referrals. Top talent hangs out with top talent, so whoever she refers – even if he doesn’t look perfect on paper, is likely worth a phone call.
  • Send Respectful and Enticing Emails to Candidates
    Tech professionals get hundreds of emails in any given week, many of which often go unread. So it’s not surprising that they don’t ever respond to recruiters’ emails, especially when they utilize the same predictable overtures. To get the prize fish, you’ve to stand out from the pack with a punchy email. Ask them to respond quickly because you are on a short timeline to identify and interview top talent. End the email by stating you’d appreciate a response, even if they are not interested. People are people. They will help if you ask.
  • Don’t “Fill the Job,” Build Relationships
    This approach takes time, but is worth it. Invest one night a month to attending the top technical user group. Shake hands. Get to know them. Know they will likely not trust you at first and you have to earn their trust. For a lot of technical people, they have had at least one bad run-in with a recruiter, if not more. Expect to build relationships slowly and don’t talk about your open jobs. Ask them what they do and why they like it. Get to know them – as people – not as fees or candidates. Think long term about relationship building – even if you have nothing to gain in the short term. You never know how your relationships might bear fruit down the road.

Elizabeth Lions is an author, professional speaker and career coach. She started her career as a headhunter on the west coast, where she worked with companies like Microsoft, Wells Fargo, EBay and Intel to name a few. She has authored two books, Recession Proof Yourself and I Quit! Working for You Isn’t Working For Me. Her third book, on women’s leadership, will be released in 2017. Elizabeth has designed and developed leadership and career courses, webinars and even a radio show entitled, “Leadership Lessons from the Lioness,” featured on Plaid for Women. In 2014, she took her leadership courses to Dubai and the Middle East. Today, Elizabeth can be found writing, coaching and collaborating with the who’s who of the corporate America. When she isn’t working, Elizabeth can be found traveling across state lines with her husband on their Harley Davidson motorcycle or in the yoga studio twisting for hours on end. For more about Elizabeth’s philosophies, programs and videos, please visit

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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