As we enter the full swing of the digital age, some companies are still struggling to fully realize how technology can grow and expand their business. A key challenge that companies outside the tech industry routinely face is attracting the top tech talent that can bring the company to that next level.
“Companies not in the tech industry won’t inherently have a strong technical brand or a reputation for engineering excellence and culture — this needs to be earned. While not having the technical brand can be a challenge, it is surmountable; in fact, many non-technology companies have established workplaces that are attractive to engineers,” says Nathan Doctor, CEO and co-founder of Qualified, a platform that helps recruiters asses coding talent.
Here are eight expert-approved ways that companies outside of the tech circuit can draw in the most talented techies in the hiring pool.
1. Take Stock of Your Company Values
Sometimes, attracting technical talent is a matter of connecting them to your unique mission and values “Technical talent can be so in demand, that it's not just about the financial compensation or benefits — it's about their ability to create something important,” advises Kate Kendall, founder and CEO of CloudPeeps, a community, marketplace and platform that connects freelancers and businesses.
[Related: 4 Ways to Lead with Mission and Purpose to Attract Informed Candidates]
2. Offer Remote Working Options
Because many tech positions lend themselves well to remote work, offering remote working and flexible hours can be a huge bonus for techies. For Kendall’s company, having a remote work culture allows them to attract a technical talent pool that is less tapped by larger companies. “As more top tech talent looks for flexibility and even to work more on their own side-projects: we must ask ourselves as employers how we can design companies that cater to this,” says Kendall.
3. Bring in a Tech Consultant
For companies in non-tech industries, sometimes it is best to bring in outside consultants to help figure out the company’s tech needs, and the tech roles that new hires will play. “It’s important for non-tech companies to develop an understanding and appreciation for the impact technology can have on their productivity and growth. Sometimes that means bringing in a tech consultant who can help the company frame their tech needs,” points out Diane Helbig, professional coach and president of Seize This Day.
4. Cultivate an Engineering-Forward Culture
“In the tech industry or not, companies need to have engineering-forward cultures to attract and retain great engineers. This encompasses a respect for engineering’s role in the organization, a strong engineering leadership and a focus on technical excellence,” says Doctor. He advises that any company can institute an engineering-forward culture, and even companies outside the tech industry can find ways to embody these values.
5. Integrate Tech into Your Strategic Plans
Part of attracting great tech talent is showing them how they won’t just be shunted off to the side for engineering fixes, but an integral part of the company’s strategic plans. “Often times tech talent believes non-tech industry companies don’t have an appreciation of the value of technology in their strategic plan. They think they will not be able to really impact progress and growth,” Helbig points out. Showing potential tech hires how they will contribute to the strategic plan — and can even help shape it — is an important step in attracting interest.
[Related: 4 Tips for Hiring the Elusive Software Engineer]
6. Hire Tech-Specific HR Personnel
When it comes to hiring employees in tech roles, getting specialists on board is crucial. This may mean either holding trainings for current HR personnel, or bringing in some new team members who focus on tech hires. “Technical recruiting is a specialized HR role and it is should be treated differently from other roles — it's surprising how easy it is to get wrong. Having a recruiter that really understands evaluating candidates on technical competency as well as communication and interpersonal skills is key,” says Kendall.
7. Test Technical Skills at the Interview Stage
“To recruit and hire excellent tech talent, a non-tech company can have great success with engineering-forward recruiting practices,” says Doctor. He stresses that designing an interview process that goes beyond the resume, where engineering candidates can convey their technical skills, helps companies convey that they have an effective and engineering-first hiring process.
8. Offer an Attractive Career Path
“Depending on the area of interest the person has, they might not be able to realize their full potential and impact at a company that isn’t in the tech industry,” says Helbig. At a company that isn’t overtly tech-focused, it can be hard for potential tech hires to see how the roles they would hold play into their broader career path. Conveying to potential hires how their role will boost their career — as well as laying down the roadmap for how they can climb the career ladder within the company — is crucial.