How high-growth teams can find tech talent that ticks all the boxes
Every business, every team, has slightly different hiring needs. But all the same, we’re all familiar with the ‘technical rockstar’.
That dream technical candidate that slots seamlessly into your team, integrates effortlessly into complex projects, energizes and engages colleagues, and becomes an evangelist for your culture and values.
Read on to understand what separates those dream candidates from the pack. And then keep reading to discover why you can’t always get what you want (but what you should do instead).
What sets a dream tech candidate apart?
Here’s what our consultants say:
- Specialists not generalists. Less is more. Mostly we want tech candidates who’re real subject matter experts. They know their language inside-out; they’re not jacks of all trades.
- Understanding of wider context. The best tech talent knows they don’t work in a silo. They can clearly articulate what they’ve done within teams, and how those projects related to broader business strategy.
- Longevity. Tech candidates move jobs more often than they used to. That’s an unavoidable fact. But too-early turnover throws projects into turmoil and your team into workload overdrive while you re-recruit. So ideally we hunt for tech people with two to four years tenure in past roles.
- Exceptional communication skills. IT has changed, and the tech professionals you need have changed too. We look for tech people who play well with others. It’s crucial they can clearly articulate what they do and what they need to non-techie people.
- Cultural fit. The types of companies we work with generally have a bold, vibrant culture, so need technical professionals who can hold their own. The days of back-office cost-centre IT is over, at least in the worlds we work in.
- Track record in high-growth companies. We work with high-tech, high-growth businesses, so tech candidates need to be intimately familiar with that environment. It’s fast and furious – and there’s no room to hide.
- Agile experience. By the same token, many of our clients specifically look for project managers and developers who’ve worked the agile methodology, with paired or extreme programming. Tech candidate with that experience who embrace that mentality are always in high-demand.
- Ability to learn fast. The demands of evolving technology like cyber security means businesses often cross-train, so we look for tech people who learn fast. If your business is set-up to effectively upskill, we’ll find you fast learners.
- They live and breathe tech. The best techies don’t see tech as a job. It’s a passion. Maybe they’re actively engaged in communities and forums, or maybe they contribute to open source, for example. The point is, they live their subject matter.
So that’s the unicorn. The dream tech hire. And they are out there. Probably two in five of the candidates we work with match that profile, for example.
But let’s talk about compromise for a moment.
Find YOUR perfect technical hire (not THE perfect technical hire)
In reality, both the Netherlands and the UK are competitive, candidate-driven hiring markets. There are more open roles than technical professionals to fill them. Which means a comparatively small number of businesses will find THE tech rockstar that ticks every box.
Everyone else has to compromise. Recruitment isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Every business has unique needs – and faces unique challenges.
Defining those needs and challenges helps you decide what your recruitment strategy should be – today and for future growth.
For example, maybe your interview-to-offer ratio is poor because your interview process takes too long. You want the unicorn technical candidate that ticks every box – but you simply won’t compete until you address your processes.
Maybe right now, you compromise and decide to hire someone with three years’ Java experience instead of five, because you’ve got a great in-house training set-up. And then longer-term, you start adapting your recruitment processes.
Or maybe you’re absolutely certain you need a best-in-class developer and you need them yesterday. But you’ve been looking for weeks and nobody local fits. So you compromise, and decide to hire a Canadian developer who’s the absolute top of her game.
And then long-term, you start fleshing out an apprentice programme to cultivate future skills locally. Or you invest into boosting your local employer brand, to help your business stand out from the pack.
For example, we often help high-growth Dutch tech teams expand their search into international talent. Sacrificing Dutch-language skills – which often aren’t really needed, since code is universal and most high-growth businesses have international expansion plans anyway – unlocks incredible developers from elsewhere, who can add real value to your business.
The point is, hiring ad hoc for top-tier tech talent is becoming nearly impossible, in both the UK and the Netherlands. You might get lucky a few times but ultimately a scattergun approach will hamstring your future growth.
What’s needed is a long-term talent strategy that addresses your unique challenges, to build a future-proof recruitment mechanism that helps your business scale.
That’s what Arrows Group help with. We partner with some of the world’s fastest-growth businesses to create talent strategies that help them stay ahead of the competition.