July 21, 2013

Talent War: Exploring the State of Recruiting Top Tech Talent

In September 2012, Microsoft published a report on the state of technical talent in the United States that was eye opening, even if it wasn’t shocking.

In it, the tech giant revealed that the average number of people graduating with computer science degrees each year (59,731) is less than half of the number of new job openings that require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science (122,300). And, despite the increasing use of technology in our day-to-day lives and a younger generation that has grown up with the Internet, Microsoft thinks the shortage of tech talent in the U.S. is only going to get worse.

For tech startups and growth-stage software businesses, that’s a big problem. If you can’t find, hire, and retain the technical talent you need to scale your business and its product, how can you compete and survive against companies that are doing those things? The reality, unfortunately, is that you won’t.

Exploring the Myriad Challenges of Recruiting Top Tech Talent

That critical issue is at the center of a new report from OpenView Venture Partners entitled, “How to Win the War for Top Tech Talent.” The 10-page report shares the lessons we have learned from our experience recruiting software engineers for more than 20 expansion-stage technology companies around the country, as well as our findings from a proprietary survey of over 200 software engineers and technical recruiters nationwide.

The report reveals some interesting nuances about software engineers, as well as discrepancies between what companies think top engineering talent looks for in a job and what those engineers actually want. For instance:

•    89 percent of software engineers we surveyed say they have applied to two or fewer jobs in the past five years, which helps explain why it can be difficult to find and engage top software engineering talent.

•    64 percent of recruiters believe that the greatest motivator for software engineers to consider a new job is having the opportunity to work with interesting technology, but software engineers disagreed. In fact, less than 10 percent of the engineers we surveyed cited cutting-edge technology as a key reason for accepting a new position.

•    45 percent of software engineers said that a position’s relevance to their individual background was the top factor in deciding whether or not to respond to a recruiter’s outreach, while 13 percent cited interest in a company and 10 percent selected competitive compensation. 

A Simple Framework for Finding, Engaging, and Hiring Top Tech Talent

The bottom line is that recruiting top software engineering talent is very different from recruiting for other disciplines.

And if tech companies and recruiters hope to win the war for that talent, they need to be much more creative and proactive about how they source, engage, and hire for their engineering teams. That starts with implementing strategies that allow them to build their company’s reputation as an employer of choice for engineers, and then using the appropriate mediums and messaging to pique their interest.

In the full report, we lay out a series of best practices and ideas designed to help growing technology companies do just that, as well as share compensation data so companies in major tech hubs can better gauge the market and put together compensation packages that will help retain their team.

To read the full report, click here

Diana Martz is the Director of Talent at OpenView Venture Partners, a Boston-based venture capital firm that invests in expansion-stage technology companies.  You can follow Diana on Twitter (@dianawmartz) by clicking here.

Cover photo credit: MilitaryHealth