By Cain Ullah, CEO and Founder of Red Badger
As a SME in the tech industry, finding the right talent in what is a highly saturated and competitive market is increasingly challenging. As the UK’s booming tech scene has grown at breakneck pace a skills shortage has emerged where there are simply not enough people trained in the required technology skills to meet hiring demand. A battle for the best tech talent has ensued as a result. The larger tech companies such as Google and Facebook are recruiting hundreds of new staff every year and the best senior staff are demanding huge salaries, making it difficult for the smaller companies to attract talent. To combat this issue start-ups and SMEs (in all industries) need to find ways to build a community around their business and raise their profile among potential employees.
An in-house Community Manager who manages talent acquisition and is responsible for recruitment, engaging with talent and creating on-going relationships can help your business by building a community around it. As well as creating an online community through the usual social channels, this may also involve holding regular industry ‘meet-ups’ where you curate the content, select speakers and showcase the innovative, cutting edge work your organisation does. The role of a community manager differs from an HR officer in that it goes way beyond just hiring and firing and managing the admin side of talent acquisition. The Community Manager is much more involved in the strategy and search for new talent than an HR officer would ordinarily be.
Focusing on hiring graduates and junior candidates based on their potential is a good approach but it is vital to have a proper programme in place to train them in the essential practical skills they need in the workplace. University degrees are designed to provide students with a foundation in, and understanding of, their chosen industry but unfortunately practical work skills are often lacking which can put employers off hiring candidates straight out of university.
Businesses can help ensure their graduate recruits get up to speed as quickly as possible by setting up their own graduate academies, partnering with local universities and offering students the opportunity to work one or two days a week under the guidance of mentors and previous graduate recruits. The thinking here is to engage with young talent at an early stage - building strong foundations for their future career at the same time as building loyalty to your company.
In order to attract the best young talent, businesses must also get inside the mindset of the youth of today. Gone are the days when it was the sole ambition of the youngest and brightest to work for traditional global corporate organisations who are now publicly perceived as greedy and immoral. Today they want to work for companies like Google or the next exciting new start-up and they want to be involved in work that has a social benefit. Offering staff the option of spending a portion of their time working on charitable projects can be a great differentiator. People enjoy having the autonomy to work on projects which interest them and which they feel have a real benefit to wider society.
By focusing recruitment efforts towards attracting more junior staff, organisations are able to ensure they have a steady stream of young talent who are loyal to their business. Organising industry meet-ups or events is also a great way to raise the profile of your company and ensure that people are aware of the quality work your organisation does, so that when they come to their next job move, perhaps they will think of you instead of the Google’s of the world.