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Keeping & Attracting Top IT Talent

The current unemployment rate in the IT sector is under 1% and close to 0% in certain areas like IT Security. A recent study conducted by Korn Ferry concluded that the tech sector will see a shortage of over 4.3 million jobs by 2030 (not that far away).

Experienced, high caliber IT professionals can be very selective in where they work.  They won’t accept any offer that comes up.  It’s critical for IT Leaders to understand what’s important to them in order to keep and attract top IT talent.​

The automatic assumption for many IT leaders is to pay employees larger salaries so they stick around or want to work for your company.  Although money is always an important factor, we know both anecdotally and by looking at the data we collect through our latest 2018 survey, “What matters to IT professionals”, that money is not everything.  The results of the survey show that 68% of IT professionals would be willing to take a pay cut for a better position and only 53% are happy in their current position.  What’s more, is that 80% of those surveyed would be willing to leave their current employer if a better opportunity came up.

​In order to attract and retain high caliber IT talent, IT leaders need to focus on a few key areas as follows:

1. A relationship between employee and direct supervisor

Without a doubt, the most important factor in employee retention is the relationship between the employee and their direct supervisor.  Unfortunately, many IT managers were promoted from individual contributor tech positions with absolutely no training on how to manage people.  

IT leaders should focus on building stronger relationships with their direct reports.  Here are a few areas to be mindful of:

  • Clarity - It’s important for managers to be very clear on expectations.  Better clarity from managers regarding what's expected can be a happiness boost that leads to higher retention.  

  • Support – The most frequent cause of a bad day at work is an unsupportive, unhelpful boss. IT leaders need to be available to answer questions, give feedback and offer a positive word of encouragement. Managers should never be too busy to provide the support their        employees need.  

  • Personal Empathy – IT leaders must find ways to get to know the employee on a personal level, find common ground and strive to understand the employee's needs and issues that may arise. 

  • Making a difference – Every employee must feel that they are making a difference.  This is absolutely essential if you want to retain good talent. It’s up to each IT Leader to make sure that every employee in their organization feels that they are making a difference.

2. Flexibility

​A commitment to supporting work-life balance can ensure success in the effort to find and retain top caliber IT talent.  ​

One of Perspective Talent’s clients is a non-profit organization with very limited resources.  They struggled for many years to fill their open IT positions because their salaries were drastically below market for their area. About 9 months ago, they instituted a new policy which allowed IT employees to work remotely.  As a result, they were able to easily fill all of their open positions with exceptionally talented IT people that were willing to take a pay cut for the flexibility of working from home.  

​Offering flexible work schedules, work from home options, and ample vacation time can help to boost productivity, retention and employee engagement.  Do not underestimate the importance of flexibility to today’s IT professional.  

3. Career Development

IT leaders intuitively understand that the world in which they work is ever changing. If you are an IT professional your responsibility is to keep up to date with the latest in technology.  The highest caliber IT professionals do not expect to be trained, they take on the responsibility to continuously learn.  They do however expect to be able to be in an environment that is open to trying new technologies, methods, and techniques. Even if you can’t afford all the latest cutting-edge tech tools, investing in your technology stack and trying new methods and techniques that are current, relevant and interesting is a key to attracting and retaining top talent.  High caliber IT professionals say the technology they work on, projects they are a part of, and internal opportunities are most important for career growth. It’s up to the IT leaders to support them in their career development by allowing them to try new approaches, test out new technologies, and take on new projects and roles.

4. Compensation & Benefits

Salary is still one of the most important factors in evaluating a new or current opportunity.  It’s important to understand and meet the current market rates for any new position. The market rates will depend on things like whether the position can be done remotely, geography, industry, responsibilities, and the type of knowledge and experience required for the role. The team of IT professionals at Perspective Talent can help you with this with solid data-driven information. 

For your existing team, IT leaders need to periodically evaluate employee salaries with current market rates.  This is especially critical at organizations that provide small or no annual increases. Long-tenured employees that are underpaid can easily be snatched away by other organizations willing to pay top market rates for top talent.

Salary is not the only area that needs focus.  Organizations can set themselves apart by offering benefits that appeal to the candidate.  The most important benefit for most is adequate PTO policies.  The second most important is low deductible, low cost medical and dental benefits.  There are other benefits that can also have an impact on attracting and retaining top talent like tuition reimbursement, student loan relief, free or reduced child care, an appealing work environment, access to food and beverages, employee training, and paid time off for employee education.

There is no magic formula when it comes to compensation packages, but offering market salaries, good PTO, and low-cost benefits are the foundation.  Finding the right balance of lifestyle benefits and career advancement opportunities can also make a significant difference.

Attracting and retaining the top tech talent is critical to your company’s success.  Focusing on the areas that are most important to them is what will make the difference.  Excellent employee-manager relationships, flexibility, career development, and compensation are what it’s all about.

Need resources? Perspective Talent’s recruiters have an average of 12 years of IT experience in different areas of technology.  Usually, we will review over 200 candidates, interview an average of 30-40, and submit the top 2-4 for your review. Unlike typical internal and external IT recruiting teams that expect 1 interview for every 5 candidates they send to a hiring manager (20% interview rate), Perspective Talent has, since its inception, had a 92% interview rate.  It usually only takes 2-4 candidates submissions before our clients make a hire.  This enables you to fill your positions faster, with less effort, and with better quality candidates. Contact us today at 406-709-0304 or shoot us an email at to request additional information.

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