Insider Tips for Hiring and Retaining Top Tech Talent

Oct 27, 2020
Recruiting handshake image

VanHack founder Ilya Brotzky draws on his 5+ years of tech recruiting experience to share not so obvious strategies that have helped his startup make almost 1000 hires around the world. Learn how you can make small changes with large, long lasting results in order to bring your team, your product and your company to the next level.

With the accelerated move to remote work amid COVID-19, hiring top tech talent is more competitive than ever. Not only are companies competing for talent in the U.S., but also abroad.

Once hired, retaining talent is also a struggle. Many top tech professionals are increasingly choosing to work independently or to job hop to competitors in under two years.What can companies do to expand their hiring outside of their city and compete for the best international talent? And what can companies do to retain talent for the long haul?

Here are my best tips for hiring and retaining top tech talent:

Sourcing Top Tech Talent: Find the Hidden Gems

Sometimes the best talent is found from internal referrals, friends, and your company’s network. Traditional recruiters can still find decent candidates. Job boards are good, too, but sifting through thousands of applications isn’t ideal.Today, traditional methods aren’t enough for sourcing top tech talent. Companies should go deeper into the hunt for talent and expand their recruitment efforts across the globe and online. Angel List and LinkedIn are good places to start. But you might miss hidden talent who don’t frequently update or check their social profiles. Say you’re looking for developers. Always check communities like Github and Stack Overflow, where you can monitor portfolios and discussions of the best, or perhaps hidden, talent. 

Can you go deeper? Yes. Expand your search to Whatsapp and Slack developer communities. Find who’s helping developers solve interesting problems — professionally or on their own pet projects. Automated recruitment is also a new option. Services like Dux-Soup can save you time in lead generation.If you still need help, hiring marketplaces like Van Hack, Hired, and Vettery discover and maintain the best pool of talent for you. 

Interviewing Talent: Be Clear About the Process and Provide Quick Feedback

So you found the next top tech talent who you might want to hire. Interviewing is a make or break process for both companies and prospects. 

Always clearly communicate your interview process with candidates — from the very beginning. If you surprise the candidate with an unexpected next step, you risk shocking them and being ghosted. On the other side, find what makes a candidate tick — in a good way. What kinds of skills and projects excite them? If you can match this excitement to a role, you might have the right fit for the next steps.Once candidates have gone through an interview step, like coding challenges or giving a presentation, quickly provide feedback. And if it’s a “No,” tell candidates right away! Respect their time and don’t leave them hanging for weeks. Candidates now share horror stories of interviews on sites like Glassdoor, so you don’t want to spoil your reputation with terrible interview experiences.And if you have candidates who almost made the cut, reward them with good feedback — or even refer them to another company! Small gestures like this could pay off years from now when a once failed candidate turns into the next in-demand tech talent.

Hiring Talent: Make the Offer FAST!

You found the perfect fit. Make an offer FAST — once you’re sure about it. The best tech talent is always in demand, so if you’re not first, you end up last — and possibly poached by another offer.Give the candidate full details of the offer, including salary, bonuses, benefits, and employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), when applicable.

What if the candidate is outside of the U.S.? Should you offer less money? No! Always pay fair market value. In a remote world, we’re not basing salaries on physical location anymore — what matters are skills and talent. For example, you risk alienating a new teammate in Mexico when they hear their colleagues in America make twice as much.

Make sure a contract clearly explains how you’re going to pay hires — especially when they’re remote. Most remote hires are contractors and can be simply paid through platforms like PayPal, Transferwise, World Remit, etc., in minutes. Also when moving to hire, include a letter or note from the hiring manager in the offer. Your hiring manager shepherded your candidate to your wonderful company and might be the first bond they create with a new team member.

If your candidate has competing offers, over-communicate why you want them, why they’re a fit, and provide a vision of what you could do together. That doesn’t mean being desperate, but candidates aren’t won over solely by compensation and benefits. Give them a vision for why you're the best company to progress their career.

Retaining Talent: Give Them Reasons To Stay. 

The keys to giving talent a reason to stay around for the long haul? One is learning and growth. Are you providing your team members with ways to up-skill? You should be — investing in talent goes a long way to building trust and a long lasting work relationship. After a year or so, can your team members rise up to leadership roles? You better know so, or they might run off to a company that will.Team building and mentorship are also key reasons top tech talent stay with companies. Human bonds are essential for teammates to feel at home. And don’t forget about relationships with managers. One tyrannical manager can lead to a slew of teammates leaving for greener pastures. 

Some of these ideas are simple. Some are tricky to implement. But they are critical for companies competing for the top tech talent. Remember to expand your sights abroad and into developer communities. Always be clear about your interview processes and provide feedback. Make offers fast and offer fair compensation. Finally, provide talent with upskilling and mentorship opportunities — and your top tech talent will stick with you. 

About the Author
Ilya Brotzky

Ilya is the CEO of VanHack. The company completed the Techstars Berlin Accelerator in 2017. Ilya studied economics and marketing at Cornell. Previously he worked in Ed Tech, founded a crowdfunding for the homeless startup, and he loves swimming, hockey, and travel.