Millennial and Gen Z technical talent are flocking to Silicon Valley for jobs. To stay competitive in the technology driven market, many companies outside of the Valley are looking for ways to attract and retain more star coders. A study by Burning Glass found that programming jobs are growing 12% faster than the market average, meaning even more competition. Even after successfully recruiting talent, a TEK systems study reported that 42% of IT leaders believe their company struggles to retain IT talent.
Deloitte is one company that’s looking to revamp its employer brand to attract top tech talent. It has already made headlines for its decision to ditch traditional performance reviews for a growth oriented process, based on more frequent conversations and autonomy. It recently opened a new state of the art Toronto headquarters, equipped with treadmill desks and meditation lounges. Now they’re revamping their recruitment strategy, not only to attract a wider pool of candidates, but also to bring in candidates who will thrive in the environment they’ve created.
We spoke with Joshua Kho, Consultant for Deloitte Canada’s Technology Consulting practice, about the company’s new strategy. He explained that, while the previous process was great at targeting the traditional consultant, they were having a hard time recruiting technical talent with their long, difficult and, at times, painful hiring process. Previously, Deloitte reps would attend college fairs and recruit potential talent based on the grades and soft skills they could see on paper. Recruitees would then go through three screening processes.
Kho explained that in the end they were finding a lack of technical talent applying. The question was, how could they rethink the way they connect with and recruit potential hires. The solution Kho and his team came up with was to introduce what they call “Extreme Recruiting”.
The idea behind this inventive new process is that, instead of waiting for individuals to apply, Deloitte’s recruiters are going straight to coding hotspots: hackathons, code fests and product showcases. For their pilot test of the new strategy, Kho and his team attended Hack the North, Canada’s biggest hackathon. As they attend these hackathons, Kho and his team join the students in learning, mentoring, and observing. Prospective hires enter an expedited process resulting in an on the spot offer, no multi-step interview process, personality test or assignment. The question is how do they know candidates are the right fit simply by meeting and mingling with them at a hackathon?
There are three main reasons why “Extreme Recruiting” can actually yield better tech candidates than your normal interview process:
Fit the process to the person
Should we be recruiting sales reps, accountants and coders the same way? A completely different skill set requires a completely different way of recruiting. When asked, “why hackathons?”, Kho responded:
“Why not hackathons? Why conform and follow the same methods that everyone else uses? We wanted technically literate talent, why try and fit the person to the process when you can change the process to fit the person. Hackathons allow us to see how talent will perform under a compressed and difficult timeline. We view their actions, how they think, how they react, how they build, how they problem solve, all in the artificially created stress brought on by their limited timeline.”
A hotbed for technical talent, attending hackathons puts Joshua and his team in the center of the action. Reviewing skills in a cv or in a formal interview can’t compare.
Recruit for culture fit, not just technical skills
Aside from demonstrating a candidate’s technical skills, participating in events like hackathons also requires a high degree of interpersonal skills. In order to be successful, teams must be able to work collaboratively and communicate effectively. In these time intensive events there’s no room for egos or pride.
Another great aspect of hackathons is that they’re ultimately all about learning. To get far with your team you have to be able to take feedback well and use it to learn and improve your designs. This includes feedback from non-technical team members.
Finally, usually taking place on the weekend, all participants join out of pure passion and a desire to solve complex problems.
This means that the kind of candidates Deloitte’s “Extreme Recruiting” team meet are highly motivated and a perfect fit for the kind of culture the company has created. Kho explained, “I can sit in a hackathon and at the end of it, know that the students who excelled here will excel in front of a client, excel in solving that client's problem, and have the confidence to know that their envisioned solutions will be delivered within the tight timelines set in client facing work.”
Generational differences in recruiting
Millennials and now Generation Z are also having a major impact on the way companies recruit talent. Today we’re starting to realize that it’s not just about what candidates can offer a company, but what companies can offer potential employees. A Gallup survey found that 87% of millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as important to them in a job. In fact, they found “opportunities to learn and grow” was one of the top three factors needed to retain millennials. This generation wants to be challenged and given responsibility, but they also want the tools to do so.
Kho asserted, “This generation, we the so called “impatient” ones, are looking to have an impact, to have responsibility, to change the world. We know that we cannot all be the future Zuckerbergs of the world, but in our own little sphere we want to enact impactful, calculated change. Companies need to speed up the hiring process, get new talent in and get them working, but make the process fun, challenging, and exciting! Don’t hand me your vanilla list of pre planned questions, talk to me to find out who I am. I may be interviewing for Deloitte, but at the same time I’m judging you to see if this is the right fit for me. If I accept your offer, entertain me, give me responsibility, and let me grow, but do so at my own pace.”
In today’s increasingly competitive job market, smart companies are turning the tables on their talent acquisition strategy. However, it’s not just about the recruiting style. To retain these new recruits, companies also have to create a continuous feedback environment in which this generation can grow, develop new skills and collaborate with their teammates instantly.
Much like the way ‘Extreme Recruiting’ cuts out the long traditional screening process and goes straight to the source for talent, many companies are now cutting out the long tedious performance review process and replacing it with instant mobile solutions that put employees in control of their own development. In this way, real-time feedback cultures create an environment similar to that of hackathons. A combination of extreme recruiting practices and a feedback-based learning environment are key to attracting and then retaining this knowledge hungry tech generation.
As Kho asserted, “If companies can nail this down: speed, agility, and excitement in hiring, along with impact, responsibility, and growth in employment, I believe that they have a chance at hiring and retaining their talent.” Kho and his team are continuing the success of their strategy attending events like Hack Western. Learn more about how you can revamp your strategy to attract and retain the talent you need by requesting a demo today.
Photo by Markus Spiske