How to attract the attention of IT candidates, so they’d wish to work for you?

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Given the fact that a growing number of IT companies on the Serbian market is facing the similar problem today, and that’d be the lack of experienced Software Engineers and other IT candidates who are actively seeking for new job opportunities, we raised one question – what needs to be done in order to attract their attention? What are IT candidates generally searching for? For whom they want to work? Which benefits are they used to have? What are the key factors when they’re deciding whether they’re going to change their current job or not? Is money really a decisive factor?

As someone who is covering marketing, PR and one part of HR activities in a young Swiss company 3AP, which develops technologically advanced software solutions by using agile methodology, I wanted to get the answers on those questions as soon as possible, so I did one analysis together with my colleagues.

Benefits that are usually mentioned in IT job ads

We wanted to understand which benefits do modern IT companies usually mention in their job ads and to compare the results with the answers we collected during the interviews with IT candidates in the past year, as well as with the answers from employees who have recently joined our team.

The analysis included 14 small, medium and large IT companies, operating both in Serbia and abroad, that were actively employing various IT candidates in the last 6 months and that plan to grow and develop further in 2017. As a starting point, we used job searching portals in Serbia for data collection and job ads that were posted on Infostud, Helloworld, Startit etc.. We also took their official profiles on these portals, their websites and accounts on social networks into consideration.

After we analyzed data we collected, we came to the following conclusions:

•  All 14 companies mentioned high salaries as one of their main benefits in their job ads

93% of companies were mentioning international working environment and opportunities for professional & personal development

•  57% of companies were clearly communicating that they’re offering private health insurance, flexible working hours and the possibility of going to conferences and events

•  50% of companies were mentioning sport activities, team buildings, ability to travel abroad and the fact that they’re using modern technologies

All those companies have cited some other benefits as well. You can see a full list, as well as exact percentages in the chart below:

How To Attract The Attention Of It Candidates So They D Wish To Work For You

Key factors that are influencing the decision of IT candidates to change their current job

After we analyzed which benefits were usually mentioned in job ads, we were also curious to understand what generally motivates IT candidates to change their current job. If, how or to what extent are benefits influencing their decision, because today many modern IT company are offering more or less similar benefits? What used to be innovative and different before is a standard now. If IT candidates would rank the benefits on their own based on the importance those benefits have for them, would the results be different? Is there any difference if a decision is being made by a junior, intermediate or senior candidate?

What we had a chance to hear from all candidates is the following. Benefits that are usually communicated in job ads do not actually represent something that is truly important to them, or at least not something they are searching for a long run.

As a response to our questions, they told us: yes, the salary is one of the main factors that has the influence on their motivation, but no, it’s definitely not the decisive factor. Yes, the results would be different depending on who makes the final decision. Yes, there would be a difference in ranking benefits, because there is something beyond material, something else that motivates candidates to take the first step toward the change.

For example, what drives junior candidates is a good mentor from whom they can learn, possibility to gain initial work experience, a team that is young, good atmosphere and fun. They’re generally satisfied with the initial salary, so this factor isn’t decisive when they’re choosing for whom they want to work.

What drives intermediate and senior candidates is also the opportunity to improve existing & acquire new knowledge and skills, work with the latest technologies and work on interesting projects. Of course, salary is also a quite important factor to them, due to security and stability, so it shouldn’t be ignored.

The increasing number of IT candidates is searching for companies with whom they can share similar values, where they can be themselves and authentic. Companies that will recognize their qualities, knowledge and set of skills and that want to invest in their further education and development, and that won’t treat them as a cheap labor force only.

When we asked candidates to give us 3 reasons why would they switch to another company and to rank benefits in their own way based on the importance those benefits have for them, the order of their answers was almost the same (respectively):

1.    People
2.    Possibility to work with the latest technologies and on interesting projects
3.    Salary

Candidates tend to work for companies that maintain good interpersonal relations, where the working atmosphere is positive, relaxed and friendly, where they can develop themselves, learn something new and work with the latest technologies. When they feel that they’d have this all in a new company, just on a better level – then they’ll decide to change their current job. At that point, all other benefits are considered as additional plus, but not as the main motivator.

How to attract and keep IT candidates?

Everything we’ve outlined so far looks like a simple pattern in theory, right? Then why’re companies still having difficulties in motivating candidates?

The first reason, without any doubts, is because of the recruitment and selection process. This process can often be long, slow and inflexible, and as a such has a huge impact on the interest and motivation of IT candidates. We at 3AP believe that the process should be fast and tailor made for each candidate, because we’re aware that we’re all different, unique and that we cannot apply same patterns for everyone. So, the first step would be to make this process as simple as possible.

Companies also need to communicate their values in a better way, because if potential candidates cannot identify themselves with company’s values, even if they start to work for you, they won’t understand you fully and won’t feel motivated to stay with you for a long period of time.

What we can share from our experience is that the reason why we managed to attract the attention of IT candidates and form such a great team is because we knew our values, we had a clear vision what kind of people we want to have on our team, what kind of culture we want to nurture and clear understanding what is important to IT candidates. Besides this, we generally strive to provide non-typical, different conditions to our employees and to give them more than they can expect – something that exists in Switzerland and the rest of the world, but is lacking here in Serbia.

So, if you really want to attract and hold the attention of IT candidates, you need to show them you really care about them, respect them, support them, understand them, and that you want to invest in them. You must be honest with them. Present your people, projects, culture and atmosphere as they are and don’t try to fake anything. Communicate your values clearly, because it’s of mutual interest that both company’s and applicant’s values match as much as possible. Show them you want to build a long-term relationship with them. Show them you have a clearly defined plan, for the company, and for them. Encourage them to be what they are and to become the best in what they like to do. This is the only way you can expect a real change and good results.

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Milica Košutić

Marketing & PR Menadžer@3AP
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Milica Košutić is a passionate, ambitious and creative person, who enjoys building things from scratch, developing different and interesting strategies, organizing things and helping people to become even better versions of themselves.

Since 2011, she had the opportunity to be involved in many market research, marketing and B2B sales projects in FMCG, HR and IT industry, in Serbia and abroad.

Today she works as a Marketing & PR Manager at a young Swiss company 3AP, lives her dream and enjoys her work. She finds inspiration in people who are ambitious, active, innovative and who never stop developing themselves.

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