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What's the most effective way to find qualified tech candidates in unlikely places?

What's the most effective way to find qualified tech candidates in unlikely places?
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Using bootcamps to your advantage, harnessing upskilling programs and looking for mid-level career changers are good strategies, members of Protocol's Braintrust say.

Good afternoon! In today's Braintrust, we asked the experts to tell us about how they're hiring for tech roles these days and share with us where they're looking for under-the-radar talent. Want more on recruiting and retaining talent? Our workplace team put out a manual on the great resignation about just that. You can read the whole thing here.

This story is part of Protocol's manual, "The Great Resignation." Read more here.

Miranda Kalinowski

Global head of Recruiting at Meta

Until applicants for our roles reflect the communities we serve, we need to be thoughtful about meeting qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds where they are. Three specific ways we recommend doing this:

  • Software Engineering and Product boot camps are solid choices for early-career talent. For example, Our Pathway Programs offer intensive training, access to mentors, real work and endless opportunities for development, preparing people from different backgrounds for full-time roles.
  • We participate in conferences to connect directly with candidates in spaces designed to bring people together. Here we have the opportunity to meet, support and learn from others within the industry. As an example of this, last year we co-hosted an Increasing Diversity in Innovation conference with UC Berkeley and the U.S. Intellectual Property Alliance. Sessions at the conference focus on unconscious bias, systemic inequity in the patent process, techniques for reaching diverse inventors and the importance of innovation.
  • Lastly, generating leads and referrals from your own employees and alumni. Hosting referral drives within your teams or company with specificity around what roles are in high demand helps to uncover talent we’d not necessarily otherwise access. Research shows that referrals have the highest conversion rate in the funnel and are retained longer than employees hired through other channels. We also thoughtfully invest in bias mitigating interviewing and selection practices including automation, structured interviewing and structured evaluation. We understand that mitigating bias and leveling the playing field will help us attract a larger and more diverse talent pool.

Gunjan Aggarwal

Chief people officer at RingCentral

In 2020, the convergence of social unrest, economic churn and a global health pandemic forced many companies to reconsider their recruiting methodologies, expand their reach and find candidates in areas that may not be local to their offices. In today's hybrid and remote work environment, it is absolutely crucial to assess what has traditionally worked while incorporating more creative recruiting tactics to attract top talent and, precisely, top, diverse talent in tech.

We are already seeing more companies create fully remote positions, which expands where they can look for top talent. Companies should also think about developing alternative ways of entry into their workforce, like apprenticeship programs targeted at people looking to make mid-career changes. One example of what we've done at RingCentral is established a new hiring program where we empower people who've made mid-career changes to come into the tech industry. We bring them on for up to six months and help them hone their skills through an apprenticeship aimed at converting them to full-time employees. A hiring initiative like this works well with our already highly successful employee referral tool. Additionally, employee resource groups within organizations can be a powerful tool for providing direct access to qualified candidates with the skill sets and qualifications teams need.

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John Carlstrom

VP of people at CircleCI

Veterans are a great and for some an expected source of technical talent. The sophistication in network communications, application development, and software development over the last twenty years to support the Global War on Terror has been significant. Today, the U.S. Military alone employs 1.3 service members, a steadily growing number of soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen, Space Force Guardians, and Marines are hard at work in the significant effort in cyberwarfare, the newest battlefield in the 21st Century. As a result, every year more and more military folks will leave active service with valuable technical skills.

However, Veterans don’t always come to the top of the list. Perhaps Hollywood has helped shape the military persona, focusing too much on the field operators - door-kickers, grunts, and the always popular SEAL Team members. But for every field operator, there is an enormous reliance on technology operators critical to mission accomplishment. Behind countless screens, the world’s militaries employ their service members in roles such as web development, software developer, IT security, information security, database administration, network architecture and more as part of national defense.

At CircleCI we have a growing number of Veterans, including reservists and National Guard members, across all departments in the company, including our technical teams. Our Veterans have formed an Employee Resource Group (ERG). One of the areas this group will focus on is helping hiring managers and Recruiters understand military backgrounds from candidates and the incredible value such talent brings any organization.

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Aaron Skonnard

Co-founder and CEO at Pluralsight

The most effective way to find qualified tech candidates in unlikely places is to build a reskilling program that provides employees in non-tech roles the opportunity to explore technology roles. If you build it, they will come.

To accomplish this, organizations must be committed and intentional about creating programs to build that talent. Most organizations have employees in non-tech roles that would happily transition to a tech team if given the opportunity and the resources to build the skills they need to be successful in the role.

Pluralsight partners with many organizations to build upskilling and reskilling programs to grow their tech workforce from within. For example, we have worked with online retailer 1-800-Contacts to create programs that transition call-center employees to technology teams. Similarly, we work with major brick-and-mortar retailers in the U.S. to create reskilling programs where interested, high-performing in-store employees have the opportunity to transition to technology roles. With programs like these, companies are literally transforming cashiers into software engineers and IT specialists.

The bottom line is that companies that are committed to building tech talent from within can and should do so. It requires a programmatic approach and a commitment from the top down to invest in the tools required for an effective upskilling or reskilling program. The program should offer learning opportunities in multiple modalities (video, hands-on labs, instructor-led training, etc.) and should have analytics to track performance and knowledge retention, and ensure that upskilling efforts align to business objectives.

Learn more.

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Rod Adams

U.S. and Mexico talent acquisition and onboarding leader at PwC

Workforce demand will continue to exceed available tech talent, even as we move beyond "The Great Resignation." When we think about unlikely places to find candidates, sometimes we overlook the pool that’s right in front of us: our own employees. Digitally upskilling existing talent provides opportunities for people to move across departments and disciplines and allows them to apply their foundational knowledge of the business in new ways.

Being human-led and tech-powered is critical to our firm's strategy. We've been on a multiyear journey, investing $3 billion to equip our people with the digital skills, tools and training needed to thrive in an increasingly tech-first workforce. We didn’t do this in anticipation of a crisis, but rather to continue to invest in our people’s technical acumen as well as attract and retain the best talent in the marketplace.

Our long-term investments in technology made it possible to quickly adapt to fully remote work at the onset of the pandemic and continue to support our current hybrid ways of working, which provide our people with flexibility and choice. Offering more role options and working arrangements has allowed us to expand recruitment efforts to new audiences while helping people stay with PwC who might’ve not otherwise been able to. By embarking on this ongoing digital transformation for our entire firm, we have uncovered and empowered an incredible new collection of qualified tech candidates in our very own people.

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Niall O'Rourke

VP, talent acquisition at Intuit

1. Accelerate diverse talent communities. We’ve moved away from thinking about our “talent communities” in the traditional sense and aim to diversify how we seek talent. We are partnering and creating programs with HBCUs and HSIs, and several diversity focused industry organizations, to accelerate the hiring of top talent from underrepresented groups. We are also investing in hiring in new locations where there is a large community of diverse engineering talent.

2. Partner with talent to close the skills gap. We have been running a successful returnship program for four years, focused on recruiting and supporting individuals who chose to take a career gap to care for their children or families. We partner with the Mom Project, AnitaB and others to ensure we build a qualified pipeline for our program. Participants are given roles in the Intuit tech organization and our team partners to ensure their skills are up to speed. We have hired and retained over 80% of the candidates who have completed the program, who often have decades of prior managerial and tech experience, but just needed extra support to close a skills gap.

3. Look within your own organization for talent. We encourage managers to have regular career conversations with their employees and support them in exploring new roles internally , whether through job shadowing, rotational positions, or job move. This allows employees to gain experience and grow their careers without having to take on the risk of moving employers. Intuit’s internal mobility is a strength that we believe contributes to our higher-than-average retention rates.

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Dave Carhart

VP of people at Lattice

At Lattice, we’ve explored a number of ways to find qualified tech candidates outside of the usual, often overtapped, places. Our team has recently moved to a remote-first hybrid model, giving our managers the ability to hire outside of geographical borders, including internationally. In addition, encouraging returnships and apprenticeships helps diversify our employee base, bringing in new perspectives and learnings.

We’re lucky to have been able to attract technical leaders with previous success in hiring and scaling teams who have been able to attract members of their network to Lattice. This, with the personal touch and connection our recruiters and managers provide when talking to candidates increases their willingness to engage as humans, rather than just as a potential hire.
In addition, AI sourcing has surfaced particular subsets of candidates we might not have been able to find naturally, like individuals in a particular department open to relocating.

Most importantly, we put a lot of focus into career growth and ideal pathing for candidates and employees. Candidates interested in working towards a particular career or department are often willing to start in another role and be trained into where they want to be long term. This gives candidates a number of additional skills and abilities as well as company insight as they grow in their careers.

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Paulo Pisano

Chief Human Resources Officer at Booking Holdings

When people think of our brands, they may assume we’re seeking travel industry talent. Booking Holdings is a tech company through and through. From the development of online booking platforms and mobile apps to the application of emerging technologies to strip friction from the travel process, we need to recruit top tech talent to help us remain at the epicenter of digital travel innovation.

We’re a global operation, so we consider every market in our recruitment efforts. Recruiters may think of Silicon Valley first, but exciting tech hubs also exist internationally. We’ve identified some of our best talents from tech hot spots like Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Bucharest, Bangalore, Mumbai and Shanghai. And since the pandemic has shifted how we work, we’re able to collaborate with colleagues from anywhere. We can hire the best person for the role, and not be bound by who can reach our office.

It’s also not enough just to find talented people. We want them to stay with us and grow their careers. It’s an incredibly competitive market right now, and filled with prospective employees that are looking for a company that they can be proud to work for. Employees want to work for employers who care - about their well-being, about their circumstances, about their career growth. A core part of our recruitment strategy is to ensure we create and maintain an environment where people will want to contribute and work toward a shared mission.

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See who's who in the Protocol Braintrust and browse every previous edition by category here (Updated Feb. 28, 2022).
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