6 Strategies to Improve Tech Retention – Starting at Hiring

You need to hire – which means you’re growing (awesome) , you lost a great employee to a competitor (not so great) or the person you had hired for the role just wasn’t the right fit (painful). Turnover, for whatever reason, is one of the most dreaded things in any organization. Losing a valued employee to another company or having to replace a hire that didn’t work out can be extremely costly, with many studies calculating the cost at 1.5-2x the departing person’s yearly salary. How can losing a single employee be this expensive? Here’s just a few of the costs associated with turnover:

  • Cost of hiring a replacement (internal/external recruiting costs)
  • Time spent onboarding and ramping new employee up (HR, training time, loss in productivity)
  • Effect of demotivating other employees (high turnover rates demotivate other team members, resulting in more turnover)
  • Cost of errors (new employees are more likely to make costly errors)
  • Cost of lost opportunity (in some roles, like sales, losing a valued employee means a huge loss in future opportunity)

Although some of these things are easy to track, it can be impossible to calculate the full cost of losing a valued employee, which is why retention-based hiring strategies are critical to your hiring process. When it comes down to it, finding someone to hire for a role can be simple. Post a job on a major career site and you’ll receive hundreds of applicants, most of which won’t qualify for the role. Finding someone to hire is easy; finding the right person is not.

So how can you attract, hire and retain the best employees? Here are 6 strategies to improve your hiring process to be more retention-focused.

Improve your Job Descriptions

Flip the focus from what you are looking for in a candidate to what you can provide to a potential employee. Demanding job descriptions are off-putting, yet most companies still approach advertising their job ads in this archaic way. Typical job ads have a summary, list of responsibilities and list of requirements – and are often written in a tone that doesn’t get a candidate excited to apply. Candidates have more and more options in today’s market – which more heavily favors the candidate in many industries. Companies need to indicate WHY a candidate would have an interest in applying with them. Studies have shown that job ads that are more focused on getting a candidate excited about an opportunity are more likely to get better applicants.

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Which job would you apply to?

1: We are hiring a Senior Software Engineer to work for us. MUST have strong Java skills, including 8+ years of experience in a professional software environment. The ideal candidate will write strong, bug-free code and have excellent communication skills. NO job-hoppers, please.

2. We are expanding our software engineering team and looking for an awesome Senior Engineer to join our team! Our environment uses the latest in Java and we offer developers 4 weeks PTO in their first year, yearly 5% yearly salary increases, 401K matching, and much more. If you’re ready to move into a senior engineer role and write strong, bug-free code, let’s talk.

Be Social

No one wants to work for a company behind the curve. If you’re not active on social sites, you’re already falling behind. It will be hard for potential candidates to gauge your company culture and get excited about interviewing or potentially working for your brand. A quick step to take is to get your current employees engaged with your social brands – whether through creating content or sharing produced content through your brand channels.

Another aspect of being social is making it very simple to apply to sites on your website via social integration. Allowing candidates to apply to jobs with a click or two will encourage applications, not fall-offs.

Look for Positive Personality Traits

Although the right skills are critical for long-term success, the right personality traits are also critical for making sure your next hire is a successful one. Here’s some of the traits you should be looking for in an interview:

  • Professionalism: Professionalism requires conscious effort every time and candidates that display professionalism at the interview stage are likely to deal professionally with their peers, bosses and even your customers long after they are hired.
  • High-energy/enthusiasm: Demonstrating enthusiasm by researching your brand and having a strong interest in what you do translates to a long-term employee, not just a hire looking for their next jump.
  • Confidence: Hiring a candidate that has good confidence in themselves and their work results in hires that make a positive impact.
  • Honesty/reliability: A candidate that demonstrates their honesty during an interview might not come across as the strongest skills-wise as they will be upfront on areas where they are weaker in. However, they are often the best hire as they recognize their weaknesses and will work harder to catch up in those areas.
  • Positivity: Candidates that bring positive energy to the interview process go on to become positive employees.
  • Drive: Hiring someone that is driven, independent and responsible for themselves saves you time and a lot of hassle.
  • Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence (EQ) encompasses four areas – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management – having a high emotional intelligence is a strong indication of being a strong employee.
  • Sense of humor: Candidates that feel comfortable to share their sense of humor with you are likely to go on to become highly successful hires.
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Value the Candidate’s Time

In many job-markets, especially in tech, candidates are weighing multiple offers and getting to choose the best opportunity for them. In years long gone, you could keep good candidates waiting in process for weeks or months without worry. Now, with competition for top hires at a peak, it’s important to be cognizant of a candidate’s time during the interview process. This means working with candidate’s schedules to best accommodate phone interviews (think lunch breaks or after-hours) as well as trying to keep on-site interviews to a time minimum, if the candidate is currently working. Making a candidate’s time feel valued during the interview process will demonstrate you will also value their time once hired.

Give Regular Updates

The phrase “no update is still an update” could accurately be applied to the hiring process. Getting stuck in the waiting game with no end in sight is a great way to frustrate and lose a strong candidate. As a company, give timely and regular updates, even if that update is that you don’t have any updates or that you expect an update soon. Believe me, your candidates will appreciate hearing something, even if it’s just a ping to let them know a decision would be final by end of week.

Remove Hiring Roadblocks

Sometimes there are people or processes in place that hinder the hiring process, whether intentional or not. This could be in the form of a person who’s extremely busy and has trouble fitting interviews into their schedules or a process that is time-consuming or unnecessary for the candidates. Having roadblocks in the hiring process slows everything down, resulting in the best candidates falling off during the interview process. For a roadblock that’s a person, determining if they need to be involved in early interview stages or not can be a good solution. For example, if the direct hiring manager is too overwhelmed with extra work to review/screen resumes, it might be best for HR to handle basic screenings then pass strong candidates to a lower level manager or colleague for a peer interview, with only the top two or three candidates being scheduled for in-person meetings with the hiring manager. Or, perhaps there are simply too many decision makers in a hiring process. First determining where the slow-down is, and how best to handle, is necessary to avoid seeing great talent hired elsewhere.

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6 Strategies to Improve Tech Retention – Starting at Hiring

Elizabeth Becker

Elizabeth is Marketing Manager at PROTECH. Comments and feedback can be directed to her at jobs@protechfl.com.