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7 Tips for Winning the Best Candidates

If you’ve tried to hire someone for your technology position, you know it’s challenging. It’s a fact we’ve repeated frequently that unemployment in the IT sector is 2.9 percent nationwide, and 1.9 percent among developers. That means a lot of competition for very few experienced tech workers. However, if you’re having a really tough time filling your open seats, it might be useful to first take a look in the corporate mirror.

“Tech has a marketing problem,” said Darlene Gillard, partnership director of community and events at social enterprise digitalundivided, whose company develops programs to increase active participation of urban communities in the digital space. “When people think of tech, they think of a 25-year-old Mark Zuckerberg-type guy. That’s a very narrow point of view and could be a deterrent for anyone looking to work for a tech company. In order to stand out companies need to change the face of their brand.”

There’s only one Mark Zuckerberg, so you might want to take a look at your company’s brand, Gillard said. Are you demonstrating inclusiveness in your advertising, community outreach – and hiring practices? The Mark Zuckerberg model, that of the “young white guy”, can be a deterrent to a lot of people are not young, white or male.

Thinking outside the box is key
Once you have an accurate picture of your own corporate culture and what you have to offer (besides a paycheck), consider these tips to expand the effectiveness of the post on the company website and to enhance your chances of winning the best candidates:

1. Hire fast
Forget the old days of spending weeks to advertise, interview, re-interview, decide, offer, negotiate, re-offer and, finally, hire. Your candidate will have been settling into their new job for weeks by time you get to the second interview. “If you like someone, hire them. If they don’t work out, let them go. Go with your gut. It’s better to hire [and fire] someone quickly than wait two months and [find that] the person you wanted is off the market,” says Sloane Barbour, regional director of Jobspring Partners.

2. Be flexible
Learn what your candidates (and employees) want – then offer it. Personal values, opportunities and the on-the-job experience are what count most. Offering a competitive salary goes without saying. Millennials, where the most talent may be available, want a life that goes beyond the office, with their families and social and charitable activities each playing an important role their lives. (Their demands have actually had a positive influence on the workplace for everyone.)

Salary is important, of course. But millennials often care as much about working from home, casual dress and flexible schedules. They aren’t shy about asking for it, knowing that someone else will want their talents enough to give them what they want if you don’t.

3. Expand your search
Look beyond the traditional high-profile universities. “Historically black colleges and universities and two-year colleges have talented and skilled individuals to fill jobs,” Gillard said. “Tech companies should also consider training people with transferable skills, who can, for instance, learn a new computer language to meet the job requirement.”

A company can fall into narrowly thinking “we have this job, so we need these capabilities,” says Tony Martin executive vice president of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and talent management at Hudson RPO. Look at skills that are available and see if there’s a way to take advantage of them. And look inside your own company. Someone who is promoted has a chance to learn and grow – always desirable from an employee point of view. They will also be more loyal to the company that gave them a chance to prove themselves.

4. Land and expand
This is an old sales saying. It means get the first one and use that one to attract others. If you are a small business, make that first tech hire happy and they’ll tell their skilled friends. “Once you have one, it’s ten times easier to attract more,” according to John Rampton, Founder and CEO of

5. Be creative
In addition to running ads or relying on a recruiter (don’t worry we can still help you during the process), look outside the online jobs page for finding your next tech hires. For instance, there are many, many tech Meet-Up groups in the Richmond area. There are also tech organizations, such as Richtec and AITP, that sponsor meetings and events that attract the tech community.

For instance, Morton Consulting recently participated in RVATechJam which was hosted by RichTech and took place last week at the Richmond Farmer’s Market in downtown Richmond. Our team participated in this technology-focused event to not only play a role in the technology community but to also attract talent for the many openings we have with customers that are often hard to fill.

Morton Consulting team at RVA TechJam

TechJam1 7-16


“It was a great opportunity to get out of the office and meet some great people who are just as passionate about technology and solving the challenge around securing the best candidates,” said David Borovatz, director of operations for Morton. “It was a great turnout and a fun event with great exhibitors, bands, and people interested in learning more about the technology community here in Richmond. And we made some great connections.”

6. Go where your candidate prospects are
In this case, we’re speaking of social media. By all means, post your job on all the usual sites, including your own website. Then drive traffic to your site via social media. Learn the appropriate hashtags for your job offering to attract the right attention. Include links to the job posting on your own website. This has the added benefit of showing off your company’s website and culture.

7. Remember the big picture
It isn’t unusual for a candidate to turn down a job with a big paycheck for a job that offers more potential. What that desired potential is, is up to you to discover. It could be an opportunity to work on a cool project, to learn new skills, or to move into management. Whatever it is, It could be the thing that tips the balance in your favor, so take some time to learn what your candidate wants and, if possible, add that to your offer.

With some creativity, flexibility and fast action, you should be able to edge out the competition for the best candidates. Let us know what you were able to offer that tipped the balance for your recent tech candidate – we’d like to hear from you.