Strate­gies in the search for top tech tal­ent


Ottawa Business Journal - HR Update - - Talent Search -

ith an im­prov­ing econ­omy and grow­ing busi­ness con­fi­dence, ob­servers say the de­mand for tech­nol­ogy work­ers in Canada’s cap­i­tal is on the up­swing. An in­creas­ing num­ber of lo­cal star­tups, along with sta­bil­ity at the buy­ers of Nor­tel Net­works Corp.’s di­vi­sions, is cre­at­ing competition at the same time that baby boomers are eyeing re­tire­ment. Mean­while, stu­dents are still shy­ing away from tech­nol­ogy ca­reers.

In a marked turn­around from only a few years ago, Ot­tawa’s tech­nol­ogy labour mar­ket is favour­ing em­ploy­ees and forc­ing em­ploy­ers to be­come in­creas­ingly cre­ative in their re­cruit­ment ef­forts.

OBJ asked two ex­pe­ri­enced lo­cal HR pro­fes­sion­als to share their tips in the hunt for em­ploy­ment prospects.

WShawn Moun­tain

Ot­tawa-based branch man­ager at Tech­nisource OBJ: What are some of the strate­gies you rec­om­mend to clients? SM: The most im­por­tant thing is to think ahead so you can be proac­tive. That way, when you’re talk­ing about find­ing in­di­vid­u­als, you can look at things like the hir­ing of new grads. Com­pa­nies can set up a re­ally strong co-op or in­tern­ship pro­gram and track these in­di­vid­u­als, find­ing the best and the bright­est, and then hir­ing from them.

One of the things that we are find­ing is pop­u­lar with some our clients

right now is their ef­forts to go be­yond the stan­dard ca­reer fairs and tar­get spe­cific niche ar­eas. For ex­am­ple, spon­sor a pizza day in the lounge of an en­gi­neer­ing build­ing and re­ally talk about your com­pany, the tech­nolo­gies, and plan for the fu­ture with these in­di­vid­u­als that are com­ing into the work­force.

OBJ: What if you have an im­me­di­ate need?

SM: The best start­ing place is from within – re­fer­rals. Some com­pa­nies have a re­ally strong re­fer­ral pro­gram, in which they com­pen­sate their in­di­vid­u­als who ei­ther give them leads or present them with re­sumés. Gen­er­ally, good peo­ple rec­om­mend other good peo­ple. It is their rep­u­ta­tion on the line, so they tend to hire qual­ity.

The tra­di­tional ways of us­ing the ma­jor jobs boards is some­thing that we do, as do our ma­jor clients … (as well as) look­ing at niche or lo­cal job boards. Most good, qual­i­fied in­di­vid­u­als may be look­ing on these job boards, but most of them are al­ready in sta­ble jobs these days. You’ve got to take it an ex­tra step and look at pas­sive can­di­dates. To find those in­di­vid­u­als, I re­ally sug­gest uti­liz­ing tools like LinkedIn, hav­ing a good com­pany LinkedIn pro­file, get­ting ei­ther your re­cruiters or HR peo­ple to have good pro­files, and truly un­der­stand­ing the tool so it can be used to head­hunt peo­ple or post jobs. That’s where most peo­ple are in­ter­act­ing and look­ing for new op­por­tu­ni­ties these days.

OBJ: What about other so­cial me­dia tools?

SM: Younger gen­er­a­tions find and look for in­for­ma­tion about new jobs and new op­por­tu­ni­ties on Face­book and Twit­ter. There are a num­ber of niche groups in both LinkedIn and Face­book that re­ally speak to the in­ter­ests of the par­tic­u­lar seg­ment you are tar­get­ing. In the high-tech sec­tor, if you are into hard­ware de­vel­op­ment there is prob­a­bly a group where peo­ple go and talk about new prod­ucts and ex­change ideas. If you can go there, you can some­times post jobs or head­hunt in­di­vid­u­als from that group.

Twit­ter is only ef­fec­tive if you pro­vide con­tent. You should have the ba­sics there, but also pro­vide in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cles, talk about your com­pany and post jobs and new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

OBJ: How can a com­pany po­si­tion it­self as an at­trac­tive place to work?

SM: You re­ally have to un­der­stand the strengths of your com­pany and what your dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion points are. You have to sell your com­pany, and that comes down to the way that you are post­ing jobs. Write a re­ally com­pelling, in­ter­est­ing job post­ing. And right through the in­ter­view process, con­tinue to sell your com­pany, the job it­self and what makes it unique.

(Can­di­dates) of­ten see a lot of “shop­ping lists” of (re­quired) qual­i­fi­ca­tions that list ev­ery­thing un­der the sun if one were to have the per­fect can­di­date. That dis­suades some peo­ple. You have to take a step back, find your manda­tory needs for the role, and sep­a­rate that from your de­sired qual­i­fi­ca­tions be­cause you could ac­tu­ally scare off peo­ple from be­com­ing in­ter­ested in your com­pany, or even ap­ply­ing. You have to be flex­i­ble.

In high tech es­pe­cially, most work­ers are in good jobs and most of their com­pa­nies are sta­ble. The fear fac­tor is gone in many cases. Salaries are fairly com­men­su­rate across the board, so peo­ple aren’t leav­ing for a huge dif­fer­ence in salary. It is re­ally those other in­tan­gi­bles that can de­ter­mine if some­one is go­ing to join your or­ga­ni­za­tion.

You re­ally have to un­der­stand the strengths of your com­pany and what your dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion points are. You have to sell your com­pany, and that comes down to the way that you are post­ing jobs.

OBJ: Where do you be­gin the search when you’re look­ing for spe­cific skill sets?

JF: One of the ar­eas we’ve had dif­fi­culty in find­ing peo­ple for is Flash de­vel­op­ment. There is a con­fer­ence in Toronto called Flash in the Can, where we had a booth and hosted the Mon­day night event, which is a meet-and­greet. On the Wed­nes­day night, there was a job fair where we had about eight peo­ple meet­ing Flash de­vel­op­ers and hav­ing dis­cus­sions with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from schools who are train­ing the de­vel­op­ers. We’d like to get on board with re­cruit­ing some of those peo­ple.

OBJ: What are some qual­i­ties you present to po­si­tion your­self as an at­trac­tive place to work?

JF: It is va­ri­ety. We have a lot of prod­ucts and a lot of projects that we work on. We’re very heavy into au­to­mo­tive, the Play­Book (tablet com­puter) has just been re­leased, and we’re look­ing at phones. We have so many dif­fer­ent things peo­ple can do here that they don’t have to leave QNX to work on new or dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies. We al­low peo­ple to move around within the com­pany.

When I’m in­ter­view­ing peo­ple, I talk about the fact that we have very longterm em­ploy­ees here and that’s be­cause of the peo­ple who work here. It’s also the prod­uct – it’s re­ally cool tech­nol­ogy and you can see where it ends up. Peo­ple re­ally like that, and have pride in putting out a strong prod­uct. They love com­ing to work.

Jeanette Fil­leter

Di­rec­tor of hu­man re­sources at QNX Soft­ware Sys­tems Inc.

OBJ: How do you at­tract can­di­dates to your com­pany?

JF: One of the things that we’ve done this year is put our name out there more in the lo­cal mar­ket than we ever have been in the past. The cur­rent cam­paign kicked off at Win­ter­lude with out­door pro­jec­tions. We put to­gether a 30-minute video clip that was re­cruit­ing-ori­ented, showed the com­pany well and spoke to what we do here. These videos were pro­jected on the out­side of build­ings in the ByWard Mar­ket area dur­ing Win­ter­lude. We saw quite a big up­take in peo­ple vis­it­ing (our) web­site and send­ing in ap­pli­ca­tions right af­ter those videos aired.

We’ve also done a lot of tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing as well. We did some transit ad­ver­tis­ing, and a mix of print and job boards.

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