5 Things Companies Must Do to Attract, Hire, and Retain IT Talent

5 Things Companies Must Do to Attract, Hire, and Retain IT Talent


It’s no secret that skilled IT talent is difficult to find right now. Despite current economic uncertainties, the tech sector remains strong, with a job gains streak that’s lasted close to two years. In late 2022, the US tech unemployment rate fell to 2.1 percent—compared to an overall unemployment rate of 3.7 percent—indicating an unfading demand for IT skills.

In 2023, a looming economic recession could reduce corporate spending, but IT initiatives will continue to move forward, primarily centered around creating operational efficiencies and monetizing data. Companies will need the technology, software, hardware, infrastructure and talent to enable their projects.

Based on nearly 25 years of experience in IT staffing, here are five things I recommend you do to attract, hire, and retain top talent.


1. Acknowledge the Power of Personal Connections

Technology now plays a major role in the process of recruiting candidates. With new applications of AI and machine learning to HR and staffing, many professionals wonder if recruiters are becoming obsolete.

For example, Vendor Management Systems (VMS) offer a comprehensive way to manage contractor spend and external vendor management.

But while VMS and other digital tools are useful, they hinder successful recruitment when they become barriers to personal connections. Companies that depend too heavily on a VMS may fail to bring in the top talent they need—because there’s a breakdown in communication between candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers.

To avoid this pitfall, acknowledge that personal connections still matter. Making a successful hire depends on finding a person who will fit in your company culture and deliver the project in the way you want. That kind of recruiting requires nuance—taking the time to talk with a candidate, understand their style of working, and their personality.

A recent industry report reveals the continued strength of human connections: even when VMS use is prevalent, the greatest fill rate (37.8 percent) came from direct client relationship, versus 12 percent from VMS/MSP contact.

Technology tools can be helpful, but don’t let them act as a barrier between you and your potential vendors or hires. Instead, look for ways to facilitate clear communication.


2. Be Prepared to Offer Competitive Wages

Ongoing low unemployment rates in IT combined with the need for highly specialized skills has created a talent war. We’re seeing increased demand for IT professionals with experience in DevOpS, SDLC project and product management, data sciences, data engineering, analytics, and software engineering—just to name a few.

When there’s high demand for workers and the supply is limited, companies must reevaluate their salary and contingent labor budgets. If you have a wage framework that commodifies certain skills and assigns pay rates based on years of experience, it might be time to rethink that stringent approach.

Look at what your peer businesses are doing to attract talent and consider how you can compete with them. In a market driven by scarcity, the process of determining wages must be connected to the people involved in defining the skill gaps and shaping the objectives for hiring—including IT services experts who are well-versed in both the skilled labor (supply) side and project potential (demand) side of the equation.


3. Offer Remote or Hybrid Work Options

The majority of today’s IT workers now favor remote work—3 in 5 say they’re not interested in returning to full-time in-person work. Even if you want your team to return to a pre-pandemic office environment, it’s important to realize many of them—and the top talent you want to hire—may feel differently.

While onsite collaboration and camaraderie is valuable, remote work can pay its own dividends. It opens the talent pool to a larger regional or national audience and gives you greater accessibility to top professionals.

Bringing on workers from different geographical regions can give your team a diversity of perspectives that’s valuable for problem-solving. Offering remote or hybrid work options can also be a selling point for candidates.


4. Consider Hiring Contractors

Hiring a full-time employee takes an average of 61 days for a high-demand tech role. Even when companies are willing to hire remote employees, finding the right person at the right time can be challenging—and sometimes your mission-critical project requires a faster turnaround.

One of the primary advantages of hiring a contractor is how quickly you can bring them on board. The average time to fill a highly-skilled IT contract position is 24 days, meaning you can bring someone on in about a third of the time it would take to hire an employee.

Contractors tend to have highly specialized skills and are ready to jump right into your project, requiring less time and effort for ramp-up and training. They can also be let go when the project is completed, making this type of work arrangement a perfect solution when you have large, temporary projects in the pipeline.


5. Be Willing to Change Your Hiring Processes

We often see human resource departments prospecting for IT candidates without any knowledge of IT, making it difficult to identify individuals with the needed skills. To avoid this problem, involve your IT leaders in the hiring process and consider hiring an IT staffing agency for additional support.

Often, companies create unintentional bottlenecks to the hiring process. For example, planning multiple interviews for each candidate, requiring sign-off from the entire c-suite on every hire, or simply taking a “wait for the perfect candidate” approach that ends in missed opportunities.

If you bring on an IT staffing agency or consulting company, be open to criticism about any internal problems they observe. A willingness to adapt can empower you to compete in the market and attract skilled workers.

Winning the Talent War

Filling critical IT roles in today’s market can be challenging—but with the right approach, it’s very doable. Take time to speak with candidates and understand what they bring to the table. Keep in mind that IT professionals whose skills are in demand have options, and they’ll move on if the hiring process is too difficult.

To ease the process, consider bringing on an established IT staffing supplier that can evaluate your company culture and business objectives and help you find and attract the talent you need.