Choosing the right route to top talent

Are you choosing the right route to top talent?

People are the lifeblood of any business, so hiring the right talent is a critical activity of corporate strategy. This is especially important in the technology space – I speak to many businesses and one of their burning issues is how to find the right people who can drive their technology agenda. Ultimately, tech may power the world but it is still people who power the tech!

With that being said, businesses looking to hire are under a tremendous amount of pressure at the moment. From low unemployment figures, a candidate-led market, ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, and the upcoming IR35 legislation, there’s a lot for hiring managers and businesses to think about.

At times like this, businesses need more and alternative routes to talent. To simply carry on with what you normally do isn’t an option. Businesses need to think differently and develop more engaging routes to attract that much-needed talent.

The good news is there are sophisticated, agile routes to engaging with talent. Here at Lorien, we’ve just released an in-depth whitepaper into the state of the technology workforce, and the different routes to talent that businesses should look at. Here are a few you could look at, in order to meet those critical strategic needs.

Engage Employees and Increase Recommendations

Your people are the biggest asset you have and the best advert for your culture. They also provide you with a significant candidate network – for free.

I’m talking about their friends, family, former colleagues, and even their social media connections. These can all form part of your talent pipeline.

This also makes your recruitment process more efficient, as the time-to-hire is usually less, and you can save on recruitment costs (and yes, that is actually me advising you on how NOT to spend money on recruitment fees!).

But how can you attract this large network of people, and make yourself an employer of choice? It’s simple – you need to engage your existing employees. This is not just about coffee machines and pool tables. It’s about finding out what their drivers are and acting on it to make them buy into what you are doing. Conduct regular surveys and ensure representatives from various parts of the business have a direct line to you.

The better you engage with your employees, the more likely they are to provide recommendations.

As a side note, you also need to think about your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). This is tougher than you might think. Some businesses use multiple suppliers to find candidates, but this means your brand is being communicated in multiple ways. You may be better off working with one partner to oversee your entire resourcing activity, as your chosen partner can usually provide a wider range of value-added EVP initiatives.

For example, at Lorien we regularly produce candidate packs and videos which bring our clients’ work environments to life. Recently, we worked with a well-known media company and created a bespoke microsite, as well as holding specific candidate engagement events. Hiring in a tight labour market is so much more than just a job advert!

Cultivate and nurture future talent

Far too many businesses only engage with candidates when they need a job. But just think how much easier things would be if you already had a relationship with them?

This is all about the long-term picture. Many companies think about the buying cycle with regards to their B2B and B2C activity. They understand there is a Marketing and Sales ‘funnel’ which begins with raising awareness of their brand and, ultimately, results in a purchase. It’s crucial that you also apply this to the candidate community!

For example, you could host a series of tech meetups, which allow candidates to hear from key people within your business. They get the opportunity to learn new things, while you are nurturing a relationship with potential future hires.

You could create LinkedIn groups within certain spaces (such as DevOps and Cybersecurity) – not with the intention to sell yourself to them, but for topical debates and discussions.

Ultimately, every business wants to find a way to simplify the recruitment process. If you’re not making the effort to engage with people before you actually need them, you are making things more difficult for yourself.

Diversifying your talent pool

This isn’t just the right thing to do; it also makes good business sense. Currently, only 19% of technology workers are women and 15% are BAME. That is a huge avenue of talent that businesses can tap into.

This means going beyond your traditional recruitment methods. Look beyond your normal job boards, and advertise on community specific ones. Examples include for LGBTQ+ candidates, for candidates with disabilities, or for female candidates.

It’s also important that you’re honest with your existing selection process. Do you have a diverse range of interviewers on the selection panel? Are job adverts checked for inclusive language? Does your benefits package cater to different needs?

Even small incremental improvements to your recruitment process can make a big difference. The concept of “marginal gains” became popular through sport, specifically through the achievements of British cycling. Many businesses have taken these on board over the last few years to improve their Sales and Marketing processes – but I don’t feel it’s quite filtered into the HR strategy just yet.

Activating Apprenticeships

The Apprenticeship Levy is a fantastic way for businesses to bring on fresh talent, and also upskill existing staff. All businesses who have a wage bill of over £3M pay 0.5% of that bill as an Apprenticeship Levy. They can then claim all of that money back, plus an additional 10%, to train apprentices and/or upskill existing employees.

In layman’s terms, you are actually being paid to train people for your business! Yet figures show that many businesses aren’t properly aware of it, view it as a tax, or simply don’t see the benefit.

In fact, since 2012, time spent learning on the job has decreased, while the number of apprenticeship starts between August 2018 and January 2019 were 225,800 – down from 269,600 in the same period two years earlier.

Given the skills-short nature of the tech world, I think we’re missing a trick. Remember, this isn’t just about recruitment – by upskilling existing employees, you are creating a more loyal and motivated workforce.

Another reason why businesses are reluctant is because of the time and effort it takes to implement an apprenticeship programme. There are many partners which can help you with this though, including recruitment companies who have expertise in this area. At Lorien, we run an Apprenticeship Activation Programme for a number of clients. We identify which skills they need, attract the apprentices, and manage the entire programme.

Not only is this entirely cost-neutral (it is paid for from the existing Levy fund), but it also allows them to leverage genuine market expertise – while they focus on running their business.

As you can see, despite all the hiring pressures, there are a number of ways businesses can engage with the talent to drive their business forward. The key is to be flexible and innovative.

For more information on future-proofing your workforce, please download our whitepaper 'A Brighter Future' or contact me directly via

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