Home > Hiring, Software Engineering > It turns out great talent is not always next door

It turns out great talent is not always next door

Recruiting, attracting, and retaining great talent continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing a software executive.

It’s truly a privilege to work with great people.   They are the reason why in a competitive market one software product can be easily seen as one that sells itself – with assistance from a terrific sales team, of course.

But even great people can leave the organization for many reasons, creating a continuous need to recruit and retain.

While growing several world-class engineering organizations, I learned several truths about recruiting great talent:

– The way one recruits says a lot about how one retains

– Never stop recruiting, despite no openings being available;  it takes at least 3 months to find someone exceptional

– Forget gold; treat every candidate like platinum;  make the decision not to extend the offer so incredibly graceful that the candidate will still recommend his / her friends (“I feel bad about not getting the offer, but my friend who is looking for work will feel right at home in this fantastic company”)

– Make the recruiting process very rigorous (yet very respectful);  candidates may feel exhausted but the right ones will respect it (“I want to be a part of this great team”)

– 100 good resumes will typically yield 4-7 great candidates;  to have the luxury of 100 good resumes, the talent sourcing process needs to be flexible and sufficiently broad

That’s where the final truth could not be more appropriate.

– Great talent is not always next door

Many companies are very reluctant to consider candidates that live outside the immediate geography.  In fact, many companies simply ignore resumes from out-of-town candidates and clearly state ‘local candidates preferred’ policy.

I was very fortunate to find exceptional software engineers (with help from equally exceptional recruiters) who wanted to relocate to a specific city due to personal reasons, for example moving closer to parents who could help with child care needs.   In multiple instances, a reasonable sign on bonus to cover basic moving expenses served as a very inexpensive method to attract an exceptional person to the team.   Sadly, a standard recruiting process would normally ignore these candidates.

My recruiting team worked very hard.  It was not easy to find these candidates but the outcome produced a candidate who was both eager to contribute and appreciated the investment made by the organization to attract and retain him / her.

Great talent does not live next door.   Never settle and keep searching.  Geography should never be a barrier to finding and attracting great talent.

  1. December 3, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    As a recruiting professional with a decade in the field I wanted to say how much I appreciate and agree with your article. In the current economic client companies often make the mistake of assuming they have a captive audience and that talent is a commodity. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The best candidates, even those that may have been affected by a RIF, are evaluating potential employers just as carefully as they themselves are being judged. Therefore, employers need to treat candidates with due consideration and respect if they wish to attract the kind of people which will ultimately make the organization successful. The interview process is the first step in building a partnership between employer and employee and the way it’s handled has long term consequences.

  1. December 3, 2009 at 10:51 pm
  2. September 24, 2010 at 3:37 am

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