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It’s a Job Seeker’s Market: Employers Need New Tactics to Recruit, Retain ‘HIPOs’

Harris AlliedNEW YORK, NY – September 20, 2011 – The tables have turned for tech professionals, with unemployment for these groups at a low 3.3 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, job seekers now have the upper hand. With that, employers need to adopt new tactics to successfully recruit and retain the industry’s most sought-after talent or “HIPOs” (High-Potential Employees), according to executive recruiting firm Harris Allied.

“This is what is keeping C-suite executives up at night, and many employers need to get up to speed about the new rules of engagement to successfully attract the top tier of the high tech talent pool. This top 5 percent is comprised of the thought leaders, the innovators, the people you have in mind when you consider succession planning and filling the next generation of executive positions,” said Kathy Harris, managing director at Harris Allied.

“Once an organization has them on board, senior management needs to better understand how to prevent them from getting poached by their competition. According to a recent Corporate Leadership Council survey, more than 25 percent of that top tier planned to change jobs within the next 12 months. That can put enormous pressure on an organization,” noted Harris. “The old ways don’t work in this new environment. Today’s HIPOs are looking for far more than a big paycheck -- they are looking for the best career opportunities.”

Harris offers the following suggestions for how employers need to look at recruiting and retaining top tech talent differently than in previous years:

  • Streamline the hiring process: Employers need to execute this process more quickly than in prior years because the competition is ready to make your top candidate an offer now.
  • Engage your best job candidates: Candidates should leave the interview feeling engaged and already connected in some way to the organization. Give them a big picture of the company and where it stands in the industry. Offer them a closer look at the team they will be working with sooner rather than waiting for the third round of interviews. Let them meet with their future colleagues to demonstrate they will be part of a high quality team.
  • Put on your sales hat: Ensure that all who are part of the interview process are consistent with their messaging and how the company is positioned. Share information about high profile projects if the candidate will be working on them and talk about the company’s investments in special corporate initiatives that pertain to the position. But never overhype details or oversell your organization because that can backfire as soon as they are part of your organization.
  • Be flexible: Be willing to expand your search to look for the best of the best, which may be found outside of your immediate area. Take the search for the right candidate nationally if necessary. Fly people in for interviews and be willing to be flexible on such enticements as signing bonuses, bonus guarantees, corporate housing, and benefits, if possible.
  • Offer the opportunity to work on diverse and challenging projects to retain top talent: Many companies offer special programs for HIPOs. Sometimes called “stars programs,” they allow employees to become involved in high profile projects that afford them access to leadership, even if only for a few hours a week. These programs allow employees to provide input on higher level corporate initiatives and contribute in a meaningful way while underscoring their value to the organization.
  • Communicate often and openly: Maintaining an open line of communication and providing consistent feedback is important to employees who want to make the most of their career opportunities. Clearly lay out a career path that includes mentoring and training and development that will position them for the long term. These high powered tech employees are mindful of not letting their career flatline.
  • Get some real-time perspective on compensation: The benchmarking tools of yesterday are no longer a good bellwether for how to compensate today’s high tech employees. Employers need a current view of what is happening in a dynamic market. Keep your ears to the ground and know where the potential threats (in the form of competition) lie. Stay current on what the market is really paying and adjust your compensation program as necessary.
  • They are not resources: These are people, not a commodity. Treat them as valued members of your team, not as if they are dispensable or interchangeable. This is often the deal breaker for a high tech employee when he or she decides to look for a new opportunity.

About Harris Allied

Harris Allied provides premier Executive Search, Technology and Quant Analyst placement services to the financial services and tech industries. The firm represents technology and quant professionals to clients who are at a variety of growth stages: from tech start-ups to established industry leaders including small buy-side firms and global investment banks. Harris Allied’s client-centric approach allows the firm to objectively assess the strengths of qualified candidates and thoughtfully match them with the right opportunities. For more information visit www.harrisallied.com. To view Harris Allied’s new corporate video, “For Each of Us, It Starts with a Moment,” visit www.youtube.com/harrisallied

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