Let’s face it, digital transformation has become a kind of buzz-world and so have digital capabilities of the prospective employees. The skills that businesses need to succeed in the digital space often go far beyond ‘digital’ or ‘agile’ in a LinkedIn profile. Key jobs like developers, UX designers or big data analysts are in high demand and there are several things to consider if you want to attract them.

Sunny Friday in Amsterdam

It was a sunny Friday morning in Amsterdam, a reason to celebrate. While Amsterdam is one of the most amazing cities in the world, the weather is probably not the reason for people to come and live here. I was about to meet a founder of a mobile-development company and talk about one of my favourite topics – people and technology. When you have worked for large companies most of your life, you know how exciting it is to talk to entrepreneurs, ‘the cool kids on the block’.

Troubles in paradise?

A tall guy in his forties shows up, we grab a cup of tea and find a spot for our chat. Overlooking the beautiful city centre, I am curious to hear some first-hand experience on how tech companies approach the war on digital talent. Compared to corporates, they can offer a more dynamic working environment, more informal culture and more like-minded people. The reputation of Amsterdam as a city of innovation also helps to attract digital expertise from all over the world.  As I am finding out, talent attraction is not much of an issue here… Yet, the ‘cool kids’ have some challenges too – the rise of freelancing is causing troubles in the area of knowledge retention. How can you keep know-how in house when your contractors move to another company? This dilemma is more visible in smaller businesses, where people often have unique skill sets and knowledge diversification is harder.

It was here, in the bright morning sun, where I realised that rethinking talent strategies is a ‘must’ for every organization competing in the digital space – whether a tech start-up, multinational bank, or a government institution. We have put together some things to consider:

The 5 things to ask yourself

1. Freelance is the new standard, make the mind-switch:

Research shows that freelancers will account for nearly 50% of the workforce by 2020. Even more radical predictions speak about “a new Global 2000 company with no full-time employees outside of most senior executives in the next 10 years”. Numbers aside, companies have to ask themselves how not only to change their hiring policies, but their mindsets! The old strategies like ‘we need to cut the number of external employees’ are not going to work for much longer.

2. Make yourself interesting: 

Your digital branding is vital to get into awareness of tech people and millennials. And so is your communication strategy: how are you going to communicate to these audiences, through which channels, and in what language? Avoid long stories about ‘how your department is positioned in the corporate structure’ and so on. Be direct, to-the-point, visual. You may even consider vlog recruitment messages, to show your candidates what kind of work, people and environment they can expect.

3. Put your money where your mouth is: 

Secondary work conditions are important but salary still matters.  Especially among the highly wanted profiles like data analysts. We have often heard about a ‘just-out-of-college’ candidate expecting the salary of ’10-year-experience’ hire. So ask yourself this: How much are you prepared to pay for quality? How are you going to adjust your current salary system to make them ‘fit’ in?

4. Make them grow and keep the knowledge in house: 

To keep your people growing, invest into expert congresses and events which reflect the latest trends faster than most trainings. To keep knowledge in house when your people leave, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach but realise that it starts with your culture. How do you stimulate knowledge sharing? Do targets work well in your organisation? If so, make it a part of your strategy and set a knowledge sharing goal.

5. Give them the tools:

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. You surely can’t expect the top-notch designers to be happy and deliver amazing UX, if you let them work with the ‘office DELLs’. Encouraging tech people and millennials to be innovative is a key, and they need tools to do it. If you are a non-native tech company working with legacy system, you may want to consider to partially ring-fence your digital teams to foster innovation.

Do you need some help with any of these questions or you have a great idea? Get in touch with us.

Wish you a lovely day,
Dianne & Eva

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