How do we identify and hire technical talent in a small city?

Hi, We are a tech startup located in a small city with limited pool of talent and a mid-size university. We are looking to hire a new tech member in a few months, but we don't know where to start, who and how to hire. Remote vs. on-site? Experienced vs. recent grads? How do we vet? What type of person to look for? Please provide your input and I'd be happy to set up a call to discuss in details.


Great question.

The answer to this may depend on what exactly you mean "technical talent" - My guess is that, given the context, you are referencing software development/programming in some capacity. In which case, the first thing I would ask yourself (before "how do I hire someone locally in a small city?") is "how do I find the right technical talent I need now, regardless of where they are?"

A virtualized/telecommuting workforce for programming is not only common these days, it is (to some extent in certain situations) expected. The life of a programmer usually requires keeping random hours with late night sprints on occasion. So, most programmers (particularly younger ones) may look for opportunities to have partial or total flexibility in terms of working remotely. In this case, hiring locally doesn't become an issue and you can look to recruit in other more dense technical recruiting markets (though that in and of itself carries its own issues/risks). Even if you recruit outside of your city with the intention of requiring that full-time person to work in your office, the expectation can be set that after a period of time (perhaps 60-90 days) the person will be expected to move to your city so they can be integrated with the rest of your team in person.

So, putting aside the "where" of the question, now we get to focus on the more direct part of the equation: the "who". there are a lot of questions you need to explore so you an scope the candidate profile you are looking for, but also your method/means of recruiting, vetting and attracting them (not the least of which is cost/budgeting).

- What platform(s) are they working on?
- Are they backend or frontend focused?
- What stage of development is your product currently in?
- What are the practices and principles you currently utilize that may impact the validity of a candidate (code repos, project management software etc)
- Will you now, or in the near-future, ask this person to manage other directly reporting team members or vendors?
- To what extent, if any, will they interact with end-users/clients?
- What is your budget/plan for compensation packages?
- Will equity be a part of that compensation package?

Those are just a few of the questions/areas that need to be assessed. the good news is that once organized, it can be a fairly simple (not necessarily easy though) process. they key is organizing all of your requirements and considerations up front so you don't waste time recruiting or considering the wrong resource (let's remember, you do have a business to run during this whole recruitment process!)

I'd be happy to hop on a call and help walk you through the quick process of organizing your thoughts - feel free to reach out and best of luck!

Answered 9 years ago

Hi there, great question! The real question is : do you intend to stay in that city for a fair amount of time? If so then connect your brand to the ethos of the city and attract people who wouldn't mind moving to get a good job. Right away, your talent pool is based in two areas : the nearest metropolitan area within two hours or so, and the nearest college campus. For the latter, create a relationship with the Career Center of the school and get help developing profiles that are attractively written. Make presentations in their classes especially for graduating seniors. As for the metro, connect with their business development center or chamber of commerce (informally if needed). As you can see, there are a lot of long term and short term solutions at hand, but first let's talk to plan out your talent needs. Happy to help!

Answered 9 years ago

First, you want to define job descriptions so you have clarity on the responsibilities, experiences and locations needed.

Then, You can posting your positions in LinkedIn Jobs. You will attract many technical talents. Other than technical skills, you also want to look for different thinking and behaving preferences in order to put together a "whole" team to work well together.

There are many technical talents out there and you will find the right folks if you are clear about your goal and on boarding process.

I will be happy to talk to you. Give me a call.

Answered 9 years ago

I'd say your first decision is whether or not you consider it critical to hire locally. If you're going to hire locally, you'll just have to seek the local maximum -- the best person you can hire within the smaller talent pool that you have available. In that case, it's crucial to figure out how to identify and attract the best local talent -- where they are, what appeals to them etc.

If you're willing to hire remotely, then you'll have a vastly wider talent pool, but you'll also have some of the challenges that come with remote work, which are a different set of challenges. Again, you'll need to figure out where to advertise, how to appeal to the candidates, but you'll also need to spend some time on deciding how to manage someone who's not there in front of you. (I'm guessing from your question that you're not already doing that).

Answered 9 years ago

Respectfully, it is unusual for a startup to have no connections to draw upon talent. I'll take your statement at face value. The first place to start is by clearly defining the experiences you want someone to have and what you want them to accomplish. Don't do a long tail list of skills. You won't find them. The only definition of fit you want to consider is whether the person will work the hours you need them to work. You are kidding yourself if you think you know how to assess for anything else.

Next, reach out to people you know and start talking with them about their work and who they know. Then contact those people about the role, see if they are interested and who they know.

Or you can hire a recruiter (someone like me) and pay me to do this work for you, pre-screen them based upon your criteria and make the process easier.

BTW, you can watch some of my No B. S. Hiring Advice videos on YouTube and learn more of the things you don't know. My channel is TheBigGameHubterTV

Answered 9 years ago

To identify and hire technical talent in a small city keep the following points in mind:
1. Assess aptitude.
With the traditional resume and interview recruiting process, getting a clear indication of a candidateā€™s abilities can be challenging. Resumes can be misleading, and bias can corrupt subjective analysis. When recruiters do eventually hire a candidate after searching through hundreds of resumes, they sometimes find the employee is not a good fit for the position or the company culture. Plum analyses the top skills needed for an open position and then evaluates candidates for those qualities.
2. Establish a culture that embraces remote hiring.
Recruiting is no longer limited by location. In their book Remote, 37Signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson explain that limiting hiring to one geographic region means recruiters are missing out on the best talent. Do not limit the search for quality candidates to the local talent poolā€”the right programmer for the job may not live nearby.
3. Look for talent in areas with a large amount of people but few opportunities.
The growing IT industry combined with the vast population in these countries allows us to be selective with our aptitude and attitude criteria scores and still have many candidates to choose from.
4. Do not underestimate the value of junior hires.
Hiring IT positions is competitive and finding experienced candidates with the right skills is challenging. Programmers can often learn the specific skills needed for a position, complete on-the-job training and absorb lessons from peers and mentors. They are likely to grow into valuable team members, no matter how much experience they have.
5. Be mission-driven.
In the competitive market for IT talent, candidates have their pick of firms and positions. Hiring top technical talent will never be easy, but these rules will make it easier.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 3 years ago

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