Decoding the tech hiring enigma: Innovative HR strategies to retain candidates

Decoding the tech hiring enigma: Innovative HR strategies to retain candidates

Sakshi MalhotraJuly 24, 20235 min read
Q1. To begin with, could you please tell us a bit about your journey into the HR industry?
I actually began my career as a company secretary and later stepped into HR quite accidentally. In 2020, I joined a startup in Bangalore where the existing HR had to leave due to medical problems. With only a team of 24, we didn't think we needed an HR initially. So, I took up the HR responsibilities. My rules were simple - don't give anyone more than a 30% hike and use six specific formats of offer letters. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we successfully closed Series A and B funding, resulting in a significant hiring surge. By the end of 2021, our team had expanded from 24 to 300 members. As I was involved in hiring for every role, people started seeing me as the HR person. It was a journey from zero to one for me, learning things from scratch. It's been a great ride and that's how my HR journey began.
Q2. You mentioned you transitioned from being a company secretary to HR, what made you stay in HR as a career choice?
I've always been a people person, and when I got into HR, I realized that this role serves as a bridge between management and employees. The management can only understand what's happening on the ground if the HR communicates it. Having been on the other side of the table for years, I understood where HR was lacking and what needed to be conveyed. I saw this as a challenge and embraced the HR role completely. I enjoy it because it's the people who build the company. If they don't feel like it's their own company or a place they want to work for, they're never going to give more.
Q3: Could you shed light on some challenges you've faced in hiring for tech versus non-tech roles?
The COVID era has drastically changed hiring. Earlier, there were face-to-face interviews, campus drives, walk-in drives, but post-COVID, the paradigm shifted to remote hiring. It's more about whether the candidate accepts the organization rather than the other way around. The challenge lies in meeting the candidate's needs for flexibility and work-from-home options. The major challenge in tech hiring is the scarcity of relevant talent. While there are many engineers and folks out there, the quality often doesn't meet the mark. And those who are relevant often have multiple offers in hand, which makes it a tough competition for us to attract and retain them.
Q4: Could you elaborate on how organizations are dealing with the challenge of attracting tech talent?
Organizations are going to great lengths to attract tech talent. For instance, some startups offer benefits like giving a car on joining or sponsoring their trips. The challenge doesn't end at attracting talent; it extends to retaining them. It's a cycle that keeps repeating itself – even after a person joins, they often get additional offers, creating a continuous challenge of retention.
It's indeed a challenge we face every day. The approach involves extensive dialogue with the hiring managers to understand exactly what they need from a role, and how that aligns with the projects we have in hand. The key is to gauge whether the role we're offering will excite the candidate or not, and show them their growth path. We need to demonstrate how their involvement will shape our projects, which requires in-depth knowledge about the role on offer.
Q6:It sounds like the process of engaging a candidate starts right from the screening process. Can you explain how you ensure the candidate sticks with the process until the end?
The screening process has evolved considerably. Candidates are now interested in what they'll learn, the nature of the project they'll work on, and the benefits beyond just the salary. As recruiters, we need to be clear about why we are bringing someone on board. While we may not be able to delve into technicalities, it's crucial to give them an overview of what they'll be working on and how this position will help them grow in their careers. Post-offer, it's important to stay engaged with the candidate, offering insights into their role, inviting them to our town halls, and making them feel a part of the team before they officially join.
Q7: Could you elaborate more on the strategies you employ to keep the candidates engaged post-offer?
Post-offer engagement is something that many organizations overlook, but we try to be proactive. After making an offer, I send an email to the candidate a couple of days later, introducing them to their team and providing more detail about the projects they'll be working on. We include candidates in any town halls or office celebrations we might have. In some instances, we even arrange a virtual lunch or coffee meeting with their manager. Also, we provide virtual tours of our offices for out-of-town candidates, and near their joining date, we send them their laptop, a joining kit, swag T-shirts, and other items. We also make a point to recognize any personal occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. It's all about keeping them engaged and excited about joining our team.
Q8: How does making a candidate feel like a part of the organization even before they have joined help in ensuring they stick with the company, especially when they might have multiple offers?
Absolutely, that's the strategy we aim for. While we have budget constraints and can't always compete with monetary offers, it's important to remember that money isn't the only motivator. What candidates increasingly value is feeling involved in the company, knowing that they have a say, and feeling a sense of authority in their roles. We've found that this approach fosters a greater sense of commitment in the candidates, as evidenced by employees who've been with us for several years in a relatively young company.
Q9: You mentioned that you've worked in different types of companies, including a fast-growing startup in the 3D AI domain and then at massage school, a growth school. How did the nature of hiring differ between these organizations?
The hiring processes were indeed very different. In my previous organization, there was a strong focus on hiring for tech roles, given the advanced nature of the work, which involved creating 3D models from 2D images using AI. However, at Massai school, where we train people to become tech professionals, the tech hiring is less. This difference offers unique advantages. For instance, I can use my previous hiring experiences to guide our students on what to expect in interviews.
Q10: In your current role, how does your past experience in tech hiring help with shaping the education and expectations of your students at Masai?
Working in a startup environment and dealing with diverse tech roles has given me a lot of flexibility and insights that I now impart to my students. I advise them on what to ask in interviews, how to share their experiences, and how to navigate the industry. As these students aspire to become tech professionals, the knowledge I share with them is invaluable. It's a symbiotic relationship where their learning also helps me stay updated and informed about the evolving landscape of tech roles and expectations.
Q11: Could you talk more about the challenges that are unique to tech hiring in high tech organizations versus those in growth schools like yours?
In high tech organizations, there is a higher frequency of tech hiring, and the challenges often revolve around candidate dropouts due to multiple offers from big tech companies like Google and Microsoft. This led to situations where people would join and then leave within a month because they received a better offer. At Masai School, on the other hand, tech hiring is lighter. We focus more on the learning and development side of things, prepping our students to be tech professionals. The challenge here is different – it's about shaping well-rounded tech professionals, not just hiring them.
Q12: Do you think a practice like evaluating confidence can make it more difficult to find relevant candidates, because confidence can be faked, but skills cannot be faked once you are actually doing it?
Yes, that's true. While evaluating confidence is important, it's always necessary to have a technical round of interviews to ensure that the candidate can actually deliver on the skills they've presented. This combination helps reduce the risk of a bad hire.
It's always important to be transparent and empathetic. We don't hide the truth, but rather explain the organization's situation. Employees appreciate this transparency and it strengthens their trust in us. In addition, material rewards are not the only way to value employees; we also focus on building personal connections, like assigning a 'buddy' to each new employee who isn't their manager, to make them feel involved and welcomed.
Q14: What do you think is the key to encouraging tech employees to come forward with their grievances? What's your approach in handling these cases?
Firstly, it's important to dispel the myth that tech employees don't have grievances or don't want to engage. As HR, we have to reach out first, building trust by showing our interest in their lives beyond work. By doing so, we make them feel comfortable enough to share their issues with us.
Q15: How should HR professionals approach candidates to encourage them to clearly state their expectations and non-negotiables during the hiring process?
The key is to create an environment where the candidate feels comfortable sharing their expectations and non-negotiables. This involves showing genuine interest in the candidate's career goals, their lifestyle, and their values. Ask open-ended questions and make sure they know that their answers will be used to create the best possible job fit for them.
Signup Now!

We are already working with teams that want to hire the best engineers

ZomatoNykaaaYubiZopperRakutenAllegis
Signup now for free trial
OR
Book a meeting with sales