Hannah Moore And Syeda Younus
Director of Experienced Recruiting Member Experience | Senior Project Manager Veris Insights

On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup and guests Hannah Moore and Syeda Younus from Veris Insights talk about winning tech talent using data insights.

Veris Insights is a recruiting intelligence and analytics firm. They work with heads of university recruiting, university relations and talent acquisition leaders to attract, engage, and recruit top talent.

Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 25 minutes

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Some Conversation Highlights:

  • A large proportion of technical candidates are “pretty confident” they can find a better job than the one they currently have, and 4 in 10 are actively seeking new opportunities.
  • Now that confidence levels are rising, you run the risk of losing tech candidates if you’re not actively working on retention.
  • According to survey data, at least 30% of tech professionals would take a pay cut for the right opportunity.
  • Other priorities candidates want other than salary include career advancement, career development, and skill development.

 

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Music:   This is RecruitingDaily’s recruiting live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler, here’s your host, William Tincup.

William Tincup:   Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today we have Hannah and Syeda on from Veris Insights. And the topic today that we’re going to be discussing is winning tech talent using data insights. This is going to be fun y’all and it’s going to be fast, let’s get right into it. We’ll probably need to direct things because there’s two of you, so Hannah would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and then Syeda, you introduce yourself and then introduce Veris Insights?

Hannah:   Awesome. So I’ll switch things up a bit. So maybe before I do a brief intro, I’ll give you a brief intro of who Veris Insighs is, and then I’ll kick it over to Syeda . So my name’s Hannah and I have been with Veris Insights for a little over a year. So we are a essentially recruiting intelligence and analytics firm, really dedicated to serving and helping heads of university recruiting, university relations and talent acquisition leaders, attract, engage, and recruit top talent. So we go out, we combine candidate sentiments with employer data to create robust research studies, tools, dashboards, toolkits, and we get the opportunity to work with a couple 100 Fortune 1000 companies on some of their hardest challenges, one of which we know has been All Things Tech Talent.

Hannah:   So a little bit about me, I am based in Greenville, North Carolina and get the great opportunity to sit on our member experience team. So my role is to be an advisor to heads of talent acquisition and chief HR officers on some of their hardest challenges and priorities. Prior to joining the firm, I actually was a member of Myself, so worked on the university recruiting team for Thermo Fisher Scientific for really the last six or so years, and loved the work that Veris Insights was doing and so decided that I wanted to join the firm to get to help other talent acquisition leaders on some of their biggest challenges. So really excited to be joined by my partner Syeda  and I’ll kick it over her to introduce herself.

Syeda :   Thanks Hannah. So I’m Syeda  I have been with Veris Insights a little over two years, and what I do is I manage our research studies on the experience recruiting side or some of our strategic studies. I’ve been on the university side and then moved over to the experience side which has been really a pleasure working with a different set of stakeholders. And prior to joining Veris Insights, I received my masters in clinical ecology, where I studied communities from marginalized backgrounds and their access to mental healthcare.

William Tincup:   That’s fantastic. There’s going to be some fun dovetails there into tech talent as well. So winning tech talent using data insights, so let’s just start with some of the things that y’all are seeing as it relates to tech talent because y’all are full vertical, you get to see it coming right out of engineering and colleges as well as probably other sources. So what are you learning about tech talent today as as opposed to a couple years ago, but just what are you learning about tech talent today? We’ll start with Hannah and then we’ll go to Syeda .

Hannah:   Beyond the fact that they’re just in really high demand? [crosstalk 00:   04:   12] Exactly.

William Tincup:   Crazy. Expectations around salary. Yeah.

Hannah:   Its interesting. As you mentioned, this is a population that we study heavily on the student side of the house and on the experience side. And one of the things that has become really clear over the last couple months is that all candidates, but a large proportion of tech candidates are pretty confident that they could find a better job than the one that they currently have, and we see that close to 4 and 10 are actually actively seeking new opportunities. So they’re putting their feelers out there and it’s a bit of a different place than where we were in 2020, because with the high level of layoffs and with COVID there was a lot of uncertainty, and so candidates were staying with their employers because that job stability was really important to them. But we see now with those confidence levels rising, that run the risk of losing out on tech candidates if you’re not actively trying to retain them, and they’re pretty confident that there’s something better that it exists out there. So it’s really capitalizing on what better means to this population.

William Tincup:   I love that. And Syeda , do you see a lot of the same things, anything different or anything you’d like to add?

Syeda :   Yeah. I actually wanted to go back to a point that you mentioned earlier around expectations about salary. So something that was really surprising from the study and from the data that we gathered was we asked candidates basically what would be the minimum salary that they would consider pursuing a new job opportunity for, and we actually found that a good 30% of the tech professionals we surveyed would actually take a pay cut for the right opportunity. So what this is telling us is that, there is the popular knowledge out there that tech professionals are really looking for high salaries, but there are other ways that you can attract them because some people have other priorities. So that was something really interesting that we found and some of those priorities have to do around career advancement, career development, and skill development and other things that we can probably get more into in a bit.

William Tincup:   Sure. And right opportunity as you well say it’s defined by the individual at that particular moment, could be a number of things. Y’all in the data, what’s come up around remote or hybrid or commute or any of those things?

Hannah:   Yeah, go ahead Syeda .

Syeda :   Sure, it’s huge. We interview candidates as well as surveying them, and so first of all, when we ask them what they care about in a job, remote is often one of the first things that comes out of their mouth. And we also found, yeah this is a really important priority, we found that tech candidates are actually twice as likely to accept an offer if they have a remote work policy of up to three days a week to come in or to work remotely, as opposed to having no remote work opportunities. And we actually found that around 60% of tech candidates were not even open to having no remote work opportunities. So it’s pretty big and it really factors into their decision making more so than with other candidates we found.

William Tincup:   That dovetails a conversation I had a couple weeks ago where a buddy of mine that runs TA, he was trying to figure out synonyms for the word commute.

Hannah:   Yep.

William Tincup:   And its like he get to a certain point and then he’s got like “Hey you, with this particular opportunity you got to be in the office two days a week, you could pick whatever two, just two and it’s like that flatlined.” So-

Syeda :   That’s true.

William Tincup:   Hannah, anything to add on the remote hybrid?

Hannah:   I would say so for me, one of the things I love about the research that site and team put together was in addition to a lot of the numbers. We had a lot of candidate voice and so I spent some time feeding through that and one of the quotes that stood out to me was a very short and succinct one, but this gentleman said “Remote work is number one. I hate going to the office and want my time, my commute, and my day back I’m fully remote and have been since before the pandemic, so I would never get a job that I had to go in more than once a week.” And that just said all I needed to know about this population and their preferences.

William Tincup:   Yeah. It’s interesting because they drive, not just because of the scarcity issue, it’s just everyone’s recruiting and isn’t just software firms that are recruiting tech talent. That’s one of the thing that Wall Street woke up to about a decade ago, it’s like, yeah, we need software engineers too. So, gets me over to something that you really well which is candidate sentiment. Because it’s really easy especially for those in the Valley, maybe even in Manhattan to think about the big brands that might be doing really innovative stuff, right. What are you seeing in terms of sentiment and what they care about as opposed to maybe what we might think they care about? And Syeda  I’ll start with you and then we’ll go to Hannah.

Syeda :   Sure. So something that’s interesting that we know that they care about is, opportunities for developing their skills. It’s really important for tech candidates or tech professionals to stay on top of the game and to remain marketable and I thought that’s something they care about in terms of long term future earning potential, et cetera. So with tech always evolving as we know it does, that opportunity to work with the latest tech and to know that your employer is going to be at the cutting edge of that is actually quite important.

William Tincup:   So what’s interesting about that is how companies market the projects and the work, right. So it was like, okay, here’s the thing is you’re going to be working on, here’s the things that we’re working on, and obviously here’s the things we need your help with, et cetera. And so there was a sex appeal to that. And again, software firms it’s easy or easier, a little harder for some of the manufacturing firms to then market those things. But when we say cutting edge, again, that’s defined by the candidate, right? So same thing as cutting edge to one candidate might not be cutting edge to another. What advice do y’all generally give to employers around how they market the projects and the work? And Hannah, let’s start with you.

Hannah:   Yeah. So, there’s a variety of ways that this can be done. One of the things that we’ve heard from a lot of candidates on the experience side, is they really want to hear from professionals outside of talent acquisition and HR. So thinking about the hiring managers, thinking about potentially people on their team or other folks within the organization and so some of the best ways to talk about the types of projects that you might be doing or to talk about the different technologies that you could be leveraging, could be videos from the hiring managers. So we’ve seen a couple employers that have done day in the life videos that are woven into their job descriptions to really bring those things to life, we’ve also seen folks that have created very specific landing pages for Niche Tech Talent to show blogs about what software engineers at their firm might be doing or might be working on. Those are some of the ideas that come to top of mind for me.

William Tincup:   I love it. Syeda ?

Syeda :   Yeah, I would add that it’s really important to get that perspective from other employees, hiring managers, et cetera, but we also know that it’s important for recruiters themselves to have some of that knowledge. So when we think about messaging it would be ideal for recruiters to have a sense of, what are the in demand skill sets and how is the role or project going to control to that skillset. Again, thinking about wanting to remain marketable and be advanced in their tech skills.

William Tincup:   I love that. So we’ll start with some easy stuff here, do’s and don’ts when recruiting tech talent. So what is some just right off the top of your head, what are some do’s and don’ts? And Hannah will start with you first.

Hannah:   Yeah. So I’m going to start with the don’ts. We know that one of the things that we actually looked at is why tech candidates ignore outreach from recruiters. And so I would say my first don’t is, send mass messages. We know right now that candidates want personalized one to one messages, and echoing what Syeda  said earlier, they want to know that you have actually taken the time to match up their background and skillsets with the job. So doing your due diligence to understand what this candidate might care about, what they’ve done in previous roles and making sure that the job that you are reaching out to them about matches and isn’t generic. I would say that’s the first piece of a don’t excuse me.

Hannah:   And then another thing that I would think about is, a lot of times we get bogged down by the traditional channels, so when you think about sourcing talent our mind immediately goes to the LinkedIn’s of the world, the indeeds, the career builders, things like that. But with this population specifically, we actually see that tech talent leverage a lot of other platforms to learn about employers and their brand, and the types of opportunities they might offer. So another don’t that I would say is don’t just limit yourself to the sourcing channels that you have always used to find talent, really get creative and do a deep dive on where tech talent is going right now to learn about employers and employment opportunities.

William Tincup:   Love that, so much gold in there. Syeda  do’s or don’ts.

Syeda :   Yeah, I would definitely agree with Hannah’s points and I would say don’t well, I guess it’s more of a do, but do know about some of the details around the role and don’t necessarily go in there, not without knowing how, again, those project details and the role details are going to contribute to their long term development to their career development. I would say a good do is actually to put a little bit emphasis on how joining your company is going to contribute to their long term career development as that’s an area of interest.

William Tincup:   I love that. What are you learning or is there anything to learn around soft skills? Because as we talk about tech talent historically, we’ve talked a lot about the hard skills and there’s a movement in HR around more of a learning about and people being a bit more adaptive around their soft skills. What are y’all seeing as it relates to soft skills and the tech talent community?

Hannah:   Yeah. So I would say it’s interesting because this is one of the biggest questions I would say that we hear the most is, how do we get our hiring managers is to move beyond experience based hiring and focus on skills based hiring.

William Tincup:   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Hannah:   I wouldn’t say we’ve cracked the code, there are a couple things that over the next couple months the research team is really thinking about, because the hardest part is how do you build a business case for that. Because for so long it’s been, you need to know how to code in this language or program. And one of the things that I’m super fascinated by and interested in is this idea of non-traditional talent. So moving beyond our ideal candidate has had this much experience and these five things, and moving forward to maybe our candidates could have one or two of these skills but then we could send them to a coding bootcamp or a quick class to fill that gap. And so that’s my long-winded way of saying, something that we are actively thinking about right now especially as the talent market is so competitive, but I wouldn’t say we necessarily have the silver bullet for that just yet.

William Tincup:   You know what’s interesting is as we talked about your background in the beginning and income marginalized communities, some of these biases that we’ve had with tech talent historically, you graduate from Stanford, which Stanford’s a wonderful school of course, who doesn’t want to have somebody that graduates from Stanford? But at the same time, there’s all of this talent that didn’t go to Stanford, that’s untapped. So I love that you brought it back to, especially tech talent can come from anywhere. And Hannah, you said this, you should be looking in different places in different ways, if you’re using the same sourcing tools that you used three years ago you’re going to get the same results. So you’re going to have to look differently, act differently, talk differently, et cetera. So I love that.

William Tincup:   So a few things that I want to ask you is about their, and it could be about sentiment, but about their desire around learning. And a question really is, how much of a tech talent wants to know about either internal mobility, which is what they do next or what’s the company going to do to bolster their skillset and make them better, where’s that on the pecking order of the things that you’re just saying? And Hannah, we will start with you.

Hannah:   Yeah. So a couple things stand out. So Syeda  mentioned this a little bit in the beginning, but career development and forward mobility is absolutely something that is important to tech candidates, and so when we think about what career development or career advancement really means to this population, we see a couple different things. So we see opportunities for upskilling and reskilling in specific areas, whether that’s learning about new technologies, maybe they joined your firm 10 years ago and they want to go take a class on some of the new trends within their specific function. We also see having clearly outlined promotion criteria and sharing with them opportunities for both vertical and lateral mobility opportunities is going to be important. So the big things I would say in addition to obviously that being important for retaining tech talent, when you think about hiring tech talent, these are also great things and great levelers that recruiters could be pulling.

Hannah:   So having some a guide that recruiters can speak to, that talk about the different types of growth that other tech professionals internally have bond through. Maybe having a few examples, whether that’s videos or whether that’s stories that are highlighted on your career site that really show, “Hey, here is X candidate they have been with us for 10 years. Here are all of the different opportunities that they’ve held within the last 10 years, and here have been the opportunities that they’ve had to enhance their skills.” Really bringing what career development and growth looks like at your organization to life.

William Tincup:   I love that. Okay. So any color commentary?

Syeda :   Sure. Definitely Hannah’s point you want to make sure that you make clear what it could look like to grow. And the point about lateral mobility is especially interesting because we’ve had candidates directly say those lateral opportunities and that lateral flexibility allows them to build new skills. And we’re seeing that lateral mobility is especially important for software engineers and IT professionals in particular, especially important to their perception of career development opportunities and to their perception of what a company can offer them in terms of flexibility.

William Tincup:   So real quickly, well, something I see from the recruiting community, especially as it relates to tech talent is they want to test. And I have enough friends on the tech side is they hate testing, So what do y’all say from your vantage point around the assessment testing of the skills? If someone says they’re job developer, how do we know without turning them off too much, how do we know the breadth and depth of that experience? And what’s the advice that y’all give your town acquisition colleagues? Hannah, we’ll start with you. Go ahead.

Hannah:   Yeah. So I’ll say it’s types of interviews, number of interviews, timelines, these are definitely things that have been top of our mind right now, and what’s interesting is when we look at the different types of interviews, we are actually see that technical assessments are one of the ones that would actually make candidates more likely to apply an interview with you when compared to things like a prerecorded video interview or a personality assessment. And so being that is such an important way that a lot of organizations vet their tech talent, it’s not necessarily that coding assessment or testing assessment needs to be taken away but one of the things I might suggest is actually thinking about the number of interviews. Because normally you have a recruiter screen, you might do a coding assessment and a then you might go through five individual interviews with people on the team, and where we really see as that sweet spot is two to three interviews.

Hannah:   So if you are going to have that coding assessment or that tech assessment, maybe it’s a matter of doing that up front and then having one or two more interviews and let letting that be the final count, because we do see that if you have more than a few of those interviews candidates are more likely to drop out of your or process. And so I would say that would be my biggest takeaway, just thinking about the assessment process.

William Tincup:   I love it. Syeda  any other things you’d like to add?

Syeda :   Yeah, It’s important to be strategic about the types of assessments that you are asking folks to go through. Because to an extent you of want to have an idea of the skills that you’re looking for for that particular role and trying to get that as directly as possible, or whether or not they have learning agility within their technical skills to be able to tackle different issues. But we’ve had candidates say, “I either know it or I don’t, I don’t need to be asked about it multiple times.” And that speaks to this need to have, or desire to have fewer interviews where it would be important to determine which those criteria are that you want to evaluate in those further interviews speaking to the soft skills that you mentioned earlier.

William Tincup:   I love it. Y’all I love the work that you’re doing at Veris insights, doing just amazing work, helping people. Thank you both for carving out time and wisdom for the audience, I absolutely appreciate you. Just thanks for being on the podcast.

Hannah:   Thanks so much for having us, we really appreciate it. [crosstalk 00:   25:   21].

William Tincup:   Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast, until next time.

Music:   You’ve been listening to the recruiting live podcast by RecruitingDaily, check out the latest industry podcast, webinars, articles, and news at recruitingdaily.com.


Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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