Since being crowned an “unexpected hub for Tech startups” by Entrepreneur in 2013, Cincinnati’s explosive startup growth is fueling a technology renaissance. Cincinnati is home to some of the fastest growth in startup activity out of 40 metro areas, according to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, which ranked the city in the top five nationwide for year-on-year growth.

While this rapid growth is great news for entrepreneurs, it’s a different story for hiring managers searching for top talent. Right now, Cincinnati’s IT market, and the rest of Ohio, is very much a job seeker’s market. Specialized talent is in top demand and short supply. However, not all hiring managers realize just how competitive it truly is to hire top talent. This has led to a bit of a mismatch between expectations and reality. Recently, I’ve had several hiring managers express their surprise at just how competitive IT recruitment has become.

At the very least, companies must offer a competitive salary and benefits package. These offerings are just a baseline, however. The following steps will help your company recruit and retain the region’s best talent by addressing their biggest concerns:

  1. Support meaningful professional development.
    Job seekers across the board want to work for a company that will invest in their professional development, and this is especially true for the men and women in IT. Technology changes at a rapid pace and IT professionals fear getting “left behind” if they aren’t on top of the latest developments. They need to keep their skills fresh and consequently prefer employers who will prioritize their professional development. Reassure your prospective hire that your company supports implementing new technologies rather than relying on legacy systems.
  2. Bigger isn’t always better.
    For many talented people, working for a big company can be the exact opposite of what they want. Often times the bigger a company gets, the harder it is for that company to stay up to date on technology, not to mention pigeon holing employees into just one skill set. Top talent doesn’t want to work for a company that’s six or 12 months behind the technology curve, an issue that’s more likely to occur as companies grow in size. Larger companies also have a reputation – fairly or not ­– for having more institutional barriers to technology adoption. If your company is larger, reassure your prospective hire that the team is committed to staying on top of the latest systems and processes– and that your hire will be empowered with the tools and resources they need for success.
  3. Don’t drag out the hiring process.
    Does your process take several weeks or several months? Dragging out the hiring process could mean you miss out on your preferred hire. Assume your prospective hire is entertaining multiple offers. If you take too long to get back to them, you risk losing out to another company. Be respectful of a candidate’s time and don’t window shop. While it’s tempting to “test the waters” to understand the candidate pool, prospective hires may take offense at this– hurting your employer brand. If you’re going to interview a candidate, be serious about the process and ready to make an offer sooner than later.

As Ohio continues to grow as a tech hub, the competition for top IT talent will only intensify. Companies that fail to adapt their hiring strategy to this new reality may struggle to recruit and retain the industry’s best.

Is your company prepared for successful IT recruitment?