This week, Testlio is live at the 2022 Women of Silicon Valley conference. This first piece garners insight from the “Search for Tech Talent” panel discussion.

One topic dominated much of the conversation at the 2022 Women of Silicon Valley conference: the complexity of the hiring process in the search for tech talent.

With studies showing that nearly 64% of employees are currently looking for new opportunities, senior-level leaders with fast-growing engineering teams need to attract and develop tech talent. 

Borrowing from the principles of UX and the experience of hiring and retention, senior-level leaders discussed how expanding the aperture for applicants, designing user-friendly interviews, and meeting employee needs to encourage retention might contribute to solving the challenges faced by both employees and their workplaces.

Expand your aperture

As the search for talent gets more competitive, companies are expanding their aperture to include applicants with non-traditional backgrounds, varying levels of education and experience, and multiple home countries

Betsy Sutter, Executive Senior Vice President, and Chief People Officer at VMware, described her team’s struggle to find talent without a household name. Though pivotal to cloud computing and app architectures, VMWare is not as instantly recognizable as trending tech companies.

“We’ve had to open up our aperture in where and how we are looking for talent. Rethink and reimagine [the process] — and we’ve found talent in the most interesting places,” Sutter said. 

Above: The “Search For Tech Talent” Panel

Sutter described virtual hiring events with multiple candidates and multiple positions available to get a feel for where a candidate could excel on the team.

TL;DR: Much like UX focuses on users, so should teams who want to find and retain tech talent. Interview engineering candidates to understand their skills, desires, and potential before placing them with a team and continuing the interview process. Start expanding your aperture to consider an applicant’s opportunity for growth and development at your company, instead of just focusing on their present skills and strengths. 

Designing a good UX interview process

Historically, interviews in the tech industry have been long, challenging, assignment-based, and highly intimidating to candidates without traditional computer science education backgrounds. 

To acquire and develop tech talent, panelists suggested that companies start thinking about the interview process from the interviewee’s side. Consider the most intuitive way for candidates to express their background, preferences, goals, etc., and insert those principles of good UX into the process. This might include: 

  • Creating and explaining a visual hierarchy of the company 
  • Offering prep materials to increase efficiency 
  • Leaving room for the employee to ask questions and guide the interview
  • Being mindful of interviewee accessibility needs
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“The interview process was designed by white male tech programmers and does not work for many other folks,” said Jason Sobel, Chief Technology Officer of The New York Times.

Summer Weisberg, Chief Client Officer at Testlio, noted that video interviews should not encompass the entire applicant journey. Hiring for the services team at Testlio starts with brand awareness and nurturing current and future employees with thoughtful communications practices and tactics such as:

  • Executing drip campaigns for candidates
  • Building brand awareness among potential candidates
  • Fostering a community among tech talent and clients

TL;DR: Reach out to your applicants and create accessible, warm, and thoughtful campaigns that entice and encourage ALL to apply. 

Meet employee needs to encourage retention

A recent PWC survey found that 88% of executives have indicated that their company is experiencing higher turnover than normal. 

A guiding principle of good UX is to meet users’ needs, designing around their preferences, demographics, and desires. Those needs have changed. There’s a clear shift in the market where applicants and employers are on a much more even playing field. The combination of thousands of companies seeking talent, a general labor shortage, and the rise of global work has upset norms, and employee turnover is higher than ever.

It’s on companies and teams to start building “user profiles” for their potential employees to map and understand what applicants genuinely need. Some commonalities today might include flexibility in location, thoughtful benefits, and articulated purpose that is proved through action. But profile building doesn’t cut off at the hire date — that’s just the start.

“What is really important is that people can see their career path within your company. Remember, your organization isn’t the company; there can be multiple paths for them. You may inadvertently push people out the door by not painting and supporting that vision,” Weisberg said. 

TL;DR: Start thinking outside the box when it comes to retention. Offer multiple possibilities for growth — including management and specialist tracks, in addition to deep learning and cross-team development.

Kassidy Kelley serves as the Managing Editor for Testlio and works from her home base in Boston, MA.