Rounding up top talent in Arizona – Guest Blog
GUEST BLOG BY BRAD JANNENGA, PRESIDENT AND CTO OF WEBPT, INC.
Phoenix might be predominantly desert, but it does hold some beautiful green valleys. One can say the same about our software engineering community. Sometimes we might feel like the talent pool has run dry, turning into a sun-beaten, tumbleweed-infested ghost town. In reality, though, there are oases of stellar technologists out there ready to dedicate their talent to bolstering your venture. You just have to find them. Here, I’ll detail how to find and hire top talent in the Valley of the Sun.
Create a quality workplace
Before you find and hire top talent, you have to make your company a place where people want to work: create a beautiful and meaningful product that your team is passionate about developing and growing; volunteer in your community; and cultivate a company culture that encourages enthusiasm and drive. In other words, create a sense of purpose for your team. This will not only enhance your product and customer experience, but it also will make your company even more attractive to potential new hires. Furthermore, ensure your compensation and benefits package is competitive. Added bonuses include things like a cool office, a team-oriented atmosphere, flexible schedules, ample vacation time and a casual, collaborative work environment. But remember, passion, drive and purpose must come first.
Bring in talent
Now that you’ve created a quality workplace, you’re ready to add to your already fantastic staff. The first step in the hiring process is to identify what qualities the ideal candidate should possess. Once you have that, put it into words with an enthusiastic, clever and well-written (emphasis on well-written) job description. By posting a job description that is clear about what you’re looking for — both professionally and culturally — you’ll automatically start filtering candidates right from the get-go.
Next, make a concerted effort to network with your peers in the tech industry. Immerse yourself in the local technology community and partner with area universities to keep the blossoming talent here in Phoenix. While you’re networking, make sure your company gets a lot of exposure. Advertise, use social media and attend speaking engagements. Essentially, put your marketing department to work. In addition to securing new business, you’ll let top talent know that you exist, that you’re hiring and that you’re a perfect fit for them.
Interview with intent
Once you have lined up several interviews, ask the right questions — ones designed to uncover professional ability, natural intelligence, problem solving skills and cultural fit. Take your time with the process by conducting multiple interviews in different settings with an array of team members. It’s important to hire slow to ensure the best fit for both you and the candidate. Of course, you can’t hire for a cultural fit if your company doesn’t have a clearly defined culture, so know yours, inside and out.
Maintain what you’ve created
Now that you’ve hired your candidate, work to retain him or her. After all, those first six months to a year are crucial when it comes to employee retention. According to Business Management Daily, keeping your team “challenged, empowered and acknowledged” encourages them to reward your company “with loyalty and productivity.”
How do you create an environment of empowerment and autonomy? From what I’ve learned in my own professional experience, such an atmosphere is the product of listening and communicating — well and often. Learn about your team members. What do they want to do? How do they want to grow? And what do they need from you to do their jobs better, meet their goals more efficiently and navigate around obstacles? Use what you learn to ensure that you’re leading effectively — and that your staff has everything they need to be successful.
Lastly, make every employee interaction count. Praise is great — and you should take time to celebrate successes, both big and small — but your job as a leader is to give more than a pat on the back. This goes back to making your team feel challenged and empowered. So, help your employees find their strengths and then establish goals that maximize them.
And with that, your roundup is complete — you have a great company with a talented, loyal staff. Most importantly, though, you’re contributing to Phoenix’s burgeoning technology community, because — ultimately — it’s all cyclical: you start a technology company that does something meaningful for the world; you discover top talent and hire them; and then that talent takes your company to a new level of success. And even when it’s time for your top talent to search for a new opportunity (because eventually they might), it’s perfectly fine because the training and guidance you’ve provided will help them make another technology company in this desert of ours successful, too.
Brad is chairman, president and CTO of WebPT. In 2009, The Arizona Republic named Brad one of the Top Entrepreneurs in Arizona; in 2012, Brad earned an EHR Game Changer Award from Health Data Management, and the Phoenix Business Journal honored him as one of their “Top 40 Under 40” and received the Tech Titan award. He also won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the “Emerging” category for the Mountain Desert region. Brad mentors several local startups and is active in a number of nonprofit organizations.
Learn more about WebPT here.