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How traditional industries are starting to appeal to tech talent

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Kirill Wright)

As more businesses come to realise that technology and innovation are critical for the future, the recruitment process for the top IT professionals is also becoming increasingly competitive.

In years gone by, tech professionals may not have considered law firms as places they could use and develop their skills. But, given the need for legal businesses to be at the cutting edge of technology, recruiting top talent is now vital to drive them forward.

Improving customer experience through better use of digital technologies is becoming ever-more important in all businesses. So, even traditional sectors, such as the legal industry, where historically the use of tech is often very low on the priority list, are starting to play catch-up and implement high tech, complex digital transformation projects.

These more conventional organisations now face the challenge of making themselves attractive to the top tech talent that’s out there. But how can companies, such as law firms, really look to wrestle talent from the big tech companies and the nimble, exciting tech startups? Well, if they can adjust their working practice they can definitely compete. Here’s how:

Workplace culture

Modern tech companies tend to go big on promoting their seemingly relaxed, laidback company culture. For any business looking to go toe to toe with these tech companies in a bid to win talent, this portrayal of a work culture offering relaxed dress codes and various ‘unusual’ perks needs to be considered and explored.

In reality, there are some tech companies that find themselves coming under criticism for their culture – from long working hours for no extra reward, to biases against certain employee groups. So, while they may initially look appealing, the working conditions don’t always match the culture that the business has tried to create.

Smart businesses in other sectors will see an opportunity to replicate tech companies that are doing well and add in their own strengths and values. Real, lasting benefits such as flexible working, personal development, and generous annual leave are much more likely to win long-term over games rooms and free food.

By placing a focus on inclusivity and work life balance, and ensuring a commitment to developing everyone to be the best they can be, companies will be far more likely to attract top talent in any area – tech or otherwise.

Thanks to the internet, getting a feel for a company’s culture is getting easier. Using social media is a great way to provide a window into the culture of a business and hopefully demonstrate that it is a fun, friendly place to work. Businesses that share content and real team member stories that highlight some of the main benefits to working at the company will be able to authentically promote the employer brand and set themselves apart from the competition.

Challenging projects

While being a great place to work is important, the work itself is just as key. It goes without saying that the majority of tech workers will want to feel that they are working on the latest and most cutting-edge projects that are available. While some businesses may well be able to offer those types of projects, overcoming the potential perception of a more ‘traditional industry’ is certainly a challenge. In order to attract the very best tech talent, businesses need to offer the very best work. Crucially, they need to be able to easily demonstrate that too, in order to overcome the ‘traditional’ perception hurdles.

The best tech talent will be incredibly passionate about their work and their field. They will see the ability to shake up a business digitally as an interesting and exciting challenge. In order to offer that challenge, businesses need to challenge themselves and take risks. Businesses need to be get comfortable with being uncomfortable, in order to run projects that will attract the top tech talent. The good news is that top talent working on exciting, transformative tech projects should lead to success in terms of customer service and business growth. By integrating technology into strategic aims and ambitions, companies can prove to the top tech talent that they will be critical in moving the company forward. An attractive proposition.

Tech and IT executives will be wary of positions that offer a lot of accountability with very little influence. Therefore, any job title and reporting structure should be set with full consideration for the seniority of the role itself. Support from senior executives, including CEO or MD, is really important. Tech professionals will be wary of companies that are merely paying lip service to making technology a key driver of business strategy. Whatever level the role is at, professional and personal development is key. For a business that sets out to supercharge growth and customer experience by being truly tech led, it will need tech talent to develop at the same pace, if for no other reason other than to retain that talent.

The recruitment process

If a business is satisfied that it is offering great work in a great working environment, then the final hurdle to overcome is the recruitment process itself. Adverts for tech jobs must be well drafted to convey all the USPs of the business and the role, as they are likely to be attracting people who have never worked in or even considered working in that sector before. They will understand the technical side of the role. But they will need to understand the specific business and the value they can add. 

With so much competition for great tech talent, businesses should not fall into the trap of making their application process too onerous. The whole application process should be quick and slick and not slowed down by bureaucracy. At the same time, it’s important not to rush and make a poor hire. Candidates’ technical skills should be tested if possible, to ensure they are capable but also as a way to convey how importantly the firm is taking that role. Clearly, salaries should be competitive and benchmarked, and ideally across all industries.

It’s absolutely possible for the more traditional industries to attract the highest level of tech talent, so long as businesses take the chance to have an inward look at their offering. They must be comfortable about what they can offer people and know their own strengths and weaknesses. Identifying what they are able to offer employees will give them a good idea of how attractive they are as an employer, while also providing the opportunity to address any negative points and weave in their own unique offering and values.

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Dan Taylor, director of systems, Fletchers Solicitors
Image source: Shutterstock/Kirill Wright