How to Recruit in the Tough Texas Market

How to Recruit in the Tough Texas Market

It’s no secret we’re in the midst of one of the greatest labor shifts we’ve seen in decades. In Austin in particular, where our company is based, the competition for skilled tech workers between local startups and out-of-state companies opening satellite offices is fierce.

You might be wondering, How can I make my company stand out and recruit the best talent? And once I bring in those employees, how do we retain them so they don’t leave quickly for a competitor? Here are several tips for recruiting and engaging team members even in the current tough market.

Understand the Workforce

In this day and age and with a remote-first workforce, in-office amenities are almost completely irrelevant. Thanks to the remote work shift due to COVID-19, inflationary factors, and the “Great Resignation,” perks like a fun happy hour in the office don’t cut it anymore. Survey after survey shows, especially with Generation Z, that mission, values, and flexibility rank as the most important factors—even above salary. This sentence pretty much encapsulates the sentiment many workers are feeling: “I don’t want to go into the office, and I want to work somewhere that’s important to me.” Spend some time outlining what matters most to your ideal potential hires.

Differentiate Your Company

Once you have an understanding of what’s important to your target employees, you can begin to differentiate your company. This involves creating a story around why joining your company is a special and unique opportunity for that individual. If your People Operations team hasn’t done this yet, now is a great time to do so.

If you lead a product company, can you show how your products are helping the world? For a tech company, can you speak to how the technology you’re building is doing something for the greater good? At Pingboard, the story we tell is that we work on projects that make companies better places to work. Having this summed up in a sentence or two helps potential new hires understand what you do and how they fit into the bigger picture.

Stand Out from the Competition with a Sense of Place

Over the last 10 years, Austin in particular has had a massive influx of large tech companies setting up big operations in the area. This created a lot of competition for Austin startups in hiring skilled employees. For Austin-born and bred companies, this is a great opportunity to lean into that as part of your story—you are part of the community that makes the city unique. That same idea applies to other cities across the state—as larger, out-of-state companies compete with more local upstarts, define how your company fits into the city ecosystem that’s often one of the factors attracting them in the first place.

Build Effective Retention Strategies

Having a great recruiting strategy doesn’t matter if it’s not supported by an equally strong retention strategy. People want to work for a company that will invest in their growth. In practice, that can translate to learning a new skill, having the opportunity to take training classes, receiving proactive mentorship from a manager, and many other investments a company can make.

To be successful, start from the top and invest in managerial roles. When hiring, look for people who are passionate about leading teams, and who consider that a big part of their career. You’ve heard the saying, “Employees don’t leave bad companies; they leave bad managers.” Make sure you’re providing your managers with the appropriate tools to help them be better coaches.

At their core, people want to feel special and be recognized. If you celebrate your employees and their wins time and time again, they will remember that. And when they receive an offer to leave—as is becoming more and more common with the tight labor market—they’ll have another reason to stay.

Laith Dahiyat

Laith Dahiyat is the CEO of Pingboard, an Austin-founded software company that increases employee retention and engagement. For more information, please visit www.pingboard.com.

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