The market is still tough for businesses that are hiring. That goes for most sectors and most levels, but tech leaders could be some of the most difficult people to find. It’s rare to find someone with the right track record and skills, and even if you do, many other businesses are courting them.
So how do you find the tech leadership that you need?
There are three sides to that question. The first is knowing what you need. The second is finding them in the sense of identifying and locating them. The third is persuading them to leave the role they’re in and work for your business.
Here are tips for each, from some of RPI’s leading talent experts.
How to know what you need in a tech leader
Some business start by looking for the talent they think they need, rather than what they really do need.
In the words of Julian Frankum, RPI MEA Regional Lead Client Partner and Founder, ‘You need to establish where you’re going and what you want to achieve. That starts to shape what sort of leader you’re looking for.’
For example, some businesses have digital transformation in mind. However, the first thing they need to do is to make their systems and products robust, sustainable, and scalable. As Julian puts it, ‘If you start implementing digital strategies when your foundations are not solid, you’re building digital transformation on sand.’
There’s also a temptation to let ambition take over when you’re hiring. When the business has big plans for the future, they may think they need someone who has led tech for an industry giant.
‘You may shoot for the stars when you only need the moon,’ says Julian,‘ You can hire someone with that background, but if you’ve not reached a certain size, they probably have abilities that you can’t use, so you’re paying for something you can’t get.’
How to find tech leaders
Chris Baker, RPI ANZ & Pacific Regional Director points out that the net you can cast is much bigger than it used to be.
‘Any business now has to recognise that the market’s gone global. Generally speaking, a technology leader will attain a visa, so it’s an opportunity to look more widely than the local market.’ Naturally, there are extra expenses that come with an overseas hire. A visa process will cost time, and international relocation will cost money, but if you’re sure you’ve found the ideal candidate then those are investments worth making.
Stuart Wilson, RPI UK & Europe Regional Lead Client Partner and Founder, suggests that the challenge is not finding tech leaders, but ‘people who have actually delivered.’ He explains, ‘Trying to find people who have led digital projects, on time, on budget, that’s a very hard thing to do.’
That’s where executive search expertise makes the difference. A partner with industry expertise and a wide network of transformative talent will make the hiring process infinitely smoother and more productive.
How to attract tech leaders
Money is always going to be a part of the equation, but only part of it. After all, it’s the one thing that everyone will offer, so it doesn’t make one employer stand out dramatically. Yes, there’s differentiation in the amount on the table, but tech leaders are motivated by more than that.
‘It’s about the challenge, the people, the culture,’ says Stuart, ‘It’s about trust as well. Knowing that you’ll be given the power to make a difference.’
Julian agrees. ‘Part of what’s attractive about smaller or newer businesses is that they’re often on the cutting edge. Leaders have the freedom to experiment and innovate. On the other hand, a more established business may be less agile, and new executives need to navigate legacy systems. However, the appeal is different for a business like that. They have well-established brand names that leaders love to have on their CVs.’
How else does the startup vs legacy dynamic play into the hiring process?
‘There’s often an appetite in more ‘traditional’ companies to hire from tech startups,’ Chris says. ‘If you’re more corporate, let’s say, and you’re trying to lure someone away from the casual startup environment, you need to offer something exciting. Technology leaders want to work on big stuff they can sink their teeth into and be proud of.
‘Also, the tech leadership of startups tend to have quite a big equity slice, so there’s a big performance incentive for them to stay. In a more traditional player,there’s generally a better base package. If you’re hiring from a startup you’ve got to be prepared for a very big discussion around an equity component.
‘These people tend to have got quite a few offers in front of them. Chances are they’re being courted by other businesses that move fast. A more traditional business will need to move the process quickly and show some intent.’
Whatever size, sector, or age your business is, if you want to hire transformative tech leaders you’ll be one of many competing employers. To find the perfect talent (for you), and make sure they find their perfect role (with you) you need a partner with roots in tech and contacts across industries and sectors, and across the world.
RPI are experts at sourcing the talent that you need right now, and that will drive the agenda for the future of your business. Contact email@example.com.