How to Cultivate Homegrown Senior Tech Talent

These days, we spend a lot of time on developing effective ways to manage millennials, but now we need to take it up a notch. It’s critical to do it now because we need to ensure that tech companies aren’t void of talent in the near future.

Because of the nature of our business, we will be focusing specifically on cultivating senior technical talent going forward. Especially with a shortage in emerging tech talent, highly technically experienced individuals will be needed to help companies maintain a strong digital presence while being highly scalable. 

Supply outpacing demand has become the new norm, so how are most businesses doing to fill the skills gap?

For America at least, hiring from tech hot spots like India, South America, or Eastern Europe is no longer a viable option. Furthermore, with the rise of cities like Toronto and Vancouver in the tech space, companies within the U.S. and Canada are also going to be highly vulnerable to poaching.

Check out how Vancouver can help Silicon Valley FinTech companies reign supreme.

Tech giants have been poaching talent from each other for years, some even pay recruiters to take a sneak peek at LinkedIn profiles to find out the salary and benefits package that can lure them away. But it’s a totally different ball game for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as they just don’t possess the necessary resources to keep up.

It’s also a good thing that startups and other SMBs don’t get into this toxic cycle as it’s a never ending circle of skyrocketing salaries and limited time spent at any single company. In fact, this phenomenon has created tech mercenaries who will quit and join a direct competitor at a moment’s notice.

So how do you make it work without annihilating your capital? Investing in the future is a good place to start.

1. Invest in Developers Now and Reap the Benefits Later

No one starts out at a senior position tackling the most advanced problems. Developers like everyone else start at the bottom and grow with experience.

So it’s important to invest in bright homegrown junior developers and award them enough time and space to gain experience. When this is done systematically with continual improvement, you will end up with highly skilled and experienced software engineers.

For instance, to develop and nurture homegrown talent in our R&D Centers in Ukraine, Intersog launched own IT school called Intersog Labs 2 years ago. Intersog Labs trains juniors in front-end development (JavaScript), back-end development (Python), and mobile development (iOS and Android). The best performing graduates are offered a job at Intersog where they first boost their skills working on our internal or pet projects. Once they've mastered their skills, they're recommended to have a technical interview with a client and to apply to a job on one of our client's dedicated teams. Some of our best achieving students are already working successfully on client projects and have up-leveled their competence from junior to advanced.

If you’re not already doing this at your company, you probably have a problem. There are bright new junior developers coming out of universities and boot camps (this is for debate), so if you can’t take advantage of it, then it might be time to do some corporate soul searching.

Not all talented junior developers will grow into the top talent, but regular feedback, structured training, and space for personal projects can play a massive role in bettering your chances of ending up with highly talented senior software engineers.

2. Create a Path that Nurtures Talent

Just growing your junior tech talent in-house won't suffice, you have to create a pathway of continuous improvement for them to gain experience and develop quickly.

But how do you do this?

What does it even mean to create a pathway of continuous improvement?

At this juncture, it’s a good idea to find out what continuous improvement means to junior staff members. Who knows what answers you might get, it could be anything like workshops, conferences, mentorship programs, or even tough challenges (or a combination of a few).

While sending junior staff out to gain experience can be fruitful, pairing junior developers with talented seniors for a few hours each week can have more of an impact.

But this can only be achieved in an environment that is free of judgments. It should ideally be a place where asking questions and learning are encouraged.

Furthermore, it’s also important to continuously push the boundaries without letting junior staff members get comfortable doing specific tasks. Pressure can be healthy if it’s applied in a positive manner rather than by oppressive means.

3. Build a Talent Ecosystem That’s Highly Sustainable

All this effort is futile if your competitors just come and snap up your employees when they grow into some of the industry’s best senior tech talent. A solution to this issue could be building a solid company culture that consistently promotes learning and personal development.

This approach can help build loyalty among employees who will see the value of your investment in them more than a bigger pay packet from a competitor in the long-term. At the same time, it’s also important to keep everyone aware of what’s happening within the company and the whole tech community.

You also have to encourage cross-training through transfers and exchanges between teams. This, in turn, can promote creative thinking and give employees the ability to seamlessly collaborate across projects and groups.

This can also help breathe new life into staff members that feel stuck in their current roles. If you do this, they might not consider leaving and starting a new role somewhere else.

Further, nurturing talent means rewarding and valuing what makes your top talent highly sought after as mentors, teachers, and contributors. As a result, you can create a parallel educational institution that is developing talent at record speed.

A sustainable approach to a homegrown senior tech talent ecosystem will depend on producing enough to not feel the loss when you lose one or two to a competitor (of course there will always be a few!). So it all comes down to creating something special that software engineers will want to be a part of now and in the years to come.

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    Andrew Zola is a freelance writer, designer, and artist working in branding and marketing for over ten years. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.