Trouble finding local tech talent?

By Guest Author, Jodi Simpson, Founder of CityMatch

It’s a classic demand and supply issue. With the rapid boom in technology sector, employers are busting nerves trying to fill a growing list of open positions. Because when key positions continue to go unfilled, innovation, growth and profits suffer. As an example, London Economic Development Corporation recently estimated that there are more than 1,000 (!) open positions in the city’s digital creative sector alone. And this isn’t just a London, Ontario phenomenon. The current tech talent crunch is happening from coast to coast with no signs of abating.

As someone who helps people relocate for a living, I’ve been impressed with many companies that are doing their best to position themselves as employers of choice. In fact, some of them are leading the pack in the development of progressive talent management strategies that support their recruitment and retention programs. What does that look like? From offering competitive compensation and benefits, plus professional development training allowances, dog-friendly workplaces, catered lunches and rooftop patios with beer on tap. Progressive tech firms are going the extra mile to entice talent, both within and beyond city limits.

However impressed I have been with all of these innovative moves to attract (and keep talent), I’ve noticed a few shortcomings too. Case in point: Companies are offering the same sort of salaries, benefits and cool perks too, so differentiation is increasingly becoming tough. This may or may be the reason that I also notice that some companies choose to restrict their search for talent within their own local candidate pools, giving up on competing for talent outside altogether.

It’s also worth noting that this isn’t what you tend to see happening recently in the US, or in other countries facing talent shortages. What you will see are loads of incentives that support candidate relocation, which are often extended to interns too! A recent global survey indicated that at least 41% of companies surveyed offer some kind of relocation support program/policy to attract employees.

Make no mistake; doing a deep dive into the global (or regional) mobility waters will require an investment on your part, both in terms of dollars and time. But considering the cost of a key position that remains unfilled for six months or more, it’s a swim that may make good financial sense. At the same time, employers must not ignore the financial losses that relocating employees bare when no incentives are offered.

So how can you get in the game when you’re a smaller player with a limited budget?

…determine what the costs are if a critical position remains unfilled…

Step #1 Determine what the vacancy is actually costing you? Know the numbers first.

A great starting point is to determine what the costs are if a critical position remains unfilled for 3 months, 6 months or 12 months. Or alternatively, determine what the costs are to hire recruitment pros to source a qualified candidate that may be willing to make a move. For your most critical roles, it is worth considering allocating dollars to establish a modest budget that supports candidate relocation and resettlement. Often we just assume offering relocation is not an option, when perhaps it is. That is why it’s so important to know the numbers. While you may not be able to offer the same sort of relocation package found with the big players, a reasonable budget goes a long way to help you land top candidates. Not to mention, it also helps build a strong employer brand too.


Step #2 Consider partnering with a destination service provider.

So your budget is a bit too small to offer a relocation package that will help candidates make a move? You may want to consider partnering with a Destination Service Provider (DSP) instead. I run one such DSP and my company, CityMatch, supports local employers who need to move talent. By personally guiding new employees through the relocation process, I provide them with that all-important “soft landing”. The best destination service providers provide a cost effective solution to the recruitment and relocation puzzle. We are primarily responsible for (a) coordinating and ensuring the move runs smoothly and (b) the employee is settled successfully into their new community. Two key pieces that go a long way in guaranteeing that other ‘R’ – retention.

As a DSP, I oversee the welfare of the employee throughout all stages of the relocation. This includes, but is not limited to, guiding them through the neighbourhood and home search process, school and daycare search, lending a hand in finding a family doctor, providing city familiarization tours, and helping employees with their required documents. All said, providing this type of support goes a long way to build trust and confidence in job candidates.

Step #3 No budget? Consider developing a DIY welcome program for your company.

There are some modest things that you can do to develop and communicate that your organization has process to help talent successfully settle into a new city. A DIY program can incorporate things like…
Assigning a human resources officer to take on the duties of developing a mobility and on-boarding process.
Assembling a group of ambassadors that includes the most knowledgeable, connected and friendly people in your company. Think of these team members as your company’s “welcome wagon rockstars”. From touring a new person around the city, to helping them find a great family-friendly restaurant, ambassadors create an atmosphere of immediate inclusion and this goes a long way for a potential candidate who may consider moving to your city to join your team.

…(company) ambassadors create an atmosphere of immediate inclusion…

A word of caution. It would be misleading to advise that a DIY approach is not without significant challenges. I would always suggest hiring a DSP as an advisor to help identify specific pain points. For example, not all-incoming talent will want to have your HR professional, or their fellow colleagues and staff, delving deep into their personal lives and family situations (especially for hiring managers and executives!). Do have a welcome committee that is on hand to answer questions about living in the city, but remember that employee privacy needs to be respected and protected at the same time. Once again, consider consulting with a DSP professional to review the elements that will work within your particular DIY model.

About Jodi Simpson

Jodi Simpson is the Founder of CityMatch – a high-touch attraction and settlement service provider for employers relocating talent to London, Ontario, Canada. Jodi is also a proud member of the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) and holds a CERC Relocation Specialist™ designation.

Leave a comment