‘Everyone wants to work at Google’: how can the corporates compete for tech talent?

05 June 2013

A survey by Telefonica shows that young adults in the UK have the best digiskills in the world –  So why do a lot of corporate recruiters still find it difficult to hire great technologists?  I often hear the complaint – ‘Graduates just want to work for Google‘.  Well, perhaps.  But not everyone can.  And probably, when they see the reality of the work, not everyone would want to.  The more fundamental reasons seem to come down to culture and opportunity.

In the last ten years, the new technology and digital businesses have fostered a culture which is more akin to the campus, not simply in its look (flip-flops, shorts and beanbags), but, most importantly, in its attitude to learning and innovation.  Google, for example, gives you time to work on a pet project; social is a way of learning as well as doing business; products can be developed and sold in months rather than years; and they are building infrastructures and building focused on collaboration.  In a survey by FutureStep of 4,000 people around the world on digiskills, respondents looked to Apple, Google, Coca Cola and Facebook as their ‘innovation idols’.

So how can big companies compete?

Culture – big companies, especially city corporates where suits dominate, find it difficult to introduce a flip-flop environment; but they can introduce more collaboration, encourage people to think differently and introduce faster-to-market agile processes.

Learning – don’t just look inward for inspiration and development; embrace a more social learning approach that draws in the threats and opportunities of the outside world.

Career Paths – a key differentiator potentially.  Not everyone wants to run their own start-up.  Corporates can show strong (and well-trodden) career paths.  So show how people how developed, within the business and as alumni.

Recruitment – corporates are still under the misapprehension that everyone needs to have a rounded personality – to ‘fit’ and succeed in the world of big business.  Many tech people are made differently – and the reason that they go to the start-ups and tech houses is that they can be themselves.  Diversity means bringing in people who are wired differently.

The truth is that if corporates can start to think differently, so will tech professionals themselves.

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