Special Report
A special report is content that is edited and produced by the special reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report but do not have editorial control.

What tech talent wants

Compensation and benefits are no longer the holy grail when it comes to choosing a job in tech

In 2022, tech talent holds all the cards. The jobs market in the sector is overheating as tech companies continue to grow and expand. So how do companies foster acquisition and retention when the best people are in high demand?

With the war for talent going on in the hot Irish market, attracting the best talent is a challenging task, and retaining them is even harder, says Marina Rivas, marketing and brand manager at Great Place to Work. “Organisations must consider that all the efforts made towards the talent acquisition side in displaying their great workplace culture and their outstanding employee experience need to be applied to the onboarding process and the current employee lived experience.”

In order not to lose the new talent to their competitors, Rivas points out that the great benefits and promises showcased in the recruitment phase have to be aligned with what current employees are experiencing in the workplace, whether they work from home or in the office or in a hybrid environment. “The best way to do this is to use the current employee experience to develop the organisation’s employee value proposition. This will build up trust internally and have a strong positive impact on the credibility of the employer brand,” she says.

Friendly atmosphere

Alice Vigneron, marketing co-ordinator with Great Place to Work, agrees. Compensation and benefits are no longer the holy grail when it comes to choosing a job in tech, she says. “Millennials and Gen Z even expect employers to offer stronger and more robust career opportunities. A diverse and inclusive workplace culture, a flexible and adaptable work system, and a friendly atmosphere are other important factors tech talent look for when searching for a company to work for.”


“Within our industry, the ‘war for talent’ is raging,” admits Stephen Tabb, HR director with Global Shares. “We filled 250 roles during lockdown and are looking to fill 200 more before the end of 2022, including 80 high-tech roles.”

Tabb says they realise it is necessary to not only be flexible but to explore numerous avenues to support that kind of rapid expansion. Direct applications through its website account for a large percentage of hires but Global Shares also utilises various online jobs boards and social media outlets such as LinkedIn. “We are constantly reaching out to candidates directly via LinkedIn,”he says. They also have a strong presence at job fairs and work closely with universities, while an employee referral scheme is hugely successful – in 2021, 25 per cent of new hires came through this channel.

“We have found it incredibly important to adapt our strategy to acquire the best technical people in the industry,” agrees Eimear Fitzsimons, senior manager in recruitment at Expleo.

For example, Expleo carries out technical examinations and reviews of potential candidates and has also created technical interview panels along with hiring managers who discuss the applicant’s technical elements and competencies. The company has also committed to a fast turnaround, with no dragged out or overly onerous recruitment process. “We value our candidates’ time and understand that looking for a new job can be a tiring and frustrating journey,” Fitzsimons notes.

Prioritising the candidate

Louise Lahiff, director of strategy, planning and people at Version 1, agrees that it is all about prioritising the candidate when it comes to hiring new people, and making them feel comfortable from the off. “Tech talent or technology candidates are all individuals, and just like all walks of life they have different needs as to what they want from their lives and what progress and development means for them. Our strategy is to support technology candidates in meeting the right people within our business during the process to get to know who they could be working with, who their manager would be, the projects they could be working on so that they can make an informed decision about what’s right for them.”

And with demand for their skills at an all-time high, it’s no wonder that tech talents are seeking enhanced benefits as well as the role that’s right for them. Fitzsimons says organisations that can provide a clearly defined career path and progression opportunities are key for tech talent. “Employers must also provide opportunities for personal and professional development for tech employees,” she says. “Expleo Academy, our comprehensive learning and development programme, brings all our global learning and expertise under one roof.”

It goes without saying that, even pre-pandemic, tech talent is on the hunt for flexibility. Expleo Ireland now operates under the Expleo Fusion blended working model, Fitzsimons explains, where the number of days required in an office is dependent on the candidate’s role and project.

Continued flexible ways of working are of huge importance to tech candidates right now, agrees Lahiff. “They seek remote-working, hybrid-working and overall, more flexibility around where, when, and how they work.” Opportunities to learn, upskill and attain prestigious technology accreditations are also of critical importance, she says. “As an employer, Version 1 has committed to paying for our employees’ industry certifications, exam time, upskilling and mentoring.”

But for most tech companies, the goal is not only to recruit talented people, but to retain them. “With this in mind, we place huge emphasis on ensuring a positive, friendly workplace, where candidates can be themselves, challenge themselves, learn, grow and progress in their career,” Tabb says. A focus on employee recognition and attention to the need for an adequate work/life balance is also crucial, he adds.

Constant communication

Fitzsimons agrees, saying constant communication and a relatively flat management structure helps keep employees engaged. “Regular pulse checks, feedback, career coaching, reviews and monthly calls create various engagement touchpoints for employees. Many of our employees say that their colleagues are a big reason why they enjoy working at Expleo.”

According to Lahiff. continuous development and interesting work is what is needed to keep technology-focused professionals engaged. “We invest heavily in supporting our people in building the skills and knowledge they need to grow their career. In 2020 alone, we invested over €1.3 million in our award-winning career development model Pathways.”

Tabb notes that tech talent appreciates an organisation that is growing and expanding, along with the opportunities that provides. “Roles and teams are constantly evolving with that growth, and it’s satisfying for candidates who each play an important role in the company and are empowered from day one to get involved, in a hands-on way. Their opinions matter from the outset.” Equity incentives can also act as a big carrot: “Companies that give their employees equity – a slice of the pie, so to speak – perform better, because employees have skin in the game and this means they work harder, are more engaged and are less likely to want to leave.”

Danielle Barron

Danielle Barron is a contributor to The Irish Times